- Several studies suggest a link between taking daily fenugreek supplements and increased testosterone.
- Fenugreek may also help control blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, and reduce inflammation.
- Consuming the herb is the best way to get fenugreek’s benefits but you can also take up to 600 mg per day as a supplement.
Over the years, a number of different ancient plants have been linked to testosterone production, including ashwagandha and Tongkat Ali. But the most powerful and potent herb for male sexual health might just be fenugreek.
A number of solid studies have linked fenugreek to increased testosterone production in men, notes Stephen Smith, an herbal specialist and research manager at Clinical Research Australia, an organization with the mission to provide high-quality research to support growth in the nutraceutical industry.
“In our study, when we systematically reviewed fenugreek usage, we found four out of six studies suggested the herb had a positive effect on increasing male testosterone levels,” says Smith (1). “The review showed spikes of between 7% and 22% more T, depending on the pool of test subjects and how long they took the supplement.”
Results of another recent meta-analysis on fenugreek extracts also found it had a positive effect on testosterone production (2).
What is Fenugreek?
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is an herb used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. It lends a nutty, yet slightly bitter flavor to curries, chutneys, and breads.
The herb has also been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine, and rumor has it that ancient Greeks and Romans may have used it to combat digestive problems, respiratory infections, and inflammation.
NATURAL T BOOSTERS
Does Fenugreek Increase Testosterone?
Some research suggests yes.
In a report published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences, scientists found that when a group of 50 men were given an extract that contained 500 mg of fenugreek seeds enriched with a saponin called protodioscin daily for 12-weeks their free testosterone levels increased. Those free T levels increased by up to 46% in a staggering 90% of the participants (3).
In another study, researchers found that men who took a 600mg fenugreek supplement every day for 12 weeks had higher overall–free and total T–testosterone levels and improved sexual function, including frequency of sexual activity and the number of morning erections–compared to a control group (4).
Feungreek may boost T in a few ways:
Fenugreek seeds contain a substance called protodioscin. “Protodioscin can increase testosterone by increasing levels of DHEA in the body,” says Gregory Lafortune, M.S., R.D.N., L.D., a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in men’s health.
Produced primarily in the body’s adrenal glands, DHEA is what’s known as a precursor or “prohormone” to some other hormones, including testosterone. Your body converts DHEA into testosterone. Having ample levels of these T building blocks in your system may help keep testosterone at its peak.
Increasing free testosterone
In addition to the potential to help stoke the body’s production of DHEA, the protodioscin in fenugreek may help increase free T levels. (5)
“Protodioscin can inhibit the action of 5-alpha reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT,” says Lafortune. “This means it can block this enzyme from producing DHT, resulting in more free testosterone.”
But, he cautions that studies on fenugreek supplementation leading to increases in testosterone have had mixed results.
DHT (dihydrotestosterone) is a hormone and androgen that plays a role in the growth and maintenance of everything from facial hair and body hair growth to overall muscle development. However, in some studies, too much DHT has been linked to conditions ranging from male pattern baldness to prostate cancer.
By slowing your body’s conversion of testosterone into DHT, you may increase the amount of free testosterone roaming throughout your system.
Other Benefits of Fenugreek for Men
In addition to the potential to help boost testosterone, fenugreek has been linked to a number of other health benefits for men. Here’s what else it may do:
In a study published in 2010 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers followed 49 resistance-trained men over an 8-week period. They found that the participants who took a daily 500mg fenugreek supplement and followed the study’s resistance training program significantly increased their strength and lean muscle mass, compared to the placebo group (6).
When Australian researchers tracked the health of 60 men taking 600mg daily of a fenugreek supplement over a six-week period, they found marked benefits in the way the test subjects reported feeling, including improving the men’s sex drives as well as overall every levels and strength (7).
Fenugreek is packed with a number of natural anti-inflammatory compounds that can work together to help reduce levels of oxidative stress which can trigger an inflammatory response.
In a study published in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine, physicians found that a group of test subjects who took fenugreek supplements daily had substantially fewer markers of inflammation and oxidative stress after just 8 weeks of use (8).
Improve diabetes and blood sugar control
“Several studies have found that fenugreek might help lower blood sugar levels in people with pre-diabetes or diabetes,” says Roxana Ehsani, R.D., a Miami, Florida-based registered dietitian nutritionist and board-certified sports dietitian.
For instance, in one study, researchers found that Type 2 diabetics who added fenugreek seeds to their daily diet had a reduction in blood sugar levels at the end of six months compared to those who didn’t (9).
“Fenugreek may potentially improve insulin sensitivity,” says Ehsani. “And, the high fiber content of fenugreek seeds may help to slow the absorption of carbs and sugar in the digestive tract while also increasing feelings of satiety, helping diabetic individuals to eat less.”
Ehsani cautions, however, that for diabetes control in particular, more high-quality studies are needed before fenugreek should be considered an across-the-board treatment for the disease.
Lower cholesterol levels
The same compounds, saponins,—like protodioscin that aids in the body’s production of testosterone—may also power fenugreek’s ability to help keep cholesterol in check.
Research suggests that these substances may help to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines (10). The less cholesterol absorbed into the bloodstream, the lower your cholesterol ends up being overall.
Fenugreek may also help the body to increase the liver’s excretion of bile, according to one study in rats (11). Bile helps the body digest and eliminate cholesterol before it can be absorbed into the bloodstream where it may negatively impact cardiovascular health.
The abundant antioxidants in fenugreek may also help to keep so-called “bad” LDL cholesterol from oxidizing (or hardening) and building up in the arteries, again helping to lower heart disease risk and improve the body’s overall cardiovascular health.
KNOW YOUR T
How to Get More Fengureek
You can find fenugreek in many large markets as dried leaves, seeds, or as a powder. The fresh herb is also readily available—fenugreek plants are a staple in most large greenhouses and plant nurseries.
“Fenugreek is very nutritious,” says Lafortune. “One tablespoon of the seeds, for example, contains 3 grams of fiber and roughly 20% of the daily recommendation for iron.”
Toss them into your morning smoothie or on top of a salad for extra crunch. Or soak them overnight with chia seeds or oats for a quick -on-the-go breakfast.
Should you choose to try a supplement, Smith recommends looking for one that is clinically proven to be effective. He recommends choosing a standardized formula with a dosage in the range of 250 to 600 mg of the herb daily.
The best quality fenugreek supplements will also be approved by the USP (United States Pharmacopeia) and may also be certified organic by the USDA. You will find both notifications on the supplement label or packaging.
Remember, you don’t want to take too much.
Smith cautions that fenugreek extracts are not drugs, so men should not expect their T levels to skyrocket to super high levels. “However,” he adds, “High-normal levels may be possible.”
Side Effects and Precautions
According to Lafortune, the safe upper limit for fenugreek is generally considered to be 500 to 600mg of herb per day.
Taking more than the recommended dosage may trigger side effects including diarrhea, dizziness, gas, low blood sugar, low potassium, decreased appetite, and more, Lafortune warns.
Some men may be allergic to fenugreek. Discontinue use and see a physician immediately if you experience any allergic reactions including itching, hives, swelling, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or difficulty breathing. Fenugreek should be avoided if you have a peanut allergy, take blood thinners or diabetes medications. Anyone with an existing condition, allergy or prescription for these types of medications should consult with their doctor before use.
The Bottom Line
Men have been using fenugreek for thousands of years for its reported medical powers—benefits that now have some backing by a number of different scientific studies. Whether you’re looking to boost testosterone, improve sexual health, or just bolster your general well-being, a regular dose of fenugreek—either through curries, chutneys or other foods containing the spice or through herbal supplements as a secondary resort—should be safe and may be beneficial to your health.