Fenugreek is an enigma, deep-fried in a mystery, and wrapped in secrecy. It can actually LOWER your testosterone levels while simultaneously increasing your libido and athletic performance, 2 effects that correlate with elevated testosterone levels. Strange. This is the first supplement I have come across that might have the opposite of the desired effect, and yet be worth taking anyway.
Before we go any further, know that fenugreek is an herb of Asian origin, commonly used in Indian cuisine. The Indians have been consuming it as an aphrodisiac and an herbal cure-all for centuries which might explain why that waiter in your local Indian restaurant is always smiling. As it turns out, there is actually some validity to the purported claims.
Benefits of Fenugreek
1. Fenugreek Increases Libido
If you haven’t hit your twenties yet then you probably can’t imagine losing your interest in sex. I feel you, Holmes. At 26, I have a healthy appetite now (partially because I consciously work on elevating my T) but it’s nowhere near where it was when I was 17. I imagine that things will only get worse by the time I’m 35 which is why it’s important to learn what gets your motor firing now.
Fenugreek, in the form of a capsule, testofen, or Fenugreek tea could do the trick. The fact that fenugreek increases libido is not mythology; it is backed by a clinical study which showed the libido of men aged 25-52 increased by 25% on average when taking fenugreek extract for six weeks. According to Lee Myer, of www.peaktestosterone.com fame, fenugreek will help you achieve orgasm as well, so if this is an issue for you, fenugreek may be the answer. It’s a frustrating problem to have.
2. Fenugreek Reduces Your Cholesterol Levels
Statins are some of the most prescribed drugs in the world for reducing cholesterol levels and preventing heart disease. Various studies in the 1990s, including a study published in the ‘European Journal of Clinical Nutrition,’ supported the claim that Fenugreek could help reduce cholesterol levels. One possible explanation is the high fiber content in fenugreek. A fiber-rich diet has been shown to help reduce the levels of LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol) in your blood. (Note: The validity of the various studies from the 1990s have been questioned though because of small sample sizes)
A question to the doctors, nutritionists, dieticians, etc. Testosterone is chemically very similar to cholesterol. In fact, cholesterol is often a precursor or even a building block of testosterone. Can a lower LDL also cause a reduction in testosterone? Post your answers in the comments, please.
3. Help Build Muscle
After various studies in animals had shown anabolic (muscle building) properties among the various Fenugreek benefits, a study was conducted on men undergoing resistance training. During the study the participants trained in a supervised manner 4 times a week for 8 weeks. Although the levels of DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) were reduced in those taking the Fenugreek supplement, other hormonal markers were not affected. Another study further supported those findings, while also reporting that those taking the supplement witnessed an additional 2kg of fat loss and 2kg more muscle mass gain over the same period. Impressive results indeed.
Herein lies the problem. DHT is an extremely powerful androgen, significantly more potent than testosterone. Somehow, fenugreek causes increases in muscle mass and libido while reducing DHT. I often argue on the site that it is not exactly increased testosterone that you want. You want the blessings of a high testosterone level: physical fitness, libido, and high energy levels. If fenugreek can bestow these upon you, why do you need the testosterone?
Note that DHT is what causes male pattern baldness so it stands to reason that fenugreek may delay the balding process. A quick Google search of “fenugreek and baldness” reveals that I am not the only genius struck with this idea. There are sites out there that claim that a fenugreek+saw palmetto concoction or applying a fenugreek paste can help prevent Mr. Cleanitis.
4. Control Blood Glucose Levels
A study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition that showed drops in cholesterol levels also highlighted the benefits of Fenugreek in controlling glucose levels (this is in fact what the trial was intended to test). When you eat, your glucose levels spike. Fenugreek helps stimulate insulin release to slow down the absorption of sugars in your intestinal tract. Fenugreek might help control blood sugar levels in diabetics. Furthermore, high glucose levels create a poor environment for testosterone production. This is why Tim Ferris, in his testosterone diet, advises against consuming sweets and simple starches when you are trying to increase T levels.
Fenugreek Side Effects – The Flip Side of Fenugreek
Fenugreek is generally safe. The reported side-effects are mild and ones that can basically be caused by any herb: they range from upset stomach to an allergic reaction. As usual, be careful when ingesting anything.
Another study conducted on animals found that fenugreek significantly reduced fertility in male specimen. These effects sound similar to the anti-balding medication, Propecia (finestride), except Propecia’s affects might be permanent. Bummer.
Based on my research, I guess fenugreek is kind of a crapshoot, a toss-up, a gamble, a coin toss, a roulette spin of sorts, you get the idea. There are a lot of conflicting reports on whether it increases or decreases testosterone levels, but it seems like the libido-improvement is consistent. The vast majority of men report positive effects from fenugreek so go ahead and give it a shot.
On a personal note, I just stopped taking tongkat ali (the only herb I swear by right now) so that I can test fenugreek in a more controlled environment. I will post the results to the blog section of this site.
If you’ve got some experience with fenugreek, please post it below. Would love to hear from you. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with me and I will do my best to answer them.
For Those With ADD:
- Fenugreek is an Asian aphrodisiac
- Fenugreek increases libido
- Fenugreek can help muscle growth
- The effect on testosterone levels is a crapshoot
- Fenugreek decreases DHT which can be bad for manliness but good for preventing balding
- Fenugreek lowers cholesterol
- Fenugreek lowers blood sugar
- Fenugreek has no serious side-effects
As usual, talk to your doctor before doing anything.
- http://www.dailymail.co.uk/ health/article-2005453/Herbs-used-curries-spice-things-bedroom.html
- R.D. Sharma, et al (April 1990). “Effect of Fenugreek Seeds on Blood Glucose and Serum Lipids in Type 1 Diabetes”. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
- Bushey, Brandon; Taylor, Lem W.; Wilborn, Colin W.; Poole, Chris; Foster, Cliffa A.; Campbell, Bill; Kreider, Richard B. and Willoughby, Darryn S. (2009). “Fenugreek Extract Supplementation Has No effect on the Hormonal Profile of Resitance-Trained Males” International Journal of Exercise Science: Conference Abstract Submissions: Vol. 2: Iss. 1, Article 13.
- Chris Poole et al (2010). “The effects of a commercially available botanical supplement on strength, body composition, power output, and hormonal profiles in resistance-trained males”. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2010, 7:34.