Fenugreek Seeds Herbal Extract
A popular herbal extract, Fenugreek is best known for being one of the most ancient culinary spices that still exist for naturally boosting testosterone levels in men.
After the discovery of its many medicinal attributes, it became a prized herbal remedy for many health conditions. But does Fenugreek really works as claimed or is it just all hype?
Find out by reading the following complete guide, which covers everything from the health benefits, uses, and supporting facts, to existing scientific evidence, usage requirements and possible side effects.
What is Fenugreek?
Botanically known as Trigonella foenum-graecum, Fenugreek is an annual plant native to Southern Europe and Western Asia. It’s mostly grown in the Mediterranean regions of the world such as Argentina, North Africa, India, and the U.S.
Reaching about two feet tall, the herb is considered a legume but it actually belongs to the plant family “Fabaceae”.
This herb produces light green oblong or obovate leaflets that are similar to clover. Its small white flowers have long pods containing anywhere between 10 and 20 tiny, hard seeds that turn golden-brown in color at full maturity.
Trigonella foenum-graecum is one of the oldest cultivated medicinal plants. In fact, there are some Egyptian papyrus writings dating back to around 1500 BC, which talk about this herb.
Since so many cultures have been using it, Fenugreek goes by many names. For instance, it may also be referred to as Greek Hay, bird’s foot, Methi, Methya, Methulu, and Methaya, among other monikers.
Fenugreek Nutritional and Medicinal Uses
Greek Hay is a very diverse herb. Different parts of the plant can be ingested for nutritional or medicinal purposes. The seeds are a rich source of protein, B vitamins, iron, and many other trace minerals. Spices made of ground seeds are mostly added to food for nutritional value.
The seeds have a bitter taste described as similar to burned celery, but they can add a tasty flavor to an otherwise bland dish. Seeds from this herb also contain plenty of mucilage, a viscous secretion that coats the lining of the stomach and intestines to ease symptoms of ulcers and acid reflux.
You may also find some weight loss products that contain the bird’s foot as an ingredient. The extract is included in such formulations because of its high fiber content, which gives dieters a satiating feeling on less food. Because of their rich fiber content, the seeds also help to prevent constipation.
By grinding these seeds to powder form and adding some water, you can create methi paste. Applying this paste topically has been found to boost both skin and hair health. In fact, methi paste can reduce the appearance of pimples and acne scaring when applied to the skin.
While Fenugreek seeds have many uses, the leaves are just as beneficial. They are used in the preparation of some Indian curries, pickles, daals, and other vegetable dishes.
The leaves are rich in calcium, iron, and phosphorus – plus they also contain some protein as well as carbohydrates. Other than soothing digestive problems, Trigonella foenum-graecum greens are known to treat symptoms of Menopause and PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) such as hot flushes, mood swings, and abdominal cramps.
Fenugreek’s medicinal uses don’t end there. This herb is also used to treat kidney ailments, arthritis, asthma, sore throats, and wounds. Some studies indicate that it is a naturally occurring anti-cancer agent. Researchers have noted that the herb can inhibit growth of breast, prostate and pancreatic cancer cell lines.
Scientists have discovered that Fenugreek contains 4-hydroxyisoleucine, an amino acid that boosts the body’s production of insulin when there’s a spike in blood glucose.
One double blind placebo controlled study investigated the effects of Greek Hay on blood sugar levels among 25 type 2 diabetic patients. Results concluded that the seeds decreased insulin resistance and improved glycemic control in these patients.
Additional Benefits Of Greek Hay
Fenugreek is mostly used as a cooking agent and natural remedy for the numerous health problems mentioned earlier. However, this herb is increasingly becoming popular as an agent for improving hormonal balance in both men and women.
In women, it is said to increase breast size and milk production. It’s therefore taken by lactating mothers after child birth when natural milk production becomes a problem. The mechanism of action that causes these effects is not well understood but it has been linked to diosgenin, a steroid compound of the plant that has similar properties to estrogen.
On the other hand, Fenugreek may be able to modestly raise or keep testosterone at a healthy level when taken as a supplement by men. The herb’s seeds are responsible for stimulating male sex hormones since they contain a type of glucoside known as Fenuside. By raising testosterone levels, this glucoside ultimately helps to increase muscle mass, strength, and sexual desire.
Claims of plant leaves being an aphrodisiac do not just exist in medical folklore. There are both animal and human trials that prove the efficacy of this herb at boosting testosterone levels. For instance, a 2010 research publication detailed a study conducted on male rats that were given 10-35mg of Fenugreek Futanols over a 4-week period.
The study concluded that oral intake of the Methulu causes the levator ani muscle in rats to increase, which is thought to be indicative of androgenic anabolic activity.
In another study involving 60 overweight individuals between ages 18 and 64, researchers investigated the effects of Methi extract on arousal and libido. Male test subjects who took part in the study were divided into two groups, one taking a placebo and the other one using 600mg per day of Testofen (plant extract).
While the study showed no increase in hormone levels, there was a significant increase in sexual arousal and orgasms among the Testofen group. This led the researchers to conclude that Testofen demonstrated a psychologically positive impact on sexual desire and may assist to maintain healthy testosterone levels.
Although there is limited evidence to support the many uses of the plant described above, it’s important to point out that this herb has shown great promise in preliminary trials. There’s no doubt that more comprehensive human studies on this herb are required.
That said, however, Methaya is still a highly sought after natural remedy for many health conditions because of its long history in natural medicine and numerous positive user reviews.
Does Fenugreek Cause Any Side Effects?
It is safe to consume in amounts found in food and those used for medicinal purposes. Health experts recommend continued supplemental use of the herb over a period not lasting more than 6 months because little is known about the effects of prolonged exposure.
Consuming large amounts of Methi may cause urine to smell like maple syrup due to high levels of Sotolon, a sweet smelling chemical found in the herb. More importantly, abuse or overdosing may lead to gastrointestinal discomfort and nausea.
Some people also exhibit a case of skin irritation when Greek Hay is applied topically. Performing a patch test is therefore wise before attempting to use methi paste as a remedy for acne or pimples.
Hypersensitive individuals may experience severe allergic reactions in the form of facial swelling, coughing, wheezing, or nasal congestion after consuming Fenugreek. People who are more prone to reacting badly after taking the herb also tend to exhibit allergic reactions towards other plants in the Fabaceae family such as peanuts, soybeans, and green peas.
Although women take Bird’s Foot to increase breast size and promote lactation (milk production), pregnant mothers should refrain from using the herb since it’s known to cause early contractions.
Some medications interact with the plant and may cause unwanted side effects. Therefore, it’s advisable to consult a doctor before commencing supplemental use of this herb while taking other medications.
Supplemental Use of Fenugreek: Dosage Requirements
Recommended doses vary based on the goals of supplementation. Typically, men take 500-600mg per day of a standardized formula that’s popularly sold under the trade name Testofen.
When nursing newborns, mothers should take 500-1000mg daily to increase breast milk production. In addition, 5-50g of the seed extract added to meals daily is enough to help with blood glucose levels for diabetics.
Some studies have even found 1g to be effect on diabetic patients. However, the best way to know how much of the herbal extract you should consume and when to take it is by reading the dosage label from your manufacturer.
How to Buy Fenugreek
It’s mainly available in four forms. You can buy the leaves (fresh or dried), seeds, powder, or capsules at health food stores. The fresh leaves may be hard to come by. However, Frozen Fenugreek leaves are quite common in some Indian shops and they can be purchased as an alternative to the dried version.
The canned and frozen option can be a boon in that it cuts preparation time, which can be quite long when dealing with fresh leaves. It is also possible to find it in herbal tea bag form.
When looking to buy standardized Fenugreek supplements, there are a few considerations to make. To begin with, ensure to take your time in searching for a reputable brand. There are quite a few pharmaceutical and herbal companies in the market, which manufacture the herbal extract.
Some offer a higher quality product than others. Therefore, it’s prudent to read customer reviews online and research every potential brand before making a purchase. In addition, men who intend to use this herb to boost testosterone should keep in mind that a good formula should contain at least 50% fenuside content by weight.