What is Fenugreek?
Fenugreek is an herb that has been used as a cooking staple as much as an alternative health treatment for many years throughout Asia and Europe. Fenugreek broke into the fitness scene when one study supposedly demonstrated it to be a powerful and effective way to increase testosterone.
The idea that this herb is a great way to increase testosterone levels was backed up by claims that it also boosts libido. Naturally, this skyrocketed fenugreek into the spotlight but was this a deserved boost?
What are the Benefits of Fenugreek?
Before we discuss whether or not fenugreek can increase testosterone, let’s take a look at other things that fenugreek may have a positive influence on.
A study published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine tested three creatine-based supplements on strength levels during a 4-week training program.
Subjects were given one of the three supplements: placebo and dextrose; creatine and dextrose; and creatine and fenugreek. Researchers concluded that the creatine with fenugreek was as effective at promoting strength increases as creatine with dextrose.
I’d like to point out that while this sounds great, creatine has long been shown to be a way to boost strength. The idea that fenugreek enhanced strength may be a stretch.
In other words, I wouldn’t make the claim that fenugreek is a powerful strength booster when creatine is the one with a variety of studies and scientific backing. (2)
Several studies have suggested fenugreek may be an effective way to increase lactation and improve breastfeeding for new mothers.
While researchers are still awaiting longer term and larger sample size studies to be funded, most experts agree that it is advisable to use fenugreek extract to enhance lactation before turning to more expensive and potentially harmful medical procedures. (3)
Does Fenugreek Increase Testosterone?
To this day, no study has demonstrated fenugreek to be an effective way to increase testosterone levels. The study that kicked off fenugreek’s popularity was paid for by the company producing Testofen, a popular ingredient in many t-boosters.
The irony is that even in the sponsored study, there was no mention of total testosterone levels being improved over the long term.
Another study published in the International Journal of Exercise Science demonstrated there was no testosterone boosting effect but actually decreased dihydrotestosterone (DHT) instead! (4)
For guys looking to boost an androgenic and anabolic environment, this may be the opposite of what you want as DHT is extremely androgenic, much more so than testosterone.
The Bottom Line
There’s no arguing about the benefit of fenugreek as a safe and effective way to promote lactation and healthy breast feeding.
As a testosterone booster, it has no place in the t-booster category. No legitimate and non-sponsored study has ever proven fenugreek to be a powerful way to increase testosterone.
In fact, it’s just the opposite: studies have shown it doesn’t do anything for t-levels.
- Steels, E., Rao, A. and Vitetta, L. (2011), Physiological Aspects of Male Libido Enhanced by Standardized Trigonella foenum-graecum Extract and Mineral Formulation. Phytother. Res., 25: 1294–1300. doi:10.1002/ptr.3360 – Link
- Taylor L, Poole C, Pena E, et al. Effects of Combined Creatine Plus Fenugreek Extract vs. Creatine Plus Carbohydrate Supplementation on Resistance Training Adaptations. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. 2011;10(2):254-260. – Link
- Sim TF, Sherriff J, Hattingh HL, Parsons R, Tee LB. The use of herbal medicines during breastfeeding: a population-based survey in Western Australia. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2013;13:317. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-317. – Link
- 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 Proceedings: Vol. 2 : Iss. 1 , Article 13. – Link