Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is a leguminous, annual plant originating in India and North Africa. Fenugreek, now cultivated worldwide, has many proposed health benefits and is found in the diets of various Middle Eastern countries. The leaves and seeds of fenugreek are typically manufactured into a powder or a standardized extract, which is then used for its therapeutic application in Natural Health Products/Dietary Supplements.
Fenugreek has been studied extensively in human and animal models. The effects of fenugreek supplementation on the regulation of insulin and hyperglycemia are well established. Defatted fractions of fenugreek seeds, high in fiber content and containing steroid saponins, lowered blood glucose and plasma glucagon concentrations after eight days of consumption in dogs. Other investigations utilizing human participants have implemented fenugreek supplementation to diabetic patients eliciting positive glucose regulation responses. Another study examined the acute and chronic outcomes of a soluble dietary fiber (SDF) prepared from fenugreek seeds administered to type 1 and type 2 diabetic rats. Following a 28-day SDF supplementation period, type 2 diabetic rats experienced a significant reduction in blood glucose levels, initiating an increase in hepatic glycogen stores. Fenugreek seed extract acts in a similar fashion to that of insulin by promoting glucose uptake into cells through a dose-dependent manner. Additional evidence has shown that fenugreek seeds aid in the release of insulin from pancreatic beta cells, thus allowing blood glucose levels to reduce by the transport and entrance of glucose into muscle cells.
Fenugreek has also been shown to be a useful remedy in combating abnormal cholesterol profiles in hyperlipidemic populations. A daily dose of fenugreek seed for eight weeks lowered LDL, VLDL triglyceride and total cholesterol and increased HDL when compared to a control group. Fasting cholesterol and triacylglycerol levels were similar across groups when fed either a high-cholesterol diet with fenugreek extract or a standard diet, and post-prandial triacylglycerol levels were higher in rats on the standard diet concluding that fenugreek reduces triacylglycerol levels in fasting and post-prandial states. So, you can see Fenugreek seeds can have a variety of benefits in the body however newer standardized versions of fenugreek which contain specific combinations of natural phytochemicals can have more specific applications.
The newest application of fenugreek is on sport performance or changes in testosterone. These applications do not use just the seed but rather specific standardizations of active compounds present in fenugreek. One study reported that fenugreek increased swimming time to exhaustion in rats after four weeks of supplementation, perhaps due to increased utilization of fatty acids during exercise. Furthermore, claims have been made that fenugreek has anabolic potential. A trial performed on male rats found that after four weeks, supplemented an extract isolated from fenugreek seeds. This extract was effective in increasing weight of the levator ani muscle to that of testosterone treatment. Thus, it is possible that fenugreek might have a positive effect on exercise performance as mediated through hormonal changes.
Currently, there is a range of testosterone boosters available in the market which uses Fenugreek and claim an increase in the muscle mass and strength. Many of these products seem to contain generic fenugreek without an active ingredient that has been clinically studied. It is critical to identify the exact active ingredient that provides the efficacy. Hence it is imperative to use a product that is clinically proven to increase the free and bioavailable testosterone. Andropique™ contains the highest standardized fenugreek extract having specific bioactive markers (Not less than 80% glycosides, Grecunins). It is clinically proven to support Free and Bioavailable testosterone in your body within the physiological limits (Poole et al. Mokashi et al.).
In recent years, fenugreek seed extract has exploded onto the natural testosterone booster market and is going to grow. The use of the fenugreek seed extract supplements which is rich in glycoside content (80%) is playing a promising role in the muscle mass gains, improve body composition and libido (Poole et al.). Initial research supplemented resistance trained men in a randomized, double-blind fashion with a placebo or 500 mg of Fenugreek extract (Poole et al.). After 8 weeks of supplementing and resistance training, significantly greater improvements in body fat, lower body strength, and upper body strength were observed. Other research has shown significant increase in repetitions performed to failure using the bench press and a reduction in body fat when 600 mg Fenugreek extract was consumed while following a resistance training program (Wankhede et al). Most recently research has demonstrated that fenugreek supplementation can increase free and bioavailable testosterone presumably through the inhibition of aromatase and 5-alpha reductase or the binding of SHBG (Poole et al.).
Mokashi et al. 2014. Effects of glycosides-based fenugreek seed extract on serum testosterone levels of healthy sedentary male subjects: A exploratory double blind, placebo controlled, crossover study. As J of Phar Clin Res. 7:177-188