In this article, I will cover the health benefits, safety concerns and precautions of use of Fenugreek, which has been marketed as a testosterone booster in your kitchen.
You will also learn the many different ways you can take this seed and how it help you optimize your glucose uptake.
CAUTION: Medical Disclaimer
Table of Contents
- 1 Herbal Name and Characteristics:
- 2 About this Herb
- 3 What is Fenugreek?
- 4 Benefits and properties of Fenugreek
- 5 When and how to take it?
- 6 Safety and side effects
- 7 Cycling
- 8 Closing thoughts
Herbal Name and Characteristics:
- Name: Fenugreek or Greek Clover
- Pin Yin: Hu Lu Ba,
- Latin: Trigonella foecum-graecum
- Taste: Nutty, slightly sweet (like burnt maple syrup) and mildly bitter
- Color: yellowish to golden seeds, tincture has red-ish color
- Constitution: Yang
- Builds: N/A
About this Herb
Even though I come from a culture where fenugreek is used in cooking, I actually learned about the male enhancing properties of this spice/herb from coach Charles Poliquin. He always talked about how a supplement called Testofen can improve glucose uptake in the body and therefore assist with fat loss. Apparently, the main ingredient in this supplement is fenugreek.
Sometimes people confuse Fenugreek with Fennel seeds but even though they have similar properties they are not the same.
I started using Fenugreek for better carb uptake in the place of chromium or ALA supplements. I was amazed to see that it worked just as well when it comes to handling blood sugar levels as I was getting leaner without reducing calories or carb intake.
What was also amazing was the fact that I managed to set several PRs in the gym (and I remember it was a very hectic time in my personal and professional time as well) as I was taking it pre-workout along with creatine. The boost I had was insane! However I did experience a drop in libido after 2 weeks of using it and decided to stop it.
I tinctured the seeds as they can be quite hard to chew on. You can also add the entire seed or just grind them down and add them to your food. Another good suggestion is to sprout them.
Below you will find more details about this seed, benefits, side effects and precautions you need to know before using it.
What is Fenugreek?
This seed has a great history of use in the Middle East and Asia for thousands of years. In Ayurveda and TCM it used to:
- Prevent spasms,
- Lower cholesterol,
- Balance blood sugar levels,
- Help with skin beauty,
- Enhance libido in men and women,
- Help women lactate more (due to its galactomannan content).
Some sources claim that it can be used for breast enlargement due to its diosgenin content (used to make synthetic estrogen) however, that same steroid saponin has no effect in men and can raise G.H levels instead.
The studies showed that it can help with insulin sensitivity and with the uptake of glucose in the body. The main ingredient in the seed responsible for the increase of body’s insulin and the regulation of blood sugar levels is 4-hydroxyisoleucine. This is a compound that helps the pancreas make more insulin.
Insulin is a very anabolic steroid in our bodies that regulates blood sugar levels (and is a must for diabetics who can’t make enough of it). It is also used in bodybuilding and is considered the holy grail of hormones as it can help build muscle and shed fat.
Another benefit is that it can help raise testosterone levels but it does so by inhibiting the conversion to DHT. DHT is a powerful chemical in men that has been blamed for hair loss, prostate cancer and other evils but it still remains something very essential for men vitality, libido and overall health which has lead a few men to turn away from using fenugreek.
However, there is an interesting study that proved that by using Fenugreek with creatine, you get the same rise in strength and muscle mass you would get from using creatine with 70gr of dextrose.
So the choice is yours and I always believe that you need to experiment to see what works for you as different people react differently with different ingredients (as they go through different pathways in one’s body). Also, in order to properly assess the effect it has on your hormones (free Testosterone and DHT), it would be better if you got some blood or saliva tests done before and after using fenugreek.
Benefits and properties of Fenugreek
Summarizing the many benefits of Fenugreek:
- It has anti-aging benefits and can help with Growth Hormone levels as shown in a study in rats.
- It can enhance libido and sexual energy in men without raising testosterone levels. However, bear in mind that anything that raises Growth Hormone (as seen above) can raise testosterone levels.
- It has anabolic properties and can help with strength gains and muscle size when taken for 2 months while on a weight-resistance program.
- It can help with fat loss and muscle gain because of its anabolic properties.
- It can be used with creatine in the place of carbs (dextrose) to promote strength gains, muscle size and fat loss.
- In another study, it was shown that you can use ALA (or fish oil) with Fenugreek instead of carbs for fuel plus it will help improve your hydration and therefore your strength gains.
- As an aftermath of better hydration and insulin levels, it can also help with driving more carnitine and creatine into the muscle tissue for better fat loss.
- It can help with milk production in lactating females as it stimulates sweat production. Sweat glands operate in a similar way as milk glands.
However be wary that it can cause teratogenesis (child defects) and even cause miscarriages when taken in large doses according to a few studies.
- It has anti-diabetic properties by addressing problematic glucose metabolism in people with diabetes. Therefore it can help with the uptake of glucose and enhance insulin sensitivity.
- It can lower LDL cholesterol levels and also blood sugar levels.
- It can protect the liver against oxidative damage and alcohol induced damage and has similar liver protective properties as silymarin.
- It can protect the eyes against cataract in diabetic patients.
When and how to take it?
Alcohol based Tincture: Tincturing can extract many of the androgenic nutrients found in Fenugreek seeds while protecting you from its trypsin content. Hold the dose in your mouth (under the tongue) for 1 to 3 minutes until it gets absorbed. Then you can swallow it.
The tincture can also be taken in a glass of water. Wait a couple of minutes for the alcohol to evaporate and then drink the tincture.
Capsules: Fenugreek can be taken as a supplement pill however I would advise you to be really careful when selecting capsules. Their quality and potency can be of questionable quality and you are not able to see the color of the herb/seed or smell it in order to properly assess its quality.
Powder: Another option is to buy grinded powder. Alternatively, you can buy whole Fenugreek seeds and either grind them down yourself or even sprout them and then use them in your foods or shakes.
Another way to take it is to hold the powder in your mouth for 5 minutes.
What you can also do is alternate between 2 sources, 1st would be a tincture and the second, powder or tablet form.
Tea: Another good way would be to make a tea out of it. You can boil some water and add some powder and let it sit over time and then drink it as usual.
The best times to take it would be:
- Before training,
- After training with your post-workout shake and carbs,
- With foods that contain a lot of carbs.
Safety and side effects
While Fenugreek seeds do not seem to have any toxicity levels, it does have some side effects after prolonged use (more than 3 months) and in high doses, especially for pregnant women.
Reported side effects of prolonged usage include:
- Stomach upset,
- “Maple syrup” odor in urine.
In pregnant women it can cause:
- Teratogenesis in the fetus (abnormalities and even disfigured children),
For men, it can have several hormone related side effects (since it contains phytoestrogens even though it has been shown that it does not affect men, some exceptions may apply as we are all different) such as:
- Low libido,
- Low energy,
- Reduced strength,
- Shrunken testicles.
If you experience any of these effects, it is an indication that Fenugreek does not work at an optimal level in your body and can lead to hormone imbalances. In that case, stop using this herb immediately.
Last but not least, Fenugreek can lower blood pressure so avoid taking it if you already have low blood pressure.
You should not take Fenugreek if you:
- Have any hormonal problem or medical condition including but not limited to cancer, diabetes or undergoing chemo treatment: Check with your doctor before using fenugreek if you have any of the above conditions as only a medical professional can determine if using it is a good idea or not.
- Are taking blood pressure medication or blood thinners as it can interfere with the dosage.
- Have low blood pressure as there is a high risk of hypoglycemia from using fenugreek.
- Are scheduled for an operation, organ transplant or you just underwent one. Certain ingredients may interfere with the sedation used during surgery, rejection of the organ, interfere with healing and/or cause internal bleeding.
- Are pregnant or lactating. Consult with your doctor before taking Fenugreek as it can cause teratogenesis and miscarriages.
- Have allergies to this specific herb or peas as it has similar chemicals.
The best thing you can do before taking any herb supplement is to test it. If you want to be safe while using herbs I strongly urge you to read my other article on how to test an herb for allergies and intolerances.
Contraindications or interactions with other medication/substances:
Avoid using this herb/spice if you have any medical conditions or take any kind of medication without consulting with your doctor first.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Since there are not enough studies performed to determine the full safety of this product, pregnant women or breastfeeding women should avoid using this herb.
Use for up to 3 months and then take 4 weeks off. Repeat cycle after that.
While there is no toxicity associated with long term consumption, I would not use any herb for long periods of time without a break in order to keep them being effective and protect the body from accumulation of other toxins unrelated to the herb itself.
Over the past 20 years I have experimented with literally hundreds of herbs, supplements (and other natural products) and was finally able to discover the right doses for amazing results.
If you wish to learn more about the dosages that I use with my clients for different purposes (better health, hormonal balance, stress management, testosterone boost and more) or how I combine this herb/supp with others, leave a comment below or reach out to me for a consultation through the “Hire me” link.
I would highly recommend Fenugreek for improving glucose uptake but beware when using it as a testosterone booster. Yes it can increase testosterone but it does so by inhibiting its conversion to DHT, which is the most powerful androgen! If you have high levels of DHT already, then this might not be a problem for you. If not, then you will see a drop in libido after the first 2 weeks. This is why it’s up to the individual to test it out and see how it responds.
Overall, it does raise testosterone (technically making it a testosterone booster) but there are much better choices to consider out there.
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by Nick Sigma
CWC, EH, E-YRT200
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- Book: Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs, Ron Teeguarden. Paperback – March 1, 2000