Fenugreek is a plant in the trigonella (grains) genus that is similar in appearance to wild clover. It is commonly called Greek hay and bockshornklee (“ram’s horn clover” in German). The multitude of fenugreek benefits have been known for a long time; it has been used by humans for thousands of years as a feed for animals, a flavoring and food ingredient, a medicinal herb, and an ingredient in health and beauty aids.
Fenugreek Health Benefits
Fenugreek has been known to alleviate a wide variety of health concerns ranging from dandruff, low libido, fever reducer, and headaches— all the way to bronchial problems. It has been used to improve the digestive tract, help wounds to heal, treat arthritis, assist in the maintenance of a healthy metabolism, heal abscesses, and induce labor in pregnant women. The herb also has a long history of being used for treating reproductive disorders in both men and women.
Fenugreek Benefits for Men
Fenugreek is an herb that has outstanding therapeutic properties, according to natural medicine practices used all over the globe. Although fenugreek is well known for its ability to treat women’s health concerns, there are several specific fenugreek benefits for men too.
Chinese herbalists believe that the fundamentals of a healthy sex life lie in the kidneys, and that anything that promotes kidney health contributes to a heightened libido. Since fenugreek detoxifies the body and fortifies the kidneys, the herb has long been used as a natural aphrodisiac. Additionally, studies have shown that fenugreek has naturally occurring hormone like properties that may increase sexual desire and increase testosterone in a man’s body. To start, consume 500-2,000 milligrams per day of fenugreek, adjusting the dose accordingly once the desired results are achieved.
Men have also found fenugreek helpful in lowering their cholesterol levels. Due to the binding effects of the saponins in the herb, less cholesterol is absorbed into the arteries once it is administered. Always consult with your primary care physician first, however, because high cholesterol presents a very dangerous situation if not controlled properly. As a result, prescribed medications may be needed to lower these levels quicker. If it is deemed okay to try fenugreek, the recommended dose of this herb is 610 milligrams up to three times daily to aid in lowering cholesterol levels.
Fenugreek is very rich in galactomannan, a fiber that has a sticky and binding property, making it useful in treating chronic constipation. Keep in mind, however, that not everyone’s body has the same response to this herb, so trying various concentrations and forms of fenugreek will help in determining which one is best for you. Start by grinding the plant’s seeds and sprinkling it on food. If the taste is too strong, steep the ground seeds in boiling water and drink the liquid two to three times a day. Remember to drink plenty of water when battling constipation.
Men, in particular, often suffer from congested lungs and a mucousy throat. The properties in fenugreek work side by side with the body to help keep the respiratory system clean and functioning properly. Mucilage, which is a thick, gluey substance found in fenugreek seeds, helps soothe irritated tissues in the throat and lungs. It also helps to flush pollutants out of the sinuses. To begin this regimen, take 950 milligrams of fenugreek, using the whole seeds or prepared capsules two times a day with meals.
Several encouraging studies on the use of fenugreek benefits for men in the area of prostate health have been done recently. One study by Johns Hopkins University in 2010 found that the herb appeared to constrain pancreatic, breast, and prostate cancer cell lines. Since fenugreek is rich in selenium, it has a positive effect on the body’s ability to ward off these diseases. Crush the seeds and boil them in water, or drink a pre-made tea. Consuming ten to fifteen milliliters over a 72-hour period has shown to inhibit negative cell growth in the prostate and keep it healthy, too.
The proper dosing of fenugreek always depends on numerous factors, such as a person’s age, health history, and other conditions. Be sure to read the product labels thoroughly before administering this herb, and consult with a health care professional before using it. Fenugreek benefits for men are very practical and inexpensive to obtain, and can be worth the time and effort.
Fenugreek Benefits for Women
Fenugreek is an herb commonly used as a cooking spice, especially in curry and other Indian delicacies. However, it is also used as a health supplement and herbal remedy for many different ailments. Fenugreek benefits women in particular in many circumstances, especially for “female” ailments and issues.
Reducing Menopausal Hot Flashes
Fenugreek contains diosgenin, which has properties similar to the female hormone, estrogen. Many women experience hot flashes during menopause, because their bodies produce less estrogen. Diosgenin has been shown to stimulate the body in the same way that estrogen normally prevents hot flashes in pre-menopausal women. To combat hot flashes, steep up to two teaspoons of crushed fenugreek seeds in a cup of boiled water and let it stand for ten minutes. Some women may wish to add a little sweetener to counteract the herb’s bitter taste.
Increasing Female Libido
The high concentration of furostanol saponins in fenugreek have been shown to increase sexual hormones. This can make it a great remedy for any woman who feels that her libido is fading. Some women have reported becoming more interested in sex after ingesting it. For libido-increasing fenugreek benefits for women, make a tea from the seeds similar to the menopause remedy, or take it in capsular form. Some herbalists recommend making a poultice of the whole seeds, soaked in hot water and allowed to cool, placed directly on the base of the spine and left for an hour.
Reduction of Menstrual Cramps
The diosgenin found in fenugreek also helps the body’s ability to lessen the pains of menstrual cramps due to its estrogen-like properties. It is recommended that a woman drink fenugreek tea up to three times a day to help alleviate the discomforts of menstrual problems. If a capsule form is preferred, take one pill twice a day to help reduce the cramps, fatigue, and mood swings associated with menstruation. Discontinue use once you are feeling better or your menstrual cycle ends.
Natural Breast Enhancement
Some allege that fenugreek benefits for women include actually enhancing breast size. To try this, crush fenugreek seeds and mix them with a small amount of vegetable oil, then apply it topically to the chest. Women have also experienced great outcomes by sipping a strong cup of the tea made from sprouted fenugreek seeds (soak them in water and place them on a damp paper towel for a day). Use a ratio of one cup of fenugreek sprouts to two cups of boiling water. Drink up to two cups of this mixture daily until the desired effects are achieved.
Increase in Milk Production
It has also been known for hundreds of years that fenugreek has the ability to stimulate milk production in nursing mothers. The mother should always consult with her doctor or lactation consultant first; if the okay is given, begin taking the herb orally in capsule form one to three times a day, consuming roughly 3,500 grams total, or the recommended dose given by the health care professional. This should begin to increase the production of milk within a few days. The nursing mother can usually stop taking fenugreek once she achieves the anticipated level of milk production.
Take note that women currently using any oral medications should be sure to consult with their physician prior to trying fenugreek. Use this herb two hours before or after administering prescribed drugs, because fenugreek fiber has the possibility of interfering with the absorption of certain medicines due to its mucilage’s sticky properties.
Don’t Ignore these Fenugreek Side Effects
For the most part, fenugreek is a safe and natural herbal remedy that has shown to provide great benefits for many different health problems and ailments. Just like any other curative or therapy, however, there will always be individuals who experience side effects from the use of this herb. The following is a list of possible fenugreek side effects that may occur while taking it.
Fenugreek has the possibility of interfering with the absorption of some oral medications. The two most common medications effected are blood thinners and a few drugs used for diabetes. Since the natural coumarins in fenugreek act as blood thinners, always be sure to contact your health care professional if you are already taking an anticoagulant drug. If a drug interaction occurs, it can lead to dangerous side effects such as uncontrolled or internal bleeding. Use fenugreek with caution and educate yourself on all of the warning signs of a reaction.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has associated an assortment of gastrointestinal side effects related to the use of fenugreek. These problems may include diarrhea, loose stools, flatulence, bloating, and excessive gas. It is recommended to consume no more than 100 grams of the herb daily to reduce the chance of these side effects. If any of these symptoms still appear, continue lowering your dosage until the complications subside. If stomach problems are still present, it is best to stop taking fenugreek altogether.
Fenugreek has been known to cause allergic responses in some individuals. The most common symptoms of this include facial swelling, rash, difficulty breathing and swallowing, and wheezing. If you are allergic to any kind of spice, a negative response may present itself after consuming fenugreek, so pay careful attention if you have been bothered by flavorings or seasonings in the past. A second problem is that fenugreek is in the same family as green peas, peanuts, and chickpeas. Those who are allergic to legumes should not use fenugreek, because a serious or deadly reaction may occur.
A component of fenugreek is sotolone, which is a strong aromatic complex, comparable to maple syrup. This compound passes through the body almost unchanged, exiting the pores and orifices with the same smell as when it was taken in. The herb’s smell has been found to emit from a user’s sweat and breath. Fenugreek can also cause a similar smell in the urine and turn it dark-colored when taken in high doses. Although these are not serious side effects, they can be embarrassing, and some individuals have quit using the herb because of the smell alone.
Fenugreek has been known to cause skin reactions in some individuals, which can become quite bothersome. When the herb is used topically, it can cause skin sensitivity, rash, and irritation. Other less common reactions include bleeding and bruising easily. Studies have shown, however, that these skin irregularities most often occur when fenugreek is taken in large doses or for a lengthy amount of time. Most people find that these problems subside as soon as they lower their dose or discontinue using the herb.
Fenugreek is a plant used in natural therapies for many types of ailments, and serious side effects are actually very rare. As long as a physician or health care professional is consulted before use, users should experience little to no fenugreek side effects while using the herb.