Infinite One Series: Fenugreek
Fenugreek is a herb that is commonly found growing in the Mediterranean region of the world. While the seeds and leaves are primarily used as a culinary spice, it is also used to treat a variety of health problems in Egypt, Greece, Italy, and South Asia. Fenugreek seeds, has a traditional history of medicinal use in the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) and also cholesterol management. Diosgenin one of the saponins in fenugreek has the capacity to lower plasma cholesterol concentration in hypercholesteremic animals. Fenugreek seeds have been found to contain protein, vitamin C, niacin, potassium, and diosgenin. Other active constituents in fenugreek are alkaloids, lysine and L-tryptophan, as well as steroidal saponins (diosgenin, yamogenin, tigogenin, and neotigogenin). Fenugreek glycosides are reported to be major components of the health benefits of fenugreek seeds. Recently, Fenugreek has been found to have performance enhancing effects mediated through an aromatase and five α reductase inhibition, thereby increasing total testosterone levels by blocking its conversion to estrogen and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), respectively.
In 2010, researchers reported fenugreek increased bioavailable testosterone. Thirty young strength athletes were the test subjects for this study. Half of them took a daily 500 mg fenugreek extract for eight weeks. The other half of the group were given a placebo. In the eight weeks that the study lasted, both groups increased their strength by about the same amount. The lean body mass increased in both the placebo group and the experimental group by 1.6 kg. The amount of bio-available testosterone increased by 26 percent in the fenugreek group. In a different study, conducted by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers analyzed fenugreek’s effects on strength, body composition, and power output. Nearly 50 resistance-trained men (matched in bodyweight) were randomly assigned either a placebo or a Fenugreek supplement. After eight weeks of resistance training, split into two upper and lower extremity workouts per week, subjects underwent hydrodensiometry body composition testing. At the end of the study, 500 mg of this proprietary fenugreek extraction had a significant impact on upper and lower body strength and body composition in comparison to placebo in a double-blind controlled trial. These changes after fenugreek administration were obtained with no clinical side effects. Another study published in the February 2011 issue of Phytotherapy Research involved 60 male subjects, who were given 600 mg of fenugreek a day for six weeks. The subjects who were given fenugreek reported an increase in sexual arousal, energy, stamina, and testosterone levels.
A new study conducted by researchers in India suggests that fenugreek can enhance testosterone levels in resistance trained men. To evaluate the efficacy and safety of the glycoside fraction of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) seeds on physiological parameters related to muscle anabolism, androgenic hormones, and body fat in healthy male subjects during an 8-week resistance training program using a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled design. Sixty healthy male subjects were randomized to ingest capsules of fenugreek (one capsule of 300 mg, twice per day. The subjects were instructed to consume one capsule with water twice a day (20 min before breakfast and 20 min before dinner) or the matching placebo at a 1:1 ratio. The subjects participated in a supervised 4-day per week resistance-training program for eight weeks. Briefly, each subject performed 1-RM lifts on the isotonic bench press. Initially, the subjects were warmed-up (2 sets of 8e10 repetitions at approximately 50% of anticipated maximum) on the bench press and then performed successive 1-RM lifts starting at about 70% of anticipated 1-RM and increased by 5 kg until they reached 1-RM. The subjects were again allowed to rest and warm-up by performing two sets of the bench press at 60% and 80% of the resistance. Then, the subject complete as many repetitions as possible with a resistance of 80% of their 1-RM bench press. The subject rested for 10 min and then warmed-up on the 45 leg press (2 sets of 8e10 repetitions at approximately 50% of anticipated maximum). The same procedure as that of 1-RM bench press was adopted for 1-RM leg press. The repetitions to failure in the bench press and leg press was recorded from the number of maximum repetitions that the subject could complete with a resistance of 80% of their 1-RM bench/leg press. All strength/ exercise tests were supervised by lab assistants experienced in conducting strength/anaerobic exercise tests using standard procedures.
The outcome measurements were recorded at recruitment (baseline), and at the end of the treatment (8 weeks). The researchers measured serum testosterone (total and free) levels, muscle strength and repetitions to failure, metabolic markers for anabolic activity (serum creatinine and blood urea nitrogen) and % body fat. At the end of eight weeks, fenugreek supplementation demonstrated significant anabolic and androgenic activity as compared with the placebo. Fenugreek supplementation treated subjects showed significant improvements in body fat without a reduction in muscle strength or repetitions to failure. The results of the present clinical study demonstrated the efficacy of 8-week treatment of fenugreek offered beneficial effects regarding repetitions to failure in leg press, free testosterone levels and serum creatinine as compared with placebo.
The fenugreek supplementation was found to be safe and well-tolerated. The researchers concluded that fenugreek supplementation showed beneficial effects in male subjects during resistance training without any clinical side effects.
|Wankhede, et al. “Beneficial effects of fenugreek glycoside supplementation in male subjects 3 during resistance training: A randomized controlled pilot study.” Journal of Sport and Health Science (2015) 1e7: Ahead of print.|
Steels E, Rao A, and Vitetta L.Physiological Aspects of Male Libido Enhanced by Standardized Trigonella foenum-graecum Extract and Mineral Formulation.Phytother Res. 2011 Feb 10.
Bushey, Brandon, et al. “Fenugreek Extract Supplementation Has No effect on the Hormonal Profile of Resitance-Trained Males.” International Journal of Exercise Science: Conference Proceedings. Vol. 2. No. 1. 2009.
Swerdloff, Ronald S., and Christina Wang. “Dihydrotestosterone: a rationale for its use as a non-aromatizable androgen replacement therapeutic agent.”Baillière’s clinical endocrinology and metabolism 12.3 (1998): 501-506
Ly, Lam P., et al. “A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial of transdermal dihydrotestosterone gel on muscular strength, mobility, and quality of life in older men with partial androgen deficiency.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 86.9 (2001): 4078-4088
Poole C et al. “The effects of a commercially available botanical supplement on strength, body composition, power output, and hormonal profiles in resistance-trained males.” J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010 Oct 27;7:34.