Fenugreek is a powerful medicinal plant.
It has been used throughout history for its health-promoting qualities and natural ability to treat ailments ranging from digestive issues to skin conditions (
Recently, fenugreek has become popular for its purported effects on testosterone levels, causing people to wonder whether it can help treat low testosterone.
This article describes what fenugreek is, its potential health benefits, and whether it can be used as a natural way to boost testosterone levels.
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-groecum L.) is an annual plant that is native to India and North Africa. It’s grown and consumed around the world.
The seeds, leaves, and other parts of the plant are used in supplements, powders, tonics, and teas and are also popular ingredients in cooking, for example in Indian cuisine.
Throughout history, the fenugreek plant has also been used as a natural remedy for many ailments.
In fact, fenugreek was given to pregnant women to treat labor pains in ancient Rome and used to treat leg weakness and swelling in traditional Chinese medicine (
Fenugreek leaves and seeds are aromatic and have a complex taste described as nutty, sweet, and slightly bitter. The fenugreek plant contains an array of powerful compounds that are thought to be responsible for many of the plant’s therapeutic properties.
For instance, the seeds are rich in saponins and coumarins — chemicals that have been associated with many health benefits, such as reducing blood sugar and cholesterol levels (
Given that the seeds contain high amounts of potent compounds, fenugreek supplements typically contain concentrated extracts from fenugreek seeds or fenugreek seed powder.
Various parts of the fenugreek plant have been used in traditional medicine practices throughout history to treat a variety of ailments. Fenugreek supplements are typically made from concentrated doses of fenugreek seeds.
Fenugreek supplements are often used by those looking for a natural way to increase testosterone levels.
Testosterone is a sex hormone in both men and women that affects sexual function, energy levels, cognitive function, bone health, mood, and more (
Your testosterone levels naturally decline as you grow older, and health conditions like obesity and diabetes are associated with low testosterone, regardless of age (
Testosterone deficiency, or hypogonadism, is estimated to affect up to 39% of men over the age of 45. This condition is usually treated with hormone replacement therapy, though some seek alternatives like herbal supplements (
What does the research say?
Fenugreek has been researched for its potential to naturally increase testosterone.
It contains compounds called furostanolic saponins, which are believed to increase testosterone production.
Several studies have shown that taking fenugreek supplements may improve testosterone levels and symptoms related to low testosterone such as low libido.
For example, an 8-week study in 49 athletic men found that taking supplements with 500 mg of fenugreek daily slightly increased testosterone levels and significantly improved strength and body fat compared to a placebo group (
Protodioscin is a type of saponin in fenugreek that may be particularly effective at increasing testosterone levels.
A 12-week study in 50 men demonstrated that those who took a daily 500-mg fenugreek supplement that contained concentrated amounts of protodioscin experienced significant improvements in their testosterone levels.
The study found that testosterone levels increased by up to 46% in an impressive 90% of the participants. What’s more, the majority of the fenugreek supplement group experienced improvements in mood, energy, libido, and sperm count (
Additionally, a 12-week study in 120 men aged 43–75 showed that those who took 600 mg of fenugreek seed extract daily experienced increases in testosterone levels and improved libido compared to a control group (
However, some studies have concluded that treatment with fenugreek does not lead to an increase in testosterone, which highlights the need for further research (
It’s important to note that some of the studies that found increases in testosterone levels were sponsored by companies that had invested in the fenugreek products being tested. This may have impacted the study results (
Some research suggests that fenugreek supplements may increase testosterone levels, but additional studies are needed to confirm this.
Aside from potentially benefiting those with low testosterone, fenugreek has been shown to improve your health in other ways.
- May increase breast milk production. A recent review found that fenugreek significantly increased breast milk production in four out of the five studies included in the review (
- May reduce high blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that fenugreek supplements can reduce blood sugar levels and hemoglobin A1c — a marker of long-term blood sugar control — in people with diabetes (
- Contains anti-inflammatory compounds. Fenugreek seeds contain anti-inflammatory compounds like flavonoid antioxidants, which may help reduce symptoms of certain inflammatory conditions like asthma (
- May reduce cholesterol. A review of 12 studies noted that fenugreek significantly decreased total cholesterol levels in people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes (
- May have anticancer effects. Test-tube studies have demonstrated that fenugreek extract can kill certain cancer cells such as lymphoma and breast cancer cells (
Although promising, more research is needed before strong conclusions can be made about fenugreek’s effects on these conditions.
Fenugreek may help regulate blood sugar levels, increase breast milk production, and offer anti-inflammatory effects, but more research is needed.
While some research suggests that fenugreek can improve testosterone levels, there are more thoroughly studied ways to increase low testosterone.
First, it’s important to note that low testosterone levels can be a sign of an underlying medical condition, so it’s important to consult your healthcare provider if you think you might be experiencing symptoms related to low testosterone.
Symptoms of low testosterone include low sex drive, fatigue, depressed mood, reduced energy, erectile dysfunction, and more (
If you are diagnosed with low testosterone, your healthcare provider will decide the best treatment method for you based on your individual needs.
That said, there are many natural ways to increase your testosterone levels, including:
- Losing excess body fat. Men who are overweight are more likely to have low testosterone levels, and research shows that losing weight can increase testosterone levels (
- Exercising. Exercise, especially high-intensity interval training (HIIT), has been shown to increase low testosterone levels in aging men (
- Eating a healthy diet. Research has shown that eating a diet rich in protein, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables and limiting refined foods and added sugars may help increase testosterone levels (
- Managing blood sugar levels. Having high blood sugar levels may increase your risk of developing low testosterone. Eat a healthy diet, exercise, and lose excess body fat to lower high blood sugar levels (
- Getting enough sleep. Research shows that sleep deprivation can decrease testosterone levels — even in young, healthy men. Ensure that you’re rested by getting the recommended 7–9 hours of sleep per night (
- Limiting exposure to pollution. Those who are frequently exposed to pollutants like air pollution have been shown to have lower levels of testosterone than those who are exposed less frequently (
In addition to the above tips, there are other natural ways to increase your testosterone.
For example, certain vitamin, mineral, and herbal supplements, including vitamin D, zinc, and ashwagandha, have been shown to raise testosterone (
However, the effectiveness of supplements can vary depending on underlying deficiencies, medical diagnoses, current medications, and more. Thus, it’s important to discuss any new supplements with your healthcare provider.
Losing excess body weight, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and managing blood sugar levels are all natural ways to boost your testosterone. Consult your healthcare provider to discuss the best methods based on your individual needs.
Many people use fenugreek supplements to naturally increase low testosterone levels.
While some studies suggest that these supplements may raise testosterone, others have found no effect.
Thus, more research is needed before fenugreek can be recommended as a natural treatment for low testosterone.
If you think you may have low testosterone or have been diagnosed with low testosterone, be sure to discuss treatment methods with your healthcare provider before taking any type of supplement, including fenugreek.