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Benefits of Fenugreek Seeds

The spice fenugreek appears to significantly improve muscle strength and weight lifting power output while possessing anti-cancer properties in vitro.

November 22, 2012 |
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Sources Cited

Acknowledgements

Image thanks to Rillke via Wikimedia Commons.

Transcript

“The effects of a commercially available botanical supplement on strength, body composition, power output, and hormonal profiles in resistance-trained males.” Something “had a significant impact on both upper- and lower-body strength and body composition in comparison to placebo in a double blind controlled trial. These changes were obtained with no clinical side effects.” Allowed these men to leg press an extra hundred pounds, compared to placebo. And the magical substance was fenugreek, “A naturally occurring edible spice that appears to double as an anticancer agent.” Here’s prostate cancer cells in a petri dish,   here’s prostate cancer with a little fenugreek. Here’s another type of cancer before and after. What about normal prostate cells though. Before fenugreek and after. That’s what we like to see.­­ “In summary, fenugreek seeds may possess potent anti-cancer properties. So what's the downside? Find out in tomorrow's video-of-the-day.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Ashley Rhinehart, RN.

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

This reminds me of the whole beet juice saga on improving athletic performance. My ten video series started with Doping With Beet Juice and ended with So Should We Drink Beet Juice or Not?. Other plants with apparently remarkable benefits include amla (see, for example, Amla Versus Diabetes), saffron (Saffron for the Treatment of Alzheimers), the tea plant (Dietary Brain Wave Alteration), and humble broccoli (Broccoli Versus Breast Cancer Stem Cells). More on the power of plants in general in Power Plants and spices like fenugreek in particular in Antioxidants in a Pinch. See what a whole diet of plants can do to prostate cancer growth at Ex Vivo Cancer Proliferation Bioassay.

For some context, please check out my associated blog posts: Increasing Muscle Strength with Fenugreek and Cinnamon for Diabetes

If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/toni.galindo.5 Toni Aparici Galindo

    Thanks God tomorrow is Friday! I can’t wait to know the downsides

  • Jeff K

    Fenugreek is also easy to sprout. It’s too hard and crunchy otherwise. How else would you prepare it?

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/ Michael Greger M.D.

      I just use powdered fenugreek.

      • LynnCS

        How much do you use, etc.

    • yassine el

      , you can soak it over night in cold and mineral water, its taste great

  • Michael

    I read that Fenugreek is also effective in lowering Trglycerides which is a type of Cholesterol, according to Sloan- Kettering.

  • http://twitter.com/ReneeMBM Renée MBM

    POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT! Actually it’s usually touted as an upside: fenugreek as a galactagogue, to increase breastmilk production… but if you don’t need it: oversupply. Ouch. This vegan family avoids it in food, never mind the supplements.

  • theslaw

    Do you know of any studies on successful toenail fungus treatments? Also, which vegan foods tend to cause sinus congestion, mucus, etc.? What causes red scaly skin on the cheeks and what can be done about it?

    Thanks

    • Cory

      Hopefully your toenail fungus has improved since your post but if it hasn’t, apple cider vinegar works great. My wife had a case of fungus since she was a child and it was pretty bad. After soaking her feet for 20 minutes every day in diluted apple cider vinegar, her feet were 100% fungus free in about 1 year. It was the first time in her life that she felt comfortable wearing sandals. Her case was pretty severe so if it is minor you may see results in a shorter time frame.

  • Sachith Algama

    So how much Fenugreek should we eat to get the benefits mentioned in weight lifting?

    • Darryl

      The study used a standardized extract:

      500 mg of Fenugreek (Torabolic ™ Trigonella Foenum-Graecum) (standardized for 70% Trigimannose)

      The term “Trigimannose” appears nowhere else in the literature, but from the name its obviously one of the mannose polysaccarides found in Trigonella. If Trigimannose is the tetramannose this patent claims muscle building benefits from, then the 350 mg Trigimannose in each capsule would be equivalent to consuming 10.93 grams, or 1 Tbsp, of whole fenugreek seed (assuming there’s no other elements in the whole seed that interfere with digestion or the anabolic effect).

      • Eric

        Darryl, could you provide the source you used determine that 350mg of the compound is equivalent to 10.9 g, or 1 Tbsp of whole fenugreek seed?

        FYI I also found a mistake in the above.. It’s 2 capsule of Torobolic = 350 not 1 capsule as you say above.

        According to the label of Torobolic (the supplement used in the study), the recommended dose is 2 capsules/daily. The total dose (both capsules together) contain a total of 350mg of 70% Trigaminose (the active ingredient aka extract). Hence both capsules together contain 350mg trigaminose, so one capsule contains 175mg.

        http://www.amazon.com/MET-Rx-Torabolic-quik-creat-60-count/dp/B00AUDW9UG/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1392585165&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=torabolic

      • Eric

        FYI I also found a mistake in the above info. It’s actually 2 capsules of Torabolic = 350 Trigimannose not 1 capsule as said in the above post.

        Darryl, could you please provide the source you used determine that 350mg of Trigimannose is equivalent to 10.9 g, or 1 Tbsp of whole fenugreek seed? I’m interested in finding a different source of fenugreek than Torabolic but getting the same dose as used in the study. (The reason I don’t want to use Torobolic, is that it contains the artificial coloring titanium dioxide). http://nutritionfacts.org/video/titanium-dioxide-inflammatory-bowel-disease/

        According to the label of Torobolic (the supplement used in the study Dr. Greger does on Fenugreek), the recommended dose is 2 capsules/daily. The total dose (both capsules together) contain a total of 350mg of 70% Trigimannose (the active ingredient aka extract). Hence if two capsules contain 350mg trigaminose, then one capsule contains 175mg.

        http://www.amazon.com/MET-Rx-T

        • Darryl

          It’s been a while, but the trigimannose concentration in whole fenugreek is part of the the linked patent. The conversion to volume measurement used serving sizes from nutritiondata.

  • HemoDynamic, M.D.

    I love when you find the fitness benefits of foods. I’m always trying to find how to boost fitness for Vegans. Powerful info!

  • Justin

    “This work was funded by Indus Biotech” – bottom of page 8. Indus Biotech are the makers of the supplement Torabolic used in this study. Should be mentioned for full disclosure.

  • Jan McDonald

    ‘Just Do It App’ for ingesting fennel: Take a bite of banana. Chew it a bit. Add 1/8 or more teaspoon fennel seed. Mix – do not chew – and swallow. Repeat until 1 teaspoon is gone :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tumeria-V-Langlois/530882647 Tumeria V Langlois

    Hi Dr. G,
    How
    much should I be taking every day to build strength and muscle mass? I
    have been doing about a tablespoon of ground seeds. Enough? Too much?
    I
    noticed today that my arm pits didn’t smell bad even after a sweaty
    workout (I had forgotten to put on deodorant too!) I like that side
    effect. Also like the cancer fighting part!

    Thanks,
    Tumeria

  • Austin Vegan

    After viewing this video, I began drinking fenugreek tea daily (1 tablespoon organic fenugreek seeds in water) and eating the seeds at the end of the day. I’ve experienced benefits not even mentioned in the video, but in further research found the following on the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s Integrative Medicine website:

    Contraindications: Fenugreek acts as an estrogenic receptor modulator and was shown to stimulate breast cancer cells in vitro (26). Patients with hormonal-sensitive cancers should avoid this product.
    How does this contraindication measure up with the data on fenugreek’s effect on prostate cancer cells? I don’t want to discontinue my fenugreek consumption, but I also don’t want to encourage breast cancer.
    Thanks so much for all your tremendous work in promoting plant-based diets and nutritional research!

    • Roger Bose

      hey, you mention benefits not mentioned in the video – not mentioned by you either! come on, spill the beans…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/tony.muggio Tony Muggio

    Not sure if i’m on the up and up with this video. As one person stated “This work was funded by Indus Biotech” – bottom of page 8. Indus Biotech are the makers of the supplement Torabolic used in this study. Should be mentioned for full disclosure” I did a google search on Indus Biotech Torabolic, below will be the first link in the search. I was excited to watch this video, seeing as i’m all but vegan now and prefer it that way and i also go to the gym 5 days a week, i’ve noticed i’ve lost a little strength and some size, so any way to gain some of what i lost back i would be interested in, but not after what i found in the google search. I can’t take something, let alone believe in it, that MET-Rx is pushing, ie Torabolic. I’d call myself one of your biggest fans Dr. but i’m not agreeing with you on this one

  • http://profiles.google.com/museredux dm conner

    How about sprouting fenugreek? Does it have the same benefits?

  • Joe

    Not to try to cause any disinformation here but: Been taking fenugreek for 2 weeks since this video came out… I’m most
    always 204 lbs when working out… weighed myself 5 weeks ago – 204
    lbs… weighed myself 2 days ago 210.5 then i looked up some side
    effects and apparently it is used as a appetite enhancer… and people
    use it to gain weight… may help the skin vegans but I’m naturally
    muscley and get fat easily. so I have to be careful with stuff like
    this… in those 2 weeks didn;t notice any strength improvement at the
    gym.

    • Kathryn McMorrow

      Okay, then you didn’t need dietary encouragements.

  • zohar

    Which form of consumption is more optimal; whole seeds? or grounded to powder?

  • http://www.facebook.com/CaranettaCookyWilliams Caranetta Wilson

    Where do you find this in powder form?

    • Ben

      I buy a package of the whole seeds and then grind them up in a coffee grinder. The same way I do with flax seeds. You could grind up a whole weeks worth and store in the freezer or refrigerator. Then use as needed during the week.

  • truth seeker

    I’ve also heard it can be used as a natural breast enhancement, seems possible as it contributes to the production of milk, but how true is this information?
    Thank you for your response

  • Darryl

    If increasing strength, lowering fasting blood glucose, HDL, and VLDL, and inhibiting cancer weren’t enough, perhaps this will capture your attention:

    Steels, Elizabeth, Amanda Rao, and Luis Vitetta. “Physiological aspects of male libido enhanced by standardized Trigonella foenum graecum (fenugreek) extract and mineral formulation.” Phytotherapy Research 25.9 (2011): 1294-1300.

  • Greg Comlish

    Where in the study are you getting an extra hundred pounds on the Leg Press? On the table from the video the gains in leg press strength for fenugreek and placebo are:

    Fenugreek: (419 – 334) = 85 lbs (25% increase)
    Placebo: (364 – 316) = 48 lbs (15% increase)

    That looks to me like Fenugreek gave an extra 37 lbs on the Leg Press which is within the margin of error. Am I missing something?

    • Carlo

      I didn’t analyze the data, but wouldn’t be surprised to find dubious claims. The study was about a proprietary extract, and funded by the producing company: Indus Biotech.

      Up to now, as far as I know, these results have not been replicated.

    • Kathryn McMorrow

      You go, Greg!

  • dave

    marketing at it finest?