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In my video the Benefits of Fenugreek Seeds, I profiled this study, in which young men were randomized to a sugar pill or fenugreek capsules for eight weeks, and got a significant improvement in upper body strength, lower body strength, body composition, and a significant reduction in body fat percentage. And the only side effect? It can make your sweat and pee smell like maple syrup. Seems like a bonus!

Studies on immature castrated rats suggest the fenugreek muscle bulking is a testosterone effect, but we didn’t know what happens in humans until now. Four randomized controlled trials put it to the test and…saw a significant boost of total blood testosterone. And indeed, fenugreek appears to improve sexual function in men––for example, doubling the frequency of morning erections. What about the sexual function in women?

While the estrogen hormone estradiol stimulates vaginal lubrication and blood flow, facilitating a woman’s capacity for sexual arousal and orgasm, it’s the testosterone that’s linked with sexual desire in both men and women. Drug companies have tried testosterone patches on women to try to increase sexual desire, but we’re concerned about blood clots and long-term safety. What about a little fenugreek? A significant increase in testosterone compared to placebo, and a boost in the estrogen estradiol, which resulted in both an increase in sexual desire and function, translating into about a doubling of sexual activity compared to placebo.

If fenugreek causes an increase in estrogen levels, what about the efficacy of fenugreek for reducing menopausal symptoms? A significant reduction in menopausal symptoms across every single domain––for example, cutting the weekly numbers of hot flashes and night sweats in half over a period of three months.

Other hormonal effects include an improvement in painful periods. What I like about this study is they didn’t use some proprietary extract, but just straight, plain fenugreek powder that you’d buy at the store. Now, they packed it into capsules just so they could pit it against a sugar pill placebo, but the dose they used is just about a third of a teaspoon three times a day, taken the first three days of their period. A third of a teaspoon would only cost about 5 cents. And boom! A significant decrease in pain, and also it appeared to improve other symptoms as well.

While we’re on a roll with hormonal effects, what about the effectiveness of fenugreek as a galactagogue? No, not another sci-fi reboot. A galactagogue is something that increases breast milk production in lactating mothers, and fenugreek fits the bill. And not just by a little. In this randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in which breastfeeding women who took less than a quarter teaspoon of fenugreek, less than a quarter teaspoon of ground ginger, and about a 16th of a teaspoon of turmeric every day doubled their milk production within a month. They had about a 50 percent increase by week two, and a 100 percent increase by week four.

However, due to its potential stimulation on the uterus, fenugreek seeds should not be used during pregnancy. Though this is all based on laboratory animal data, better safe than sorry.

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