Fenugreek for sexual enhancement? Yes. A new study from down under in Australia represents the power of the curry spice to improve male libido and also is key in increasing milk supplies in mothers with newborns. The research, performed by the Centre for Integrative Clinical and Molecular Medicine, showed that men who took a fenugreek extract twice daily saw significant improvements in their love life.
The study looked at the effects of a fenugreek-based preparation on the libido of men aged 25 to 52. The men took the extract twice a day for six weeks, while another group had a placebo pill. Within six weeks of starting the trial, men who took the fenugreek had increases in their libido scores of more than 25%.
It is still not known how it works, but it certainly does. Fenugreek does contain some compounds that may affect hormone levels. The compounds, known as saponins, may be responsible for an increase in the production of sex hormones.
New mothers often take fenugreek to increase the volume of breast milk they produce. Other people swear that fenugreek reduces inflammation and wards off arthritis. Still other research shows that the herb can reduce cholesterol levels and perhaps help folks with type-1 and type-2 diabetes manage their symptoms.
Fenugreek seeds contain hormone precursors that increase milk supply. Scientists do not know for sure how this happens either. Some believe it is possible because breasts are modified sweat glands, and fenugreek stimulates sweat production. It has been found that fenugreek can increase a nursing mother’s milk supply within 24 to 72 hours after first taking the herb. Once an adequate level of milk production is reached, most women can discontinue the fenugreek and maintain the milk supply with adequate breast stimulation.
Many women today take fenugreek in a pill form (ground seeds placed in capsules). The pills can be found at most vitamin and nutrition stores and at many supermarkets and natural foods stores. Fenugreek can also be taken in tea form, although tea is believed to be less potent than the pills and the tea comes with a bitter taste that can be hard to stomach.
Be aware however that fenugreek is not right for everyone. The herb has caused aggravated asthma symptoms in some women and has lowered blood glucose levels in some women with diabetes.
Fenugreek is a native to India and southern Europe. For centuries it has grown wild in India, the Mediterranean and North Africa where it is mainly cultivated. A limited crop grows in France. It was used by the ancient Egyptians to combat fever and grown in classical times as cattle fodder. Commercially, it is used in the preparation of mango chutneys and as a base for imitation maple syrup.
In India it is used medicinally, and as a yellow dyestuff. It is also an oriental cattle fodder and is planted as a soil renovator. In the West, fenugreek’s therapeutic use is now largely confined to the treatment of animals, though historically it has been used in human medicine. The name derives from the Latin ‘Greek hay” illustrating its classical use as fodder.
Sources: The Encyclopedia of Spices and The University Queensland School of Medicine
Written by Sy Kraft