Herbal Ergogenics: Fenugreek Seed - Mind And Muscle

strong guy curlingFenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is a plant growing in southern Europe and Asia. The germinated seeds of fenugreek have been used for many years in traditional Chinese medicine. Its uses in traditional Chinese medicine include alleviation of pain including joint pain, as a digestive aid, to induce labor, and to induce lactation.

As a sports supplement, fenugreek seed may be of use to help with nutrient partitioning. Plentiful research has shown it to have hypoglycemic (blood sugar lowering) effects due to 4-hydroxyisoleucine, a constituent of fenugreek seed. This effect of fenugreek seed has been shown to be slow and sustained which limits the chance of adverse side effects such as hypoglycemia. Fenugreek seed has been shown to enhance glycogen (carbohydrate stored in muscle) resynthesis after exercise when combined with carbohydrates as opposed to taking carbohydrates without fenugreek seed, supporting its hypoglycemic effects and use as a sports supplement. Fenugreek seed may also have some additional benefits. These benefits include increased utilization of fatty acids for energy during exercise, liver detoxification, stimulation of testosterone production, and protection against free radicals by the anti-oxidant polyphenols and flavonoids of fenugreek seed. Fenugreek seed may stimulate growth-hormone release in rats, but it is unknown whether or not fenugreek seed has the same effect in humans.

Fenugreek seed has many benefits to athletes and bodybuilders, especially its effects on blood sugar levels. 4-Hydroxyisoleucine and fenugreek seed are included in many carbohydrate partitioning and blood glucose lowering supplements due to this effect. Fenugreek seed is also included in quite a few testosterone boosting supplements due to its ability to stimulate production of testosterone.


1. Uemura T, Hirai S, Mizoguchi N, Goto T, Lee JY, Taketani K, Nakano Y, Shono J, Hoshino S, Tsuge N, Narukami T, Takahashi N, & Kawada T. (2010). Diosgenin present in fenugreek improves glucose metabolism by promoting adipocyte differentiation and inhibiting inflammation in adipose tissues. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 54(11), 1596-608.

2. Moorthy R, Prabhu KM, & Murthy PS. (2010). Mechanism of anti-diabetic action, efficacy and safety profile of GII purified from fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graceum Linn.) seeds in diabetic animals. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology. 48(11), 1119-22.

3. Ikeuchi M, Yamaguchi K, Koyama T, Sono Y, & Yazawa K. (2006). Effects of fenugreek seeds (Trigonella foenum greaecum) extract on endurance capacity in mice. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology. 52(4), 287-92.

4. Kaviarasan S, & Anuradha CV. (2007). Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum graecum) seed polyphenols protect liver from alcohol toxicity: a role on hepatic detoxification system and apoptosis. Die Pharmazie. 62(4), 299-304.

5. Shim SH, Lee EJ, Kim JS, Kang SS, Ha H, Lee HY, Kim C, Lee JH, & Son KH. (2008). Rat growth-hormone release stimulators from fenugreek seeds. Chemistry & Biodiversity. 5(9), 1753-61.

6. Hamden K, Jaouadi B, Carreau S, Aouidet A, El-Fazaa S, Gharbi N, & Elfeki A. (2010). Potential protective effect on key steroidogenesis and metabolic enzymes and sperm abnormalities by fenugreek steroids in testis and epididymis of surviving diabetic rats. Archives of Physiology and Biochemistry. 116(3), 146-55.

7. Dixit P, Ghaskadbi S, Mohan H, & Devasagayam TP. (2005). Antioxidant properties of germinated fenugreek seeds. Phytotherapy Research : PTR. 19(11), 977-83.

8. Vijayakumar MV, Singh S, Chhipa RR, & Bhat MK. (2005). The hypoglycaemic activity of fenugreek seed extract is mediated through the stimulation of an insulin signalling pathway. British Journal of Pharmacology. 146(1), 41-8.

9. Gupta A, Gupta R, & Lal B. (2001). Effect of Trigonella foenum-graecum (fenugreek) seeds on glycaemic control and insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a double blind placebo controlled study. The Journal of the Association of Physicians of India. 49, 1057-61.

10. Basch E, Ulbricht C, Kuo G, Szapary P, & Smith M. (2003). Therapeutic applications of fenugreek. Alternative Medicine Review : a Journal of Clinical Therapeutic. 8(1), 20-7.

11. Puri D, Prabhu KM, & Murthy PS. (2002). Mechanism of action of a hypoglycemic principle isolated from fenugreek seeds. Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. 46(4), 457-62.

12. Ruby BC, Gaskill SE, Slivka D, & Harger SG. (2005). The addition of fenugreek extract (Trigonella foenum-graecum) to glucose feeding increases muscle glycogen resynthesis after exercise. Amino Acids. 28(1), 71-6.

13. Aswar U, Bodhankar SL, Mohan V, & Thakurdesai PA. (2010). Effect of furostanol glycosides from Trigonella foenum-graecum on the reproductive system of male albino rats. Phytotherapy Research : PTR. 24(10), 1482-8.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cassie is a chemistry major and national level bodybuilder. Questions or comments? Talk to Cassie on the FORUM or on FACEBOOK.

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website reflects the opinion of our staff and manufacturer’s and should not be interpreted as medical advice. The information is not unbiased or independent and is the opinion of the owners of mindandmuscle.net The descriptions and statements accompanying these products and vitamin supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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