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April 22, 2019
Often revered for its use as a galactagogue (milk-flow enhancing agent) for new mothers, Fenugreek can be found in teas, vitamin supplements and more. While this is a common use of Fenugreek, this Ayurvedic herb also has a plethora of other uses as well and has been utilized in traditional (and current) medical practices for years.³
Fenugreek is a plant with light green leaves and small white flowers and is most commonly grown in North Africa, Egypt, the Middle East, and India. The plant contains seed pods which are the most utilized part of the herb. The seeds have a bitter or maple syrup taste and have a strong fragrance.
Fenugreek has been used for centuries in traditional medicine, and scientific studies have shown that Fenugreek extract and oil has been found to have antimicrobial, antioxidant, antidiabetic, antitumorigenic properties. It also serves as a gum and emulsifier and is currently used in both cooking and modern medicine.
Fenugreek’s medicinal properties have been used over the years to deal with illnesses such as digestive problems, cholesterol levels, internal inflammation (such as bronchitis), external inflammation (such as eczema) hernias, erectile dysfunction, eating disorders, and several others. It has even been found to improve exercise performance.⁴
Hair growth is a cyclical process, broken down my dermatologists into four main phases. The anagen phase is the growth phase, catagen is the regression phase and telogen is the resting phase. When hair is shed from the body, it is known to be an additional phase called telogenesis. After the hair is shed from the body, there can sometimes be a period of time before a new hair shaft emerges from the skin surface and is therefore considered to be in the anagen phase.
When the balance of the hair cycle is disturbed, hair loss and lack of growth are displayed This can be caused by a multitude of complex interactions that may cause inflammation to the cells. One of the most common molecules that have an effect on the hair cycle is called DHT (dihydrotestosterone) which binds to the hair follicle and inhibits regrowth due to root damage. DHT is the primary cause in the development of androgenic alopecia.¹
Fenugreek seeds contain essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and magnesium.⁴ It also contains a wide rade of other active ingredients like saponins, diosgenin, yamogenin, gitogenin, alkaloids, flavonoids, and fiber galactomannan.¹
Saponins are glycosides that occur naturally in plants. When in contact with water, they “foam” like soap. There are a number of benefits to having saponins in your diet, including lowering the cholesterol, helping to fight cancer, boosting the immune system, and more. Saponins have been shown to have antioxidant and antimicrobial properties as well, which help your body to eliminate the oxidative stress of toxins.⁵
The positive effects of Fenugreek on the hair are well known in the scientific community, and many hair growth products currently include Fenugreek, but studies have yet to show the exact reason for this effect has yet to be determined in scientific study. At the moment, researchers believe that Fenugreek stimulates blood circulation to hair follicles and the steroid saponins interact with the DHT hormone which inhibits growth.¹
Multiple scientific studies have been performed to determine the different benefits of Fenugreek, including ones relating to hair growth and regrowth.
In 2003, a study was done to observe the rate of hair regrowth between male and female volunteers with mild to moderate hair loss. Every two months there was a dermatological assessment of hair loss, a questionnaire, and an assessment of hair parameters via a phototrichogram picture analysis.¹
After using the Fenugreek preparation 82.9% of the volunteers reported an improvement for hair volume and thickness. In addition, 74.3% reported increased resistance of hairs. Overall, the data collected throughout the study supported favorable results on hair loss that contribute to improvements in hair growth.¹ A second study in 2011 confirmed these same results.²
Another study measured the noted use of multiple herbs used by a large percentage of herbalists and Ayurvedic healers in West Bank, Palestine. Fenugreek was among one of several that were utilized and showed positive results for treating hair loss, dandruff, scalp acne, and hair conditioning.⁶
The use of Fenugreek has been documented multiple times for several uses throughout the years. While it is most commonly used for its ability as a galactagogue and its antidiabetic properties, scientific studies have shown it has positive effects for hair loss, growth and regrowth, and other scalp-related issues like dandruff and scalp acne. Scientists have been unable to determine the exact reason why Fenugreek benefits hair growth, but there may be a connection between the increase in blood circulation and its potential to block the DHT molecule that causes androgenic alopecia. Fenugreek contains a number of beneficial nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and saponins, all of which have been found to have positive effects on hair growth.
¹MEDIZIN, Kosmetische & Schoen, Christiane & Bielfeldt, Stephan & Reimann, Jürgen. (2006). Fenugreek+micronutrients: Efficacy of a food supplement against hair loss. Kosmetische Medizin. 27.
²Moers-Carpi, M. (2011). Nutritive Beeinflussung des Haarwachstums. Aktuelle Dermatologie,37(05), 171-175. doi:10.1055/s-0030-1256369
³Safier, R. (n.d.). What Are the Health Benefits of Fenugreek? Retrieved from https://blog.prepscholar.com/fenugreek-benefits-side-effects
⁴Axe, J. (2018, April 12). Fenugreek Benefits, Including for the Gut, Lungs & More. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/fenugreek/
⁵What Are Saponins? Discovering Their Health Benefits. (2016, October 26). Retrieved from https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/what-are-saponins/
⁶A., N., A., H., A., & S. (2017). Ethnopharmacological survey of home remedies used for treatment of hair and scalp and their methods of preparation in the West Bank-Palestine. BMC Complement Altern Med., 17(355). doi:10.3897/bdj.4.e7720.figure2f
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