What is fenugreek?
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is a plant that stands around 2–3 feet (60–90 cm) tall. It has green leaves, small white flowers, and pods that contain small, golden-brown seeds (1Trusted Source).
For thousands of years, fenugreek has been used in alternative and Chinese medicine to treat skin conditions and many other diseases (1Trusted Source).
Recently, it has become a common household spice and thickening agent. It can also be found in products, such as soap and shampoo.
Fenugreek seeds and powder are also used in many Indian dishes for their nutritional profile and slightly sweet, nutty taste.
Fenugreek is an interesting herb with diverse uses and many potential health benefits.
One tablespoon (11.1 grams) of whole fenugreek seeds contains 35 calories and several nutrients (2Trusted Source):
Fiber: 3 grams
Protein: 3 grams
Carbs: 6 grams
Fat: 1 gram
Iron: 20% of the Daily Value (DV)
Manganese: 7% of the DV
Magnesium: 5% of the DV
Fenugreek seeds have a healthy nutritional profile, containing a good amount of fiber and minerals, including iron and magnesium.
Effects on breastmilk production
Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for your baby’s development (3Trusted Source).
However, some mothers may struggle to produce sufficient amounts (3Trusted Source).
While prescription drugs are commonly used to boost breastmilk production, research suggests that fenugreek may be a safe, natural alternative.
One 14-day study in 77 new mothers found that drinking herbal tea with fenugreek seeds increased breast milk production, which helped babies gain more weight (4).
Another study split 66 mothers into three groups. One received fenugreek tea, the second a placebo, and the third nothing.
The volume of pumped breast milk increased from around 1.15 ounces (34 ml) in the control and placebo groups to 2.47 ounces (73 ml) in the fenugreek group (5Trusted Source).
These studies used fenugreek herbal tea instead of supplements, but supplements are likely to have similar effects (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
Though this research is encouraging, you should discuss any concerns about breastmilk production with your midwife or medical practitioner.
Research suggests that fenugreek may increase breastmilk production and the rate of weight gain in newborn babies.
Effects on testosterone levels in men
One of the most common reasons men use fenugreek supplements is to boost testosterone.
Some studies have found that it has beneficial effects, including an increased libido.
In an 8-week study, 30 college-aged men performed 4 sessions of weightlifting per week, with half of them receiving 500 mg of fenugreek per day (7Trusted Source).
Although the non-supplement group experienced a slight decline in testosterone, the fenugreek group showed an increase. This group also had a 2% reduction in body fat (7Trusted Source).
One 6-week study provided 30 men with 600 mg of fenugreek extract to assess changes in sexual function and libido. Most participants reported increased strength and improved sexual function (8Trusted Source).
However, more research is needed.