Author Bio: Dr. Sanusi Umar MD is the author of this article.
The Fenugreek plant has been harvested since ancient times as a highly prized culinary spice. Its richly flavored seeds and fragrant leaves (kasoori methi) add a rare and exotic note of flavor to create savory sauces, lentils, soups, curries as well as potato (aaloo-methi), and vegetable dishes. Although we tend to associate Fenugreek with recipe dishes, scientists are now discovering its potential to restore the overall health and growth quality of our hair.
Fenugreek seeds contain a variety of phytonutrients that are beneficial to the hair follicles
Fenugreek As A Time-Honored, Herbal
Fenugreek is native to different parts of the world, including Egypt, the Middle East, and India. For thousands of years, different cultures have used different parts of this plant in their cooking as a flavorful accent. But even more so, fenugreek has been recognized for its health-boosting properties. It helps fight against inflammation and microbes. It also regarded as an anti-diabetic, with the ability to curb the development of tumors.
In more recent and modern years, scientists have confirmed Fenugreek’s antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammation properties. These findings have been summarized in a publication by the Journal of Medicinal Plant Research, entitled, The Physiological and Pharmaceutical Effects of Fenugreek
Your Hair Follicles’ Next Best Friend
Fenugreek seeds, also known as methi, is an abundant source of various different micro-nutrients. With concentrated stores of saponins, flavonoids, alkaloids, and phosphates, along with various vitamins and minerals (e.g. copper, manganese, zinc, iron, selenium, and magnesium), these tiny pods offer a uniquely immense potential to revitalize the health of our hair follicles. When these structures are in optimal shape, they are better able to produce healthier hair growth.
Fenugreek May Block DHT
To think that Fenugreek as your hair’s ally may seem like pseudoscience or folklore, something that sounds too good to be true. However, there are a number of research studies that are proving otherwise. Fenugreek’s densely packed supply of micro-nutrients may work to invigorate the health and overall functioning of our hair follicles. Here are some incredibly interesting findings to consider.
One six-month study involved a group of 60 men and women who suffered from mid to late-stage hair loss conditions . Their treatment intervention consisted of taking fenugreek supplements in the form of capsules. Surprisingly, significant percentages of the subjects were able to report noticeable improvements in their hair’s fullness, along with greatly reduced shedding.
So how did these results occur? According to these researchers, fenugreek may increase the supply of blood to the hair follicles. Also, the seeds are known to have high concentrations of natural saponins which act as DHT inhibitors.
A Possible Natural Alternative to Minoxidil
In a well-known study entitled, Development and Evaluation of Herbal Formulations For Hair Growth, researchers formulated a hair tonic made of four types of different plant extracts. Fenugreek was included as one of them. One particular concentration achieved startling hair growth results in Wistar rats . This included:
- bigger hair follicle size
- longer anagen hair growth stage
Due to these findings, the researchers were able to conclude that their fenugreek-containing formulation could possibly offer a completely natural alternative to the synthetic, FDA-approved hair loss drug known as Minoxidil.
Possible Unwanted Effects of Fenugreek
Though Fenugreek is a natural herb, it may still procure adverse side effects, through excessive usage, just like any drug or plant extract used for medicinal purposes. Some possibilities include:
- allergies (i.e. in individuals with nut allergies such as soybeans, green peas, and peanuts)
- reduced blood-sugar levels
- stomach upset
Safe dosages for adults have been generally been outlined at 2-5 grams per day. Even though Fenugreek is natural, it would still be best to consult with your doctor first, especially if you are considering taking supplements with this ingredient. A physician would understand the unique characteristics of your physiological needs and be able to determine whether or not taking Fenugreek would be the right choice for you, or not.
Skin Deep, a division of EWG (Environmental Working Group), has given fenugreek an impressive rating of 1, representing the lowest possible level for hazardous risks to humans and the environment. Also, the organization has cited the FDA’s assessment of this extract as being safe for use in food, using specific, limited, or even general quantities.
Easy At-Home Fenugreek DIY Recipes
Fenugreek seeds have been used by our ancestors for culinary, medicinal and health uses . Spending time on easy DIY recipes using Fenugreek seeds is a great way to understand how they connected to the simple joys presented by the natural botanical world. Here are a few projects that you can try out at home.
Oil infusions were used by our ancestors to contain the aromatic and healing essences inherent in the herbs, flowers, and botanicals. Create a simple fenugreek oil by filling a tea strainer with dried seeds. Choose a carrier oil such as olive oil, grapeseed, or safflower oil. Leave overnight in your refrigerator for 1 week. If you prefer a stronger aroma, allow for up to 4-6 weeks, or until you are satisfied with the strength of the final scent.
Fenugreek oil can be used for the skin. Alternatively, if you prefer it for culinary uses, it can be used to prepare nutritious soups, salad dressings, or even as a spread on your favorite bread.
Flavored Fenugreek Water Essence
A simple Fenugreek water infusion can be made by covering dried seeds in spring or distilled water. Use a jar or a glass decanter of your choice. Leave the seeds covered in water for about two weeks. Fenugreek water is imbued with a flavor that has been valued since ancient history. In Ayurveda, it is considered a healing tonic used for a wide range of health areas.
Ground Fenugreek Powder
Ground fenugreek seeds are rich in phytonutrients and add a unique flavor to food recipes. Historically, fenugreek powder has been made by hand, using a mortar and pestle. Today, it is possible to use a coffee grinder or a food processor to create a finer consistency. Save your powder in a glass storage container and use it as a topping on yogurt, vegetables, or even your favorite tea or coffee.
Should You Take Fenugreek Orally or Topically?
Due to the insights garnered by modern-day researchers, fenugreek extract is now being incorporated into both topical and oral product supplements. The main benefit offered by topical applications is that it offers a more direct route to the dermis, epidermis, or blood vessels that are close to the skin’s surface. On the other hand, oral intake allows the main treatment constituents to travel to more areas of the body by way of the bloodstream.
Making Decisions For Hair Loss – Choosing A Treatment
The fact that contemporary scientists are finding support for using fenugreek to support healthier hair certainly is certainly exciting. However, it is important to keep in mind that hair loss varies enormously across different individuals.
There are many conditions and diagnoses associated with hair loss, such as:
- genetic pattern baldness and thinning
- alopecia areata
- thyroid imbalances
- telogen effluvium
- traction alopecia
- nutritional deficits
Another factor to consider is the stage of a hair loss condition. At later, or more advanced phases, there is a much higher chance that any damage or miniaturization which has affected the hair follicles is irreversible.
Currently, the FDA has only approved two medications that can be used to manage androgenic alopecia (i.e. male or female pattern baldness). These include:
However, as with any type of drug, there are many limitations as well as possible risks to consider. Chemical constituents travel throughout the bloodstream and can exert an unwanted impact on other parts of the body, beyond the treatment areas. Secondly, the research behind these drugs highlights success rates that do not include everyone in the general population. As an example, a study may say that 65% of participants experienced hair growth. But this figure also implies that 35% did not achieve these results. It is possible that your particular outcome may align, more or less, with either of the two categories of subjects. It would not be wise to assume that your results would be as successful, like everyone else’s.
Natural Beauty Products Containing Fenugreek
Fenugreek has come a long way from being just a fragrant, medicinal culinary spice. And today, it is no longer just an herbal used in someone’s grandmother’s fix-all recipe for colds, the flu, and other ailments. Fenugreek is now being used by many of today’s chic, forward-moving natural beauty brands. Here are just a handful of examples.
- Conditioning Detangler by Kingdom Crown
- Regeneration Hair Mask by Belle Bar Organics
- Hair Wellness Moisturizing Lotion, Pomade, and Dietary supplements by Dr.UGro Gashee
- Ayurvedic Facial Scrub by AnnMarie Skin Care
- Javanese Lulur Body Scrub by JAMU
Just because a natural beauty product contains fenugreek does not mean it necessarily offers the fullest possible benefits of the botanical. As a product ingredient, a plant extract would need to be processed as minimally as possible so that it retains its inherent bioactive treatment properties for our hair, skin as well as other health and beauty needs.
VIDEO: Reversing Hair Problems With A Fenugreek-Containing Hair Lotion
Here at the Dr.U Hair and Skin Clinic, we have developed an all-natural, hair wellness (B2C) product line called Dr.UGro Gashee. Fenugreek is included within our set of carefully chosen plant-based ingredients. This female patient of ours suffered from post-menopausal hair thinning. Due to the diffuse nature of her condition, she could not qualify as a hair transplant candidate. Instead, we recommended that she use our Dr.UGro Gashee hair lotion, applied to both her scalp as well as her hair. To our surprise, she experienced a very noticeable difference in both the fullness and the texture of her hair. Watch her video here.
Here is an example of a So Cal woman who benefited from the use of a hair wellness product, which was optimized for the use of fenugreek and other cold-processed plant essences.
After menopause, her hair lost its luster. Laura from Hawthorne, Calif was immensely frustrated and felt incredibly helpless. After trying a number of pharma…
Frequently Asked Questions on Using Fenugreek for Hair Loss
Should I supplement my meals with fenugreek seeds for hair growth and improvements?
Consuming fenugreek seeds alone, or using them as a spice for meals is not likely to improve hair growth. The research studies discussed the above-used fenugreek alongside other ingredients. Furthermore, they did not specify if results from fenugreek could be used for specific types of hair loss cases.
If you decide to add more fenugreek to your diet, focus on general health benefits, not simply grow more hair.
Will fenugreek powder for hair loss actually work?
Fenugreek powder for hair loss is usually sold as gel capsules. Keep in mind, however, that the drying process needed to produce the powdered form of fenugreek may change or alter some of the original properties. If you choose to adopt it into your daily regimen, it may be taken as a general health supplement, instead of as a hair growth treatment. Anytime you decide to add supplements to your diet, it is best to do so under the guidance of your physician.
Is it better to consume fenugreek extract or use a topical product containing this as an ingredient?
Taking fenugreek orally will affect other areas of the body, not just the follicles. As it passes through the digestive tract, it travels throughout your bloodstream.
A more direct route to the follicles may be possible through a carefully designed topical hair product with the fenugreek extract. Such topical formulations (Creams, lotions, serums, oils, pomades, ointments) help to improve the scalp environment for healthier hair. Topical applications offer a more straightforward path to the treatment area. Preferably topicals should also include safe penetrating enhancers for efficient and effective delivery of fenugreek to the target hair follicle cells.
- Schulz C, Bielfeldt S, Reimann J. Fenugreek + micronutrients: efficacy of a food supplement against hair loss. Cosmetic Medicine 2006;27(4): ISSN 1430-4031.
- Purwal L, Gupta SPBN, Milind Pande S. Development and evaluation of herbal formulations for hair growth. E Journal of Chemistry
- Wijaya H, Murlim A, Djajadisastra J. Effectiveness test of fenugreek seed (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) extract hair tonic in hair growth activity. International Journal of Current Research 2013;5(11):3453-60.
- Moradi korn, Moradi K. Physiological and pharmaceutical effects of Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) as a multipurpose and valuable medicinal plant. Global
Journal of Medicinal Plant Research 2013;1(2):199-206.
- Umar S. and Carter M. A Multimodal Hair-Loss Treatment Strategy Using a New Topical Phytoactive Formulation, Case Reports in Dermatological Medicine / 2021