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What to Know About Fenugreek for Hair Growth

Medically Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on May 25, 2021

Fenugreek is an herb that’s often used in cooking and medicine. It’s also used as a home remedy to promote hair growth.

Although there’s some evidence that fenugreek can prevent hair loss, researchers still don't know whether fenugreek actually promotes hair growth. Read on to learn more about fenugreek, its benefits, risks, and more.

What Is Fenugreek?

Fenugreek is an herb native to Southern Europe, the Mediterranean, and Western Asia. It looks similar to clover and has seeds that taste and smell like maple syrup.

Many cultures use fenugreek in medicine and cooking. In Asian, Southern European, and North African traditions, it’s been used to treat diabetes and help with breastfeeding.

In Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, fenugreek has been used to boost digestion and induce labor. It’s also been used to improve overall health and metabolism.

Today, fenugreek is still used by some as a dietary supplement for menstrual cramps, diabetes, and promoting milk production for breastfeeding.

Fenugreek and Hair Growth

Some people have also used fenugreek to promote hair growth, although research on whether it actually can do so has been limited. 

Some early research has shown that fenugreek seeds can treat low to moderate hair loss in men and women. How it may work isn’t clear, but some think that fenugreek stimulating blood circulation has something to do with it. 

Various plant compounds in fenugreek may interact with a chemical in the body that is known as DHT (dihydrotestosterone). If DHT attached itself to your hair follicles, the result, sooner or later, would be hair loss. Fenugreek may slow down the ability of DHT to attach to your hair follicles.

An animal study has also shown that a herbal oil mixed with fenugreek seed extract can increase hair thickness and growth.

Although these studies show a relationship between using fenugreek and the ability to stop hair loss, more studies, especially human studies, are needed to determine if and how fenugreek can help grow hair.

How To Use Fenugreek

Meanwhile, if you want to try using fenugreek to promote hair growth, you have two choices. You can use it in cooking or apply it to your scalp directly.

Using fenugreek in cooking.  Fenugreek is safe for most people in the amount found in food. But you should avoid it if you have a chickpea or peanut allergy.

Applying fenugreek directly to the scalp. Topical applications come in powder form. 

Risks of Using Fenugreek

There are some risks of using fenugreek, which include: 

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • ‌Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Other digestive issues

If you take a large dose of fenugreek, you may go through a sudden drop in blood sugar. Fenugreek may also be toxic to your liver whether you take it alone or with other herbs.

If you are pregnant, don’t use fenugreek. It’s not safe for use during pregnancy other than in trace amounts in food. Using fenugreek while pregnant can lead to increased chances of birth defects.

Other Ways To Promote Hair Growth

Since there’s not enough proof that fenugreek promotes hair growth and the herb has a fair share of side effects, here are some other ways to try to retain or grow hair.

Have a healthy diet. If you’re losing hair, you may have a nutrient deficiency, which means you’re not eating well enough. You could also lose hair because you have too much of a certain kind of nutrient.

It’s very important to eat a balanced and healthy diet. A study has suggested that diets rich in fresh herbs and salad, such as the Mediterranean diet, can reduce the risk of male pattern baldness or female pattern baldness.

You should also eat foods high in protein — which is made up of amino acids — to promote hair growth. A study has shown that some people with hair loss have diets lacking in certain amino acids.

Foods high in protein include:

  • Meat, especially poultry and red meat
  • Lentils
  • Salmon and other fatty fish
  • Eggs

Before you start taking nutrients for hair loss, make sure to talk to your doctor about your symptoms, medical history, and your health goals. They will walk you through what you need to do to prevent hair loss and boost hair growth.

Have a healthy work-and-life balance. Stress can make your hair loss worse. 

A study has indicated that higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, can lead to hair loss by weakening your hair follicles.

As such, you should try to strike a good work-and-life balance. You can do so by taking breaks throughout the day, if possible, and doing more exercise. Any form of exercise, whether that’s yoga or jogging, can help relieve stress.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Alternative Medicine Review: “Therapeutic applications of fenugreek.”

Archives of Dermatological Research: “Mediterranean diet: fresh herbs and fresh vegetables decrease the risk of Androgenetic Alopecia in males.”

Dermatology Practical & Conceptual: “Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use.”

Food and Chemical Toxicology: “Toxicological properties of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum graecum).”

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “Protein.”

International Journal of Trichology: “Prevalence of Nutritional Deficiencies in Hair Loss among Indian Participants: Results of a Cross-sectional Study.”

Journal of Chemistry: “Development and Evaluation of Herbal Formulations for Hair Growth.”

Journal of Drugs in Dermatology: “Stress and the Hair Growth Cycle: Cortisol-Induced Hair Growth Disruption.”

Kosmietische Medizin: “Fenugreek+micronutrients: Efficacy of a food supplement against hair loss.”

Mayo Clinic: “Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress.”

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Fenugreek.”

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