Spice up your life with fenugreek seeds! These small but mighty seeds have been used for centuries in traditional medicine and cooking, and research has now shown that they may offer a range of impressive health benefits. The seeds are touted for potentially improving digestion, increasing milk supply during breastfeeding, supporting healthy blood sugar balance (already within normal range), and improving hair health.
Fenugreek seeds are a small, golden colored seed with the genus name Trigonella, which means “little triangle” in Latin, due to the yellow triangular flowers. They are also named “methi” in Ayurvedic practice. They have a maple flavor and are bitter when raw, but roasting can help favorably reduce the bitterness, as well as some of the phytic acid.
These seeds are a source of multiple nutrients, including the antioxidant vitamins C and E, B vitamins, copper, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and iron. They are also an excellent source of fiber, with ¼ cup containing about 11 g of fiber.
Fenugreek seeds have a long history of use in traditional medicine and culinary practices. The plant is native to the Mediterranean region, but many cultures have used fenugreek to address a variety of health goals involving digestion, the respiratory tract, and skin health. It has also been used as a spice in food. Prized by ancient Egyptians, fenugreek seeds have even been found in the Egyptian tombs.
Fenugreek seeds have been gaining popularity due to their potential to support hair health. While research until this point is limited on fenugreek for hair, current evidence shows promise for the use of fenugreek seeds for hair health.
Fenugreek seeds contain several compounds that are necessary for hair growth, including amino acids (protein), iron, and zinc. Hair strands are made up of protein, so getting enough protein in your diet is essential for healthy hair growth. Fenugreek seeds contain a whopping 15 mg of iron per ¼ cup of seeds. Iron helps to carry oxygen to the hair follicles, which is important since the follicles must consistently receive oxygen for growth. Zinc helps to keep the oil glands around the hair follicles working properly.
One animal study showed potential for the use of an alcohol extract of fenugreek leaves to promote hair growth, but human studies are needed.
Animal study shows potential for alcohol extract of fenugreek leaves to promote hair growth, but human studies are needed. One randomized control trial was done in healthy men and women with mild to moderate hair loss who took a fenugreek extract, which also contained other added vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The results showed improvements in hair growth.
Occasional hair loss is normal. Genetics can even contribute to patterns of hair loss and timing of its occurrence in the lifespan. Normal hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to hair loss, which may bounce back after hormones return to baseline during postpartum.
But chronic or excessive hair loss may be a sign of something else. Be sure to address these concerns with your doctor. Stress, hormonal imbalances, and nutrient deficiencies can also play a role in excessive hair loss.
The current early research on fenugreek seeds is promising for its benefits on addressing hair loss, but the mechanisms are not totally understood. A current hypothesis is that fenugreek seeds may help to stimulate blood circulation to the hair follicles. The nutrient profile of the seeds may also support repleting essential nutrients needed for hair growth as previously described. The seeds also contain phytoestrogens, which have been shown to decrease DHT (dihydrotestosterone), a potent form of testosterone also referred to as an androgen.
Dryness on the scalp can be caused due to product build up, climate changes, and dietary changes. Always talk to a dermatologist about scalp concerns to make sure you understand what is really going on.
Fenugreek seeds contain emollient properties, which means it can work as a topical moisturizer to hydrate the scalp, strengthen hair and prevent breakage. One study found that fenugreek leaf extract as a topical gel had beneficial activity maintaining healthy yeast flora commonly involved in some forms of scalp discomfort.
The moisturizing properties of fenugreek not only works on the scalp but also on the hair strands, making fenugreek a great addition to hair conditioning. Hair products or DIY preparations containing fenugreek may boost hair hydration and smooth hair frizz.
Due to the seed’s natural oils, fenugreek can boost hair luster. These oils can also help coat the hair to make the strands softer and coat them after getting stripped from frequent washing.
You can get the benefits of fenugreek seeds in several ways, depending on your preference.
There are pre-made hair mask products on the market containing fenugreek extracts. You can also make your own.
A common DIY hair mask preparation of fenugreek seeds involves soaking a couple of spoonfuls of the seeds overnight in water mixed with some vinegar or lemon juice. Discard the liquid and then grind the seeds into a paste mixed with ingredients such as a spoonful of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, yogurt, coconut oil, and/or honey and apply it to your hair. Leave it for about 30 minutes, and then rinse out the paste with warm water. Always use caution with dyed hair and spot test in small areas before applying masks liberally. When in doubt, consult your hairdresser.
Fenugreek contains lecithin which is a natural emollient and helps in strengthening and moisturization of hair. Lecithin and the natural oils in fenugreek seeds can smooth out hair and provide shine. Massaging small amounts of fenugreek hair oil on the scalp can also encourage more blood flow to the scalp which supports hair growth. The flavonoids including trigonelline (similar to niacin or vitamin B3) in fenugreek seeds are thought to be responsible for this increase in vasodilation.
To make an easy DIY fenugreek tea rinse, simply steep a fenugreek tea sachet or loose seeds or leaves in hot water for about 5 minutes. Let cool to a comfortable temperature and rinse with the tea after washing your hair.
Get the most out of your fenugreek seed hair care with these tips.
You can get pretty creative with topical use of fenugreek seeds. Here are some things to remember for applying to your hair and scalp:
Get even more benefits from fenugreek seeds by doing the following:
While fenugreek seeds are overall pretty safe, there are a few things to keep in mind when incorporating the seeds into your diet or applying topically.
Fenugreek seeds can favorably stimulate the scalp through increased blood flow, but we don’t want to overdo it. Keep scalp applications of the seeds to about two times per week.
Keep food consumption of the seeds to about ¼ cup serving size at a time. Consuming too much at once can cause digestive upset. The seeds are also uniquely high in iron. Iron is essential in the body, but should not be overconsumed.
If you experience any chronic hair loss or scalp changes, talk to a dermatologist. You want to make sure you are addressing these issues properly.
Fenugreek seeds may offer a range of benefits for hair health, including promoting hair growth, improving scalp health, and combating hair loss. By incorporating fenugreek seeds into your hair care routine, you can harness the natural power of this ancient remedy to achieve strong, healthy, and beautiful hair. While fenugreek seeds can be a safe and effective natural remedy for most people, it's always a good idea to consult with a health professional before starting any new hair care regimen.