Hair loss can be more of a problem with age, but there are some things you can do to reduce hair loss. One herb that has been reported to be helpful for hair loss is fenugreek. Read more to learn about fenugreek and whether or not it is helpful for hair growth below.
What is Fenugreek?
Scientifically known as Trigonella foenum-graecum, fenugreek is an herb most prominently cultivated in India. Along with its use in cuisine as a condiment, fenugreek has seen use in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as a treatment for skin diseases and a wide range of digestive ailments1
In modern practice, fenugreek is used topically to support wound healing and reducing eczema.2 Eczema is a skin problem caused by excess inflammation. Inflammation and irritation of the scalp can cause hair loss.
Fenugreek is also used as a supplement support healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels. However, the most common use for it is to stimulate breastmilk production in mothers. This implies that fenugreek may modulate hormone levels. Having too much of a hormone called DHT leads to hair loss. Fenugreek could work for hair loss by blocking DHT.
Fenugreek Benefits for Hair
DHT and Hair Loss
Androgenic alopecia, better known as male or female pattern baldness, is rooted in excess DHT. DHT is similar in chemical structure to testosterone and can attach to the same receptors as testosterone. While normal levels of DHT are necessary to certain aspects of health, high levels can contribute hair loss. Excess DHT causes hair follicles to gradually shrink, which slowly lengthens the hair resting phase and shortens the active hair growth phase, resulting in pattern baldness.3
In one study, 60 healthy men were assigned to take either a 300 mg fenugreek capsule or an equivalent placebo twice per day. The men then participated in a four-day per week resistance training program for a period of eight weeks. Metrics included serum testosterone levels, muscle strength, body fat percentage, and markers for anabolic activity.
Fenugreek and DHT
The results of the study found that fenugreek may have increased serum testosterone levels. What’s interesting here is the mechanism of action. The study found that fenugreek worked to increase testosterone in the subjects by inhibiting 5-alpha reductase. This is the enzyme responsible for converting testosterone into DHT. By inhibiting the enzyme, fenugreek not only increases testosterone, but also potentially reduces the amount of serum DHT.4 This may reduce hair loss caused by androgenic alopecia.
Fenugreek Seeds for Hair
Along with its potential effects on testosterone and DHT levels, fenugreek seeds are known to have powerful antioxidant properties. Antioxidants work by neutralizing free radicals, a product of oxidation. Free radicals can cause damage to cells and DNA, which can manifest in the form of inflammation. Studies have found that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects of fenugreek significantly reduced symptoms of arthritis in rats. Inflammation in the scalp can potentially lead to irritation, dandruff, and hair loss.5
Improve Skin Health
Most significantly, fenugreek seeds have been studied for their mucilage, or their gel-like, viscous content. The mucilage in fenugreek seeds has been studied for its emollient properties, meaning its ability to soothe and soften the skin. Topical use of fenugreek seed extracts is also believed to promote skin healing, provide moisture, and provide general support healthy skin. In a study, researchers compared the effects of fenugreek seed extract mixed with an emulsion to a placebo. Both formulations were applied to the cheeks of human volunteers for a period of six weeks. The results showed statistically significant changes to the sebum and pH, suggesting improvements in skin moisture and irritation.6
In terms of the scalp, these effects may contribute to reductions in symptoms of dandruff, particularly dry, irritated skin. While fenugreek seed extract applied topically may not be able to help with all forms of dandruff, the above study shows that it can effectively nourish skin and potentially reduce inflammation. Some clinical research also suggests that fenugreek possesses antifungal and antibacterial properties.7
Fenugreek Oil for Hair
Soothe the Scalp
Even without its mucilage, fenugreek may be beneficial for hair in its oil form. Fenugreek oil naturally offers moisturizing potential to soothe a dry, itchy, irritated scalp. This may help to reduce inflammation and dandruff. Its antifungal and antibacterial properties may also prevent overgrowths that can contribute to hair loss.8
Fenugreek oil is available premade, but it can also be made at home with just three tablespoons of dry fenugreek seeds steeped in six ounces of coconut oil.8 If you do purchase fenugreek oil, keep in mind that most have to be diluted in a neutral carrier oil (like coconut oil or almond oil) prior to use.
To use, gently massage the fenugreek oil into your scalp and hair. Leave in for thirty minutes to a full hour before rinsing out with water.
How to Make a Fenugreek Hair Mask
More research is necessary to determine the most optimal way of using fenugreek. Along with dietary supplements, fenugreek is available in topical forms. You can easily create a fenugreek hair mask to enrich your hair and scalp and support healthy hair growth using fenugreek seeds.
- Start by grinding about two tablespoons of fenugreek seeds into a fine powder using a spice grinder or food processor. You may also use fenugreek powder, but grinding fenugreek seeds is fresher and will provide better results.
- Mix the powder into one tablespoon of a neutral oil. Coconut oil works well, but you can also use olive or argan oil. Stir until fully incorporated.
- Use your hands to gently apply the mixture to your hair and scalp, focusing primarily on areas that are thinning or balding. Wear a shower cap or plastic wrap over the mask to trap some heat and prevent any dripping. Leave the mask on for up to 10 minutes. 9
- Once the 10 minutes are up, rinse out your hair with warm water and wash as you normally would with a shampoo and conditioner, preferably containing natural DHT blocking ingredients, like DrFormulas® HairOmega®Shampoos and Conditioners.
Fenugreek may be helpful for hair growth because of its anti-inflammatory and ability to block DHT. Fenugreek can be consumed orally or applied topically in mask or oil form.