What are fenugreek seeds?
Fenugreek is a small green, leafy herb originally from southern parts of Asia and the Mediterranean. The tiny seeds from this plant have many potential health benefits, including healthy hair and hair growth.
Here’s the scoop on these healthful seeds and what they can mean for your hair.
Are fenugreek seeds good for your hair?
Fenugreek seeds are high in protein and nicotinic acid content, which are known to help combat dandruff and hair loss, explains Annie Gonzalez, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology in Miami.
“They can also help a variety of scalp-related problems including dryness, and thinning hair,” she says. “The seeds also aid in moisturizing the hair and restoring luster and sheen.”
In addition to the proteins, fenugreek seeds contain a unique combination of plant compounds that include saponins and flavonoids. These compounds may help hair growth because of their anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal efforts, according to Dr. Gonzalez.
Board-certified dermatologist and American Academy of Dermatology member Carolyn Jacob, MD, adds that there’s another theory why fenugreek seeds might help your hair. Fenugreek inhibits DHT, a sex hormone that contributes to hair loss, Dr. Jacobs explains.
That said, the research on fenugreek and its effect on hair is limited. “Again, there have been studies, both animal and human, to suggest that these seeds can regrow hair, however, they have not all been ‘controlled’ since some studies used a remedy consisting of multiple herbs,” Dr. Gonzalez says.
Meaning it’s unclear whether or not the hair regrowth is due to fenugreek or one of the other herbs. One small study in Cosmetic Medicine, which included 53 people, found that 300 milligrams of fenugreek seed extract over six months seemed to improve hair density and strength.
The study was a randomized, placebo controlled trial in which the volunteers (both men and women with slight to moderate hair loss), took two capsules of fenugreek seed extract daily or a placebo. (The amount was about the same as found in 1200 mg of fenugreek seeds.)
The placebo effect was strong—both groups saw improvement in hair loss and 72 percent of placebo-takers and 86 percent of those taking actual fenugreek said they would recommend the capsules to others.
However, the authors noted that fenugreek seemed to be better than a placebo when it came to an improvement in hair density, which was measured by a dermatologist. (Fenugreek has a strong smell, so the researchers added the aroma to the placebo capsules so people didn’t know which group they were in.)
The best tips for hair regrowth
Fenugreek isn’t the first thing that comes to mind for treating hair loss in men or women, according to Dr. Jacob. “There are many scientifically proven treatments for androgenic alopecia that I would try first,” Dr. Jacob says. “Some have been approved for 20 years.”
Androgenic alopecia is a type of hair loss that can happen in both men and women. In men, it’s known as male pattern baldness and can be treated with topical minoxidil (Rogaine) or the oral medication finasteride (Propecia). The Food and Drug Administration has approved minoxidil for use in women as well.
Dr. Gonzalez notes that other nutrition tips might be more beneficial for your locks because diet can have an effect on your hair’s appearance and growth. It might be easier to implement these daytime and nighttime hair tips than trying fenugreek seeds for hair growth.
- For shiny hair, add salmon to your meal plan.
- Eat spinach to ensure you’ll have vitamins to help give your hair the moisture it needs.
- An iron deficiency can lead to hair loss, so make an effort to get more in your diet.
- Choose lean meat proteins like chicken or turkey because a lack of protein can cause new hair growth to stop and older hairs to fall out.
- Opt for Greek yogurt, which contains B5 vitamins that help increase blood flow to the scalp.
Other healthy hair tips
Keeping your hair healthy also goes beyond your diet. Dr. Gonzalez recommends washing your hair as little as you have to, using an at-home deep conditioning scalp massage treatment, and concentrating conditioner on the hair’s tips.
She also suggests letting your hair air dry whenever possible, limiting how often you use heat on your hair.
The bottom line
“Like many things that we as dermatologists recommend, fenugreek seeds can be an aid in hair regrowth,” Dr. Gonzalez says. “However, I am not stating that they are a ‘miracle cure.'”
If a man or a woman is bald or has severe hair loss, fenugreek seeds alone will not be the panacea they seek. Although there are enough animal and human studies to indicate fenugreek may help with hair loss and have more merit than simply being “old wives tales,” more research is necessary before it becomes a go-to treatment doctors recommend.