Increasing Muscle Strength with Fenugreek

The spice fenugreek appears to significantly improve muscle strength and weight lifting power output while possessing anti-cancer properties in vitro. In my 2-min video Benefits of Fenugreek Seeds I profile a study entitled “The effects of a commercially available botanical supplement on strength, body composition, power output, and hormonal profiles in resistance-trained males.” Something had a “significant impact on both upper- and lower-body strength and body composition in comparison to placebo in a double blind controlled trial. These changes were obtained with no clinical side effects.” Something allowed these men to leg press an extra hundred pounds compared to placebo. And the magical substance? Powdered fenugreek–a spice that may even double as an anti-cancer agent.

In the video I show human prostate cancer cells in a petri dish before and after being exposed to various concentrations of fenugreek compared to the effect of the spice on normal prostate cells. The effect was striking. The study concluded: “In summary, fenugreek seeds may possess potent anti-cancer properties.”

So what’s the downside? Well, there is a side effect of fenugreek seed consumption—it makes your armpits smell like maple syrup! See the above video for more.

What happens to the armpit odor of those embracing entire diets full of plants? See Body Odor Diet. Then check out Asparagus Pee for another funky odor video.

Fenugreek may be to strength training what beets and arugula are to cardio. My ten video series on improving athletic performance with vegetables starts with Doping With Beet Juice and ends with So Should We Drink Beet Juice or Not?.

Other plants with apparently remarkable benefits include amla (see, for example, Amla Versus Diabetes), saffron (Saffron for the Treatment of Alzheimers), the tea plant (Dietary Brain Wave Alteration), and humble broccoli (Broccoli Versus Breast Cancer Stem Cells). More on the power of plants in general in Power Plants and spices like fenugreek in particular in Antioxidants in a Pinch. See what a whole diet of plants can do to prostate cancer cell growth in Ex Vivo Cancer Proliferation Bioassay.

Fenugreek is certainly something I’ve been trying to incorporate more into my family’s diet based on all this amazing new data. It’s strong stuff though! I’d be interested to hear any tips on how folks have been able to sneak it into their diets. I make these mean chia seed-encrusted dried mangoes that I sprinkle with fenugreek powder using the mix-a-yummy-with-yucky technique for adding less-than-delicious things to one’s diet (like putting amla in smoothies). I find home-dried mangos so yummy I figure I could rub them with just about anything!

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here and watch my full 2012 presentation Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death.

Image credit: La.Catholique / Flickr

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Mike R
Mike Rabout a month ago


Mike R
Mike Rabout a month ago


Michelle Hall
Michelle Hall2 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

da c.
Past Member 5 years ago

thank you

Julianna D.
Juliana D5 years ago

I'm taking fenugreek for OTHER reasons, but this is excellent to know.

Freda Lee Jones
Lee J5 years ago

Busy drinking fenugreek infusion (for the first time) to try to clear up congested sinuses and chest from a nasty cold - it is working so far. Interesting addition to the medical cabinet...

Christina B.
Christina B5 years ago

I just hated the way that video was narrated. So much so, that I actually turned it off.

Elizabeth H.
Elizabeth H6 years ago

cool ty

Lynda Whitney
Lynda W6 years ago

Dr. Michael Greger has changed my life in many ways, by following his sensible approach to food and with the army of info he gives out, my food costs have gone down a lot, instead of buying the newest fad in green diets I look at his medical research in what has more nutrient value and you will find some cost effective choices that have more bang for the buck, which really helps now days, can't thank him enough.