Fenugreek Seeds for Hair: The Ultimate Guide

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    Fenugreek seeds are packed with nutrients that can nourish hair, both through adding the seeds to your diet or in topical applications. Learn how to use them.

    Exploring Fenugreek Seeds and Their Origins

    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.

    What are Fenugreek Seeds?

    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.

    Historical and Cultural Significance

    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.

    Nourishing Your Hair with Fenugreek Seeds

    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.

    Stimulating Hair Growth

    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.

    Combatting Hair Loss

    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.

    Keeping Scalp Dryness at Bay

    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.

    Enhancing Hair Conditioning

    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.

    Restoring Hair Luster

    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.

    Methods to Harness the Power of Fenugreek Seeds

    You can get the benefits of fenugreek seeds in several ways, depending on your preference.

    Fortifying Hair Masks

    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.

    Rejuvenating Hair Oil

    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.

    Revitalizing Tea Rinse

    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.

    Tips and Tricks to Optimize Fenugreek Seed Use

    Get the most out of your fenugreek seed hair care with these tips.

    Best Practices for Application

    You can get pretty creative with topical use of fenugreek seeds. Here are some things to remember for applying to your hair and scalp:

    • Add a carrier oil when applying a paste. To help the fenugreek paste spread more easily, you can mix it with a carrier oil such as coconut oil, olive oil, or castor oil.
    • Apply the paste to your hair: Section your hair and apply the paste to your scalp and hair, focusing on the roots. Leave the paste on for 30 minutes to an hour.
    • Rinse thoroughly. Rinse the paste out of your hair thoroughly with warm water. You may need to shampoo your hair to remove any residue, since the seeds contain natural oils.
    • Repeat regularly. For best results, repeat this process once or twice a week.
    • Do a test run. Before using a full patch of paste on your scalp, do a patch test with a small amount of paste to make sure you don’t have a negative reaction.
    • Dilute for sensitive skin. If you are prone to skin reactions, you may want to dilute the fenugreek paste with more oil or water.

    Maximizing Benefits

    Get even more benefits from fenugreek seeds by doing the following:

    • Soak the seeds: Soaking fenugreek seeds for several hours or overnight will help soften the seeds and make them easier to blend into a paste.
    • Add some acid: Add apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to the soaking water to further reduce phytic acid content during soaking and unlock more nutrients.
    • Choose fresh: Always look for expiration dates on products since oils can go rancid. Addition of antioxidants into formulations usually help extend the stability of the product.

    Precautions and Considerations

    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.

    Potential Side Effects

    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.

    When to Seek Professional Advice

    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.

    The Bottom Line

    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.

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    Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
    Medical Content Manager
    Dr. Montrond-Correia is a licensed naturopathic physician and a certified nutrition specialist (CNS). She holds degrees from University of Bridgeport, Georgetown University, and University of Saint Joseph, and supplemented her education with internships in the health and wellness space. She's focused on research, herbal medicine, nutrigenomics, and integrative and functional medicine. She makes time for exercise, artistic activities, and enjoying delicious food.
    Victoria Peck-Gray, RD
    Freelance Contributor
    Victoria is a registered dietitian and functional nutritionist who helps people with resistant weight loss and PCOS transform their metabolic health and lose weight through a functional nutrition and lifestyle approach that addresses root causes. She is owner of her private practice, Wonderfully Made Nutrition and also leads her group metabolic coaching program for women called The 4 Method.