Fenugreek is a herb that is commonly used in traditional medicine and has a wide range of potential health benefits. Small lab studies show that fenugreek extract is effective against Malassezia at 25-30% concentration. Human studies are lacking. However, some poor New Zealand bunnies got slathered with fenugreek extract and survived to tell the tale.
Let’s take a deep dive:
What is Fenugreek?
Fenugreek is an annual plant that is native to the Mediterranean region. Also known as methi, it’s commonly used as a spice in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine, and the seeds are often ground into a powder and used as an ingredient in curry dishes and other foods.
Fenugreek is also used in traditional medicine and is believed to have a wide range of potential health benefits. The seeds (methis) are rich in nutrients and are a good source of protein, fiber, and minerals such as iron and magnesium.
This versatile herb is commonly used to treat a variety of health conditions, including digestive problems, inflammation, and skin conditions, although more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness for these uses.
Does Fenugreek have antifungal properties?
Some research suggests that fenugreek may have antifungal properties and may be effective in combating certain types of fungi. In fact, an lab study published in the International Journal of Current Research (sounds legit, I know) noted that fenugreek extract diluted in water (1:4 ratio) was somewhat effective in curbing Malassezia furfur.
Another group of researchers went on to test fenugreek extract as a herbal gel formulation when their lab found that methi had antifungal activity, not just against Malassezia furfur, but also against other fungi like Candida albicans and Aspergillus niger. They formulated a 30% fenugreek leaf extract herbal gel and tested it on New Zealand rabbits (poor buggers). Luckily, the rabbits had no reaction to it and it was found to be safe.
The formulation hasn’t made it to consumers yet but there are ways you can make your own gel at home.
Does fenugreek work for seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff?
I didn’t find any human studies on fenugreek and its effect on seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff. However, many people have gushed about how effective fenugreek seed paste is when applied over the scalp. I’ve not tried it myself but if you’re looking for a herbal remedy, it’s easy enough to do and shouldn’t cause any harm.
Here is a commercial version if you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own:
Some people have even made fenugreek face masks. These masks are said to be good for acne and can help brighten your skin complexion, giving it a beautiful glow.
Fenugreek seed is a powerhouse of vitamins, nutrients and minerals. Adding a little to curries, stir-fries and even to stews gives you this amazing aroma that whets your appetite. Just remember that there is no evidence eating fenugreek seeds will do anything for seb derm so don’t crazy on the spice. A little goes a long way.
How to use fenugreek for seborrheic dermatitis?
Step 1: Choose your fenugreek seed
There are two types of fenugreek seeds: black and yellow. Black fenugreek seeds have a stronger flavor than yellow ones, while yellow fenugreek seeds contain more saponins and therefore have more skin-soothing properties.
Step 2: Prepare the seeds
Rinse the fenugreek seeds and soak them overnight in water. This will soften the seeds and help ‘activate’ them. Grind the soaked seeds into a fine paste using a mortar and pestle or food processor.
An easier way would be to just buy the powder and add water:
Step 3: Add some bonus ingredients
You can apply the fenugreek paste as is, or you can mix it with a safe carrier oil like MCT oil or squalane oil for extra hydration.
You can also add a few drops of tea tree oil, lavender oil or other essential oil of choice (read more about the best essential oils for seb derm).
Step 4: Apply the mask
You can apply the mixture safely with your hands. Leave it on your scalp or face (or which ever part of your skin that is affected by seb derm) and leave it on for 15-30 minutes.
Rinse with water to wash off. If you’ve applied it to your scalp, probably best if you do it as a pre-wash mask.
It’s safe to use this mask 1-2 times a week.
Potential side effects of fenugreek
Fenugreek is generally considered to be safe when used in moderation. However, like any natural remedy, it’s possible for people to experience side effects when using fenugreek. Some potential side effects of eating fenugreek include:
- Stomach upset: Fenugreek can cause stomach discomfort, including bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
- Allergic reactions: Some people may be allergic to fenugreek and may experience allergic reactions such as skin rash, hives, and difficulty breathing.
- Low blood sugar: Fenugreek may lower blood sugar levels, and people with diabetes who are taking insulin or other blood sugar-lowering medications should be careful when using fenugreek.
- Interactions with medications: Fenugreek may interact with certain medications, including blood thinners and blood sugar-lowering medications.
Possible side effects of fenugreek on the skin include:
- Skin irritation or allergic reaction
- Dryness, peeling or flaking skin
- Skin burning when applied during an acute seb derm flare
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