Fenugreek vs Ashwagandha

Fenugreek and Ashwagandha are often touted as effective ways to improve athletic performance, largely due to what seems to be an impact on testosterone production. They have a host of other known health benefits as well, which is why you will often see these two plants pop up in a lot of combined supplements. Typically speaking when people compare the two they want to know whether Fenugreek or Ashwagandha is best for testosterone and whether or not they can be taken together. 

In terms of whether or not you can stack the two together safely, the general consensus is yes. As for which is best for hormone production, ultimately that's a bit more of a complex question. Both plants function in slightly different ways, and which is best is going to come down to some questions around symptoms and causes. Ultimately all else being fine, there is more evidence to suggest that Fenugreek would make more of an impact in a perfectly healthy male. However, if we take into account Ashwagandha's ability to reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) build up, and improve sleep quality it can have a larger impact if either of these two things are causing issues with hormone production.  

But, as they can be taken together, many people prefer combined testosterone supplements so they can get the benefits of both. They both also seem to have notable effects on improving athletic performance, which is again one of the most common reasons people seek out these supplements.

However, if you're just looking for a single supplement, they do also have a variety of other benefifts. Some very similar, around things like blood sugar regulation, others less so with Ashwagandha having more cognative benefits and Fenugreek having some potential around weight loss and heart health.

Health Benefits of Ashwagandha

Stress Relief and Anxiety Reduction

Ashwagandha is well-known for its ability to reduce stress and anxiety. It has calming properties that help promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. Several research studies have confirmed the effectiveness of ashwagandha in reducing stress levels.

Participants who took ashwagandha supplements reported a notable decrease in stress and anxiety symptoms. Additionally, these individuals experienced improved sleep quality, which is crucial for overall well-being. 

For example a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted on 64 individuals with a history of chronic stress found that ashwagandha supplementation led to a significant reduction in stress levels. [1] The participants who took ashwagandha experienced lower levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, compared to the placebo group. 

A further double-blind, placebo-controlled study involving 88 participants with moderate to severe anxiety, ashwagandha extract was shown to significantly reduce anxiety levels compared to the placebo. [2] . 

Lastly a 3rd randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involved 60 participants who were divided into two groups. The treatment group received ashwagandha root extract twice daily for a period of 10 weeks, while the placebo group received a placebo. The study found that participants in the ashwagandha group experienced a significant improvement in sleep quality. [3]

This will also relate to testosterone later, as cortisol has a depressing impact on hormone regulation as does lack of sleep. But, for mood relatedlow testosterone symptoms, Ashwagandha is definitely the winner.

Blood Sugar Regulation

Studies have indicated that ashwagandha may help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. This can be beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those at risk of developing the condition. Ashwagandha supplements have been shown to reduce fasting blood sugar levels and HbA1c, a marker of long-term blood sugar control. Although most of the studies in regards to this have been animal studies, so we can't necessarily say as to whether it will be effective in humans or not down the line. [4]

Athletic Performance Enhancement

Ashwagandha has been found to enhance athletic performance and increase muscle strength and endurance. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that men who took an ashwagandha supplement experienced significant increases in muscle strength compared to the placebo group. Ashwagandha may also reduce exercise-induced muscle damage and improve post-workout recovery, allowing men to train harder and achieve better results  These effects may be attributed to the herb's ability to boost energy levels and reduce exercise-induced muscle damage. [5]

Another study [6] focused on the effect of Ashwagandha on the cardiorespiratory endurance of elite Indian cyclists. The study involved 40 elite cyclists who were divided into experimental and placebo groups. The experimental group received Ashwagandha capsules, while the placebo group received starch capsules. After eight weeks of supplementation, the cyclists underwent treadmill tests to measure their aerobic capacity. The results showed significant improvement in the experimental group, including increased VO2 max and endurance time on the treadmill, while the placebo group did not show any change. This study concluded that Ashwagandha improved the cardiorespiratory endurance of elite athletes. 

A systematic review and meta-analysis [7] evaluated the effect of Ashwagandha supplementation on physical performance in healthy individuals. The study analyzed 13 relevant studies and found that Ashwagandha supplementation was more effective than placebo in improving physical performance variables. However, the authors emphasized the need for more comparable studies to establish a more reliable estimate of the true effect. The study also mentioned the potential therapeutic uses of Ashwagandha in areas such as anxiety, male infertility, and diabetes. 

In this regard Fenugreek and Ashwagandha are very similar, however there are more robust studies for fenugreek.

Memory Improvement and Cognitive Function

Ashwagandha contains bioactive compounds that have been found to improve memory and cognitive function. Studies have shown that regular consumption of ashwagandha supplements can enhance memory, attention, and concentration. It has also been found to improve executive functions, such as problem-solving and decision-making. [8]

Hormone Regulation and Fertility Enhancement

Ashwagandha has the potential to regulate hormone levels, particularly in men. Research has shown that ashwagandha supplementation in overweight men resulted in an increase in testosterone production and improved sperm quality. In women, ashwagandha has been found to improve sexual hormones, arousal, lubrication, and sexual performance. Although the research in this area is limited, there are human trials and the initial findings look promising. [9]

This is compounded in participants struggling with sleep issues, as Ashwagandha improves sleep, which is essential for hormone production.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Ashwagandha contains compounds with potent anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation in the body. Studies have shown that these compounds act on inflammatory pathways and reduce the production of inflammatory mediators, such as interleukins and C-reactive proteins. This makes ashwagandha beneficial for individuals with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. [10]

There are much better options for joint and arthritis supplements however and neither fenugreek or ashwagandha are particularly effective in this regard compared with other phytogenes. 

Health Benefits of Fenugreek

Breast Milk Production

Fenugreek has long been used as a natural remedy to increase breast milk production in lactating mothers. Studies have shown that fenugreek supplementation can significantly increase milk volume and improve breastfeeding outcomes. It is believed that fenugreek stimulates milk production by increasing prolactin levels in the body and improves the quality of breastmilk in general. 

For example, one study involved 60 postnatal mothers, with half of them receiving fenugreek water for 7 days and the other half serving as the control group. The experimental group experienced increased frequency of urination and weight gain in infants, indicating improved breast milk sufficiency [10], although there have been several others with similar results, the sample sizes are relatively small. But, they are consistent.

Weight Management

Fenugreek may aid in weight management by promoting the feeling of fullness and reducing calorie intake. Limited research suggests that fenugreek may aid in weight loss by suppressing appetite, promoting satiety, and reducing calorie intake [11]. But, it does come up quite a lot when it's benefits are discussed so we'd be remiss not to mention it at all. Higher doses of fenugreek are typically associated with weight loss benefits [12]. A study conducted on high-fat diet-induced obese rats found that fenugreek seed extract inhibited fat accumulation and improved dyslipidemia [13]. Another study found that repeated administration of a fenugreek seed extract slightly but significantly decreased dietary fat consumption in healthy overweight subjects. [14] Lastly, fenugreek consumed as a tea did seem to be ineffective [15]. However, more studies are needed to confirm the weight loss benefits of fenugreek 

Blood Sugar Regulation

Fenugreek has been found to have beneficial effects on blood sugar regulation, making it a potential aid for individuals with diabetes. Studies have shown that fenugreek can increase glucose absorption in the intestine, improve insulin sensitivity, and decrease blood sugar levels. It may also reduce the risk of complications associated with diabetes, such as cardiovascular disease. [15]

Testosterone Boosting

Fenugreek has been associated with increased testosterone levels, which can have positive effects on male sexual health and vitality. Multiple studies have shown that fenugreek supplementation can increase testosterone levels in men. 

For example, a study conducted on healthy male subjects found that fenugreek extract significantly increased testosterone levels after 12 weeks of supplementation. [16]

With similar studies such as one published in the International Journal of Exercise Science found that fenugreek supplementation significantly increased testosterone levels in resistance-trained men showig similar results. [17]

These studies did show a more significant increase than most Ashwagandha studies, however, they were done on populations of men who actively train and were generally healthy.

Fenugreek contains compounds like furostanolic saponins and protodioscin, which are associated with increasing testosterone levels. These compounds are believed to stimulate the release of luteinizing hormone, which in turn promotes testosterone production.

However, it's important to note that more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms by which fenugreek affects testosterone levels and to determine the optimal dosage for achieving these benefits.

Pain and Inflammation Reduction

Fenugreek contains compounds that possess anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce pain and inflammation. Studies have shown that fenugreek supplementation can alleviate menstrual pain and reduce the severity and duration of pain associated with various conditions. It may also have benefits for individuals with arthritis or other inflammatory disorders.

Heart Health Protection

Fenugreek has been found to have potential benefits for heart health. It may help regulate blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, and decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Research has shown that fenugreek supplementation can lower blood pressure and improve lipid profiles, which are important factors for maintaining heart health.

Side Effects of Fenugreek and Ashwagandha

Neither of the two supplements have particularly dramatic side effects, but it is a lot more common for Ashwagandha to cause stomach upset than Fenugreek.

Which is Better Fenugreek or Ashwagandha?

Ultimately that's going to come down to a use case, generally we rate ashwagandha better for mood, stress, sleep and cognative issues and Fenugreek as marginally better for hormone regulation, if sleep and stress are not factors in disregulating hormones. In terms of pain and inflamation, there are far better options than either Ashwaganda or Fenugreek (such as curcumin or ginger) thus it's somewhat of a moot point as is there impactions around heart health. In a completely healthy male looking to raise athletic performance, Fenugreek may be a better solution, but in anyone not getting 6-8 hours or quality sleep a night, or dealing with any stess we'd recommend Ashwagandha.


1 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23439798/

2 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19718255/

3 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8462692/

4 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2695282/

5 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8006238/

6 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3545242/

7 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4658772/

8 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9565281/

9 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9297375/

10 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK501779/

11 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19353539/

12 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4020548/

13 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20020282/

14 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19809809/

14 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4525133/

15 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4591578/

16 - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ptr.6627

17 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6191980/

18 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4980935/

19 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8007891/

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