Background and aim: An example of a medicinal plant with numerous potential activities is fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.). The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of fenugreek seed on bone mechanical properties in rats with normal and decreased estrogen level (developing osteoporosis).
Materials and methods: The experiments were carried out on 3-month-old non-ovariectomized (NOVX) and ovariectomized (OVX) Wistar rats, divided into control rats, rats receiving pulverized fenugreek seed (1% in the diet) and rats receiving fenugreek seed extract standardized for 4-hydroxy-L-isoleucine (50 mg of 4-hydroxy-L-isoleucine/kg p.o. daily) for 4 weeks. Serum bone turnover markers, bone mineralization and mechanical properties were examined.
Results: Fenugreek seed added to food did not significantly affect bone mineralization and serum turnover markers, independently of the estrogen status. It tended to increase the strength of the tibial metaphysis (cancellous bone) in NOVX rats, and increased the strength of the femoral diaphysis (compact bone) in OVX rats. The fenugreek seed extract did not affect the skeletal system of NOVX rats, and significantly worsened mineralization of the vertebra in OVX rats, decreased due to estrogen deficiency.
Conclusions: Low dietary intake of fenugreek seed may exert slight favorable skeletal effects, whereas at high doses it may damage the skeletal system.