A standardized extract of Trigonella foenum‐graecum was associated with significant increases in measures of sexual cognition, arousal, sexual behavior, sexual drive, and orgasm, according to findings published in Phytotherapy Research.
The study used Gencor’s Libifem ingredient and was funded by the company.
“The results of this clinical trial have demonstrated that the specialized extract of T. foenum-graecum seed extract (libifem) has a positive effect in enhancing sexual function in healthy menstruating women with self-reported low sexual function,” wrote researchers from The University of Sydney, the University of Queensland, the University of Southern Queensland, Integrated Health Group Pty Ltd, and Medlab Pty Ltd.
“In particular, positive changes were observed in both sexual desire and arousal. Furthermore, T. foenum-graecum significantly increased levels of E2 and calculated free testosterone compared to placebo.”
Libifem is reported to contain saponins that may promote a woman’s healthy sexual vitality, desire and arousal. Loss of sexual desire affects approximately one in every four women, but despite its prevalence, there are few supplement options, said Gencor in a statement.
Men and women
Gencor also offers the same extract with the same standardization for men under the brand name Testofen. Libifem has been on the market for just over two years, a spokesperson for the company told us, and there are about six products available today in the US. On the other hand, Testofen has been on the market about 10 years with many customers, they added.
While this is the first RCT of Libifem in women, Testofen has been the subject of other studies in men, said the spokesperson.
“In total, the ingredient has had four gold standard RCTs, three on men and the one on women,” they said. “Three of these studies have been published and the fourth was just completed in the last few months.”
The researchers recruited 80 women aged between 20 and 49 with self-reported low sex drive. The women were randomly assigned to either an oral dose of a Libifem (600 mg/day) or placebo for eight weeks (over two menstrual cycles). Sexual function was measured using the Derogatis Interview for Sexual Functioning (DISF) and Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) questionnaires.
The results showed a significant increase in Estradiol (E2) and free testosterone, as well as an increase in sexual desire and arousal in the active group, compared with placebo. There was also a significant increase in sexual activity for the group taking Libifem.
“Estradiol stimulates vaginal lubrication and blood flow, affecting a woman’s capacity for sexual arousal and orgasm; this supports the significant positive change in sexual arousal observed,” said the researchers. “Whilst the mechanism of the increase in E2 levels is unclear from the current study, one possibility is due to increased aromatase activity that converts testosterone to E2.”
The researchers also noted that there was a robust placebo response, which was expected because the study’s participants wanted their sexual lives to be improved. “This may explain why women in both groups reported an increased satisfaction with their relationship at the end of the study, but nevertheless, there remained a significant treatment effect from the T. foenum-graecum seed extract,” they said.
“This study has provided further evidence that T. foenum-graecum seed extract is a well-tolerated and is an effective botanical medicine for use in the support of sexual function of pre-menopausal women, in particular increasing sexual desire and arousal, with positive effects on concentrations of E2 and free testosterone,” they concluded.
Bad actors creating bad press
The sexual health segment in the US has been the subject of some negative press, and the spokesperson said that “it is unfortunate that bad actors selling fairy dust and adulterated products are going to create bad press, but we try not to focus on that. We do focus on offering an ingredient that is safe and shown to be effective. To do this, we start with the source of the raw material that can be traced to the origin. Some of these farmers we have been working with for years.
“Then we produce the ingredient in a NSF GMP certified facility. Next is the clinical evidence. Libifem is the only ingredient we know of with a high quality RCT done in a Western country published in a peer-reviewed journal showing effectiveness for improving women’s sexual health. The quality of the clinical trials being done on this ingredient for men and women are amongst the highest in the industry,” added the spokesperson.
“Next is the IP and Brand Protection, Libifem is patent pending and the trademark is registered. We go to great lengths to make sure no unauthorized companies are using the brand and all authorized users have the full clinical dosage in their product.
“We also randomly test all the known finished products to check for compliance. Our goal is to make sure when a consumer buys a product containing Libifem they can trust that they will receive the full clinical dosage of a proven, safe and effective ingredient.
“We believe this will create a positive user experience for the consumer and in turn will create positive press for the ingredient, the category, and the industry.”
Source: Phytotherapy Research
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1002/ptr.5355
“Influence of a Specialized Trigonella foenum-graecum Seed Extract (Libifem), on Testosterone, Estradiol and Sexual Function in Healthy Menstruating Women, a Randomised Placebo Controlled Study”
Authors: A. Rao, E. Steels, G. Beccaria, W.J. Inder, L. Vitetta