MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: How do herbs like fenugreek and saw palmetto foster breast growth?

Date: Mon Jun 18 15:29:37 2001
Posted By: David Mallory, Faculty, Biological Sciences, Marshall University
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 988514384.Gb

Hello Laura:

Before I give you my opinions, I want to say that I am not a clinician. 
None of the opinions I give should be construed as clinical advice, nor 
should any of this supplant the advice of a medical professional.  

The scientific name for Fenugreek is Trigonella foenum-graecum. It is 
claimed to have been used for centuries in the middle east in herbal 
healing. It was promoted in the USA in the 19th century as a tonic for 
menstural irregularities.  Today, it is most often used as a flavoring for 
imitation maple syrup and in curry powder blends.  There are 
phyto-estrogens and estrogen precursors found in various tissues of the 
plant.  For this reason, there is some use by pharaceutical companys as a 
source of estrogenic compounds.  

The implication that this plant could be used to enhance breast development 
likely arises from it containing estrogenic compounds.  As normal breast 
development requires estrogens to be present, it MAY follow that consuming 
estrogen MAY contribute to enhanced breast development.  

It is known that livestock, such as sheep, fed plants with estrogenic 
activity, can have disrupted reproductive cycle attributable to estrogen 
activity.  So, it is without question that these steroids or molecules 
acting like these steroids can be found in plants, and they can have 
effects on mammalian reproduction.  

Unfortunately, I can find no scientifically based indication that breast 
development can occur from the use of these plants or extracts of such.  
Obviously there will be intense disagreement on this subject, especially by 
those who benefit (financially) from the distribution of such information.  

Please get the following articles:

Prevention Magazine, Volume 53 Issue 7 (July, 2001) page 119. Varro Tyler, 
PhD details why he thinks that there is NO evidence for herbal breast 

Prevention Magazine, Volume 53, Issue 1 (January, 2001) page 110. Douglas 
Schaar, Clinical Herbalist and PhD candidate describes the positive aspects 
of herbal breast enhancers.

Also see: and

I would like to add that one should carefully examine why they want breast 
enhancement.  A person is not better or worse based upon physical 
attributes. Furthermore, those who judge others based upon their physical 
attributes are missing whats important about people...

Thanks for listening (reading)

David Mallory, PhD
Marshall University
Huntington, WV

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