Saponins are mostly bitter-tasting compounds that have surface-active properties and form foam in aqueous solution. Its name is derived from the Latin word “sapo” for soap. In foods, saponins are found mainly in legumes, such as soybeans, but also in coffee beans and fenugreek seeds.
Saponins as a subgroup of glycosides occupy an important place among the therapeutically active constituents of medicinal plants. In accordance with their great structural diversity, a variety of different biological-pharmaceutical properties are also observed. Strengthening, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, expectorant/mucolytic and hormone stimulating properties are observed, among others. They also support the absorption of other ingredients from the intestine and, on the other hand, bind cholesterol. It is also thought to have a preventive effect against colorectal cancer through an inhibitory effect on cell division in the intestine.
In medicine, certain medicinal plants containing saponins are used primarily as expectorants for coughs, vein remedies, diuretics, and geriatrics. However, a large number of other active principles exist.
In the case of fenugreek, it is thought that, among other things, its ability to increase levels of bioavailable testosterone can be attributed to saponins. On the one hand, this supports muscle building, but also helps against various complaints that can be triggered by testosterone deficiency in old age, from depression to bone loss.