Tribulus Terrestris

Nutritional Compound

OVERVIEW

Summary

Tribulus is an herb that has gained popularity for its potential “pro-sexual” attributes — the enhancement of sexual potency in men and stimulation of libido in both sexes. It’s more recently joined the ranks of possible performance nutrients because it may increase natural levels of testosterone — hence its popularity among athletes, weight trainers, and the aging alike.

Other names for Tribulus Terrestris

puncture vine, caltrop fruit

Where to find Tribulus Terrestris

This herb grows in moderate climates in tropical areas.

PERFORMANCE BENEFITS

Why athletes use Tribulus Terrestris

Tribulus has gained widespread popularity with a number of athletes ever since steroids were banned from the Olympics and international competition searched for ways to boost testosterone levels without artificially stimulating hormone levels. Once word of tribulus and its benefits got out, it quickly spread. Even if the research regarding its “muscle- and strength-building” effects has been slow to follow, tribulus is still believed to indirectly increase levels of testosterone, which may lead to an increase in lean mass, keeping it high on the list of supplements most used by athletes.

Ways that Tribulus Terrestris can enhance Muscle Gain & Recovery:
  • Boost natural testosterone production without artificially stimulating hormone levels to help support muscle growth
Ways that Tribulus Terrestris can enhance Longevity:
  • Enhance male sexual potency and potentially help treat impotence and infertility

HEALTH BENEFITS

Signs of Tribulus Terrestris deficiency

No deficiency conditions are known to exist.

Potential uses for Tribulus Terrestris

Research indicates that Tribulus Terrestris may be useful in the treatment of:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Infertility
  • Low libido (sex drive)
  • Low energy levels
  • Diseases affecting the liver, kidney, and urinary tract (especially stones)

DISCUSSION

More about Tribulus Terrestris

Tribulus terrestris was not well known in the West until recently, when it was discovered to be the “secret weapon” for the powerful athletic teams of Eastern Europe. Over the past centuries, though, it was used as a “pro-sexual” for medicinal purposes to treat impotence and used in ancient Ayurveda (an East Indian philosophy of medicine), by the Greeks, and by Chinese medicine practitioners as a rejuvenation formula, mostly for its diuretic properties.

Even though the research still appears rather sparse, that hasn’t stopped it from gaining popularity with numerous strength athletes and bodybuilders in a quest for increased natural testosterone production.

Natural testosterone production

Unfortunately, after about the age of 40, the natural process of aging affects our sexual performance and desire by creating distinct physiological changes in our bodies. The body operates more sluggishly and produces less hormones, leading to a significant drop in natural testosterone levels — the hormone related to sexual activity in men and women.

It seems tribulus may boost levels of a pituitary hormone called luteinizing hormone (or LH for short), which is responsible for the regulation of testosterone in the body. More specifically, LH delivers the message for the body to activate the natural production of testosterone — thus enhancing sexual functioning in men. At least theoretically, supplementation with tribulus could then help increase testosterone levels in the body, which could lead to an increase in the body’s ability to gain muscle mass.

While one study did show a 30% increase in testosterone levels with 750 mg of tribulus, no effects on actual strength or muscle mass were noted. Another study showed an increase of luteinizing hormone (LH) of 72% with a 41% increase in free testosterone. But again, no effects on strength or mass were noted.

Sexual enhancement

Tribulus has a pronounced effect on sexual function: clinical studies have clearly shown it enhances libido and imparts a stimulatory effect, improving sexual functioning in both men and women. In fact, this herb has been used for literally hundreds of years to promote sexual function and has been shown in research to help reduce infertility in women and impotence in men and lack of libido in both men and women. One study showed both an increase of testosterone and a 71% improvement in recovery of libido and sexual reflexes when there was a complete absence of libido beforehand.

Also significant was the lack of any side effects or artificial stimulation of sexual hormones, such as when anabolic steroids are used. Some researchers have suggested tribulus is even more promising because it appears to balance hormone levels naturally.

Other benefits

While the research is limited to animals, clinical studies have some experts suggesting tribulus may help reduce cholesterol; improve liver, urinary tract, and cardio functioning; and even enhance mood. One of the more recent studies on tribulus, performed by Indian researchers in 1993, showed a 45% improvement in overall mood enhancement for people who lacked interest in their daily lives and felt fatigued.

Another possible benefit of this herb is to help flush water out of the body (as a mild diurectic). It’s been used for this purpose for hundreds of years because of its ability to basically “cleanse” or rejuvenate the insides of the body and appears to be a safe and effective means of doing so.

In truth

While the anecdotal reports regarding this herb are fairly positive for testosterone production, the research has not yet conclusively confirmed much of the optimism. That doesn’t mean tribulus should be overlooked for its pronounced effects on sexual functioning, including impotence and infertility in males and raising libido in both males and females. These facts make it evident that this herb may have positive effects in the bedroom — increasing sexual appetite in both men and women.

NOTES ON USAGE

Amount

Some experts recommend a range of 250 to 750 mg (standardized for 40% furostanol saponins), while others suggest greater amounts are needed, from 750 to 1,250 per day. While it is still unclear as to the “optimal” usage range, evidence suggests positive effects are imparted at levels of 750 mg a day.

Timing

Tribulus terrestris is recommended in divided doses throughout the day, with meals.

Tip

Experts recommend cycling or going on and off of tribulus supplementation. A typical cycle consists of six to eight weeks using this herb followed by two to four weeks off.

Synergists of Tribulus Terrestris

Some experts suggest that using this herb with DHEA and an androstenedione-type supplement may increase its “testosterone production” effects significantly. But keep in mind, these are hormone precursors and act directly with testestorone, whereas tribulus works indirectly with testosterone, thereby causing less, if any, negative side effects.

Some experts also recommend supplementing with tribulus after using androstenedione-like supplements to potentially help restore the loss of libido or the body’s ability to restore its natural testosterone production, which declines in some individuals who use andro products.

Safety of Tribulus Terrestris

If you are pregnant or lactating, Tribulus terrestris is not recommended.

Men with enlarged prostates should not supplement with any products that may increase testosterone levels.

Some people have reported upset stomachs from supplementation with this herb.

Toxicity of Tribulus Terrestris

Very low.

Bans and restrictions

None reported.

RELATED RESEARCH

  • Adimoelja, A., “Phytochemicals and the Breakthrough of Traditional Herbs in the Management of Sexual Dysfunctions,” Int J Androl 23.S2 (2000) : 82-4.
  • Antonio, J., et al., “The Effects of Tribulus terrestris on Body Composition and Exercise Performance in Resistance-Trained Males,” Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 10.2 (2000) : 208-15.
  • Protich, M., et al., “(Clinical Trial of a Tribestan Preparation in Infertile Men),” Akush Ginekol (Sofiia) 22.4 (1983) : 326-9.