While many different supplements are being developed on a near daily basis, some of the most popular have been around for centuries -- of which Tribulus Terrestris may be the most interesting.
What is Tribulus Terrestris?
Tribulus terrestris is a small leafy plant, also known colloquially as puncture vine, devil's thorn, and goat’s head. This unique plant is found growing naturally throughout the Mediterranean, as well as India, Vietnam, China, Spain, and Mexico.
Traditionally Tribulus Terrestris was used in eastern and Ayurvedic medical practices where it was said to boost libido, enhance longevity, promote wound healing, and keep the urinary tract healthy .
In modern day, Tribulus has become a common health supplement among the general fitness crowd, while also becoming a staple in the supplement regime of many bodybuilders due to its suggested ability to increase testosterone.
What are the Benefits of Tribulus Terrestris?
Tribulus is full to the brim with bioactive plant compounds known as “saponins” and “flavonoids”, which are thought to provide unique benefits to the human body.
As a result, the supplementation of Tribulus Terrestris has been shown to have some pretty interesting effects.
1. Tribulus Enhances Libido
Arguably the most potent effect of Tribulus on the human body relates to its impact on libido.
Research has shown time and time again that that the daily supplementation of Tribulus can increase sex drive significantly in both men and women. This can also come with an improvement in sexual function in individuals suffering from erectile dysfunction .
It is important to note that these effects do appear to be somewhat dose dependent, with dosages of around 1500mg per day generally being more effective than dosages of 800mg or less.
2. Tribulus Lowers Blood Sugar
There is reason to believe that many of the bioactive compounds in Tribulus can enhance cell function and reduce systemic inflammation. As a result, its supplementation has also been shown to lower blood sugar levels .
Although lower resting blood sugar has been linked to improvements in metabolic health and a reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease, the benefits don't stop there.
Good blood sugar control is integral to enhancing post exercise recovery -- indicating that Tribulus is going to be a good option for both health conscious individuals, and those who are heavily into the gym lifestyle that we all know and love.
3. Tribulus Reduces Blood Pressure
In addition to improvements in blood sugar levels, reductions in inflammation are also thought to contribute to improved arterial function and a reduction in blood pressure -- which is exactly what you see with Tribulus supplements.
In fact, one study in people with high blood pressure saw vast improvements in their blood pressure levels after as little as one weeks supplementation when dosing with 3000mg per day .
While it is unlikely that these effects will be as profound in people with normal blood pressure levels, it does suggest that Tribulus supplements will be a good way to maintain your health as you get older.
Does Tribulus Terrestris Increase Testosterone?
In the introduction I alluded to the fact that Tribulus has become so popular among the lifting community because it is said to boost testosterone levels -- but research would indicate that this may not be entirely true.
A recent systematic review of 14 studies in men and women aged between 14 and 60 years found that the regular supplementation of Tribulus Terrestris does not increase free testosterone in people with normal testosterone levels .
While there is some reason to believe that it may boost testosterone in people with low testosterone levels, more research is needed to prove this is the case.
Now, this is not to say Tribulus does not offer any benefits -- because it obviously does -- just that its benefits do not lie within the realm of increasing testosterone.
How Much Tribulus Terrestris Should I Take?
Research would suggest that taking around 1000 mg per day is sufficient to lower blood sugar and blood pressure, while increasing to around 1500mg may be more effective enhancing libido and sex drive.
There does not appear to be any reason to exceed this dosage, despite some studies using higher than these levels.
Does Tribulus Terrestris Have any Side Effects?
For the most part, Tribulus Terrestris appears to be very well tolerated by most people, with no reports of “serious” side effects being in the scientific literature.
However, it is important to note that some people do report experiencing minor stomach cramps or reflux after long term supplementation. Moreover, research in rats has indicated that extremely large dosages may lead to kidney damage  -- which would lead us to recommend avoiding supplementation if you have a known issue with your kidneys, or a history of kidney stones.
With all this in mind, it appears that Tribulus is an extremely safe supplement in most circumstances -- although we would still encourage you to seek advice from a medical professional before supplementation.
After all, better to be safe than sorry.
Take Home Message
Although Tribulus Terrestris does not have the capacity to boost testosterone, it has demonstrated the ability to increase libido, lower blood sugar, and even reduce blood glucose -- all of which can improve health and function in a big way.
If you are interested in supplementing with Tribulus, dosages between 1000 and 1500mg per day should do the trick.
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- Akram, M., et al. "Tribulus terrestris Linn.: A review article." J Med Plants Res 5.16 (2011): 3601-3605.
- Samani, Nasrin Babadai, et al. "Efficacy of Tribulus terrestris extract on the serum glucose and lipids of women with diabetes mellitus." Iranian journal of medical sciences 41.3 Suppl (2016): S5.
- Murthy, A. R., S. D. Dubey, and K. Tripathi. "Anti-hypertensive effect of Gokshura (Tribulus terrestris Linn.)-A clinical study." Ancient science of life 19.3-4 (2000): 139.
- Neychev, Vladimir, and Vanyo Mitev. "Pro-sexual and androgen enhancing effects of Tribulus terrestris L.: fact or fiction." Journal of ethnopharmacology 179 (2016): 345-355.
- Gandhi, Sonia, B. P. Srinivasan, and Atul S. Akarte. "Potential nephrotoxic effects produced by steroidal saponins from hydro alcoholic extract of Tribulus terrestris in STZ-induced diabetic rats." Toxicology mechanisms and methods 23.7 (2013): 548-557.