Tribulus Terrestris is an herb that has traditionally been used to promote male sexual health and virility. Tribulus is Latin for “to tear,” which refers to the plant’s ability to damage. It is also known as puncture vine and grows around the world, particularly in cold and dry climates. The plant is native to parts of tropical Australia, Europe, Asia and Africa.
Medicinal properties of Tribulus
Tribulus is quite popular owing to its medicinal properties. It is believed to:
- Help libido in both women and men
- Benefit those with hormonal imbalance
- Reduce symptoms of menopause
- Improve circulatory system
- Prevent impotence
- Help people with mood swings and depression
- Boost energy and fight fatigue
It is best known for its ability to increase testosterone. It was probably the first herbal supplement that was marketed as a testosterone booster. While many people swear by its testosterone boosting ability, there are others who call it a hyped-up herb. So, what’s the truth? What does the research say? Let’s have a look.
How does it work?
- Tribulus Terrestris is commonly used as a post-cycle supplement to kick-start body’s natural testosterone production. It is believed that Tribulus increases the luteinizing hormone (LH) levels thereby helping the body synthesize more testosterone.
- Tribulus contains steroidal glycosides and steroidal saponins, which can have androgenic effects.
Does Tribulus Increase Testosterone?
In theory, it seems plausible that the herb elevates LH, which sends signals to the testicles causing them to make testosterone, however, there is little evidence to support these claims. Here is a look at some published studies.
Research conducted on animals to study the efficacy of Tribulus as a testosterone booster has shown promising results.
The hormonal effects of Tribulus Terrestris and its role in the management of male erectile dysfunction–an evaluation using primates, rabbit and rat.
In this study, rabbits, primates and rats where administered 7.5-30 mg Tribulus extract per kg body weight for eight weeks. The blood samples were then analyzed for dihydrotestosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate and testosterone levels. The study showed:
- Increase in testosterone levels by 52 percent in primates and 51 percent in rats
- Tribulus may be useful in mild to moderate cases of erectile dysfunction
Evaluation of the aphrodisiac activity of Tribulus terrestris Linn. in sexually sluggish male albino rats
The study was conducted on 18 sexually sluggish male rats. They were administered 50mg/kg and 100mg/kg body weight of Tribulus extract. Researchers then recorded sexual behaviour of these rats. They found:
- An increase in sexual behaviour
- 100mg Tribulus extract per body weight increased serum testosterone levels and sexual performance in rats
- No change in sperm count
The effect of five weeks of Tribulus terrestris supplementation on muscle strength and body composition during preseason training in elite rugby league players
In this 2007 study, 24 elite rugby players were divided into two groups. One was administered 450 mg of Tribulus, and the other was given a placebo. The players also followed a weightlifting regimen for five weeks. The results were:
- No improvement in muscle mass or strength
- No decrease in body fat compared to the placebo group
- No change in testosterone to estrogen ratio. In short, it did not increase testosterone
Prospective Analysis on the Effect of Botanical Medicine (Tribulus terrestris) on Serum Testosterone Level and Semen Parameters in Males with Unexplained Infertility.
A more recent study, conducted in 2016 involved 30 men with unknown fertility issues. They were randomly administered 750 mg of Tribulus daily in three doses for three months or placebo. It was found that:
- There was no change in free testosterone, total testosterone or luteinizing hormone
- No benefits to sperm motility or sperm concentration
Apart from these two studies, two other human studies conducted in 2000 and 2001 also showed no changes in testosterone levels.
Pilot Study on the Effect of Botanical Medicine (Tribulus terrestris) on Serum Testosterone Level and Erectile Function in Aging Males With Partial Androgen Deficiency (PADAM).
Conducted in 2016, this study involved 30 aging males with With Partial Androgen Deficiency (PADAM). The participants were given a 750 mg of tribulus divided into three equal doses of 250 mg throughout the day. It was observed that there was:
- Significant difference in free and total testosterone levels before and after the treatment
- No change in luteinizing hormone
- Significant correlation between testosterone (free and total) and erectile function
However, it is important to note that this study used no placebo group.
Unfortunately, there is little evidence in support of Tribulus’ efficacy as a testosterone booster. All the research we came across shows that it makes no difference in testosterone levels. Therefore, if you are taking Tribulus supplements to become leaner, stronger or adding more muscle, you should not expect much.