Tribulus Terrestris

Tribulus Terrestris is believed to have been used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine for more than 3,000 years. It is a plant traditionally used as a physical rejuvenation tonic, for supporting the immune system, treating liver, kidney and cardiovascular conditions, as an anti-inflammatory and as an aphrodisiac. Today, it is mostly used for sexual health and as a performance enhancer among certain athletes.

Tribulus Terrestris is an annual plant, meaning that it completes its life cycle from germination to seed in one year and then dies. Its stems and branches are normally 20-60 cm long, with even and opposite green and hairy leaves forming leaflets of up to 10 cm long. The plant has small yellow flowers and produces a fruit covered with sharp spines. It generally grows low to the ground where it forms dense mats 2 to 5 feet in diameter.

Tribulus Terrestris is a hardy plant that is native to the warm temperate and tropical regions of Europe, southern Asia, Africa and Australia. Due to its rapid growth however, it has spread around the world and become an unwelcome weed and invasive plant in many areas. Partly because of this and partly because of its spikes, it has received many names such as Devils Thorn, Devils Weed and Puncture Vine. There are more than 20 species in the Tribulus family, but Tribulus Terrestris is the most frequently utilized plant for supplements.

The bioactive components of Tribulus Terrestris are something called steroidal saponins. These are believed to protect the plant against microbes and fungi. The most prominent steroidal saponin in Tribulus Terrestris is called protodioscin, others are called dioscin, diosgenin and protogracillin. The plant also contains components such as phytosterols and spirostanol glycosides.

Protodioscin is the ingredient which is claimed to possess the libido and the erection properties of Tribulus Terrestris. The chemical make-up of the plant seems to vary by region, and protodioscin is reported to be highest in Tribulus Terrestris from Bulgaria, Turkey and Macedonia.

Tribulus Terrestris is reported to increase androgen levels in the body. Androgens, of which testosterone is the primary, stimulate or control the development and maintenance of male characteristics. One study analysed the effects of administering Tribulus Terrestris at 5 mg/kg of body weight to rats for 8 weeks. This study reported a 58% increase in androgen receptor activity and also a 67% increase in the activity levels of certain neurons essential in androgen signalling. The study concluded that these results were probably due to the increase in the levels of androgen in the rats. To learn more about testosterone on Truelibido, please go here.

It has been claimed that protodioscin is a precursor to dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), meaning that protodioscin is one of the building blocks of DHEA. DHEA is the most abundant circulating steroid hormone in humans and also the precursor to testosterone. It is therefore theorized that protodioscin increases DHEA levels which in turn increase testosterone levels in the body.

Also, Tribulus Terrestris is believed to indirectly affect testosterone levels by stimulating the release of a hormone called luteinizing hormone. Testosterone is produced by cells called leydig cells in the testes, and it is luteinizing hormone which regulates and controls the leydig cells to produce this testosterone. High levels of luteinizing hormone is normally correlated with high levels of testosterone, and therefore, if Tribulus Terrestris is able to increase the levels of luteinizing hormone, this may also lead to increases in testosterone production.

Protodioscin has also been claimed in a research study to make the enzyme nitric oxide synthase more efficient at producing nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is an essential element of the erection process as nitric oxide enables the smooth muscles of the penis to relax. The smooth muscles in the penis are normally in a state of contraction, and therefore clench around the blood vessels in the penis. This clenching assures that blood is not allowed to enter the penis other than for small amounts for maintenance purposes. As these smooth muscles relax, the blood vessels are opened up and blood is allowed to enter the penis so that an erection can form. To learn more about nitric oxide on Truelibido, please go here.

One study analysed the effects on erectile functioning in primates, rabbits and rats after injecting, or administering orally, various doses of protodioscin for eight weeks. Primates injected with 7.5 mg/kg protodioscin saw a 52% increase in testosterone levels, however this returned to baseline within 180 minutes after injection.

The study noted that 5-10 mg/kg of protodioscin given orally in rabbits and rats led to an increase in testosterone compared to the control groups, although the increase was not large enough to be statistically significant. However, the same dose of protodioscin given orally to castrated rats (castrated individuals are normally deficient in testosterone) yielded a 25% increase in testosterone levels.

Another study reviewed the effects of 50 mg/kg and 100 mg/kg of Tribulus Terrestris extract given to sexually sluggish (less interested in copulation than other individuals) male rats over 28 days. The study reported a 30% and 55% increase in testosterone levels with 50 mg/kg and 100 mg/kg of Tribulus Terrestris extract, respectively. The study also reported an increase in mount frequency, intromission frequency, and penile erection index, as well as a decrease in the time the rats needed between these activities.

A different study compared the effect of 100 mg/kg Tribulus Terrestris extract vs. 0.71 mg/kg of sildenafil citrate (Viagra) given to rats. The study concluded that the Tribulus Terrestris extract resulted in an improvement in sexual behavior of male rats measured by increased intromission frequency, firmer erections, and an increase in testosterone levels (as well as an increase in sperm count). The results with Tribulus Terrestris were noted to be comparable to the results of sildenafil citrate.

Other studies have shown similar results in animals (predominantly rats). The largest increases in testosterone are typically seen in animals which are not sexually healthy, or who have inadequate testosterone levels. This may mean that Tribulus Terrestris is able restore testosterone levels to baseline levels, or in other words, work well in individuals that have reduced testosterone levels.

However, not all studies have reported increases in testosterone levels. One study showed that 20 mg/day of Bulgarian Tribulus Terrestris given to healthy men for four weeks had no influence on testosterone levels or luteinizing hormone levels. A study done on male elite rugby players, reported that 450 mg/kg of Tribulus Terrestris extract over 28 days provided no increase in testosterone levels in these men.

Another study with 6g of Tribulus Terrestris extract for 60 days in infertile men noted a 16% increase in testosterone levels. The group ingesting the Tribulus Terrestris extract also reported a significantly greater improvement in ability to get erections, rigidity of erections and sensation of orgasm compared to the control group.

One study analysed the effects Tribulus Terrestris had on penile erection in rabbits. The results showed that Tribulus Terrestris was able to induce a relaxation of the smooth muscles in the corpus cavernosum (which is essential for an erection to happen). The study also reported that the pressure in the corpus cavernosum during erections were higher than in the control group. Additionally, a significant increase in cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) was observed in the group that was given Tribulus Terrestris. cAMP is a component that is crucial in the erection process, as it enables the smooth muscles of the penis to relax and thereby allow blood to flow into the penis. The conclusion of the study was that Tribulus Terrestris may improve erectile function. To learn more about the process of an erection on Truelibido, please go here.

Tribulus Terrestris has also been reported to increase sperm count and sperm motility in both rats and humans, and studies have shown a substantial increase in pregnancies with Tribulus Terrestris supplementation. Tribulus Terrestris has also been shown in one research study to help neutralize something called antisperm antibodies in women. These antisperm antibodies kill sperm so that a pregnancy is more difficult to achieve. The study showed that when Tribulus Terrestris neutralizes these antisperm antibodies, the chance of conception increases significantly.

Tribulus Terrestris is also claimed to be an adaptogen, meaning that it works to normalize or restore body functions without causing harm to any parts of the body. An adaptogen targets systems and functions within the body that are working sub-optimally and it restores these systems and functions to perform optimally (or improves them). Supplementing with an adaptogen is supposed to make the body again reach balance. The adaptogens are claimed to have no effect beyond restoring these functions, meaning that the effects will stop once the systems are normalized.

In addition to being used as an aphrodisiac and as support for erectile functioning, Tribulus Terrestris is also being used for general health and rejuvenation and as a natural medicine for the liver, kidneys, urinary tract, immune system, cardiovascular conditions, high blood pressure and poor circulation. It has also proved effective in treating painful urination, gout and kidney diseases, and has shown anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties. It also appears to have antidepressant effects, may reduce cortisol levels, may have anti-diabetic effects and may be an antioxidant. It has also been used as a mood enhancer, for headaches, dizziness and premature ejaculation.

In addition, Tribulus Terrestris is used by many athletes, and particularly athletes of high intensity sports such as weight-lifting, sprinting and American football players. Many of these athletes have claimed that Tribulus Terrestris gives a boost to performance, however, scientific studies are generally not backing up these claims.

My Experience

  • Form: At least 40% saponins extract in powder form
  • Dose: One half-topped tablespoon (approximately 7 grams)
  • When: One hour before sexual activity
  • Effect on Libido: Good
  • Effect on Erections: Very good
  • Effect on Sensation: Very good
  • Taste: Absolutely disgusting
  • Verdict: One of my favorite supplements
  • Noticed Side-Effects: None

I tried a lot of supplements during my more than 10 years of experimenting with ways to overcome erectile dysfunction and libido problems. At some point into my experimentation with supplements, I bought a bottle of Tribulus Terrestris capsules and was eager to try them out. I took two capsules as recommended (i took them about an hour before sex), and I remember noticing a slight effect. It made no difference to me when it came to getting an erection or my libido, but the sensations from sex were somewhat more intense. It wasn’t a huge difference, but I could feel that it was a tiny bit stronger. I tried these capsules several times. The small change in sensation would sometimes be there and sometimes not. I therefore found the supplement of little use, and stopped using it.

When I started experimenting more systematically, one of the first supplements I picked up again was Tribulus Terrestris. Given that I had some success with this in the past, I wanted to explore it in more detail. I therefore purchased Tribulus Terrestris in powder form with a 90% saponin strength from what seemed like a reputable seller (it didn’t say however, which type of saponins were extracted). I checked that the seller had a certificate that stated that the product did contain the saponin content it claimed, as well as containing levels of heavy metals that were below set limits.

About one hour before sexual activity, I mixed one half-topped tablespoon of the powder (about 7 grams) with cold water in a cup so that the cup would be about a quarter full. I stirred around with a fork until the powder was dissolved, and then drank the mixture. To me, this tasted simply horrible. It was super bitter and unpleasant – not comparable to anything else I could think of.

But the disgusting taste is totally worth it to me, because the effects are nothing short of amazing! And of the three possible effects on sexual function and health, I get all three from this herb.

The first effect is an increase in libido. After about 45 minutes or an hour after taking this supplement I can feel an increase in my sex drive. I simply feel sexually charged and wanting to have sex,

The second effect is to make my erections stronger. Also after about 45 minutes or an hour after taking Tribulus Terrestris my erections are noticeably firmer and stronger. My erections are normally very hard and last pretty much for as long as I want with Tribulus Terrestris. Also, if I stop sex and restart a few minutes later, it is normally easy to again get erections. This effect has been a great help for me in combating erectile dysfunction.

Lastly, the pleasurable sensations I get from sex are also magnified when I use Tribulus Terrestris. The sensations are simply amplified and much stronger and intense than the normal sensations. Sex is simply even better! The first time I tried a large dose of Tribulus Terrestris and experienced these intense sensations, I was so impressed I could hardly believe what had happened.

Also, I have never experienced any side effects from Tribulus Terrestris.

Although Tribulus Terrestris is great on its own, the effects are even more intense when I have combined it with other supplements, such as l-arginine, pine bark and ZMA. You can learn more about this in the section called The Solution.

Research Studies

Adaikan PG, Gauthaman K, Prasad RN, Ng SC. Proerectile pharmacological effects of Tribulus terrestris extract on the rabbit corpus cavernosum. Ann Acad Med Singapore. 2000 Jan; 29(1):22-6.

Amin A, Lotfy M, Shafiullah M, Adeghate E. The protective effect of Tribulus terrestris in diabetes. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2006 Nov; 1084:391-401.

Anand R, Patnaik GK, Kulshreshtha DK, Dhawan BN. Activity of certain fractions of Tribulus terrestris fruits against experimentally induced urolithiasis in rats. Indian J Exp Biol. 1994 Aug; 32(8):548-52.

Antonio J, Uelmen J, Rodriguez R, Earnest C. The effects of Tribulus terrestris on body composition and exercise performance in resistance-trained males. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2000 Jun; 10(2):208-15.

Dimitrov M, Georgiev P, Vitanov S. Use of tribestan on rams with sexual disorders. Vet Med Nauki. 1987; 24(5):102-10.

Dinchev D, Janda B, Evstatieva L, Oleszek W, Aslani MR, Kostova I. Distribution of steroidal saponins in Tribulus terrestris from different geographical regions. Phytochemistry. 2008 Jan; 69(1):176-86.

Do J, Choi S, Choi J, Hyun JS. Effects and Mechanism of Action of a Tribulus terrestris Extract on Penile Erection. Korean J Urol. 2013 Mar; 54(3):183-8. DOI: 10.4111/kju.2013.54.3.183.

El-Tantawy WH, Temraz A, El-Gindi OD. Free serum testosterone level in male rats treated with Tribulus alatus extracts. Int Braz J Urol. 2007 Jul-Aug; 33(4):554-8; discussion 558-9.

Gauthaman K, Adaikan PG, Prasad RN. Aphrodisiac properties of Tribulus Terrestris extract (Protodioscin) in normal and castrated rats. Life Sci. 2002 Aug 9; 71(12):1385-96.

Gauthaman K, Adaikan PG. Effect of Tribulus terrestris on nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate-diaphorase activity and androgen receptors in rat brain. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Jan 4; 96(1-2):127-32.

Gauthaman K, Ganesan AP, Prasad RN. Sexual effects of puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris) extract (protodioscin): an evaluation using a rat model. J Altern Complement Med. 2003 Apr; 9(2):257-65.

Gauthaman K, Ganesan AP. The hormonal effects of Tribulus terrestris and its role in the management of male erectile dysfunction–an evaluation using primates, rabbit and rat. Phytomedicine. 2008 Jan; 15(1-2):44-54.

Ghosian Moghaddam MH, Khalili M, Maleki M, Ahmad Abadi ME. The Effect of Oral Feeding of Tribulus terrestris L. on Sex Hormone and Gonadotropin Levels in Addicted Male Rats. Int J Fertil Steril. 2013 Apr; 7(1):57-62.

Hammoda HM, Ghazy NM, Harraz FM, Radwan MM, ElSohly MA, Abdallah II. Chemical constituents from Tribulus terrestris and screening of their antioxidant activity. Phytochemistry. 2013 Aug; 92:153-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2013.04.005.

Heidari MR, Mehrabani M, Pardakhty A, Khazaeli P, Zahedi MJ, Yakhchali M, Vahedian M. The analgesic effect of Tribulus terrestris extract and comparison of gastric ulcerogenicity of the extract with indomethacine in animal experiments. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2007 Jan; 1095:418-27.

Hong CH, Hur SK, Oh OJ, Kim SS, Nam KA, Lee SK. Evaluation of natural products on inhibition of inducible cyclooxygenase (COX-2) and nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in cultured mouse macrophage cells. J Ethnopharmacol. 2002 Nov; 83(1-2):153-9.

Iacono F, Prezioso D, Illiano E, Romeo G, Ruffo A, Amato B. Sexual asthenia: Tradamixina versus Tadalafil 5 mg daily. BMC Surg. 2012; 12 Suppl 1:S23. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2482-12-S1-S23.

Kam SC, Do JM, Choi JH, Jeon BT, Roh GS, Hyun JS. In vivo and in vitro animal investigation of the effect of a mixture of herbal extracts from Tribulus terrestris and Cornus officinalis on penile erection. J Sex Med. 2012 Oct; 9(10):2544-51. DOI: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02889.

Kim HJ, Kim JC, Min JS, Kim MJ, Kim JA, Kor MH, Yoo HS, Ahn JK. Aqueous extract of Tribulus terrestris Linn induces cell growth arrest and apoptosis by down-regulating NF-κB signaling in liver cancer cells. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Jun 14; 136(1):197-203. DOI: 10.1016/j.jep.2011.04.060.

Lakshmi GD, Kumar PR, Bharavi K, Annapurna P, Rajendar B, Patel PT, Kumar CS, Rao GS. Protective effect of Tribulus terrestris linn on liver and kidney in cadmium intoxicated rats. Indian J Exp Biol. 2012 Feb; 50(2):141-6.

Murthy AR, Dubey SD, Tripathi K. Anti-hypertensive effect of Gokshura (Tribulus terrestris Linn.) – A clinical study. Anc Sci Life. 2000 Jan-Jun; 19(3-4): 139–145.

Nasution AW. Effect of Tribulus terrestris treatment on impotence and libido disorders. Andalas University, School of Medicine, Padang, Indonesia (1993).

Neychev VK, Mitev VI. The aphrodisiac herb Tribulus terrestris does not influence the androgen production in young men. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Oct 3; 101(1-3):319-23.

Rogerson S, Riches CJ, Jennings C, Weatherby RP, Meir RA, Marshall-Gradisnik SM. The effect of five weeks of Tribulus terrestris supplementation on muscle strength and body composition during preseason training in elite rugby league players. J Strength Cond Res. 2007 May; 21(2):348-53.

Sellandi TM, Thakar AB, Baghel MS. Clinical study of Tribulus terrestris Linn. in Oligozoospermia: A double blind study. Ayu. 2012 Jul; 33(3):356-64. DOI: 10.4103/0974-8520.108822.

Singh S, Gupta YK. Aphrodisiac activity of Tribulus Terrestris Linn. in experimental models in rats. American journal of men’s health. 04/2011; 8(Suppl 1). DOI: 10.1016/S1875-6867(11)60027-4.

Singh S, Nair V, Gupta YK. Evaluation of the aphrodisiac activity of Tribulus terrestris Linn. in sexually sluggish male albino rats. J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2012 Jan; 3(1):43-7. DOI: 10.4103/0976-500X.92512.

Stanislavov R, Nikolova V. The effect of Tribulus terrestris on male fertility. American Journal of Reproductive Immunology, vol. 46, No. 1, 2001, p. 91 XP008014359 p. 91.

Temraz A, El Gindi OD, Kadry HA, De Tommasi N, Braca A. Steroidal saponins from the aerial parts of Tribulus alatus Del. Phytochemistry. 2006 May; 67(10):1011-8.

Wang B, Ma L, Liu T. 406 cases of angina pectoris in coronary heart disease treated with saponin of Tribulus terrestris. Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 1990 Feb; 10(2):85-7, 68.

Wang Z, Zhang D, Hui S, Zhang Y, Hu S. Effect of tribulus terrestris saponins on behavior and neuroendocrine in chronic mild stress depression rats. J Tradit Chin Med. 2013 Apr; 33(2):228-32.

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