Monday, June 12, 2017

Tirbulus Terrestris
What You Need to Know

Tribulus is a summer-growing, creeping annual, and according to Keogh (2004) is found in New South Wales, South Australia , Victoria and throughout parts of the United States, Europe, India and China. It has a hairy stem and flat, fern-like divided leaves.

“Tribulus leaf contains one steroidal saponin called protodiocin which is now standardized to produce a popular bodybuilding supplement. It is purported protodiocin is converted to testosterone and possibly other anabolic hormones … quality extracts of both the leaf and fruit parts of Tribulus can increase the body's own testosterone production to not only provide a mild anabolic effect when used in conjunction with weight training, but also to enhance hormone balance and sexual vitality in men and women” (Keogh, p. 26).

The plant has many names, among them Puncture Vine and Caltrop, but Goat Head is the common name. A week after each flower blooms, a "fruit" follows. This seeded "nutlet" bears spines that resemble goats' (or bulls') heads. The Latin name "tribulus" meant "caltrop," a spiky weapon (Chávez, 2008).

The small yellow flowers produce an ugly, woody, spiny fruit which breaks into five wedge-shaped sections when ripe. Traditionally, Keogh (2004) said, the fruit is used in (Hindu) Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Research from Bulgaria demonstrates the leaves are also therapeutic.

“Although the chemistry changes between the different plant parts, it is evident that substances called steroidal saponins contribute to this plant's activity” (Keogh, p. 26).

In men, tribulus terrestris boosts testosterone levels by increasing luteininzing hormone (LH) levels. LH is the hormone that signals the body to start making natural testosterone. In a study involving individuals taking 750 mg per day of tribulus terrestris results showed that LH increased by 72%. Free testosterone increased by 41% (Weekly Blitz, 2011).

The luteinizing hormone also stimulates progesterone production in women.… (thus) tribulus can help the body balance female hormones. In one study, 50 women (26 of whom were experiencing natural menopause and 24 of whom were surgically menopausal through removal of the ovaries) received standardized Tribulus terrestris (20 to 29 per cent mixed steroidal saponins) at a dosage of 500mg to 750mg a day after an initial higher loading dose (Keogh, 2004).

Tribulus treatment resulted in significant improvement in hot flashes, sweating, depression, insomnia and anxiety in 98per cent of the patients. Tribulus combines well with Cimicifuga (Black Cohosh) and Vitex for female menopause and Epimedium and Curculigo for male andropause (Keogh, 2004).

While results are promising, caution is advised. “The literature abounds with reports of (herbs) adverse effects…. (There are reports of) a case of T. terrestris-induced hepatotoxicity, nephrotoxicity and neurotoxicity in an Iranian male patient who used the plant’s extract to prevent kidney stone formation. He presented with seizure and very high serum aminotransferases and creatinine after consuming (the) herbal water for 2 days. Discontinuation of the herbal remedy resulted in improvement in symptoms and normalization of his liver enzymes (Talasaz et al., 2010).

“There are reports of hepatorenal syndrome and neurotoxicity in goats and sheep grazing on T. terrestris, but to our knowledge, his is the first report of human adverse reactions (Talasaz et al., 2010).

Also, it should be remembered, luteininzing hormones (LH) need to aromatize (convert) into another hormone through enzymes. That means it could become estrogen or growth hormone or insulin or testosterone. It doesn't automatically become testosterone. So, raising LH levels won't guarantee...testosterone, estrogen will very likely increase with it (tombstone3, 2007).

Lab tests on animals link tribulus to problems ii fetal development. Women should stay away from tribulus if they are pregnant or breastfeeding. Also, men should be aware that there are some concerns about possible links between tribulus and prostrate problems (Mohan, 2017).

Tribulus has been known to interact with certain medications. It is not recommended for those taking heart and blood pressure medications, for example (Mohan, 2017).

A problem with tachycardia, or a high resting heart rate has also been reported.  Healthy adults experiencing tachycardia should reduce their dosage (Supplement Reviews, 2013-2017).  Those with heart problems or concerns should not take tribulus. Cycling off tribulus, or any testosterone booster (or limiting the length of its use), is often recommended for most healthy adults.

A dosage of 85 to 250 mg three times daily with meals is fairly common and considered safe (Freedman, 2017).

“Some manufacturers claim tribulus terrestris will not lead to a positive drug test, but some experts agree that T. terrestris may increase the urinary testosterone/epitestosterone (T/E) ratio, which may place athletes at risk of a positive drug test” (Freedman, 2017).

This is a weed. A weed of sharp spines and medicinal potency.  Its thistle-like thorns get stuck in cow’s hooves, bare feet, and even bicycle tires. The plant has even been used as a murderous weapon by indigenous tribes of southern Africa. They tainted the seeds with poison and then put them for the victim to step and press down with the foot (Tribulus Terrestris Basics, 2017).  But its saponins can work wonders, and gets good reviews — especially Bulgaria tirbulus. But tirbulus terrestris can also cause harm.


Chávez, P.E. (2008, September 11). Pesky toritos. Ruidoso News, (Column). Polly's potpourri.

Freedman, L. (2017). Supplement guide: tribulus terrestris. Men’s Fitness. Retrieved June 10, 2017 from

Keogh, P. (2004, January 6). A helpful hormone balancer for both sexes; natural health. Newcastle Herald, p. 26.

Mohan, P.C. (2017, May 22). Tribulus Terrestris. WebMD. (Edited). Retrieved June 12, 2017 from

Talasaz, A.H., Abbasi, M-R., Abkhiz, S., & Dsahti-Khavidaki, S. (2010, July 28). Tribulus terrestris-induced severe nephrotoxicity in a young healthy male. Nephrol Dial Transplant 2010; 25 (11): 3792-3793. doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfq457. (Online.) Retrieved June 11, 2017 from

Tombstone3. (2007, January 14). In certain tests [Msg 9]. Message posted to

Tribulus Terrestris Basics. (2017). Chinese herbs. Retrieved June 11, 2017 from

Tribulus terrestris is a common testosterone booster ingredient… how effective is it? is it dangerous? (2013-2017). The Supplement Reviews. Retrieved June 6, 2017 from

Weekly Blitz. (2011). [In men, tribulus terrestris boosts testosterone levels by increasing luteininzing hormone (LH) levels]. Retrieved June 10, 2017 from (Offline June 12, 2017).

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