Tribulus terrestris is a traditional Chinese herb 1. It's used to enhance sexual function, increase muscle mass and improve sperm motility. It's also touted in the treatment of other conditions such as urinary problems and skin conditions like vitiligo, according to Physicians Desk Reference website. Tribulus terrestris medicinal claims are under further research to confirm their benefits 12. The use of any herbal remedy should be used under the guidance and supervision of your health care provider.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Enhances Sexual Function
Tribulus terrestris has been used in traditional medicine to treat sexual dysfunctions, such as impotence and low libido 1. Mixtures of different compounds found in the fruits, stems and roots of tribulus terrestris provide its medicinal properties 1. According to the EmedTV website, early research suggests that tribulus terrestris may increase the levels of hormones such as tetstosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA, in rats 1. Based on these results, this herb is used by individuals assuming it will increase their hormone levels and improve their sexual functions.
Increases Muscle Mass
Tribulus Terrestris & Weight Loss
Tribulus terrestris increases testosterone levels, which helps to increase muscle mass 1. According to the Physicians' Select website, studies reveal an increase in testosterone levels when tribulus terrestris is taken 1. The rise in testosterone level reduces the time for the muscles to recover, and enhances protein synthesis, or the process that living cells manufacture proteins from their constituent amino acids, based on the genetic information carried in the DNA of the chromosomes. It also promotes positive nitrogen balance. The combination of these actions all help to strengthen and increase muscle mass.
- Tribulus terrestris increases testosterone levels, which helps to increase muscle mass 1.
- The rise in testosterone level reduces the time for the muscles to recover, and enhances protein synthesis, or the process that living cells manufacture proteins from their constituent amino acids, based on the genetic information carried in the DNA of the chromosomes.
Improves Sperm Motility
Sperm motility and the ability of a sperm to penetrate the female egg, as well as the volume and concentration of the sperm, play significant roles in fertilizing the female egg. A double blind study done by L.Setiawan Airlangga University, Surabaya, Indonesia, 1996, investigated the effects of tribulus terrestris on men wtith oligoasthenoteratozoospermia, a common cause of male subfertility 1. The trial consisted of 30 primary and secondary infertile men. Fifty percent of the men took oral tribulus, or Libilov, 500mg three times per day for 60 days, and the others had sugar pills. Their parameter data was assessed before and after treatment. The conclusion showed that Tibullus terrestris L, given at a dose of 500mg three times daily for 30 days, proved to be effective in restoring sperm functions like motility and acrosome reactions, or when the red receptors on the sperm come in contact with the egg jelly yellow.
- Sperm motility and the ability of a sperm to penetrate the female egg, as well as the volume and concentration of the sperm, play significant roles in fertilizing the female egg.
- The conclusion showed that Tibullus terrestris L, given at a dose of 500mg three times daily for 30 days, proved to be effective in restoring sperm functions like motility and acrosome reactions, or when the red receptors on the sperm come in contact with the egg jelly yellow.
Vitamins to Improve Sperm Motility
Pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult with their physician before taking tribulus terrestris 1. According to the EmedTV website, if tribulus terrestris increases testosterone levels, the possibility of side effects may include:
- lowering of the female voice
- increased body or facial hair
- increase in the size of an enlarged prostate or the worsening of hormone-related cancer such as breast or prostate cancer 1
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- EmedTV: Benefit of Tribulus Terrestris
- Alternative-Health Guide: Tribulus Terrestris Health Benefits and Uses
- Chauhan NS, Sharma V, Dixit VK, Thakur M. A review on plants used for improvement of sexual performance and virility. Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:868062. doi:10.1155/2014/868062
- Qureshi A, Naughton DP, Petroczi A. A systematic review on the herbal extract Tribulus terrestris and the roots of its putative aphrodisiac and performance-enhancing effect. J Diet Suppl. 2014;11(1):64-79. doi: 10.3109/19390211.2014.887602
- Kamenov Z, Fileva S, Kalinov K, Jannini EA. Evaluation of the efficacy and safety of Tribulus terrestris in male sexual dysfunction-A prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Maturitas. 2017;99:20-26. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2017.01.011
- Borrelli F, Colalto C, Delfino DV, Iriti M, Izzo AA. Herbal Dietary Supplements for Erectile Dysfunction: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. SpringerLink. .Published April 9, 2018. doi: 10.1007/s40265-018-0897-3
- Vale FBC, Zanolla dias de souza K, Rezende CR, Geber S. Efficacy of Tribulus Terrestris for the treatment of premenopausal women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder: a randomized double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2018;34(5):442-445. doi: 10.1080/09513590.2017.1409711
- Samani NB, Jokar A, Soveid M, Heydari M, Mosavat SH. Efficacy of the Hydroalcoholic Extract of Tribulus terrestris on the Serum Glucose and Lipid Profile of Women With Diabetes Mellitus: A Double-Blind Randomized Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial - Nasrin Babadaei Samani, Azam Jokar, Mahmood Soveid, Mojtaba Heydari, Seyed Hamdollah Mosavat, 2016. SAGE Journals. Published 2016. doi: 10.1177/2156587216650775
- Campanelli M, Thomasis RD, Tenaglia RL. Priapism caused by Tribulus terrestris. Nature News. Published December 3, 2015. doi:10.1038/ijir.2015.30
- Roaiah MF, El khayat YI, Gamalel din SF, Abd el salam MA. 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). J Sex Marital Ther. 2016;42(4):297-301. doi: 10.1080/0092623X.2015.1033579
- Akabas SR, Vannice G, Atwater JB, Cooperman T, Cotter R, Thomas L. Quality Certification Programs for Dietary Supplements. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016;116(9):1370-1379. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2015.11.003
- Tribulus. Natural Medicines Database. Professional Monograph. 2/28/2019
- Dietary Supplements Marketed for Weight Loss, Bodybuilding, and Sexual Enhancement: What the Science Says. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. January 2018
- Tribulus terrestris. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. About Herbs, Botanicals, and Other Products. June 25, 2015
- Qureshi A, Naughton DP, Petroczi A. A systematic review on the herbal extract Tribulus terrestris and the roots of its putative aphrodisiac and performance enhancing effect. J Diet Suppl. 2014;11(1):64-79.
Norma Chew is a retired registered nurse who has been a freelance writer since 1978. Chew's articles have appeared in the "Journal of the Association of Operating Room Nurses" (AORN), "Point of View Magazine" and "Today's OR Nurse." Chew has a master's degree in health care administration from Nova Southeastern University.