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Tribulus terrestris

Tribulus terrestris is a plant from Ayurveda where the root and fruits are used for male virility and general vitality, respectively. The roots enhance libido and sexual well being without affecting testosterone while the fruits appear to be potently protective of organ function.

Our evidence-based analysis on tribulus terrestris features 105 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of Tribulus terrestris

Primary information, health benefits, side effects, usage, and other important details

Tribulus terrestris is a herb from Ayurveda that is mostly recommended for male health including virility and vitality, and specifically more catered towards cardiovascular and urogenital health. It is a common supplement for its libido enhancing properties and supposed testosterone boosting properties.

On the sexual side of things, tribulus does appear to be a relatively reliable and potent libido enhancer in rats and the lone human study assessing this has confirmed an increase in sexual well being and erectile function. While it is not exactly known how tribulus works, it is known to enhance androgen receptor density in the brain (muscle tissue not confirmed) which may enhance the libido enhancing properties of androgens. Limited evidence suggests that it is weak to non-effective in enhancing fertility.

A specific component, tribulosin, appears to be quite potently cardioprotective and is effective in the 1-10nM range. It has not yet been tested in living creatures, but remains a very promising option.

In animal research, the fruits of tribulus appears to protect the organs (mostly liver and kidneys) from oxidative damages at reasonably low dosages and also exert anti-stress effects; confirming the status of tribulus terrestris as an adaptogen.

Despite the above promise as an adaptogen and a libido enhancer, studies investigating tribulus in sports performance have all failed to find benefits. The herb seems to be a possibly healthy herb that enhances sexuality but with limited use for power output and testosterone enhancement (which it has repeatedly failed to do).

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How to Take

Medical Disclaimer

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

If rodent research applies to humans, then the dosage of 5mg/kg of tribulus terrestris saponins should be effective.

Traditional dosages of the basic root powder are in the 5-6g range while the fruits are in the 2-3g range.

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Human Effect Matrix

Unlocked for Examine members

The Human Effect Matrix summarizes human studies to tell you what effects Tribulus terrestris has on your body, how much evidence there is, and how strong these effects are.

Full details are available to Examine members.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-b - High See all 8 studies
In otherwise healthy males, testosterone is not influenced with supplementation of tribulus terrestris. There may be an increase in infertile men, but this is weak. There may be a small effect in postmenopausal women with low libido, however, the difference wasn't statistically significant.
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
A decrease in blood pressure has been noted in hypertensive subjects in one study. Another larger study in normotensive subjects failed to find a significant change. More studies in hypertensive subjects are needed before confidence in the effect is warranted.
grade-c Minor - See study
3g of the fruits or a water extract thereof appears to increase overall urine volume after a month of supplementation by around 200mL daily.
grade-c Minor Very High See all 4 studies
1.5 and 2.25 of tribulus extract or 6 g of tribulus root seems to modestly improve erections in infertile men, men with partial androgen deficiency, and men with erectile dysfunction. The effect is reliable across all studies so far, however, research is still in its early stage and great confidence in these results would be unwarranted.
grade-c Minor - See study
A decrease in heart rate has been observed in hypertensive persons given tribulus supplementation
grade-c Minor Very High See all 5 studies
Most studies found an improvement in sexual desire in women reporting a general loss of libido. One study in men found an improvement. The research is still in its early stage and great confidence in these results would be unfounded.
grade-c - Very High See all 3 studies
No significant influences on fat mass are noted with tribulus terrestris
grade-c - Moderate See 2 studies
Exercise related fatigue and vigor is unaffected by tribulus supplementation in trained men
grade-c - Very High See all 3 studies
Insufficient evidence to support a consistent increase of lean mass associated with tribulus relative to placebo during training or in general.
grade-c - Very High See all 4 studies
A consistent influence on luteinizing hormone hasn't been detected with supplemental tribulus
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant alterations in power output associated with tribulus supplementation.
grade-c - Very High See all 3 studies
Only one uncontrolled trial has found an increase in sperm count with supplementation of 2.25 g of Tribulus extract daily. One study found an increase but it wasn't significant, and one that used 6g of tribulus root didn't find a significant increase compared with control.
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
The increase in sperm quality seen with 6g tribulus root has failed to outperform placebo in infertile men. Another uncontrolled study that used 2.25 g per day of a tribulus extract found significant improvements in multiple measures of semen/sperm quality.
grade-c - - See all 3 studies
A decrease in cholesterol levels has been noted with tribulus supplementation in some studies. However, the largest study found no significant decrease, and none of the studies have made cholesterol their primary endpoint.
grade-d Notable - See study
One uncontrolled study found a notable improvement in seminal motility relative to baseline
grade-d Minor - See study
One randomized, controlled trial found a modest reduction in fasting and 2 hour postprandial glucose when taking 1 g/d of a Tribulus extract
grade-d Minor - See study
An increase of DHT has been noted in one study.
grade-d Minor - See study
One randomized, controlled trial found a modest reduction, accompanied by reduced fasting and postprandial glucose levels.
grade-d Minor - See study
One study found a significant increase relative to placebo with 2.25 g of a tribulus extract per day.
grade-d Minor High See all 4 studies
There may be a small improvement in overall sexual function in premenopausal women with libido taking 2.25 g/d of a tribulus extract. Effects on postmenopausal women are unclear.
grade-d - Moderate See 2 studies
One study found an increase with 2.25 g of Tribulus per day for 12 weeks, however, a larger study found no significant difference.
grade-d - - See study
No change in one uncontrolled study
grade-d - High See all 3 studies
One uncontrolled study found a small but significant increase from baseline, but the other studies found no significant difference.
grade-d - Moderate See 2 studies
No apparent effect
grade-d - Moderate See 2 studies
One study found a modest, significant reduction relative to placebo. Another study found a small, non-significant reduction
grade-d - See study
One study found a small increase in AST but not ALT
grade-d - - See study
One study found a reduction in Prolactin relative to baseline, however, this isn't statistically significant
grade-d - - See study
No significant change in men taking 1.5 g/d of a Tribulus extract
grade-d - Moderate See 2 studies
While a modest reduction is possible, the results of two studies didn't find significant differences relative to placebo.

Studies Excluded from Consideration

  • Confounded with Murraya koenigii[1]

  • Confounded with N-Glucosamine, D-Acetyl-N-Glucosamine, and Ecklonia bicyclis[2][3]

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Things to Note

Other Functions:

Primary Function:

Also Known As

Trib, puncturevine, protodioscin

  • Tribulus Terrestris has a highly 'earthy' adverse taste to the powder

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Click here to see all 105 references.