Goat’s head, Puncture Vine, Devil’s Weed and Devil’s Thorn are just some of the names people use to refer to a particular supplement which is making waves these days: Tribulus Terrestris (TT). This Latin name may remind you of a Roman emperor, but many people in the fitness world claim this plant is anything but royal and mighty. Some others, though, don’t share the same opinion and tout the dynamic effect Tribulus Terrestris has on their testosterone, strength and libido. At this point, you probably don’t know what to believe. So, let’s see what science has to say about Tribulus Terrestris.
What is Tribulus Terrestris?
Despite generating ambiguous reactions to its potency in the fitness community, Tribulus Terrestris is being used for thousands of years by Chinese and Indians as part of their traditional medicine practices. TT is a herb that can grow pretty much anywhere, but it is especially fond of cold and dry environments.
As mentioned earlier, people use a variety of ominous-sounding names to refer to this herb, but TT actually looks the opposite of threatening in its purest form. It features small, yellow flowers for the most part of the year making it easy on the eyes. However, in late spring, the flowering fruits of this herb tend to harden and transform into spiked and thorny seeds. These seeds are so resistant and firm that mountain bikers in US often end up with flat tires thanks to Tribulus Terrestris’s thorns.
Like most herbs, TT contains many active ingredients. Located in the leafy part of the herb, steroidal saponins is the most active. But, saponins aside, Tribulus Terrestris is also home to many other ingredients which are known to boost your testosterone levels. Let’s take a closer look:
Protodioscin: Found in the herb’s root extract, this ingredient is all for muscle-building.
Dioscin and Diosgenin: This ingredient is used for the production of synthetic steroid products.
Vitamin C: The Vitamin you need if you want to lose weight or build muscle mass.
Protodibestin and Tribestin: Both these ingredients are potent gitogenin saponins adding to your muscle building goals.
Tribulus Terrestris and Testosterone: What is the Truth, After All?
Even though TT often gets a bad rep, it is commonly used as a herbal testosterone booster or included in commercial formulations which promote muscle gains and increased strength. Often used by bodybuilders, Tribulus Terrestis is believed to trigger your body’s testosterone production by boosting Leutinizing Hormone (LH) levels. In its turn, LH promotes the production of testosterone in the male genitals. Is this true, though?
Back in 2007, scientists decided to examine the effects of TT supplementation on muscle strength and body composition in elite rugby players. After administering the 22 subjects with TT for five weeks, the scientists concluded that even though the rugby players showed signs of increased strength and fat-free mass, Tribulus Terrestris was not the one responsible for this alteration in body composition.
But, science didn’t stop there. In 2014, another group of researchers tried to examine once again whether the testosterone-boosting hype around Tribulus Terrestris is well-grounded. So, they performed a systematic review and came up with the following conclusions. First of all, they noted that TT is potent enough to boost testosterone levels in humans only when the herb is part of a combined supplement administration. The review also proves that a plausible explanation for the beneficial physiological responses after supplementing on TT is that the herb’s ingredients promote the release of Nitric Oxide (NO), no matter the testosterone levels. Long story short, this review negates TT’s testosterone-boosting potency altogether and calls the hype for what it is: a well-marketed and unsubstantiated claim.
Based on the results of the previous study, yet another panel of scientists attempted to determine which components contribute to the testosterone-boosting effect when fused with Tribulus Terrestris. The interest of this study was fueled by the fact that not only was a TT supplement reported to be contaminated by a banned steroid in the past, but there is also a report of a man being poisoned after being exposed to TT supplements.
This study stresses once again that there is a lack of scientific evidence to back up the enhancing effect of TT on testosterone in humans. But, that’s not all. It comes down to the exact same conslusion of the previous study: the boosting effects of Tribulus Terrestris are a well-advertised myth, even though lots of athletes and bodubuilders use it for this single purpose. By creating this marketing illusion, this herb only results in a temporary placebo effect.
Tribulus Terrestris and Prostate Cancer
Although research doesn’t weigh in Tribulus Terrestris’s favor, one study shows that the herb’s extract along with Murraya Koenigii may have a positive effect on patients suffering from benign prostatic hyperplasia. In fact, a combination of these two substances is enough to lower the International Prostate Syndrome Scores more than over-the-counter treatments do.
The Final Verdict
Word on the street is that Tribulus Terrestris is not one of the wisest choices when it comes to boosting testosterone. And after reviewing relevant scientific results, we are sad to admit that this statement is true. The testosterone-boosting effects of Tribulus Terrestris are one of the most misleading hypes today. So, why not use other testosterone boosters which have proved their worth such as 60×0.
However, no one can stop you, if you still want to give this herb a shot. So, if you do go down this road, it’s best to opt for an extract which contains a standardized amount of both Protodioscin and steroidal saponins.