Health Benefits of Tribulus Terrestris

What Should I Know About It?

Tribulus terrestris also known as goatheads or puncturevine.
Jill Fromer/Photodisc/Getty Images

Tribulus (Tribulus terrestris) is a plant used for medicinal purposes. Sometimes referred to as puncture vine, it's often taken to enhance athletic performance or increase libido. Tribulus is also said to raise your levels of certain hormones, including testosterone and estrogen.

Tribulus has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine, as well as in ayurvedic medicine.

Tribulus contains a number of compounds with medicinal effects.

These compounds include antioxidants, as well chemical constituents with anti-inflammatory, immune-stimulating, pain-reducing, and antibacterial properties.

Uses for Tribulus

Tribulus is said to treat the following health issues: angina, constipation, eczema, erectile dysfunction, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, infertility, sexual dysfunction, psoriasis, and urinary tract infections.

In addition, tribulus is thought to stimulate circulation and improve digestion.

The Health Benefits of Tribulus

Here's a look at the available science behind the purported health benefits of tribulus:

1) Athletic Performance

Dietary supplements containing tribulus are often marketed for their potential to increase testosterone levels and, in turn, build muscle mass and boost strength. However, a report published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements in 2014 states that such marketing claims are unsubstantiated.

In their analysis of 11 previously published clinical trials, the report's authors determined that a testosterone-increasing effect was found only when tribulus was consumed by way supplements containing a combination of substances.

2) Sexual Dysfunction

Tribulus may help treat erectile dysfunction, according to an animal-based study published in Phytomedicine in 2008.

In testing the effects of tribulus on rabbits and rats, researchers observed that treatment with tribulus may lead to increases in certain sex hormones (including testosterone). Given this finding, the study's authors concluded that tribulus may be useful in mild to moderate cases of erectile dysfunction.

Additionally, a small study published in Daru: Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2014 indicates that tribulus may help treat sexual dysfunction in women.

For the study, 67 women with inhibited sexual desire were treated with tribulus or a placebo for four weeks. By the end of the fourth week, those who received tribulus had experienced a significant improvement in factors such as desire, arousal, and satisfaction.

3) Diabetes

Tribulus may fight diabetes, suggests an animal-based study published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences in 2006. In the study, tests on rats demonstrated that tribulus may protect against diabetes by inhibiting oxidative stress.

Side Effects & Safety Concerns

Since so few studies have tested tribulus's health effects in humans, little is known about the safety of long-term use of this herb.

However, there's some concern that tribulus may trigger side effects such as increased heart rate and restlessness.

In addition, some research indicates that tribulus may increase prostate weight. Men with conditions such as benign prostatic hypertrophy or prostate cancer should avoid use of this herb.

Because tribulus may reduce blood sugar levels, taking the herb in combination with diabetes medication may cause your blood sugar to become dangerously low.

Go here to learn about using tribulus and other dietary supplements safely.

Alternatives to Tribulus

Tribulus is frequently touted as a natural aphrodisiac. Other herbal remedies said to act as aphrodisiacs include damiana, maca, and muira puama.

Where to Find It

Dietary supplements containing tribulus are sold in many natural-food stores and drugstores, as well as online.


Akhtari E, Raisi F1, Keshavarz M, Hosseini H, Sohrabvand F, Bioos S, Kamalinejad M, Ghobadi A. "Tribulus terrestris for treatment of sexual dysfunction in women: randomized double-blind placebo - controlled study." Daru. 2014 Apr 28;22:40.

Amin A1, Lotfy M, Shafiullah M, Adeghate E. "The protective effect of Tribulus terrestris in diabetes." Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2006 Nov;1084:391-401.

Antonio J1, 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.

Chhatre S1, Nesari T1, Somani G2, Kanchan D2, Sathaye S2. "Phytopharmacological overview of Tribulus terrestris." Pharmacogn Rev. 2014 Jan;8(15):45-51.

Gauthaman K1, 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.

Qureshi A1, 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 Mar;11(1):64-79.

Rogerson S1, 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.

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Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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