Discover the Function, Sources and Benefits of the Health Supplement Ingredient Tribulus Terrestris, or Caltrop
Tribulus terrestris – also known as caltrop, devil’s weed, devil’s thorn, puncture vine or simply Tribulus – is a fruit-bearing herb that grows in subtropical regions. Extracts from the plant have long been used in traditional Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine to promote virility and vitality, and to treat health complaints. Today, Tribulus terrestris is often used as an ingredient in health and bodybuilding supplements, such as HGH Testosterone Plus, Anapolan-MAX 50, ClenXDV and RoidX Juice.
Functions of Tribulus Terrestris
Various constituents of the Tribulus terrestris plant are credited with its beneficial properties. Protodioscin, the plant’s primary bioactive component, appears to enhance libido and sexual function by increasing sex hormone levels. Its saponins are believed to have cytotoxic and antihyperlipidemic effects, while tribulosin demonstrates cardioprotective properties. Because Tribulus terrestris may have the potential to increase testosterone levels, some theorize this can translate to a positive impact on body composition and athletic performance.
Sources of Tribulus Terrestris
Native to Asia, Africa and southern Europe, Tribulus terrestris is harvested for its extracts. The plant should not be consumed raw, as its spine-covered fruit is considered unsafe to eat; in fact, some reports indicate that eating Tribulus fruit may cause collapsed lungs. However, its extracts have been used in traditional medicines and natural dietary supplements for many years. Tribulus extracts may be derived from the root, leaf or fruit of the plant.
Tribulus Terrestris Benefits and Uses
In traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, Tribulus terrestris has been used to enhance libido and sexual function, increase energy and strength, and treat a variety of health issues, such as heart problems, chest pain, skin disorders and kidney stones. Preliminary research suggests that Tribulus extract does indeed deliver many potential health benefits, from lowering blood pressure and blood glucose levels to supporting cardiovascular and organ health. It has also been shown to have analgesic (pain-relieving), anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Furthermore, some evidence suggests it may have future potential for treating breast, prostate and UVB-induced skin cancer.
Due to its purported aphrodisiac and erectogenic effects, Tribulus extract is commonly used as an ingredient in supplements designed to enhance male sexual health. It can also be found in bodybuilding supplements that are formulated to improve muscle strength and lean mass; and its cardioprotective and analgesic properties may further benefit those engaged in intense training or exercise.
Side Effects of Tribulus Terrestris and Potential Interactions
Supplements containing Tribulus terrestris extracts are generally considered safe for healthy adults. Some minor side effects have been reported, such as gastrointestinal irritation, gastric reflux and difficulty sleeping. However, individuals with certain medical conditions should exercise caution when taking supplements containing Tribulus extract. Some evidence suggests it may worsen prostate conditions or prostate cancer and can potentially harm fetal development, so men with prostate issues and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid Tribulus extract.
Because Tribulus terrestris has been shown to lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels, it may cause blood pressure or glucose levels to drop too low if taken in conjunction with antihypertensive drugs or diabetes medication. Tribulus extract can cause more frequent urination, and may increase the effects of other diuretics. Using Tribulus supplements with the blood thinner clopidogrel may increase the risk of blood clots.
More detailed safety information on Tribulus terrestris side effects and interactions can be found on healthcare websites such as WebMD. As with any medication or health supplement, it is best to consult your physician before taking dietary supplements containing Tribulus extract.
Tribulus Terrestris Research and Studies
Numerous studies have examined the health benefits of Tribulus terrestris. Resarch published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Life Sciences, Ancient Science of Life and Phytotherapy Research support its antihypertensive and cardioprotective effects, while studies published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences and Indian Journal of Experimental Biology demonstrates its anti-diabetic properties. Its potential as a cancer-fighting agent has been documented in numerous publications, including the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Neoplasma, Pathobiology and Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology.
A review in the Journal of Dietary Supplements attempted to determine the effect of Tribulus terrestris on testosterone concentrations, and reported that a number of animal studies displayed a significant increase in serum testosterone levels after Tribulus administration, but the effect was only noted in humans when Tribulus was administered as part of a combined supplement therapy. However, a pilot study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy found that men with partial androgen deficiency experienced statistically significant increases in testosterone levels and erectile function following Tribulus supplementation.
Several studies have examined the impact of Tribulus terrestris supplements on athletes. A review published in the Journal of Human Kinetics concluded that there is little reliable data on the usefulness of Tribulus supplements in competitive sports. However, a group of Lithuanian researchers published positive findings in the Fiziolohichnyĭ Zhurnal and Acta Medica Lituanica, reporting that athletes on a 20-day regimen of Tribulus terrestris supplements experienced significant increases in anaerobic alactic muscular power, aerobic capacity and blood testosterone, as well as reduced lactate concentration. In light of the limited and conflicting findings in this area, further clinical studies are needed to definitively support the effects of Tr
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