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 Tribulus terrestris on the testosterone levels, athletic performance and body composition of athletes and bodybuilders.
For additional Tribulus terrestris research, refer to the PubMed site sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
HGH.com Supplements With Tribulus Terrestris
Athletes, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts can harness the health benefits of Tribulus terrestris through natural fitness and bodybuilding supplements from HGH.com:
Testosterone Plus – HGH Testosterone Plus features a proprietary blend of Tribulus terrestris, maca, ginkgo biloba, long jack and other natural ingredients that are formulated to help build muscle, boost energy, promote muscle recovery and enhance sexual health.
A-MAX 50 – Anapolan-MAX is designed to support lean muscle gain while increasing testosterone levels and HGH production. In addition to 100mg of Tribulus terrestris extract, the proprietary blend of ingredients in A-MAX 50 includes L-tyrosine, shilajit, cowhage, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and Vitamin E.
ClenXDV – Each serving of ClenXDV contains 200mg of Tribulus terrestris and a proprietary blend of other natural ingredients, including deer antler velvet, DHEA and wild yam. This formulation is intended to help athletes and bodybuilders build muscle, burn fat and lose weight.
RoidX Juice – The combination of ingredients in RoidX Juice is designed to help bodybuilders quickly increase muscle and weight while supporting muscle recovery. RoidX Juice tablets contain a proprietary blend of Tribulus terrestris, shilajit, DHEA, Vitamin E and other select ingredients.
References (Function, Sources, Benefits/Uses and Side Effects/Interactions):
Examine.com. “Tribulus Terrestris”; published under “Supplements”; accessed June 24, 2015.
Freedman, Lisa. “Supplement Guide: Tribulus Terrestris”; Men’s Fitness; accessed June 24, 2015.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “Tribulus Terrestris”; published under “Integrative Medicine”; last updated June 25, 2015.
WebMD. “Tribulus Terrestris”; article in “Vitamins & Supplements”; reviewed December 27, 2014.
WebMD and Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. “Tribulus”; published under “Vitamins & Supplements”; accessed June 24, 2015.
Amin, Amr; Mohamed Lotfy; et al. “The Protective Effect of Tribulus Terrestris in Diabetes”; Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences; November 2006.
El-Tantawy, W.H. and L.A. Hassanin. “Hypoglycemic and Hypolipidemic Effects of Alcoholic Extract of Tribulus Alatus in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Rats: A Comparative Study with T. Terrestris (Caltrop)”; Indian Journal of Experimental Biology; September 2007.
Goranova, T.E.; S.S. Bozhanov; et al. “Changes in Gene Expression of CXCR4, CCR7 and BCL2 After Treatment of Breast Cancer Cells With Saponin Extract From Tribulus Terrestris”; Neoplasma; 2015.
Kim, Hye Jin; Jin Chul Kim; et al. “Aqueous Extract of Tribulus Terrestris Linn Induces Cell Growth Arrest and Apoptosis by Down-Regulating NF-κB Signaling in Liver Cancer Cells”; Journal of Ethnopharmacology; June 14, 2011.
Kumar, Manish; Anil Kumar Soni; et al. “Chemopreventive Potential of Tribulus Terrestris Against 7,12-Dimethylbenz (a) Anthracene Induced Skin Papillomagenesis in Mice”; Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention; April-June 2006.
Milašius, Kazys; Rūta Dadelienė; and Juozas Skernevičius. “The Influence of the Tribulus Terrestris Extract on the Parameters of the Functional Preparedness and Athletes’ Organism Homeostasis”; Fiziolohichnyĭ Zhurnal; 2009.
Milašius, Kazys; Marija Pečiukonienė; et al. “Efficacy of the Tribulus Food Supplement Used by Athletes”; Acta Medica Lituanica; 2010.
Murthy, A.R.; S.D. Dubey; and K. Tripathi. “Anti-Hypertensive Effect of Gokshura (Tribulus Terrestris Linn.): A Clinical Study”; Ancient Science of Life; January-April 2000.
Phillips, Oludotun A.; Koyippalli T. Mathew; and Mabayoje A. Oriowo. “Antihypertensive and Vasodilator Effects of Methanolic and Aqueous Extracts of Tribulus Terrestris in Rats”; Journal of Ethnopharmacology; April 6, 2006.
Pokrywka, Andrzej; Zbigniew Obmiński; et al. “Insights into Supplements with Tribulus Terrestris used by Athletes”; Journal of Human Kinetics; June 28, 2014.
Qureshi, Ahmed; Declan Naughton; and Andrea Petróczi. “A Systematic Review on the Herbal Extract Tribulus Terrestris and the Roots of Its Putative Aphrodisiac and Performance Enhancing Effect”; Journal of Dietary Supplements; March 2014.
Reshma, P.L.; V.S. Lekshmi; et al. “Tribulus terrestris (Linn.) Attenuates Cellular Alterations Induced by Ischemia in H9c2 Cells Via Antioxidant Potential”; Phytotherapy Research; June 2015.
Roaiah, Mohamed Farid; Yasser Ibrahim El Khayat; et al. “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)”; Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy; April 7, 2015.
Rogerson, Shane; Christopher J. Riches; et al. “The Effect of Five Weeks of Tribulus Terrestris Supplementation on Muscle Strength and Body Composition During Preseason Training in Elite Rugby League Players”; Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research; May 2007.
Sharifi, Ali M.; Radbod Darabi; and Nasrin Akbarloo. “Study of Antihypertensive Mechanism of Tribulus Terrestris in 2K1C Hypertensive Rats: Role of Tissue ACE Activity”; Life Sciences; October 24, 2003.
Sisto, Margherita; Sabrina Lisi; et al. “Saponins From Tribulus Terrestris L. Protect Human Keratinocytes From UVB-Induced Damage”; Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology; December 5, 2012.
Wei, S.; H. Fukuharu; et al. “Terrestrosin D, a Steroidal Saponin From Tribulus Terrestris L., Inhibits Growth and Angiogenesis of Human Prostate Cancer in Vitro and in Vivo”; Pathobiology; May 2014.