Tribulus Terrestris – Latest Research Included

Full Disclosure


Supplements for nutrition and herbs are becoming increasingly popular with the Western population. One of them is an extract from the exotic plant known as Tribulus Terrestris (TT). It is one of many readily available and highly advised supplements, usually as enhancers of the human body's vitality. TT is advertised as an enhancement of testosterone levels and as a treatment for erectile dysfunction; consequently, it is designed for physically active people, which includes male athletes. Based on the research literature that describes the results of clinical tests, this review sought to validate the claims made about marketing TT about the requirements of athletes. The results showed a lack of reliable information on the value of TT in competitive sports. In humans, it has been found that a TT extract taken by itself with no other components will not enhance athletes' androgenic levels or performance. The results of several studies have revealed that combining TT with other pharmacological ingredients raises testosterone levels, however it is not clear which ingredients of the mixture have contributed to this result. TT is a mixture of several organic compounds like alkaloids and glycosides steroidal, whose pharmacological effects in humans are not entirely understood. A study on anti-doping reported an incident involving the use of a TT supplement that was contaminated by an illegal drug called steroids. Studies on toxicology related to TT have been conducted on animals, but an accidental poisoning of an individual was reported. According to the Australian Institute of Sport, it does not endorse athletes' use of TT. The research findings on TT don't provide convincing evidence of its effectiveness or safety in sports.


Modern pharmacology is built on synthetic chemical substances. However, traditional herbal medicine, which relies on centuries-old knowledge, is a vital and integral contribution to improving the health of humans. The pharmaceutical market advertises and offers a range of known nutrition and diet supplements that are not classified as medicines, so their effectiveness and quality cannot be controlled strictly by clinical studies. However, herbal extracts containing active chemicals that are biologically active often serve as components of supplements. The usage of herbal extracts or nutritional supplements that contain those ingredients is growing appealing and well-liked by the Western populace due to numerous marketing efforts. There is still an urgent need to verify the benefits of herbal supplements and the undiscovered side effects of herbal extracts, particularly those enriched with bioactive organic chemicals. This can be accomplished by using advanced and reliable scientific methods for clinical trials that allow individuals to test the old views and beliefs about the efficacy of herbal remedies. One of the exotic herbs recommended for treatment is Tribulus terrestris (TT), utilized by traditional, ancient medical practitioners in Greece, China, and India (Ayurvedic medicine). It was advised as a treatment for impotence, infertility sexual dysfunction, and low testosterone levels. Since the beginning of the 80s, its extract has also become an appealing product of alternative treatment in Western nations as a testosterone boosters as well as an increaser of libido, and an adaptogenic aid for fit as well-fit men. In addition, exercise during leisure hours is highly recommended by WHO to prevent chronic diseases, promote healthy well-being, and improve performance. Consequently, an appropriate diet and nutrition supplementation with nutritional supplements, including herbs, are effective in promoting. TT to act as a testosterone booster could be appealing to competitive athletes instead of the use of banned steroids such as androgenic anabolic steroids. It is no wonder that in recent years, TT promotion has been targeted to large measure by athletes. Another incentive and a facilitating factor for TT use is the fact that the extract of TT is available in the pharmaceutical industry as an over-the-counter drug.

The aim of the review

In light of the growing interest in using TT to improve fitness levels, this article aimed to provide recent research on the effects of using TT on androgenic status and the physical performance of healthy, physically active men, with particular attention to the benefits and dangers to human health.

Characteristics of TT

The plant is mainly found in Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe. Its seeds have three spines and yellow flowers and can grow up to one meter high. For many years, it was believed that, in addition to the unique biological characteristics that make the plant attractive for its ability to boost human health, all parts of the plant, such as roots as well as the seeds, fruits, and leaves, are beneficial for kidney stones as well as hypertension, high cholesterol and also as diuretics. In the present, TT is mainly advertised as a testosterone booster it could be a method to improve androgenic health when a man suffers from hypogonadism and can improve performance for athletes. Most of these theories are proven by the Internet and other media that seek to promote using TT. Most of the time, TT extracts are offered in the market for pharmaceuticals as a product on its own or as an element of other nutritional supplements designed for healthy people, active people, athletes, and all those seeking to maintain their overall health and well-being. But, despite the claims of benefits, prospective users must be aware of the facts and consider the findings of clinical trials. These results aren't always evident, and some aren't entirely trustworthy due to a lack of methodological basis. The effectiveness of various herbal supplements studied in controlled experiments tends to be lower when compared to the common perceptions of users, especially those with greater susceptibility to suggestions. There are many doubts about the efficacy of TT, which must be confirmed. The review focused on the current scientific and reliable information regarding the potential benefits and adverse effects that result from the continued use of TT and explained the rationale behind TT use to boost energy levels by enhancing androgenic performance for athletes. The scientific literature on this subject is scarce, and current research results do not offer clear evidence.

Analyzing the chemical structure of the Tribulus terrestris revealed the presence of numerous chemical compounds. Among the most popular are the steroidal glycosides (saponins) and alkaloids. It is likely that, at this point, it is not clear if all chemical compounds have been discovered in the plant, as researchers are still finding new compounds that have a considerable molecular weight that belong to the steroidal glycosides, saponins and flavonoids, and alkaloids. Most of those substances had not been discovered by chemists before their discovery. As a result, their names have been than those to are derived from the names of the species (terrestribisamide, terrestrosin D, tribulusterine) (Chhatre et al. 2014). The quantity of these compounds isn't constant, but it is dependent on the climate and geographic location (Dinchev et al. (2008)).

The use of TT in sports. The risk of doing

The first scientific evidence of the positive results resulting from TT was published by researchers from the Bulgarian Pharmaceutical Group. They reported that TT extracts increased libido levels, blood testosterone, and spermatogenesis and enhanced the sexual activity of males. There is no solid evidence regarding the efficacy and safety of TT for Howeverrt. But TT is widely known for being an athlete by them. Its ergogenic (anabolic) characteristics are believed to be due to this plant because it allegedly increases blood testosterone levels and stimulates muscle hypertrophy in the skeletal muscle. TT was mainly promoted in Bulgaria and utilized from the 1970s as a preparation known as Tribestan (Bucci 2000; Koumanov et. 1982). It was believed that gains in physical performance for Bulgarian athletes, specifically weightlifters, could be partly attributed to this drug.

It was an era when Bulgarian weightlifters were world champions. However, more precise anti-doping tests discovered the use of anabolic androgenic steroids within these athletes. Therefore, until urine tests verify the absence of steroids, the positive results in weightlifting need to be treated with caution. No doping incidents were reported among Bulgarian weightlifters at the Olympic Games (Prendergast et al. 2003). They didn't stop doping. In the wake of the exclusion of 11 doping addicts and the disqualification of 11 doping users, the Bulgarian weightlifting squad was barred from Beijing's Olympic Games in Beijing (2008).

In con, caution is that there isn't any convincing evidence to support the role of TT in weightlifting success. In response to the aggressive marketing of nutritional supplements whose primary goals aim to improve physical and mental health, It is essential to know that dietary supplements advised for athletes who compete to boost their performance might be contaminated by androgenic anabolic steroids (AAS) and pro-hormones, which are weak androgens. They are precursors to the body's more potent androgens, such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This kind of contamination isn't usually mentioned in the list of ingredients. Still, some products have a complete list of ingredients, which includes substances that are prohibited for use in sports. Additionally, some researchers conduct studies to investigate the effects of these substances, i.e., TT plus AAS. To find the most appropriate androgens used by sportsmen, Brown and colleagues. (2000b) concentrated their efforts on exogenous androstenedione and androstenediol steroids, ds that within t, the body is transformed into compounds that are more active biologically. In the assumption that TT could increase the rate at which this conversion occurs and, consequently, improve the effectiveness of tiny amounts of these prohormones (2000b), the authors conducted more extensive research on the effects of TT that is taken together with androstenediol (Brown et al. 2001) or androstenedione (Brown and co.. 2000a). The TT-androgen mixtures were studied on healthy males between 30 and 5 years who received a supplement from TT that contained 100 milligrams pro-hormone daily. The results did not show changes in blood total testosterone in both cases, but a significant increase (by 37%) of free, biologically active fraction of testosterone induced by androstenediol-Tribulus terrestris supplementation (Brown et al., 2001), and practically unchanged free testosterone following ingestion of androstenedione-Tribulus terrestris composition (Brown et al., 2000a). In contrast, when a daily intake of androstenedione was more (300 mg) wit, with no TT, Young men grew their muscle strength following the 8-week training period for strength, and their testosterone levels increased by 45 percent (King and colleagues. 1999). These kinds of studies suggest that certain studies focus on identifying herbal-androgenic substances that may possess anabolic properties even though they contain a small (un-detected) quantity of banned androgens. However, these procedures could indicate that extracts from TT aren't as potent as users, mostly athletes, anticipate. These are also triathletes who use us for other nutritional duathletes. This is why it's not surprising that certain supplements are affected deliberately with banned substances that can improve performance in athletics (Aqai and co. (2013); Cavalcanti Gde et al. (2013); Judkins and Prock, 2012). Contaminants in nutritional supplements can result in accidental doping during competitive sports. One of the most spectacular incidents of non-intentional doping was recorded just before the Olympic Games when the Norwegian weightlifter Stian Grimseth was disqualified for taking nutritional supplements containing ribose but contaminated by non-listed 19-nor androstenedione, as was described in 2011 by the quarterly magazine World Weightlifting. Because athletes commonly use TT, it's important to know if taking TT extract could alter the urinary profile of endogenous androgens to provide a positive result in an anti-doping examinOnlyre only a handful of ss that have been conducted on athletes to understand the degree of risk involved in taking TT. The results indicated that taking TT without contamination was not associated with positive anti-doping tests (et al. dan and a;l. 2008 Van Eenoo and. 2000). However, a few scientists assert that sufficient controls on TT purity aren't in place. The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) came up with a Sports Supplements Program specifically designed to meet the requirements of AIS and other Australian athletes. In addition, the program is designed to enable AIS athletes to concentrate on supplementation and a particular sports diet in their nutrition strategies and reduce the possibility of supplementation resulting in an unintentional doping violation. The supplements included in this program can be classified into four categories: efficacy and security. The TT and additional testosterone stimulants are listed in the D group, which is “Banned or at a high chance of contaminating.” These compounds should not be utilized in athletics (AIS 2014). That risk of the contaminated TT extracts appeared to be warranted because the use of detection of AAS (4-androstene-3,17-dion, 4-androstene-3ss,17ss-diol, 5-androstene-3ss,17ss-diol, 19-nor-4-androstene-3, 17-dion and 19-nor-4-androstene-3ss,17ss-diol) in TT products. The labels did not mention the steroids (GeyCo., and Co. 2000).

Does TT actually work in human beings?

Research on the consequences of the effects of TT upon blood androgens as well as sexual desire was carried out primarily. However, the findings were not in line with the requirements. Regarding the effects on sexual libido, the studies conducted on castrated rats demonstrated that an extract of TT taken by mouth (5 mg/kg) has aphrodisiac properties (Gauthaman and Ganesan. 2002). The effects were dependent on dose (Singh et al. 2012). The studies conducted in primates (baboons and Rhesus monkeys) including rabbits, rhesus monkeys, and castrated rats demonstrated that acute intravenous injection of an extract of TT (7.5 mg/kg) produced a dramatic increase in blood androgens, testosterone DHT as well as DHEAS are increased by 51, 30, and 29% in primates. In contrast, in rabbits, DHT was increased 30% and in the castrated rats, the total testosterone level in blood was increased by 25 percentage (Gauthaman and Ganesan (2008)). Similar results were reported by El-Tantawy et al. (2007), who found significantly higher lev-serum-free-free testosterone in rats who were treated for an entire 40 days using the extracts from TT. Contrary to the findings, the study conducted by Martino-Andrade and As. (2010) found no change in testosterone blood levels in rats that were castrated following 28 days of oral treatment using the highest daily dose of TT. , however, it was observed that rats taking TT and morphine significantly infant lower levels of blood sex hormones as well as pituitary gonadotropin (luteinizing hormone) as compared to rats exposed to only the drug (Ghosian Moghaddam et al. (2013)).

Some studies using a TT extract conducted among human subjects also produced different results. As for the market for pharmaceuticals that offer TT extracts, its primary consumers are athletes and physically active and healthy adults; the entire research efforts are focused on proving the biomedical benefits of TT that are believed to be beneficial to potential customers. As we said, athletes want to enhance their performance, e.g., supplements with ergogenic properties to enhance training sensitivity and improve muscle mass and physical endurance or strength. Since the development of strength and muscle mass is partly dependent on the state of Androgenicity, competitive athletes look for substances that can boost their testosterone levels in the bloodstream and guarantee a negative doping test. Currently, studies that are reliable on the expected TT properties are insufficient. Neychev and Mitev (2005) discovered that neither a lower daily dose (10 mg/kg) or a more incredible amount of TT (20 mg/kg) administered orally produced an impact on blood testosterone levels, androstenedione, or luteinizing hormone over 4 weeks of supplementation. Van Eeenoo et al. (2000) found no change in blood testosterone or LH after five days of supplementation with the TT (750 mg/day) and an unaltered urinary testosterone level to an epitestosterone-to-testosterone ratio. Additionally, studies conducted on athletes did not verify the beneficial effects of supplementation with TT in physical performance. Men who had been trained to resist daily doses of TT of 3.2 mg/kg in an 8-week training session did not show improvement in their performance on the bench or leg presses; mood states, as well as body mass and composition, were not affected (Antonio et al. 2000). A higher TT daily dosage (450 mg/day) taken by rugby players over a 5 week training period also did not cause changes in strength, body composition and the urinary testosterone/epitestosterone ratio (Rogerson et al., 2007). Contrary to the findings, however, two research studies show positive effects after treatment with pharmaceutical supplements containing TT and other components. After 20 days of supplementation with the nutritional product “Tribulus,” both anaerobic and lactic muscle power and testosterone levels significantly increased among young men (Milasius and colleagues. 2009). Another double-blind, placebo-controlled was study was conducted on older men who had previously impaired erectile dysfunction and decreased testosterone levels. Total (8.0 Nmol/L) as well as testosterone levels. Free (0.19 0.19 nmol/L) testosterone levels. The results showed the effectiveness of a product that contained TT. The product, dubbed “Tradamixina, ” consists of TT, Alga Eckonia, N-Acetylglucosamine,osamine, and D-glucosamine daily over two. It also improved libido and increased the testosterone fraction to mean levels of 23.3 or 0.42 nmol/l and 0.42 nmol/l, respectively (Iacono and colleagues. 2012). It is worth mentioning, however, that in both studies, it was not clear whether the component(s) of the substances triggered the benefits in biological terms and if TT was the cause of those benefits.

Side effects

Research on TT toxicities was conducted on animals. Arcasoy et al. (1998) found that the amount corresponding to LD 50 is 813 mg/kg in mice. Signs of severe damage to the liver, cardiac, muscle, and kidney were seen in the native sheep and goats in their meals that contained 80 percent of fresh plants (Aslani and Aslani. 2003; Aslani et al. (2004)). The only instance of acute poisoning due to TT was an unidentified young man who consumed for two days a large dosage of TT to stop kidney stones from forming. The patient was admitted to the hospital, and within 7 days, biochemical signs of hepatitis as well as kidney necrosis were less (Talazas and colleagues. (2010)). It was demonstrated that there are possible benefits and potential risks to the health of humans as a result of supplementation with TT, but these remain a mystery.

Nutritional supplements and herbs for sports shortly

The effects of supplements on sports have been studied extensively. The findings of numerous studies related to the biochemical action as well as the duration of supplementation and doses recommended are being published in scientific journals (Czeczelewski and co. (2013); Desbrow and Desbrow. 2012; Helms et al., 2014; Patlar et al., 2012; Ranchordas et al. 2013, Roshan et al. (2013); Santos et al. (2012); Seferoglu et the. 2012) This information can be found on the label. Therefore, sports doctors and coaches typically have a good understanding of how to use the supplements. However, knowledge of the physiological actions of exotic plants among sports physicians is lacking, considering the abundance of readily available herbal products over-the-counter and the small number of clinical studies and current information. This is why there are fears that certain herbs aren't effective or, even more importantly, they could cause unexpected negative effects when used as a single product or in adverse drug-herb interaction (Canter and Ernst, 2004; Izzo, 2012). This relates specifically to TT e, bioactive chemical compounds such as glycosides and alkaloids.

Conclusions and recommendations

With a small number of research studies that have been conducted on the of ct ton TT for athletes, specifically about its effects on performance and androgenic, a status it is essential to emphasize the absence of evidence that suggests that there is an increase in the usage of TT on the expected biochemical properties in humans. The contradictory results of the studies mentioned indicate that the claims of marketers regarding TT for its role as a testosterone booster are not supported by evidence. Some athletes take it to enhance their performance. This is due to the ad-hoc public relations that promote TT use, which could cause a short-term placebo effect. Therefore, more clinical trials must be conducted shortly.


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Articles from the Journal of Human Kinetics are available here with the permission of the Academy of Physical Education in Katowice, Poland.

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