Tribulus is used in Ayurvedic medicine to enhance mental clarity. It is often promoted to athletes as an agent to increase muscle buildup and burn fat, though more research is needed to substantiate these claims. It is known to relieve pain, increase testosterone levels, improve the flow of liver chi, clear the lungs, stimulate circulation, and soothe the mucous membranes of the urinary tract.
Root, Leaf, Fruit.
burra gokhbu, goats’ head, bur nut, ground burr-nut, Jamaican fever plant, caltrop, prickly caltrop, white caltrop; Abrojo Rojo (Spanish); Mayan: Chanixnuk, Punab-ki; Béégashii bitsiits’iin – bull head (Navajo); ji li dze, ji li zi (Chinese)
Traditionally used in China as a component in formulations for the liver, kidney, cardiovascular system and immune systems and in Ayurveda, the plant and fruit have been used to treat spermatorrhoea, gonorrhoea, impotence, uterine disorders after parturition, cystitis, painful urination, kidney stones and gout. It is claimed that the Tribulus from Eastern Europe and Iran is more useful for sexual health.
Tonic, male aphrodisiac, oestrogenic in females (indirectly), androgenic in males (indirectly), fertility agent.
Erectile dysfunction, low sperm count or motility, low libido in men, and poor ovulation rates (steroidal saponins may interact with the hypothalamus or pituitary to re-establish ovulation) or menopausal symptoms (hot flushes, sweating, insomnia and depression) in women. Also used to improve fertility and to treat fluid retention, abdominal distension and cardiovascular diseases.
Fertility, Erectile Dysfunction.
A clinical study was conducted to assess the effectiveness of a specific dosage and period of administration of protodioscin on sperm quality and quantity in men with moderate idiopathic oligozoospermia. This study also evaluated the effect of protodioscin on libido, erection, ejaculation and orgasm. The results demonstrated that oral treatment with the dose of 3 × 2 tablets per day for 60 days increased sperm quantity and quality in men diagnosed with moderate idiopathic oligozoospermia and restored libido, erection, ejaculation and orgasm of sexual intercourse. These results were observed in more than 80% of the treated patients.
A double-blind study was done on 45 men with infertility due to oligoasthenoteratozoospermia. Thirty-six men were treated with 500.0 mg purified extract of the fruit containing protodioscin, orally 3 times daily for 3 months. The nine men in the control group were given a placebo for the same period of time. Spouses of eight of the men in the treated group became pregnant after treatment of their husbands, whereas no pregnancies occurred in the spouses of the men in the control group. An improvement in the sperm morphology, acrosome morphology and reaction seemed to account for the increased fertility after treatment. In addition, the extract was shown to increase the level of dehydroepiandrosterone and might also have contributed to the activation of cell membrane receptors and the production of weak androgens.
- Treatment with 750 mg/day for 60 days significantly increased motility and rate of movement of spermatozoa from 38 men with idiopathic oligospermia. In some cases, after repeated treatment at a dose of 1500 mg/day, a normalisation of the sperm profile was observed, accompanied by increased LH and testosterone and decreased oestradiol.
- Two groups of men with oligospermia after varicocele operations were treated with either 750 mg/day for 60 days or 1500 mg/day for 90 days. Significant improvement in sperm motility was observed in both groups. Treatment with 1500 mg also resulted in an increase in ejaculate quantity in all patients.
- Patients with unilateral or bilateral hypotrophy of the testes and oligospermia demonstrated improvements in ejaculate volume, sperm concentration and motility after treatment (1500 mg/day, 60 days). Testosterone levels were also increased. A light palpable pain in the testicular region with slight oedema was reported by patients during the treatment, which abated 2 to 3 months later.
- Treatment of 51 infertile men with 750 mg/day TLSE for 3 months significantly increased ejaculate volume, sperm concentration, motility and velocity. Spermatozoa morphology normalised and ejaculate liquefaction time decreased. Semen immune parameters decreased leucocyte counts, alpha-amylase values (an enzyme involved in ejaculate liquefaction) and secretion of local immunoglobulins. Cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides and VLDL-cholesterol all decreased, and HDL-cholesterol increased. Libido was normalised or enhanced in those reporting poor libido.
- Thirty-one pregnancies were recorded for 100 couples with infertility involving an immunological cause within 12 months of initiating TLSE treatment. The average time taken to conceive was 5.2 months. Before treatment sperm number and quality varied, but all men and 74% of women had abnormal results for sperm-agglutinating antibody tests. The dosage used was 750 mg/day for men and 750 mg/day from days 21 to 27 of the menstrual cycle for women until conception occurred.
- Improvement in sperm profile was not observed in patients with chronic prostatitis (750 to 1500 mg/day).
- Of 14 patients suffering reduced libido, 12 showed considerable improvement after 30 days (1500 mg/day), and one patient was slightly improved after 60 days. Libido was improved in 27 of 36 patients with chronic prostatitis. The other nine patients, who all had chronic prostatitis for over 5 years, demonstrated no improvement. Libido was incidentally improved in patients with hypotrophy of the testes and idiopathic oligospermia.
- In an open-label study, 98% of 50 menopausal women experienced symptom improvement after TLSE treatment, but not after placebo. Fifty-two percent of patients were experiencing natural menopause, and 48% had postoperative symptoms after removal of their ovaries. Predominant symptoms included hot flushes, sweating, insomnia and depression. The dosage prescribed varied, but generally, a maintenance dose of 500 to 750 mg/day of TLSE was reached after higher initial doses. Treatment did not result in significant changes in FSH, LH, prolactin, oestradiol, progesterone and testosterone, although FSH tended to be lower.
Dosage (Divided Daily)
• Dried Powder: 5,000 – 7,000mg
• Protodioscin: 750 – 1,500mg
Tribulus should not be used during pregnancy or lactation without professional advice.
Most side effects are minor gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, which are usually resolved when the herb is taken with meals.
Interactions with other drugs
Mars, B. (2007). The desktop guide to herbal medicine: the ultimate multidisciplinary reference to the amazing realm of healing plants, in a quick-study, one-stop guide. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Pub.
Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2000). Principles and practice of phytotherapy: modern herbal medicine. Edinburgh; London: Churchill Livingstone.
World Health Organization., & Ebrary. (1999). WHO monographs on selected medicinal plants (pp. electronic text.). Retrieved from https://virtual.anu.edu.au/login/?url=http://site.ebrary.com/lib/anuau/Top?id=10040306
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