What is Tribulus Terrestris Extract (Puncture Vine)?
Tribulus terrestris, often shortened to tribulus or trib, is a weedy herb in the caltrop family that is
native to tropical areas in Africa and Eurasia. It goes by many names, including goat’s head, bullhead,
cat’s head, devil’s weed, devil’s eyelashes, devil’s thorn, puncture vine, and tackweed. Many of the names
reference tribulus’ woody fruit burs that have long, strong, and sharp thorns that can easily penetrate and
perforate thin shoes, bike tires, and more.
Tribulus has a long history in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic cultures as a libido booster and adaptogen.
Recent research supports tribulus’ use as a libido enhancer for both men and women. Studies also support its
use as an adaptogen, as it has anti-stress properties and protects against oxidative damage. It also has
anti-inflammatory properties. Tribulus likely owes many of its beneficial effects to its saponin content.
Potential Tribulus Terrestris Benefits
Tribulus Terrestris Extract for Libido
Tribulus terrestris extract may improve libido in several ways. Animal studies show that tribulus saponins
increase the expression of androgen receptors in the brain. Androgens are essential for fueling psychosexual
stimulation in women, enhancing blood flow and sensitivity to genitalia, and amplifying the intensity of
sexual satisfaction. Research shows these effects are even more notable in women with low libidos.
Men with reduced sex drives may also benefit from tribulus supplements, as one study reported a 79% increase
in sexual desire after taking tribulus for two months daily. Tribulus boosts nitric oxide production by
increasing nitric oxide synthase levels. Nitric oxide is essential for smooth muscle relaxation that
facilitates erections. Thus, tribulus may provide improvements in male sexual satisfaction and erections.
Tribulus Terrestris Extract as an Adaptogen
Adaptogens help the body resist and cope with physical, mental, and biological stress. They work by
decreasing sensitivity to stressors and stress-related chemical reactions in the body. For example,
stressors often elevate cortisol levels, which can lead to chronic fatigue and exhaustion. Adaptogens
respond to this by reducing cortisol levels to achieve homeostasis within the body.
One study found that tribulus exerts potent anti-stress effects by normalizing stress hormones, including
corticosterone, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), and corticotropin releasing factor (CRF). It also
protects several organs by regulating oxidative changes. It is more effective than vitamin E at preventing
oxidative changes in the liver. Animal studies also found that tribulus outperforms vitamin E at protecting
against heavy metal toxicity.
Potential Tribulus Terrestris Side Effects
Most individuals can take tribulus supplements without experiencing significant side effects. Some
individuals may experience stomach cramps or reflux. Tribulus supplements may increase the effects of
diuretics, lower blood pressure, and lower blood sugar. Individuals taking diuretics, blood pressure
medication, blood sugar medication, and the blood clot medication clopidogrel should consult a physician
before taking tribulus supplements.
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