Is Tribulus Terrestris Good for You and Are There any Side Effects

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Is Tribulus Terrestris Beneficial and Safe?

Tribulus terrestris, also known as cow hoof, goat head, or puncture vine, is a plant that belongs to the caltrop family. It has antimicrobial properties and can lower inflammation. However, it may cause digestive upset and increase the risk of blood clots.

Tribulus terrestris is a herbal remedy and supplement. Preliminary research suggests that it may improve heart health, reduce inflammation, and enhance libido.

This plant is native to warm, tropical regions in the Mediterranean, Southern Asia, and Africa. It is a small, silky, hairy shrub with a slender, brown root and spiky fruit shaped like hooves.

Tribulus roots and fruits have been used as medicines for thousands of years in China, India, and other parts of Asia. In traditional healing systems like Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, they have been employed for itchy skin, infertility, low libido, kidney diseases, and heart problems.

Modern herbalists still utilize Tribulus, and there are numerous supplements available online or in health stores. While some marketing claims suggest that it helps improve testosterone levels and muscle gain, current studies do not fully support these assertions.

Benefits of Tribulus Terrestris

Tribulus has been used medicinally for a long time, and although more research is needed, early animal studies demonstrate potential benefits.

Antimicrobial Properties

Lab and animal studies indicate that Tribulus extracts inhibit the growth of certain bacteria commonly involved in urinary infections, such as E. coli. Additionally, Tribulus may be effective in treating bacterial vaginosis, a vaginal infection.

A small human study compared medication for bacterial vaginosis with treatment using an herbal Tribulus suppository. Both groups experienced improved symptoms after 1 week, suggesting that the suppository was as effective as the medication. However, because the suppository contained a mixture of herbs, it is difficult to determine the specific benefits of Tribulus.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

COX-2 is an enzyme responsible for the production of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. These prostaglandins play a role in regulating inflammation. Tribulus extracts have been found to block COX-2 activity in mice, indicating potential anti-inflammatory properties.

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Possible Blood Pressure Reduction

Tribulus may also help reduce blood pressure. Administering Tribulus extract to mice with high blood pressure resulted in a relaxation of blood vessels at low doses. This relaxation, known as vasodilation, improves blood flow. The study suggests that Tribulus extracts may interact with nitric oxide, a chemical that induces this relaxing effect.

Potential Improvement of Sexual Dysfunction

Claims that Tribulus improves erectile dysfunction have been made, but research results are mixed. Some studies show that Tribulus extract is beneficial for men with low hormone levels due to aging. After 3 months of treatment, testosterone levels increased, and erectile dysfunction improved.

Men with both erectile dysfunction and a low sexual desire disorder also experienced improvement after taking Tribulus. One study found that participants who took the extract for 12 weeks reported improvements in orgasms, desire, and overall satisfaction compared to those who did not take it. Furthermore, no severe side effects were reported.

However, other studies suggest that Tribulus has no effect on erectile function. In a small study involving healthy men with spontaneous erection problems, some participants were given a Tribulus extract, while others received a placebo pill twice daily for 30 days. Testosterone levels and erectile symptoms were measured, and no significant differences were found between the two groups.

While the impact of Tribulus on erections is unclear, there is evidence to suggest that it may be beneficial in treating sexual problems in women. Female sexual dysfunction includes ongoing issues with loss of sexual desire, pain during sex, or problems with orgasm. Several small studies found that women who took Tribulus for 4 weeks experienced overall improvements in sexual function, including increased arousal and desire and reduced pain.

Possible Enhancement of Male Fertility

The impact of Tribulus on testosterone levels is inconclusive; results from animal and human studies vary. However, one animal study discovered that Tribulus extract slightly increased sperm production after 28 days. This effect did not extend to hormone levels or hormone-sensitive tissues.

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Based on these preliminary findings, Tribulus may have the potential to improve male fertility by increasing sperm count, but further research is necessary.

Possible Alleviation of Pain

Tribulus Terrestris might also help alleviate pain. Early animal studies indicate that high doses of Tribulus extract provided pain relief in rats. It was less effective than morphine but more effective than aspirin. It is worth noting, however, that the herb extract was injected directly into the mice, which may yield different results compared to orally consumed supplements in humans.

Side Effects of Tribulus Terrestris

According to the majority of studies, Tribulus is safe, with only minor side effects. Nevertheless, there have been reports of more severe side effects associated with high doses or prolonged use.

Digestive Upset

The most commonly reported side effects are related to the digestive system and include symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, heartburn, and irritation of the digestive tract lining.

Reports of Liver and Kidney Damage

High doses and long-term use of Tribulus may lead to liver and kidney damage. There is at least one reported case of sudden kidney failure and severe jaundice in a bodybuilder who took Tribulus for an unspecified period. Another report detailed a young man who experienced sudden kidney and liver damage after taking high doses of Tribulus extract for the treatment of kidney stones.

Possible Increased Risk of Blood Clots

Several case reports describe blood clot formation in patients taking a supplement containing Tribulus while also using a blood thinner called clopidogrel. It is challenging to determine whether the herb directly causes these effects or if they are the result of other ingredients.

Based on animal and lab studies, Tribulus terrestris supplements could interact with other medications. Theoretically, they may interact with blood pressure pills, potentially causing excessively low blood pressure. They may also interact with diuretics and antidiabetic medications.

Conclusion: Consult Your Doctor First

Tribulus has a long history of use, and it is likely safe for most individuals. However, there is limited research on its health benefits for humans. If you are considering taking Tribulus, it is important to consult with your doctor or pharmacist first.

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QUESTION

Actas Urologicas Espanolas: "Tribulus terrestris versus placebo in the treatment of erectile dysfunction: A prospective, randomized, double-blind study."

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences: "The analgesic effect of Tribulus terrestris extract and comparison of gastric ulcerogenicity of the extract with indomethacine in animal experiments."

Chemistry Central Journal: "A review of traditional pharmacological uses, phytochemistry, and pharmacological activities of Tribulus terrestris."

Daru Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences: "Tribulus terrestris for treatment of sexual dysfunction in women: randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study."

Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research: "Selective COX-2 Inhibitors: A Review of Their Structure-Activity Relationships."

Journal of Ethnopharmacology: "Antihypertensive and vasodilator effects of methanolic and aqueous extracts of Tribulus terrestris in rats," "Effects of Tribulus terrestris on endocrine sensitive organs in male and female Wistar rats," "Evaluation of natural products on inhibition of inducible cyclooxygenase (COX-2) and nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in cultured mouse macrophage cells."

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: "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 Obstetrics and Gynecology: "Effect of vaginal suppository on bacterial vaginitis based on Persian medicine (Iranian traditional medicine): a randomised double blind clinical study."

Journal of Zhejiang University. Science: "Antibacterial and antifungal activities of different parts of Tribulus terrestris L. growing in Iraq."

Maturitas: "Evaluation of the efficacy and safety of Tribulus terrestris in male sexual dysfunction-A prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial."

Mayo Clinic: "Female sexual dysfunction."

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: "Tribulus terrestris."

Pharmacognosy Review: "Phytopharmacological overview of Tribulus terrestris."

Turk Kardiyoloji Dernegi arsivi: "Three case reports of the use of herbal combinations resulted in stent thrombosis: herbal combinations; friend or foe?"

Urologia: "Tribulus terrestris versus placebo in the treatment of erectile dysfunction and lower urinary tract symptoms in patients with late-onset hypogonadism: A placebo-controlled study."

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