Bulgarian tribulus has a reputation as a testosterone booster and is especially popular among bodybuilding circles. But a closer look might surprise you and make you think again before spending your hard earned money on this supplement.
What is tribulus
Bulgarian tribulus, also known as tribulus terrestris traditionally grew in Asia, Africa, Europe and Australia. Tribulus grows to a height of one meter. It was used in traditional herbal medicine for conditions such as low libido, kidney stones, hypertension, high cholesterol, gonorrhea, coughs, chronic fatigue syndrome, inflammation, intestinal worms, rheumatism, leprosy, scabies and eczema among others.
Treatment using tribulus was done using the fruit, seeds, root and leaves. With the rise of plant based complementary treatment solutions, tribulus has acquired renewed importance. And as the interest has grown, scientific studies are ongoing to determine how specific natural remedies work. In the case of tribulus terrestris, products associated with the plant are marketed as supplements for; among others, increased testosterone levels, libido and physical enhancement. Due to the increased awareness about traditional treatments, more people have bought into the marketed idea that tribulus has beneficial health properties. This has led to an expanding for tribulus products. But how effective is Hungarian tribulus in increasing testosterone production?
In this discussion, we will look at what different studies have found about the effectiveness or otherwise of tribulus as well as its possible side effects. This will help you make the right decision about the use of tribulus terrestris.
Why it is so popular
Most men are fascinated with high energy and a healthy libido. Some of us may also want to grow big muscles to help us in sports or to help create our dream body. These are some of the fruits of healthy testosterone levels. But modern stressful lifestyles, diet and age can have adverse effects on testosterone and cause it to plummet. Hence, men’s readiness to buy into products that can help pump up testosterone levels!
Among the products on the market with promises of increasing testosterone are made from tribulus terrestris.
Lazed with androgenic anabolics
It was found that there are few reliable data on the usefulness of Tribulus in competitive sport. In humans, a Tribulus extract used alone without additional components does not improve androgenic status or physical performance among athletes. The results of a few studies have showed that the combination of Tribulus with other pharmacological components increases testosterone levels, but it was not discovered which components of the mixture contributed to that effect. Tribulus contains several organic compounds including alkaloids and steroidal glycosides, of which pharmacological action in humans is not completely explained. One anti-doping study reported an incident with a Tribulus supplement contaminated by a banned steroid study.
Conflicting study findings
Most of the available research studies have produced conflicting results. In a study in which castrated rats were orally given 5 mg of tribulus extract per kilogram of body weight, it was found that the extract had libido increasing properties. The study also established that the aphrodisiac properties were dependent on the amount given.
Findings from another animal study indicate that intravenous administration of 7.5 mg of tribulus extract per kilogram body weight, led to an increase in blood androgens including testosterone. But this other study found no change in blood testosterone levels following administration of tribulus. Other similar animal studies have led to contrasting findings.
And while there are scanty independent human studies on the use of Bulgarian tribulus, those available don’t support the promoted claims that tribulus either boosts testosterone production or muscle growth irrespective of the amounts of the extract used. This study found that oral doses of 10mg per kilogram or 20 mg per kilogram of body weight, had no effect on blood testosterone or other androgenic levels even after 4 weeks of administration. Similar findings were reported from this study, which involved daily administration of 750 mg of tribulus extract per kg of body weight for 5 days.
For a plant or product to be declared as a booster of testosterone or other properties, a good number of studies would be required to be conducted. Besides, the findings from most of such studies would have similarities. The results would be even more reliable if the studies have been carried out over longer periods of time.
But the available studies on tribulus show that while Bulgarian tribulus may contain nutrients and non-nutrient compounds which may have some positive properties, on its own, tribulus does not help increase testosterone levels. Additionally, where tribulus products were found to cause an increase in strength or testosterone, they were likely razed with other compounds, specifically, protodiocsin, according to this Study.
Because there are few human studies carried out on the effects of Bulgarian tribulus, it is difficult to determine its side effects. However, probably because more studies have been carried out on animals, some side effects have been observed.
One study involving consumption of 80 percent of the fresh plant by sheep and goats found that the animals suffered severe damage to the liver, kidneys and cardiac muscles.
And while unproven, it is not far-fetched to assume that tribulus can pose similar side effects to humans. One case of acute tribulus poisoning has also been recorded. It involved a young man who took high doses of tribulus terrestris for two days with the intention of preventing formation of kidney stones. The young man had to be hospitalized for seven days.
Other possible but unconfirmed side effects include:
- Increased prostate weight
- It can worsen prostate cancer
- Can cause fetal developmental problems when taken by pregnant women
- May cause a dangerous decrease of blood glucose levels
In conclusion, while Bulgarian tribulus, or tribulus terrestris is touted as strength and testosterone boosting, available research suggests that this is not true. In fact, studies indicate that any benefits can be attributed to steroids like protodioscin and saponins. Therefore, if you are determined to use tribulus to help boost your testosterone levels or build strength, make sure that you go for products that also contain the active steroids.