Tribulus Terrestris: see what it is for and how to take it

Recently, the use of plants and their natural health benefits has been widely used, including by supplement companies, which formulate a mix of herbal medicines, develop products with concentrated plant extracts and provide products that use natural active ingredients.

Considered a weed, it is not today that Tribulus terrestris is used to obtain benefits for the body and health.

There are indications that the plant was already used in ancient Greece as a laxative and intestinal regulator and in China the uses were intended to reduce pain and improve the cardiovascular system.

In India, the plant was used for aphrodisiac purposes and in Europe its fame has spread as an alternative to sexual impotence, being a natural viagra.

These properties were attributed to the plane decades ago and are currently being studied and debated.

In addition, there is talk of the participation of Tribulus terrestris in increasing lean mass , reducing weight, improving signs of menopause , increasing testosterone and improving sexual desire.

But scientific studies are still scarce and controversial, causing the plant to retain much of its properties based on popular belief.

What is Tribulus terrestris?

The Terrestris Tribulus is a herbal medicine from the family plan Zygophyllaceae , more specifically a shrub found in various regions of the world.

Tribulus is one of the few plants that has become commercially popular with its botanical name. In spite of this, it is possible to find it also called the puncture vine , broccoli , malta cross or eye-opener .

The origins are still uncertain, but most researchers suggest that the plant came from Asia, India and China, regions where its consumption today is quite popular.

Predominant in hot regions, tribulus is considered a weed or an invasive plant, which may sound strange, as soon as it is used for therapeutic purposes, highlighting the uses for hormonal and aphrodisiac regulation and, more recently, for hypertrophy (increased lean mass ).

But in reality, weeds are any plants that grow spontaneously, in different places, usually hindering the growth or planting of other species. Roads, pastures and diverse soils are places that tribulus can appear without great difficulties to develop.

Tribulus is a herbaceous plant that is, it is characterized by a flexible or non-woody stem, usually less than 1 meter, and can also be called grass. It has a large number of spines and its fruits are rounded and prickly in appearance.

The leaves are usually small and form pairs, between 5 and 8 doubles. The yellowish flowers are also small, with about 4 petals. Its fruits are hard, dry and sharp.

Even with its delicate appearance and vivid colors, the flower is rarely used to decorate gardens or indoor environments, but serving as a landscape decoration due to its spontaneous growth.

Tea has been consumed for some time, but it is now possible to find the plant extract in powder and capsule versions. Like other plants suitable for consumption, Tribulus terrestris provides the organism with a series of phytochemicals, which are substances that are beneficial to health and present only in plants.

properties

Studies on the properties of Tribulus terrestris show that the plant has some substances that can be beneficial or functional to the organism.

Although scarce, the results indicate that one of the components most responsible for the plant’s action is saponin, but there are also other substances such as flavonoids and even calcium.

As it is a natural product, its composition may vary according to the place of cultivation, origin of the seedling and development (soil and temperature). Below you know a little about some possible properties of the plant and its actions in the organism:

Saponins

Saponins are substances present in plants and are characterized by the ability to produce foam.

When the elements are being identified, when shaking the saponin in a container of water, it is possible to notice the formation of bubbles, almost like a detergent. That is the origin of its name: frog = soap.

Saponins in Tribulus terrestris act as a defense mechanism, acting as a phytoprotective substance against fungal, bacterial and even predatory agents.

In addition, they are widely used in products with expectorant and laxative purposes, and some researchers attribute this action to the ability of saponins to irritate the mucous membranes of the human body. However, it is still debated how these mechanisms of action occur.

There is also the action related to the hormonal stimulus, in which the substances are attributed to the LH (luteinizing hormone) stimulus. In men, LH is directly related to the production of sperm, whereas in women, it is related to the fertile period , acting as a stimulator for the maturation of follicles.

In summary, it can be said that the higher the concentration of LH in the woman’s body, the greater the chances of ovulation. Likewise, LH in men favors the best quantity and quality of sperm.

That is, in both sexes, the hormone is ideal for those who are looking to increase the chances of becoming pregnant.

Studies carried out with the tribulus plant indicate that, in the extract used during the research, it was found about 45% of the product composed with a specific saponin, protodioscin (PTN).

In general, this is the type of saponin most attributed to the plant’s functional effects.

Other food sources of saponins are oats, peppers, eggplant , tomato seed, asparagus, yam, fenugreek and ginseng, for example.

Flavonoids

Flavonoids are elements that give color to plants and, in general, perform functional actions in the body, among them, the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic action.

Despite not being one of the most sought after properties by those who consume tribulus, the flavonoids present in the plant extract can help boost immunity, being used for decades as a topical product (the leaves are crushed and applied over allergies and injuries, preventing infections and optimizing healing).

Alkaloids

Alkaloids are substances mostly derived from plants, although they can also be derived from fungi, bacteria and animals.

The functions are diverse and depend on the type of alkaloid, but are attributable to anti-inflammatory actions, cardiac and respiratory stimulants, anesthetics and immunity strengthening.

Tanino

The Tribulus terrestris contains tannin, a naturally substance present in plant structures such as seeds, stalks and husks green fruit.

For health, the substance can act on the arterial wall, reducing the risk of high cholesterol and minimizing cell aging.

In addition, tannin is one of the elements present in wines, responsible for giving a drier and fuller touch to the drink. That is why, among some studies for heart health, it is recommended to drink a small glass of wine every day.

Calcium, iron and phosphorus

Calcium, iron and phosphorus are necessary nutrients for the proper functioning of the body and must be present in the diet.

Adequate intake of these substances ensures better health for the bones, preventing tissue wear, improving the absorption functions of other nutrients, in addition to preventing anemia and resulting symptoms, such as fatigue , tiredness , difficulty breathing and reduced appetite.

Benefits for the body

The consumption of Tribulus terrestris has been used for many years mainly due to its aphrodisiac and sexuality-stimulating properties. However, recent studies point to other functional capacity of the plant.

Some of the most searches and searches today are:

Testosterone rates

One of the benefits most attributed to Tribulus terrestris refers to the increase in testosterone, both in men and women.

Studies and researchers indicate that the substance capable of promoting this hormonal increase is not yet well defined, but it is estimated that saponins are responsible.

In this case, the plant would act as a stimulant to the natural production of testosterone through the regulation of luteinizing hormone (LH).

Research on hormonal performance is quite inconclusive and contradictory. The first point to be considered is that the vast majority of data refer to animal research and the results obtained in humans are scarce and limited.

A study published in the Spanish Atlas of Urological Study in 2014, points out that there were no significant changes in the testosterone rates or sexual potency of the participants.

The research selected 30 men who had erectile dysfunction , but who did not have associated diseases. Half of the participants received doses of placebo, while the other half received 800mg of Tribulus terrestris for 30 days.

According to the results, there were no changes in hormonal concentrations between the beginning and the end of the study. In addition, testosterone rates were similar between the group that received the plant extract and the control group.

Diuretic

Because it contains amounts of nitrate and potassium salts, especially in fruits and seeds, tribulus can perform a diuretic action similar to the substance furosemide.

Cholesterol and triglyceride reduction

Studies conducted with rats indicate that tribulus may have a beneficial action in reducing cholesterol and triglycerides, causing HDL, which is the good cholesterol, to be increased, while LDL, bad cholesterol, to be reduced in the blood.

Improved erection and libido

Animal studies indicate that there may be an acceleration of sexual stimuli. In the evaluations, the animals that ingested the plant had sexual intercourse earlier than the mice that received placebo (control group).

In addition, the time of sexual intercourse was longer and, even starting the relationship a few days before the control group, the animals that received the plant maintained their sexual acts for the same time.

Immunity

It is indicated that tribulus extract can improve immunity, having anti-inflammatory action as well.

The flavonoids present in the plant can help the body to fight infections and external agents, improving immune responses. In addition, there may be a reduction in pain perception and reception, as tribulus may have anesthetic action.

Endurance and physical performance

Due to the possible muscle improvement and increase in testosterone, the consumption of Tribulus terrestris can give more physical resistance.

The consumption associated with physical activities can, therefore, improve sports performance, favoring conditioning, reducing muscle fatigue, promoting physical strength and, consequently, resulting in a better performance during intense exercises.

Increased muscle mass

Due to the stimulation of testosterone production, Tribulus terrestris can act to increase muscle mass and physical definition. Although there is no direct stimulus to lean tissue, the intake of the plant favors strength and physical resistance, improving muscle gain in both men and women.

In general, men are more likely to gain muscle due to higher testosterone concentrations. Thus, tribulus, by promoting hormonal production, favors practitioners of physical activities in physical and sports performance.

However, studies have been conducted indicating that ingesting tribulus did not impact testosterone or muscle mass levels.

A survey conducted in 2008 and published in the International Journal of Forensic Studies points out that there were no significant short-term changes in the hormonal rates of groups of athletes who ingested Tribulus terrestris .

Reduction of fat rates

Indirectly, the intake of tribulus may favor the reduction of body fat rates.

If combined with aerobic and strength exercises, the plant can improve the percentage of lean mass, causing the body to naturally spend more energy to maintain the body’s energy balance.

That is, there are higher calorie expenditures to maintain the organic functions and making the fat to be burned more easily, especially during intense exercises.

Increase libido

One of the properties most attributed to tribulus is the increase in libido, either currently or in traditional uses.

Sexual disorders due to low libido can be treated with testosterone replacement in both men and women.

As tribulus can play a natural stimulus to hormonal production, supplementation or ingestion of the plant can have effects on sexual health, increasing libido, sexual interest and resulting in a better performance of intimate life.

A study published in 2012 in the Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacologists suggests that the therapeutic use of Tribulus terrestris as a mild stimulant may have positive actions.

In the study, more marked sexual behaviors were observed in the animals tested, where the rats analyzed had more sexual intercourse and each intercourse lasted longer.

Therefore, the problems of erectile dysfunction and sexual disinterest can be alleviated with the daily intake of the plant extract.

Menopause

With the arrival of menopause, a series of significant changes in the woman’s body and well-being can occur. The period is marked by the absence of menstruation, as there is no further evolution, indicating the end of the reproduction period.

In addition to the absence of menstruation, menopause is usually accompanied by symptoms that tend to be uncomfortable or uncomfortable for most women, such as hot flashes, night sweats, depression , vaginal dryness, drop in sexual desire, fatigue and even elevation of cardiac risks.

Hormone replacement is one of the resources used to relieve symptoms arising from menopause. Thus, it is indicated that the use of Tribulus terrestris may have a beneficial action on the hormonal stabilization of women, especially after the end of the reproductive phase.

Although testosterone is referred to as a male sex hormone, this is because its concentration can be up to 30 times higher in men. But it is present in the female organism as well, having important functions in the physical disposition, in the memory, in the gain of lean mass and in the health of the heart, for example.

But again, the studies are controversial and inaccurate.

A study conducted in 2012, in São Paulo, with 90 women with sexual dysfunction after menopause points out that the results after 3 months of using 750mg of Tribulus terrestris daily are positive, and demonstrate improvements in aspects of libido.

However, a survey published in the Brazilian Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics in 2016 points out that there were no significant changes in perception regarding the symptoms of menopause and sexual desire in women over 60 years of age.

Diabetes

The terrestris Tribulus can also have a beneficial effect on glycemic control, because the plant can inhibit the action of glucosidase and amylase by reducing the absorption of sugars and, consequently, assisting in balancing the blood glucose after meal.

A review study on the therapeutic action of the substance points out that evaluations made in rats, in China, resulted in a reduction of blood glucose of 26% and 40% in animals without and with diabetes , respectively.

Urinary system

The plant can assist in strengthening the muscles of the perineum and the urinary system in general. With increased muscle tone, leakage of urine is minimized and people with urinary incontinence due to reduced muscle strength can benefit.

In addition, a study carried out in 2010 and published in the medical journal Jornal Internacional de Urologia, points out that the use of Tribulus terrestris can reduce the formation of calcium crystals in the kidneys, acting as a protective and preventive product in renal functionality.

Hypertension

Tribulus can act to constrict blood vessels, reducing the pressure required for blood circulation and, consequently, reducing blood pressure.

Studies that indicate the diuretic action of the plant also point out that, as a consequence of the similarity to furosemide, there may be a reduction in blood pressure.

Traditional therapeutic uses

The Tribulus terrestris plant has been used for many years as part of the traditional therapeutic resources of different peoples.

In Ayurvedic medicine, originated in India, there are indications that tribulus has been used for about 3,000 years to treat kidney stones, improve urine and semen production, in addition to aphrodisiac uses.

In Chinese medicine, for approximately 400 years the herb has been used with anesthetic for headaches, vertigo, skin lesions, hives, sexual impotence, low back pain, in addition to eye irritation and pain.

In addition, the plant is still used as an astringent and anti-bacterial, especially for the urinary system.

Types

The substance Tribulus terrestris has been consumed for centuries by different peoples. Before, the plant was restricted to the commercialization of dried or dehydrated leaves for the preparation of tea, but it is currently possible to find it in the following presentations:

  • Dehydrated leaves and flowers lightly crushed to make tea;
  • Powdered leaves and flowers;
  • Capsule supplements;
  • Concentrated liquid extract (also called tincture).

Manufacturers indicate the concentration of saponins present in each processed product, but dehydrated leaves usually have higher concentrations, as the properties are better maintained.

However, supplements (product in capsules) can have high doses of saponins and other properties due to the industrialization and production processes that employ techniques to preserve the characteristics of the herb.

In addition, supplements may also attribute other substances to tribulus, such as caffeine, stimulants, energy drinks or nutrients. Therefore, it is necessary to observe the packaging and labels, carefully reading the manufacturer’s instructions.

Who should take it?

There is no strict indication of who should use Tribulus terrestris . In general, the plant is sought by men and women who wish to improve libido, increase sexual performance and, more recently, it has also become popular among bodybuilders to increase lean mass gains.

It is possible that young male adults do not benefit from the consumption of the plant to raise testosterone rates, as soon as between 18 and 30 years of age the hormonal production is quite high and the consumption may not generate major organic actions.

Likewise, over 65 years of age, testosterone supplementation may not be as effective with the plant, once the hormonal reduction, in this age group, is quite significant, due to age and organic changes.

In these cases or in pathological conditions, the hormonal drop must be treated with medical supervision.

How and how much to take?

The dry extracts, with approximately 70% of saponins, recommend the dosage between 85mg and 250mg, 3 times a day. But there are indications of higher doses, which can reach 2g a day when the concentrations are lower.

Studies conducted on the action on libido in women used the amount of 750mg divided into 3 dosages a day (3 pills of 250mg).

As for the hours, the recommendation is, in general, to split the consumption, distributing the intake throughout the day (2 or 3 times, about 45 minutes before the main meals). But it is also possible to concentrate the intake in a single dosage around dinner or at bedtime, especially if the goal is to improve sexual performance.

For tea, the recommendation is approximately 1 tablespoon of chopped leaves for each cup of water (200mL), in portions of 3 or 4 cups a day.

But it is important to remember that the ideal dosage must be established by a health professional, considering the objectives and characteristics of each person.

For capsule or tablet versions, the instructions on the package insert or packaging must be followed, according to the indicated dosages and schedules. In general, it is recommended to take one tablet every 8 hours, or 3 times a day, with water.

How to prepare Tribulus terrestris tea?

When purchasing the plant or the dry extract of Tribulus terrestris , you can prepare the drink before ingesting it or make a larger quantity and store in the refrigerator to drink the same day.

To do this, bring the water to a fire and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and add 1 scoop of the dried plant for every 200mL of water added. That is, if you are going to prepare just 1 cup, add approximately 10g of the plant, if you are going to prepare 1 liter, add 50g.

After placing the dried flowers and leaves, cover the container and let it steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Just strain, drink or store in the refrigerator.

Side effects

Some side effects can arise with consumption. Between them:

  • Insomnia;
  • Agitation;
  • Difficulty concentrating;
  • Gases;
  • Abdominal distension;
  • Increased oiliness of the skin and the appearance of acne;
  • Headache;
  • Irritability.

There are reports of people who have suffered tribulus intoxication, even taking the recommended dosages.

Although the plant is considered safe if the daily consumption limit is respected, people with a predisposition may suffer from toxicity or severe adverse effects, such as intoxication of the kidneys and the consequent organ dysfunction.

There are also studies that indicate that excessive consumption can cause genetic mutations, favoring cancer .

In addition, it is possible that the use of tribulus may cause gynecomastia , which the development of breasts in men.

Encapsulated products can also cause nausea and stomach pain due to surpluses (substances added to the product to give color, texture or consistency) or to the gelatines used in the capsule.

If there are gastric problems, they can be caused by the brand or manufacturer and can be solved by exchanging the industrialized product for tea (natural).

It is possible that the symptoms are due to high dosages or sensitivity to the plant or some specific component of tribulus. Upon noticing any discomfort or symptoms, it is necessary to discontinue the intake.

Contraindications

Patients with hypertension, diabetes or cardiac disorders of any origin are not recommended to consume Tribulus terrestris without medical knowledge.

Pregnant women, nursing mothers and children are advised against use. During pregnancy, the plant can increase the risk of fetal malformation.

Patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia should not ingest without the doctor’s knowledge or express indication.

People who have liver or kidney disease or dysfunction should also always consult a specialist and consume only under medical advice.

In addition, patients with chronic illnesses, on continuous or on-time treatment of any illness or condition should always talk to their doctors before starting to use any substance.

People with oily skin, being treated for acne and with excess hair should pay attention to the use, as there may be an accentuation of the conditions.

Drug interactions

The Terrestris Tribulus can also interfere with the use of continuous or occasional use drugs, increasing or inhibiting the action. Therefore, always talk to your doctor before starting to use the plant.

Some substances capable of acting with the plant are:

  • Corticosteroids : such as dexamethasone and betamethasone ;
  • Estrogens : such as Premarin and Menoprin ;
  • Oral contraceptives : such as Allestra and Ciclo 21 ;
  • Androgênios : Androxon and Durateston ;

Patients who use anti-glycemic drugs, such as glibenclamide , pioglitazone , chlorpropamide and injectable insulin, may suffer from increased drug action.

The use of medications for hypertension can have a marked action, causing an exaggerated reduction in pressure, malaise, dizziness and fainting.

Read more : Check out the  leaflet for Tribulus terrestris.

Price and where to find

The Terrestris Tribulus can be found in pharmacies, supplement stores and health food stores, depending on the presentation of the products.

In pharmacies, tribulus can be found in tablets. Among the medicines that use the plant as an active ingredient are Androsten and Androsten Uno , with 94mg and 208mg and average prices from R $ 74 and R $ 104, respectively.

The dry or dehydrated extract of the plant to prepare the tea can be found in natural products houses, usually in bulk or in 500g packages.

For these presentations, storage should be done in a dry place, without strong odors and protected from the sun, with the packaging tightly closed, so that the herb maintains its properties.

The liquid version, also called ink, is usually also found in health food stores, in 100mL packages and with average prices of R $ 60.

In supplement stores, you can find products with Tribulus terrestris extract in capsule or powder form, with average prices starting at R $ 60.

Common questions

Tribulus terrestris engorda?

The plant is used as a hormonal stimulator, and many people who seek to increase lean mass resort to supplements with tribulus extract. However, the effects related to the increase in testosterone are still uncertain and contradictory.

Therefore, in principle, consumption can have an effect on increasing lean mass, as long as it is associated with strength exercises. There are no reports that the use of tribulus has caused weight gain due to fat.

Can Tribulus terrestris be used by women?

-Yeah . Although there is an indication that the plant raises testosterone, the use of tribulus has not shown a harmful increase in the hormone. In general, studies that point to an increase in testosterone suggest that the hormonal amount is well accepted by the evaluated participants, increasing libido and sexual performance.

In women, the extract is also used to relieve symptoms of menopause and hormonal drop. However, it is noteworthy that there may be an increase in skin oiliness and an increase in the amount of body hair.

Can breastfeeders take tribulus?

No . Women who are breastfeeding should not consume tribulus, as the mother’s diet interferes with the composition of breast milk and can cause damage to the baby’s health and development.

What is the daily dosage of tribulus for bodybuilding?

There is no specific dosage, but the manufacturers suggest that a daily dose between 500mg and 2000mg be ingested, depending on the product concentrations and the objectives of each person. The ideal dosage should be stipulated by a health or nutrition professional.


The use of natural products as supplements has been quite common today. This movement has generated greater interest from industry and researchers in studying and applying natural properties also in supplements.

Although research on Tribulus terrestris is scarce and contradictory , the plant has aroused the interest of people and manufacturers, with possible beneficial results.

To learn more about food and natural supplements, follow the Healthy Minute!

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