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The Truth About Tribulus

Tribulus Terrestris – is one of the most advertised sports supplements to be positioned as a testosterone booster, a substance that increases the level of the main male hormone that plays a critical role for muscle growth. 

The Truth About Tribulus

It is believed that the plant extract of Tribulus enhances the production of luteinizing hormone, which in turn stimulates the natural testosterone production. But does Tribulus really have positive effects and will its intake help grow more muscles?

What Is Tribulus Terrestris?

It is a one-year-old plant that is widespread in China as well as from Eastern to Western Asia and Southern Europe. The fruits of this plant have been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat eye diseases, edema, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular diseases. In India, it was used in Ayurveda to treat impotence, urogenital diseases, and cardiovascular disorders.

The most active substances in the Tribulus are saponins: dioscin, diosgenin, and protodioscin. It also contains substances considered useful for prostate, urinary and cardiovascular work.

Does Tribulus Intake Increase Testosterone?

Most of the Tribulus research was done on rats and primates. In some experiments, Tribulus did demonstrate effectiveness.

As for humans, Tribulus Terrestris of Bulgarian origin has been shown to have no effect on the level of total testosterone and luteinizing hormone when taken by healthy men of 200 mg per day (with a saponin content of 60%). Also after taking 450 of Tribulus by trained men and rugby players for 5 weeks, no significant increase in testosterone levels was seen.

In general, there is single data on the increase of testosterone in rodents, but in experiments involving healthy people this supplement never demonstrated the ability to increase the level of the main male hormone. A slight increase in testosterone levels is possible in infertile men, but the issue has yet to be studied in better-done studies.

Does Tribulus Intake Increase Testosterone?

The same applies to the effect of the Tribulus on the output power indicator. Men who were engaged in force training and for 8 weeks took Tribulus Terrestris at a dose of 3.21 mg/kg body weight (45% saponins), had no increase in output power. Lack of result was also noted in rugby players who took 450 mg Tribulus extract (60% saponins) for 5 weeks.

In general, Tribulus Terrestris is considered an ineffective supplement for increasing testosterone, strength and muscle mass. A scientific review by the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) indicates that taking Tribulus in isolation or in combination with other androgen precursors does not affect body composition or force performance in power-style training men.

The dietary supplements considered in the review were divided into 3 categories depending on the quality and quantity of scientific data:

  1. The first category – supplements with convincing evidence on efficiency and safety.
  2. The second category – supplements with limited or mixed performance data.
  3. The third category – supplements with minimal or no evidence of efficiency and/or safety.

Tribulus Terrestris was placed in the third category in terms of efficiency and safety, which speaks for itself.

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In another review, which was published in 2019 in the “European Journal of Nutrition,” experts identified 4 categories of supplements with different levels of efficiency – from level A (the most effective – creatine, caffeine, and several other additives came here) to level D (complete absence of proven effect).

Tribulus Terrestris was classified as category C, where supplements with weak or insufficient evidence were added – together with glutamine, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), ursolic acid and resveratrol.

What Can the Tribulus Be Useful In?

For men with low sperm counts, intake 6 g of Tribulus root was associated with significant improvement in sexual health. Two months of daily supplement intake (half of the participants had erection problems) significantly improved erection (by 6%) and extended sexual intercourse (by the same 6%).


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Is Tribulus Terrestris Safe?

Presently, the supplement has been studied very poorly, and mainly on animals. So scientists do not yet know exactly whether the intake of Tribulus is safe. Animal studies show high doses of Tribulus can cause heart, liver and kidney damage.

Is Tribulus Terrestris Safe?

At the same time, the recommended doses of Tribulus are not likely to lead to negative consequences. At the same time, some experts in the field of sports medicine advise not to take food supplements which are positioned as testosterone boosters.

My Opinion on Tribulus – Take or Not?

As for taking a supplement to increase testosterone levels, and as a consequence – muscle mass, strength and output power indicators, it appears for healthy men Tribulus will give nothing. And the idea of raising testosterone or other hormone levels in itself, if they are normal, looks a little strange and dangerous.

In any case, I cannot recommend Tribulus to healthy adult men, as you are likely to waste money. It is better to spend the same funds on tested creatine monohydrate.

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Sergii Putsov

Author: Sergii Putsov
Head of Sport Science, PhD

Experience: 20 years
Best ResultsSnatch – 165 kg,
C&J – 200 kg

Sergii Putsov, Ph.D., is a former professional weightlifter and National team member, achieving multiple medals in the 94 kg weight category at national competitions. With a Master’s degree in “Olympic & Professional Sport Training” and a Sport Science Ph.D. from the International Olympic Academy, Greece, Sergii now leads as the Head of Sport Science. He specializes in designing training programs, writing insightful blog articles, providing live commentary at international weightlifting events, and conducting educational seminars worldwide alongside Olympic weightlifting expert Oleksiy Torokhtiy.

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