What is Tribulus Terrestris?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

Tribulus terrestris, also known as puncture vine, is a traditional herbal remedy of China and India. The herb is normally used as a natural alternative to hormone therapy. It has also been used to increase athletic performance.

Tribulus terrestris may be used to treat infertility.
Tribulus terrestris may be used to treat infertility.

The most common ailments treated with the herb are those of a sexual nature. Infertility is the largest condition warranting use of tribulus terrestris. General use of the herb may lead to a heightened state of sexual awareness and increased sexual behavior, making it a known aphrodisiac. Increase in breast size may be another effect from use of the herb.

Men with prostate cancer should not use tribulus terrestria.
Men with prostate cancer should not use tribulus terrestria.

Erectile dysfunction and low libido are thought to be aided by the home herbal remedy. Use of the herb may create prolonged erections as well. Some men take the supplement to increase their sexual stamina and vigor. The remedy may also serve as a diuretic as well as a remedy for side effects associated with male menopause.

Tribulus terrestris may be used to treat erectile dysfunction and low libido in males.
Tribulus terrestris may be used to treat erectile dysfunction and low libido in males.

Levels of testosterone, estrogen, and DHEA may possibly be increased through the use of puncture vine. The active compounds that make tribulus terrestris effective are found within the herb's leaves. These compounds, known as steroidal saponins, exist in two forms, spirostanol glycosides and furostanol glycosides. The herb has been used in mainstream European medical treatments since 1981.

Use of tribulus terrestris may lead to heightened sexual awareness and increased sexual behavior.
Use of tribulus terrestris may lead to heightened sexual awareness and increased sexual behavior.

People with breast cancer, prostate cancer, or other hormonal conditions should refrain from using tribulus terrestris. Nursing or pregnant women should avoid the herb as well. A typical dose of the herb is usually between .003 to .009 ounces (85 to 250 milligrams) daily. The supplement should be taken with a meal.

DHEA is a hormone that is produced naturally in the adrenal glands.
DHEA is a hormone that is produced naturally in the adrenal glands.

No toxic side effects have been identified with tribulus terrestris use. Reported cases of averse effects are very rare and mild. Some takers of the remedy report experiencing upset stomach, usually from having taken the supplement without food.

Taking tribulus terrestris without food may cause upset stomach.
Taking tribulus terrestris without food may cause upset stomach.

In athletic use, tribulus terrestris has been used in North America, Europe, and other areas. During the mid-1990s, Olympic athletes from Eastern Europe admitted to using the herb. Though Bulgarian athletes have used the herb for sports performance for many years, use of the herb has been found to have no bearing on actual sports performance or body composition within clinical trials.

Some of the herb's other names include burra gokharu, cathead, goathead, and caltrop. A weedy species, it is also known as yellow vine. Those who use the herb in India may know it more commonly as bhar-gokharu, hatticharatte, selusaran, or bhaankadi.

Pregnant women should avoid tribulus terrestris.
Pregnant women should avoid tribulus terrestris.
Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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Discussion Comments

Speechie

Tribulus terrestris seems like something I might try if I ever want to have children and I have a difficult time conceiving. Since it is a natural herb, it seems like it would be pretty safe.

I thought in some European cultures women wanted to be as small as possible, so why would they want bigger chests? Maybe some women use it for other purposes and this is just an unwanted side-effect to them.

I used to be really into fitness and health, so I am kind of surprised I haven't heard of this herb, although it is used more frequently in East Europe than in the United States. I wonder if this can be found in most health food stores here.

KaBoom

@indemnifyme - I wouldn't be so quick to judge this herb is I were you. First of all, the article mentioned it's more widely used in India and China. So maybe people in the United States don't really know about tribulus terrestris yet.

Also, don't forget that birth control pills can result in breast enlargement. Birth control pills are hormonal, and it sounds like tribulus terrestris affects hormones also. So it stands to reason that this herb could, in fact, cause breast growth.

indemnifyme

I have a hard time believing that this herb results in increased breast size. So many women are concerned with having larger breasts, I feel like if there was a pill that they could take for that, they would!

Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure the only thing that results in larger breasts is breast implants. And that's a much more difficult process than just taking a pill!

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