Tribulus terrestris is a fruit-producing Mediterranean plant that's covered with spines. It is also called puncture vine.
People use the fruit, leaf, or root of the tribulus plant as medicine. Some formulations also include other ingredients.
Why do people take tribulus?
Over the years, people have taken tribulus in an attempt to enhance athletic performance, body building, and for a wide range of health issues that may include heart and circulatory conditions and sexual issues.
But does it work? Limited studies suggest it might be helpful in lessening symptoms of angina and in enhancing athletic performance. There have also been some studies that show some benefit to people with certain sexual problems and to those suffering from infertility. More research is needed.
Evidence is lacking that shows benefits of tribulus for other health conditions.
With a lack of research to draw on, it's not clear what a safe dosage is. Also, quality and active ingredients in supplements may vary widely from maker to maker. This makes it difficult to set a standard dose.
Can you get tribulus naturally from foods?
Yes. The spine-covered fruit should be eaten with caution.
What are the risks of taking tribulus?
Side effects. Taking tribulus as a supplement for a short time is probably safe, provided that you're healthy and you are not pregnant or breastfeeding. Side effects can include trouble sleeping, an upset stomach, and irregular periods.
Also, men should be aware that there are some concerns about changes to male hormones that may affect men with prostate cancer.
Interactions. Tribulus may interact with some medicines used to treat diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as some used to prevent blood clots.
Be sure to tell your doctor about any you're taking, even if they're natural. That way, your doctor can check on any potential side effects or interactions with medications, foods, or other herbs and supplements. They can let you know if the supplement may be risky for you.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does regulate dietary supplements; however, it treats them like foods rather than medications. Unlike drug manufacturers, the makers of supplements don’t have to show their products are safe or effective before selling them on the market.