Bulgarian Tribulus: The Lowdown On What It’s Good For And What It’s Not

Mihai Voinea
Medically reviewed by Mihai Voinea Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) — Research analysis by Alex Eriksson

Bulgarian Tribulus, also known as Tribulus Terrestris, is an herb native to the warm temperate and tropical regions of southern Europe, southern Asia, Africa, and Australia. This herb can grow in poor soil and desert climates.

Due to its hardiness and the low cost of cultivation, companies selling it aggressively marketed it by stating almost every available health benefit in using the herb or its extract. This led to it being immensely popular during the late 90’s to early 00’s.

Unfortunately, the spiels in these advertising campaigns resulted to confusion and misinformation about the herb. This article will set things straight, tackling the most common of these claims so you can decide if the Bulgarian Tribulus is for you.



Bulgarian Tribulus Increases Testosterone Levels

This claim arises from the herb’s significant amounts of protodioscin. This compound has been observed to increase testosterone levels in animal studies. However, this claim does not hold true for humans. Various studies have tested the herb and its active compound, and any markers associated with testosterone levels appear unaffected.

The traditional herbal medicine was tested on elite rugby players and it did not show affect their testosterone/epitestosterone (T/E) ratio. It showed no effect on a study observing its effects on androgen production of young men. Studies observing DHEA concentrations and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels also showed no improvements.

This inhibition is similar to the mechanism of medications for male-patterned baldness, prostate cancer, and benign prostatic hyperplasia does to the body. By preventing the full effects of the enzyme, the body has less testosterone converted to dihydrotestosterone.

With less testosterone converted to DHT, the body has increased levels of free and total testosterone. This indicates that the herb can help those with testosterone deficiency although it has no significant effect on healthy individuals.


Bulgarian Tribulus Can Boost Muscle Growth and Strength

Jeffrey Petermann is an American bodybuilder who won in the 1970 IFBB bodybuilding competition. He credited his success to Tribulus Terrestris, which was said to be comparable to the effects of anabolic steroids at the time. Unfortunately, this claim was found to be false by various studies done in the 90’s and 00’s.

In one study, professional athletes went through a double-blind study during their off-season. They did heavy resistance training for five weeks while being supplemented by either a placebo or 450 milligrams of the herb’s extract. The results between the placebo group and the supplemented groups showed no differences on muscular strength, muscle mass, and body composition.

However, one study done in 2015 shows a potential benefit from the herb for bodybuilding and fitness. Unlike other studies, the researchers measured for other markers in the body. They observed that supplementing with 1250 mg/kg of bodyweight alleviated muscle damage and improved anaerobic performance.

This indicates that Bulgarian Tribulus can indirectly influence muscle growth and strength gains. By preserving lean muscle mass and improving an aerobic performance, you have a greater potential gain in doing high-intenstiy workouts. The combination can potentially compound lean muscle mass gains you experience from the workout.


Bulgarian Tribulus Possesses Antioxidant Properties

The herb is used in the traditional medicine of various cultures. Chinese, Ayurvedic, and Arabic herbalists used it to treat urinary complaints and infections, digestive problems, painful joints, and sexual dysfunctions.

Modern science confirmed the efficacy of some of its applications as an antioxidant. Studies have shown that Bulgarian Tribulus prevent oxidative damage on the kidneys, liver, and testicles.

By using pregnenolone cream or pregnenolone supplements, the levels of the compound in the body increases, and this brings about various benefits such as fatigue relief, and delay of the aging process.

The antioxidant protection given to these organs can be attributed to the plant’s properties as an adaptogen. It contains chemical compounds that prevent the physical and chemical breakdown of cells due to stress (oxidation). Other examples of adaptogens include ginseng, ashwagandha, and holy basil.


Tribulus Terestris Improves Libido

This claim has basis since researchers were able to test it extensively. Studies were able to confirm the claim from animal test subjects up to human test subjects.

In tests done on animals, Tribulus Terrestris supplementation resulted in improved sexual activity in rats that have normal sexual function, sluggish sexual behavior, or castrated reproductive organs. As for human test subjects, individuals that supplemented with the herb exhibited improved sexual drive.

Currently, there is no definite explanation on the herb’s effect on the sexual drive. One explanation is the herb increases the sensitivity of androgen receptors in the brain that trigger sexual desire. Another explanation suggests that the herb’s antioxidant properties reversed oxidant stress and damage that contribute to dysfunction in sexual response.


Bulgarian Tribulus Helps Improve Erectile Dysfunction

Current research suggests that this claim is completely false. This was confirmed on a test of 100 patients that went through 30 days of supplementation. They were given two doses per day of the extract or the placebo. The study observed that those supplementing with Bulgarian Tribulus does not have a significant improvement in erectile function compared to those who have only taken a placebo.

However, it should be noted that those with partial androgen deficiency experienced significant improvement from the erectile dysfunction arising from their condition.

As a testosterone booster, it should not even be considered as one as studies have confirmed its lack of boosting effect. However, you can still benefit from it since it has been proven in some areas. So, if you are looking for a way to boost your sex drive, preserve lean muscle mass, or boost antioxidant protection, Bulgarian Tribulus is worth trying out.


author
Alex Eriksson (Research Analysis)

Alex Eriksson is the founder of Anabolic Health, a men’s health blog dedicated to providing honest and research-backed advice for optimal male hormonal health. Anabolic Health aspires to become a trusted resource where men can come and learn how to fix their hormonal problems naturally, without pharmaceuticals.

author
Mihai Voinea (Editor)

Mihai is a medical doctor and entrepreneur with a burning obsession for performance and health. Mihai is also an IronMan, ultramarathon runner, and co-founder of Marsilian, which owns two e-learning platforms for future medical students and doctors.





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