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.
However, tribulus terrestris can help you maintain healthy levels of testosterone. Studies have shown that it inhibits the effects of the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase.
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.
- Liver: Test subjects were administered with the liver-damaging toxin cadmium. Damage incurred from the toxin caused significant changes in liver function and severe markers for unhealthy liver health. Dosing the subjects with Tribulus Terrestris extract caused significant reversal of these negative liver health markers.
- Kidney: Male subjects who have acute kidney injury were given 11 milligram per kilogram of bodyweight of the herb’s extract. After 13 days of oral dosage, researchers observed significant improvement in kidney function, and decrease in kidney oxidative stress and cellular damage.
- Testicles: Male animal test subjects showed significant protection from toxins introduced into their testicles. Live sperm counts, sperm motility, hormone levels are at healthier levels due to the herb’s antioxidant protection. This was further researched on a test tube study of cryopreserved human sperm specimen wherein sperm motility and viability improved after T. Terrestris extract was applied. Furthermore, human test subjects with low sperm count have exhibited improved sperm count after 60 days of supplementation.
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.