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 and for a wide range of health issues that may include heart and circulatory conditions and sexual issues.
But does it work? Limited studies show 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.
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. However, one standardized extract is used at a dose of 85-250 milligrams daily.
Can you get tribulus naturally from foods?
No. In fact it is unsafe to eat the spine-covered fruit. There have been reports showing that eating it may cause collapsed lungs.
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 and irregular periods.
Risks. Lab tests on animals link tribulus to problems in fetal development. So stay away from tribulus if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Also, men should be aware that there are some concerns about possible links between tribulus and prostate problems.
Interactions. There don't appear to be any interactions between tribulus and foods or other herbs and supplements.
But tribulus may interact with certain medications. It may increase the effect of certain heart and blood pressure medicines, such as:
Calcium channel blockers
If you are taking diabetes medications, tribulus might decrease your blood sugars to dangerously low levels. It may also increase the effect that steroids have on your body.
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. He or she 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.
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