Commonly known as puncture vines, Tribulus Terrestris is a mediterranean plant, whose leaves, fruit and root are used in various parts of the world as medicine. It has been considered to have medicinal value, by enhancing sexual health, health of the heart, athletic performance and bodybuilding. While there have been no conclusive scientific studies to support any of the claims, TT continues to be used extensively. Certain benefits have been reported among individuals with infertility issues and issues related to sexual health. Here is an evidence based look at Tribulus Terrestris to understand the active ingredients and its effective benefits on various health conditions.
Overview of Tribulus Terrestris
The plant belongs to a family with around 20 species globally. Tribulus Terrestris has been patronized by herbalists throughout the ages. It is presently used as a therapeutic agent by itself, or is found in various food supplements and compound formulations as a primary or secondary component. The highly invasive species that is known as a weed has found its way to other parts of the globe from its native habitat.
Description of Tribulus Terrestris from botanical point of view
Small in size, the shrub grows anywhere between 10 to 60 metres in height. The leaves are in an opposite arrangement, with yellow color flowers and carpel fruits. The fruit are distinct, with five corners, roughly round in shape, and fully covered with tiny princkles. The fruit has oil seeds which are positioned in partitions inside the fruit. Fresh roots are slender and fibrous with offshoots that are light brown in color and small in size. The root of the plant and its fruit is used in herbal medicine. The rootlets are relatively tough and woody in consistency. The roots and fruits have a mild aroma, and are sweet to taste with an astringent flavor.
Common properties of Tribulus Terrestris
Common properties of Tribulus Terrestris include its distinct characteristics that make it an ingredient for use as medicine and in food supplements. For instance, it is sweet in taste, relatively hard to digest, has potent properties, helps in cooling down, in addition to processing pharmacological properties. It is nourishing in nature, is a good aphrodisiac, and has potent pacifier properties. It helps cure issues related to the bladder, in addition to treating urinary stone.
Notable claimed benefits of Tribulus Terrestris
Among the notable claimed benefits of Tribulus Terrestris , has been the claims that TT is effective in treating impotence, kidney stone, hypertension and edema. TT has also been a part of traditional medicine in various cultures and geography throughout of the world. It is regarded as one of the more popular herbal remedies, with more emphasis on its use as an aphrodisiac.
Use of Tribulus Terrestris for protecting the male reproductive system against CP
Among the various tests that have been documented in support of the claims of Tribulus Terrestris, its effect on treating and protecting the male reproductive system against CP toxicity is particularly notable. One of the most common drugs that are used during treatment of cancer is CP (cyclophosphamide). This drug is also popularly known as an immunosuppressant. However by virtue of its mechanism of action, the drug is known to trigger multiple adverse effects, including effects on the reproductive system. Consequently, patients who have undergone treatment that involved cyclophosphamide, end up with lesser fertility or turn infertile. TT is used to treat the effects of CP on the male reproductive system. Studies were conducted on laboratory animals to determine the effect of TT on animals that were injected with CP. The results of the examination, revealed that as a result of the exposure to CP, there was protein carbonylation, enhanced lipid peroxidation and a change in the antioxidant enzymes. In addition to this, the specimens were observed to have reduction in serum testosterone levels, and a decline in the same in quality. In other words, the specimens were observed to have oligospermia and azoospermia as a result of exposure to CP.
Belonging to a family of plants that are commonly known by different names depending on the location, Tribulus Terrestris is grown in various parts of the world. Studies have remained inconclusive about the mechanism of action that it is responsible for the perceived therapeutic uses. Certain studies have demonstrated that the use of TT will have an effect on males during certain stages of andropause. The assumptions have been based on the belief that TT helps to increase the levels of testosterone, impacting androgen metabolism. This has been attributed to protodioscin, which happens to be the primary component of Tribulus Terrestris. Analysis of results of various studies have indicated that isolated protodioscin is responsible for increasing hormone levels. Other studies have also demonstrated that TT helps protect the testicles from damage as a result of exposure to cadmium. This has been attributed to the antioxidant effect of Tribulus Terrestris . Similarly, studies have also demonstrated that the antioxidant effect protects laboratory animals from heart disease.
Effect of Tribulus Terrestris on HSDD ( hypoactive sexual desire disorder)
Subjects of studies that involved the use of TT as a remedy included individuals with a known history of hypoactive sexual desire disorder. Various parameters that form part of the female sexual function index were measured as part of the study and this included sensations such as pain, lubrication, satisfaction, desire, orgasm and arousal. Individuals who were treated with Tribulus Terrestris were recorded to have experienced considerable improvement after a period of one month. This has led researchers to believe that TT is an effective remedy to treat women suffering with hypoactive sexual desire disorder.
The disorder is multifaceted in nature, and is linked to various psychological and biologic conditions. The prevalence rate is relatively common, affecting 10% of women. The description of the disorder in various medical texts and the treatment for boosting sex drive among the infected has typically included the use of TT. As per the principles of traditional medicine, the four different humors, namely yellow bile, black bile, blood and phlegm have an impact on libido. Studies have indicated that Tribulus Terrestris has an impact on follicle stimulating hormone and the luteinizing hormone. Consequently, TT is known to bring about an increase in the follicular size as well as the rate of growth.
Active ingredients that are responsible for mechanism of action
The active ingredients in Tribulus Terrestris includes flavonoids, alkaloids, tannins, saponins and glycosides. Here it is important to note that the composition of saponins in Tribulus Terrestris differs as per the region from where it is sourced. Studies on the bio-activity of saponins have revealed that various components are available in TT. This includes the sulfated saponins, apart from the dominant furastanol glycosides. One of the most important constituent of Tribulus Terrestris is protodioscin. Overall, the composition indicated that more flavonoids were present when compared with saponins. Consequently more and more studies were directed towards gaining a deeper understanding about the flavonoid contents in Tribulus Terrestris. Various studies help isolate different constituents through spectroscopic analysis. Some of the other studies included identification of pharmacognostic constituents.
Common uses of Tribulus Terrestris
Used extensively in traditional medicine and by herbalists, TT has been considered to possess important medicinal value in treating various conditions. For instance, it has been used over the ages as an aphrodisiac, an astringent, as a diuretic, as a palliative, as a stomachic, as a urinary disinfectant, and as a lithotriptic, apart from being used as antihypertensive medication. The fruit has been extensively used for treating disorders that affect the genitourinary tract. It has been used as traditional medicine in Asian countries for treating urinary stones and disorders of the genitourinary tract. Apart from treating impotence, sexual debility and various other venereal diseases, the properties of TT make it an important treatment option for managing edema, morbid leukorrhea, abdominal distension and eye problems. In oriental medicine, it is considered as important for treating conditions that are as diverse as headache, depressed liver, mastitis, vitiligo, conjunctivitis, flatulence and fullness in the chest. In other forms of traditional medicine, it is used as a laxative, and a general tonic apart from being regarded as a good diuretic. Here is a look at some of the properties of Tribulus Terrestris in detail.
As a diuretic
The mechanism of action of Tribulus Terrestris as a diuretic is attributed to the nitrates and essential oil that are present in the fruit in large quantities. Additionally, the high concentration levels of potassium salt in the fruit is also responsible for the diuretic property of Tribulus
Terrestris. Tests have revealed that the concentration levels of sodium and chloride increased apart from the increased tonicity of smooth muscles. As a consequence of this diuretic action, urinary stones were moved along the tract. In addition to this, the diuretic properties of Tribulus Terrestris makes it an important antihypertensive.
As an aphrodisiac
The aphrodisiac property of Tribulus Terrestris has been proven through various studies conducted on laboratory animals. The pro erectile effect of Tribulus Terrestris was determined to the extent of an increase relaxation of 24% in smooth muscle. As a result of this relaxation of the smooth muscle, individuals experienced considerably increased erection. This has been attributed to the release of nitric oxide from nerve endings. Tests were conducted with dried fruit extracts of Tribulus Terrestris . This also demonstrated an increase in in serum testosterone levels. The findings of this study helped reaffirm the fact that TT is potent, with positive effect on management of sexual dysfunction. Other studies that have been conducted included the protection afforded by Tribulus Terrestris in preventing testicular damage as a result of exposure to cadmium. This has been attributed to the inhibition of peroxidation of testicular tissue. The antioxidant properties and the stimulation of the testosterone production are attributed as reasons for this protective property. Different studies have been conducted to understand the effect of Tribulus Terrestris. One of the studies revealed that the proportion of males in specific fish populations greatly increased when TT extract was used. This was attributed to the effect of protodioscin which is known to work by converting testosterone into dehydrotestosterone. As a consequence of this, the production of red cells in the bone marrow increases, apart from enhanced sex drive. The enhanced blood circulation and improved moment of oxygen helps increase improvement of overall health in addition to boosting muscular growth and development.
As an antidiabetic
Tribulus Terrestris is known to considerably reduce the concentration levels of glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides. As a result of this reduction in serum levels, TT is regarded as possessing potent hypoglycemic qualities. The inhibition of gluconeogenesis in laboratory animals was observed during tests. As a result, oxidative stress was inhibited and reduced in the subject animals. Reduction of postprandial blood glucose levels was observed after TT extracts administered. The mechanism of action suggested includes the dilation of the coronary artery and enhanced coronary circulation. This is one of the reasons why TT is recommended for treating diabetes and various cardiac related complications. The studies have revealed that use of TT can help in the management of angina pectoris, treatment of debate, lowering of liquid level, and various other cardiac related complications that are attributed to high blood glucose levels.
As an hypolipidemic
Tribulus Terrestris has also been studied for its hypolipidemic properties. Studies were conducted on laboratory animals with extracts of TT. The results of the studies document that TT facilitated a decrease in hyperlipidemia that is cholesterol induced. Reduction in cholesterol levels, LDL levels, triglycerides and VLDL levels was accompanied by increase in the HDL levels. This makes Tribulus Terrestris effective in managing bad and good cholesterol levels. Hypolipidemic activity is attributed to the phenolic compounds that bring about an increase in the lipoprotein lipase in muscles. Additionally, reduced activity that is observed in the adipose tissues is an indication that triglycerides are used for producing energy. This mechanism of action indicates that energy is not stored in the adipose tissue. The extracts of the shrub help to bring down lipid profile, and mitigate cellular surface damage that is commonly witnessed as a result of hyperlipidemia.
As medication for treating cardiac related issues
Studies have been conducted to determine the efficacy of Tribulus Terrestris in managing cardiac disorders such as myocardial infarction, cerebral thrombosis, and other coronary diseases apart from cerebral arteriosclerosis. TT has been documented to provide protection against as a result of protein kinase activation. Studies reveal that the administration of TT extracts resulted in a considerable reduction of creatine kinase and increased the activity of a SOD. This makes it a favorable choice in greeting mini cardiac related disorders that include hypertension. The antihypertensive properties of TT are attributed to the arterial smooth muscle relaxation that has been observed in laboratory animals in addition to membrane hyperpolarization. Additionally, TT has been proven to protect the heart self in addition to an improvement of heart functions, in the period immediately following a heart attack.
As medication in helping improve central nervous system
There have been studies to understand the anti-depressant property of Tribulus Terrestris. The results have been encouraging and have been attributed to the presence of beta carboline alkaloid that is present in extracts of Tribulus Terrestris. These primary constituents are known to be responsible for inhibiting monamine oxidase, which in turn results in an increase of dopamine levels.
Anti-inflammatory properties of TT
TT has exhibited potent anti-inflammatory properties that is attributed to the inhibition of cox-2. By virtue of suppressing the pro-inflammatory cytokines, TT has anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have revealed that the anti-inflammatory properties are dose-dependent and the effect will depend to a large extent on the dose that is administered.
As an analgesic and antispasmodic
Tribulus Terrestris has also been studied to understand its analgesic properties. Documented results of studies reveal that TT has analgesic effects that are produced either peripherally or centrally. Calibration of the effects of TT as an analgesic have placed it a little higher than aspirin but slightly lesser in terms of effect when compared with morphine. Similarly, studies have revealed that TT has reasonable effects on smooth muscle spasms. As a result of this, dose-dependent administration of TT is proven to have strong antispasmodic properties.
As medication for treating cancer
Tribulus Terrestris has been studied for its anticancer properties. The extracts of the shrub have promising chemopreventive potential. Studies have indicated that administration of TT help in in considerable reducing the burden and incidence of tumor. This has proved that TT possesses chemopreventive properties which make it a good choice for managing cancer. Studies also indicate that extracts of Tribulus Terrestris offered protection from damage by radiation. This was attributed to a reduction of lipoperoxidation levels in liver.
The antibacterial properties of Tribulus Terrestris was studied for its effectiveness. The results of this study show that the fruits and leaves of certain varieties of TT had antibacterial properties that work effectively against certain strains. Some of the varieties are very effective in managing certain strains of bacteria, while other varieties of TT are very effective in treating other strains of bacteria. Overall, studies clearly indicated that TT had antibacterial properties against both gram negative and gram positive bacteria.
Tribulus Terrestris has exhibited potent properties that include anthelmintic, larvicidal, and anticariogenic properties. Across various geographies, TT has been used down the ages, indicating its use as a reliable form of herbal medicine for treating multiple conditions and ailments. As herbal medicine, it is relatively safe with literally lesser interactions or contraindications. Various formulations have been in use and are dose-dependent on the condition and desired outcomes. As a reputed and time tested herb, the weed has been studied for all its phytochemical and pharmacological properties. Despite the fact that there is limited scientific evidence to prove or disprove the properties and effects of TT in managing various conditions, it still continues to be used extensively in traditional medicine.