Tribulus Terrestris Review Does It Raise Testosterone or Make Muscles Stronger?

I like to surf  around at various health and fitness websites because it not only lets me help answer peoples questions but it also allows me get an idea of what people are curious about.  Over the last several months I’ve been noticing  online chatter about Tribulus terrestris as a testosterone booster.  I was a little surprised because tribulus terrestris was big in the early 1900′s and then fell out of favor when people realized it didn’t work.  But maybe things have changed since I last reviewed the research so let me now take a fresh look at the tribulus terrestris research and see if there is anything new going on.

Notice the amounts of tribulus used in the studies below. I’m telling you the amounts so you can compare it to what is in your tribulus supplement.  After reading this, you may want to check out what happened when I took tribulus for a few weeks.

What is tribulus?

Tribulus or tribulus terrestris (also called puncture vine), is a plant that is found throughout the world.  The term puncture vine stems from rumors that the plant’s thorns are able to puncture bicycle tires. Tribulus, likewise, is Latin for “to tear”, another reference to the plants ability to do damage.

Tribulus trivia: Tribulus also refers to a medieval weapon called a caltrop that was thrown on the grown during warfare to stop enemy horses from advancing. The caltrop was the forerunner of tire spikes, used by law enforcement agencies around the world to puncture car tires.

Does tribulus raise testosterone?

The theory behind tribulus is that it’s supposed to elevate luteinizing hormone, which in turn sends instructions to the testes causing them to make testosterone. More testosterone might mean more muscle growth if combined with proper exercise like weight lifting. In theory it all sounds plausible. Fortunately, there is published research on tribulus so let’s take a look at it.

One randomized, placebo controlled tribulus study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2007 tested tribulus in 24 elite rugby players. The players were split into 2 groups. One group got a placebo while the other received 450 mg of tribulus terrestris. All subjects performed the same weight lifting exercise program and the study lasted 5 weeks.

After the study, the researchers found that tribulus did not improve strength or muscle mass or decrease body fat any better than those who did not get tribulus. In addition, tribulus did not cause any change in the testosterone to estrogen ratio (T/E ratio). In other words, tribulus did not raise testosterone either.

In an earlier tribulus study published in 2001, researchers gave either tribulus or a placebo to 15 healthy weight lifters (18 – 35 years of age).  This study was published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. The amount of tribulus used in this study was 3.21 mg per kilogram of body weight.

Translation: A kilogram is 2.2 pounds. So, for example, if you weighted 180 pounds, this equals 82 kilograms. Based on this study, an 82 kg person would get 82 x 3.21 mg = 263 mg of tribulus terrestris.

All subjects performed a periodized weight lifting program (split routine) 3 days per week that worked all major muscle groups. At the end of this study tribulus did not cause any significant changes in body weight and it did not reduce body fat.  Both groups – placebo group and tribulus group – improved strength and endurance.

Ironically, those who got  the placebo experienced a greater amount of muscle endurance in the bench press and leg press than did those who received tribulus. Those getting tribulus did improved muscle endurance on the leg press only -  but it was less than those who got the placebo. This study did not measure testosterone levels.

In a study published in 2000 in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 20 young men were given a supplement (called “Andro 6″)  that contained a variety of ingredients including 750 mg of tribulus. Subjects either received Andro 6 or a placebo. All subjects then lifted weights 3 days per week for 8 weeks.  The Andro 6 supplement did not raise testosterone levels or make people stronger.

Androstenedione however was elevated after Andro 6 supplementation.  This study did not specifically say that tribulus didn’t work. Rather, it found that the supplement Andro 6 didn’t work. Andro 6 contained several ingredients (Saw palmetto, DHEA, androsteinedione etc.) in addition to tribulus. In theory it could be possible that the other ingredients in Andro 6 suppressed tribulus but that is pure speculation.

Tribulus side effects

Tribulus terrestris doesn’t appear to have been studied very much in humans about what its side effects might be. Some lab rat research hints that it may increase the size of the prostate. This may be a problem for men who have prostate issues like BPH. This effect has not been proven in humans as far as I know. Other research -  again from lab rats  – hints that tribulus may lower blood sugar. In theory, this may be a problem for diabetics.

One case study also noted that a weight lifter developed gynecomastia (male breasts) after taking a tribulus supplement. It’s hard to say how likely this is given that the prevalence of gynecomastia among weight lifters who use tribulus is unknown.

11/7/11. Update.  I conducted an experiment with tribulus on myself to see if it worked. There was an effect – but it was not what I was expecting.

 

Tribulus and sex

Given the rep that Tribulus has for raising testosterone, it’s natural that this herb would be used in male enhancement supplements as well. I searched the National Library of Medicine for

  • Tribulus erection
  • Tribulus sex

I highlight the following studies as an example the types of research that is currently published.

In a 2013 study titled , Effects and Mechanism of Action of a Tribulus terrestris Extract on Penile Erection, tribulus helped improve erections in rabbits (8 rabbits were used) both when the rabbits where given tribulus orally, as a supplement, as well as when isolated cells were incubated in tribulus solution.

In a 2012 study titled Evaluation of the aphrodisiac activity of Tribulus terrestris Linn. in sexually sluggish male albino rats, Tribulus improved sexual activity in lab “sexually sluggish” lab rats.

Other similar studies are also available, but since they don’t involve people, I won’t mention them.

What I did not see were any studies on humans. Given the general thinking online that tribulus helps erections, why isn’t there any human studies showing it works or doesn’t work?

Given the lack of human research, I don’t think anyone can say if tribulus helps erections or not.

 

Tribulus side effects

I think in most healthy people tribulus is probably safe. That said, I personally noticed a strange side effect when I took tribulus for a few weeks so see my experiment with tribulus for more info.

In a case report from 2004 a male bodybuilder was treated for gynaecomastia (male breast enlargement) after taking an herbal supplement containing tribulus. There is also some speculation that tribulus might raise blood sugar levels. This may be an issue for diabetics who use tribulus supplements.

Does tribulus work?

As I first told people in my book Nutritional Supplements: What Works and Why, I personally don’t feel that bodybuilders or strength trainers need tribulus. I made that statement based on the peer reviewed evidence and this revisiting of the tribulus research reinforces my opinion.

In all fairness, I must say however that the tribulus terrestris research  conducted so far is, for the most part, less than spectacular. Most studies either don’t last long enough or use far too few people for my tastes.  I would love to see a tribulus study that is at least 6 months long and had 100 or more people (who are familiar with strength training) and who receive amounts of tribulus greater than has been used in studies to date. To my knowledge this tribulus study has not been published.

Another reputed testosterone booster supplement is Pink Magic which has Massularia acuminata so see my review of that for more information.

Also, most the research about tribulus raising testosterone is based not on people but on lab rat studies.  While lack of evidence doesn’t necessarily mean something doesn’t work, based on what I see, I just dont think tribulus ready for Prime Time. There are many Tribulus products sold, but as of right now, none stand out to me as being superior to the rest. For those who are interested and want to compare prices, here is a Tribulus supplement on Amazon that has several high ratings.

What do you think?

Comments

  1. colin says

    Hi,

    After trials between clients at a gym i worked at i found that testosterone levels were best affected/increased when the tribulus dose was split up to be taken every 8 hours or as close to this split as possible.

    The reason I think this is that the tribulus sends the hormone to the testes to produce testosterone only for a a short amount of time so maintain this hormone is secreted you need to maintain optimum levels of tribulus in the body.

    Taking 300mg tribulus every 8 hours I found a significant strength increase and lifted ome of my personal best, increased stamina, libido and even sperm production. My testicles were increased in size and my girlfriend commented on their size increase, weight and the amount of what they produced after climax.

    Anyone wanting to use this supplement to gain weight needs to do the 3 doses a day split as evenly as possible, also to increase stress hormone in the body they need to do at least 1 or 2 ‘all over’ workouts a week. The point of this is that your body grows on after training according to stress caused during training and the bodies need to build to cope with that same stress in the future.

    If you do a simple chest and triceps workout you may do 3 sets of 10 at 100kg (we’ll keep figures simple) this would be done flat, inc, dec. Then 3 x 10 50kg inc dumbell press, 3 x 10 x 50kg skull crushers followed by 3 x 10 x 50kg close grip chest press. total exertion…… you have moved 6.5 tonnes of weight during the workout which is good by anyone’s measure but by including shoulders, legs, stomach, back and biceps even if only doing half the amount per area would still be 19.5 tonnes of weight moved throughout the workout, increasing the stress hormone massively thus increasing muscle production.

    Hope this helps any gentleman out there struggling to gain that extra stone naturally.

    • Joe says

      colin, thanks for writing. quick question. did you actually get your testosterone levels (and sperm count) tested before starting tribulus and after a month or so of use? You said it increased these things. Im just looking for some corroboration on a blood test. Most men wont get a sperm count I’m sure but testosterone is what I’m really interested in. Did you?

  2. Dave says

    Joe,

    I am 39 and I have taken the vitamin shoppe brand. Each capsule is 625mg. I took it twice a day. My experience was awesome. I felt like I could pick up a car and toss it. About an hour after taking, and in the gym, I would feel a surge of strength. In the bedroom I felt like a gladiator. My wife commented on the strength and stamina. Like others, testicle size and girth (mostly due to veins and blood flow) increased. I have been off it for six months and have had my testosterone check, and it was normal, but low. So that may be why I saw the surge. My doc gave me a test injection, and it helped, but nowhere near the trib.

    So I’m guessing those studies did not test high enough doses? Also I have read that the amount of saponins matters?

    Just thought I’d share my experience.

  3. gaj says

    I am 24 and have been experiencing major fatique. I have a lot of belly fat and low muscle mass. I have problems sleeping and experience depression. My internist tested my Testosterone and it came back 81! He sent me to an endocrinologist and at that test it came back 250. She said to come back in 3 months and get retested. Her normal range was 175-781 so she didn’t seem concerned but I am only 24 and I don’t think it should at the low end of the normal range!!!! Do you think tribulus could help me?

    • Joe says

      Gaj, I still dont believe that tribulus raises testosterone. Nobody has shown me proof it does this. That said Id go to another endocrinologist and get it tested again.
      having a high percent of fat can reduce testosterone but id still get it tested by another doctor just to be sure.

  4. Robert says

    Joe – I came across this today in among some notes I had taken maybe six or seven years ago, a reference to tribulus terrestris. It’s from an abstract, I’m not sure how to get the full article, maybe you can figure that out.

    The abstract is at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10849504. It suggests two interesting things 1) that the action of tribulus is due to eventual production of DHEA via an intermediary active substance, “Protodioscin”, and 2) that it seems likely that presence of Protodioscin varies considerably depending on where the tribulus is grown. That second point might help explain the widely varying results that are reported by people using tribulus.

    The study is old (published in 2000), but perhaps the full article may yield some useful information, if you can get it.

    • Joe says

      Robert thanks for the abstract. The wording of the abstract caught my attention especially where the author said traditional herbs were a “revolutionary breakthrough.” I would not call them that. The abstract you mentioned appears to be a review of research rather than original research. I looked but couldn’t find the full text of the article either.

      I’ve written a post about erection supplements where a good amount of them were found to contain viagra etc.

  5. dream says

    Tribulus is effective for people who don’t produce the optimal amount of testerone, if you levels are normal its a waste of money. There is no question it works and works well though.

    • Joe says

      Dream, I still have not met anybody who had their testosterone levels measured before tribulus and after tribulus to prove to me that it actually changed them. I’m still awaiting to see the blood tests.

  6. Greg says

    Hello, Joe. Thanks for a great website! Here is some interesting info for you regarding blood test reference ranges that I learned from my endocrinologist today. The reference ranges printed on blood lab reports do not represent “normal” or “healthy” values, but are only an average of the last so many readings obtained by that blood lab.

    That explains why the reference ranges printed on lab reports differ from one lab company to another (ie – Quest vs Lab Corp).

    My doctor explained that routine blood tests (ie – CBC’s) are reasonably accurate because they are drawn on a wide variety of people, healthy and unhealthy alike.

    But testosterone tests are almost always only done on men with symptoms of low testosterone. So the reference ranges for testosterone printed on lab reports are calculated almost entirely from individuals with low testosterone!

    That’s why a “normal” testosterone reading of 350ng/dl can still produce symptoms of low testosterone. My doctor said most doctors don’t know this and she only learned it herself just recently at a conference.

    Doc says healthy test levels are 600-1000ng/dl, in spite of what the reference range on your lab report may say. Listen to your body and don’t get too caught up in the number.

    • says

      Greg’s numbers are backed by a study that was republished by LEF a few months ago on healthy testosterone levels.

      I do not consider bodybuilders normal people, but the equivalent of human lab rats who lead the charge and help regular Joe’s determine usage, their inputs have helped me in big ways. The LEF study reprint summarized how somewhere near a 1000 people over years determined a 530ng testosterone trough to reduce stroke and heart attack by 30%, a significant value. Most peak with just shy of a 2x trough factor, so the 1000ng is accurate if peak. A 1000ng trough would equal about a 1800-2000ng peak, which seems a bit much to me. I target the numbers Greg posted with the 600ng a target trough and 1000-1200ng a target peak, putting me in the upper 1/3 of 25 year old males total T (TT) levels.

      Also, the T peaks are not so much my concern, but controlling E2 (estradiol), which is the bitch hormone and is bad to both men and women if not leveled. When pushing total testosterone (TT) levels you increase Aromatase and then E2 increases and problems happen. E2 needs to be in the 20-30ng range and close to your SHBG. E2 is by far the single most challenging hormone to level in the male body, for me.

      MY EXPERIENCE WITH TRIBULUS: I was using Tribuplex 750. Keep in mind I am hypogonadal from hemochromatosis an iron overload condition that bounced my balls and messed my pituitary function, etc., and is problematic. Without any T supplement my TT will bottom out at around 150-180ng/dl. I ramped off injecting T cypionate to experiment with trib. I was able to raise TT minimally from 150-180 to about 250ng, no where near enough to get in the safe zone of 530-600 minimum to avoid stroke (which I have already had one that caused 50% paralysis for 1.5 hours, fully restored by the grace of God, praise Jesus) and potential heart attack.

      When I ramped up and I was hammering I think 3-4 capsules a day of Tribuplex 750, can’t specifically recall, I set off a tachycardia bout and my heart rate climbed to 180+. I have afib and it caused a trip to the ER. A bag of magnesium later and the rate normalized. I suspect the more than advised dosing of trib set off an epinephrine spike and my heart responded. I have no doubt trib affects vascular flow.

      What I will confirm is that my balls were juiced. I am a multi-cummer (not uncommon to bust 3 nuts an hour) and can bust nuts with rocky the squirrel any day, and I am over 40 years old. Arousal response from visual before she got to my goods was like a teenager when on trib. More aggressive sex, caveman style. Semen output seemed to be 1-1.5 ounces, which always seems to be cool when they cant take it all! What I also noticed is that the second nut, which usually has a substantial drop off in semen output volume, while still less than the first orgasm semen output, had produced noticeably more semen output on the second nut.

      I suspect at the end of the day is that tribulus is good for LH and FSH stimulation, but has minor impact on total T (TT) and bio available T (BAT) values as PREDICATED ON THE AMOUNT OF TESTOSTERONE PRECURSOR you have in your body.

      Joe – while you encourage TT and BAT level testing I think you should also look at LH, FSH and E2 values as associated with tribulus usage. Most supps like trib have a use of some sort, sometimes not what we are looking for as in the case those who seek TT and BAT increase.

      ..but don’t throw the baby batter out with the TT. < comic relief for those who care!

      If what I suspect is true with regards to trib and its effect on LH and FSH, then having the legid cells on your balls flush and juicy and not atrophying away due to external T cypionate supplementation, which shuts off LH and FSH, may be a good thing.

      I also suspect that this conversation of TT and BAT increase needs to migrate to pine pollen cistanche, nettle root, etc's. I am tired of chasing E2 levels I check E2 weekly and keeping 20-30 is impossible. I am hypersensitive to adex and quality zinc has not leveled it and I guess I can try DIM again in a different form, but I am just tired of being disappointed from lab results.

      My thoughts are to find the TT BAT that levels up and holds in more of a square wave than peak and trough spikes. Theoretically it should stifle E2 from being an issue. I am currently engaged in proving my method to arrest gout and CPPD, which after 3 weeks of weekly testing remains positive and optimistic. However, addressing this issue of naturally increasing TT without injections and keep good healthy levels of E2 and SHBG is on my 2014 radar.

      If the square wave theory holds true, then I suspect that taking a mean between trough 600 and peak 1000-1200 or a flat lined, square wave average of 800-900ng/dl sustained with no peaks or troughs, contingent on E2 and SHBG levels normalizes and locked, would be a good initial target with adjusts and tweaks as labs return.

      I want off all drugs that require a script as should everyone reading this post. If I can go shake a tree and get pine pollen that gets me there or part of the way then happy trails here I come.

  7. Greg says

    Joe, I know you are waiting for before-and-after lab results to verify whether tribulus increases testosterone levels, and I’m going to give them to you. My testosterone levels were 345 and I had all the symptoms – muscle loss, slow workout recovery, fatigue, low libido. I am starting tribulus today and getting a follow-up blood test in 8 weeks. I’ll be sure to let you know what kind and how much tribulus I use, and what the new levels are when I get them.

  8. Sean says

    Joe after this being up almost a year i am wondering what you have to say about tribulus. Im a 22 years old 6’1 and 159 pounds sorry my measurements are in American I have recently gone through a period of wasting going from 175 to my current in one month. i am looking for a way to get back my muscle. I don’t have much time to work out and have started taking tribulus.

    • Joe says

      Sean, I think tribulus is a waste of money. Im totally unimpressed with the study results. people say it works for them but it didnt in me (aside from making my heart race). Get your testosterone levels checked now. try it for a month and recheck. Ill bet your testosterone levels don’t change. if they do, please let me know though as I do try to keep an open mind. But since you asked me, I say save your money on tribulus.

  9. danny says

    Hey, Joe! Can you please give a feed back on Core cutter also know Maximizes LX mixing it with Muscle Factor X ?
    It suppose increased your strength, boots energy build muscle and give u a few inches in your penis , I guess. Overall is a dietary supplement. Please email me after you look at this stuff. If you Google search the names you will see them. I only took the factor x so far I started yesterday before work out only one pill. Im nit to sure about the core cutter one .
    Thanks

    • Joe says

      Danny considering all you said it would do, thats usually a sign that its not worth your money. I tried look for its website but mostly just found bogus sites for it. I did finally manage to find a review that told me its ingredients which are :
      zinc, Chrysin and tribulus , nettle Muira Puama, maca root and ginger

      I still believe tribulus is a total bunch of baloney. Some of these other ingredients Ive also covered in other products (put them in the search box to see). My thoughts based on what Ive seen are save your money.

  10. Kris Girrell says

    Hi Joe
    Just purchased some Tribulus (900mg) and setting out on testing it myself. I am 63 and have always had a strong libido but over the last two years it has dropped significantly. I am still active athletically competing on the national level in Taekwondo and work out (aerobic and weight training) 5xwk plus my TKD sessions. I am a psychologist and have studied my body for quite some time and do not take meds (only using herbs and tonics). I will monitor my sex drive and report in from the field.

  11. Justin says

    Hey, I’m 15, 165lbs 6’0 and have started taking Bulgarian Tribulus. Been taking it for about 2 weeks now. Have noticed a lot more energy and muscle growth. Will keep you guys updated.

    • Joe says

      Justin, keep in mind that at 15, your testosterone levels are probably very high (see if you can get them tested to make sure). One of the things testosterone does is stop bones from growing. So, if tribulus really did raise T levels, would it stunt your growth? I don’t think it will because I don’t think tribulus raises testosterone levels. I just wanted to mention this to you to give you something to think about if you are trying to artificially raise you testosterone levels.

    • Joe says

      Justin, in theory that might happen but Ive never heard of this happening. I dont think tribulus works though so I dont think it would stunt your growth. Just eat normally Justin and I think you will be ok. You are only going to be getting stronger over the next 10 years or so anyway.

  12. Enigma says

    I am doing all this backwards….made a large purchase and am just now doing the research ..I really do hope this works, I’m no doctor, and far from a body builder , but I do lift 3/4 times a week…26 going on 27 and these past few months have been hard on me…sleeping bad…feeling tired, workouts are becoming harder, I feel old…I haven’t lifted Mich since high school until about 2 years ago…solid one year hard…

    I have taken different types of creatine n preworkouts, some days ill just lift with a cup of coffee…any who I have a few weeks to wait on this product but I can say this…I don’t think my body will allow me to get stronger …the past few months have been at a stand still…no increase in weight….once I receive I can let u know how it goes

  13. Greg says

    Here is the long awaited update. I took I-Force brand Tribulus, 800mg 3x/day (total 2400mg/day) which is a very high dose, for 6 weeks straight. I felt ZERO improvement in my symptoms so didn’t even bother getting a follow-up blood test.

    I tried HCG injections on the advice of my endocrinologist which gave me a temporary improvement in my symptoms but then regressed after a week or so. All told, after 6 weeks of Tribulus and about 3 weeks of daily HCG injections, my T levels went from 345 to 117!! UGH!!

    I also did some research and the only Tribulus study that showed positive results was done in 1982 by Sopharma which is a Bulgarian manufacturer of Tribulus who used the study results to secure US patents – so there’s a huge conflict of interest.

    Bottom line: one more nail in the Tribulus coffin.

  14. Alex says

    Hi Joe,

    I’m a 53 year old male, 6 ’1, 180 lbs. I have worked out regularly my whole life. A couple of years ago I noticed that I did not wake up “hard” in the morning and noticed my libido was down. I started taking Tribulus, I prefer TribuPlex 750 by MRM. While I do not notice any significant changes in strength, I did notice that the days I took it I would wake up hard again! I take 2 x 750 mg per day. No side effects.

  15. Alex says

    Thanks Joe. Do you recommend any other supplements that increase testosterone in men that are natural and not steroids.

    • Joe says

      Hi Alex, right now Im pretty skeptical of all T booster supplements. here’s why:

      not a single product Ive seen has ever shown me any proof the product actually raises T levels in humans.

      I say if your going to try a product get your T levels measured first. Try a product and then test them again. If you find one that does this let me know.

  16. pa zimm says

    The research done on healthy males probably cause bad results, since healthy males endocrine system would produce testosterone at a set level for each individual. The tribulus is a precursor for testosterone. So men with a normal endocrine system would have a difficult time raising their T levels. I would like to see a study that uses older men (>40) and with documented low testosterone. If this product is legit, it should increase their T levels.

    • Joe says

      Pa zimm, I dont think tribulus is a precursor to testosterone because a precursor would mean that tribulus is involved in the metabolic testosterone production process. I think its mostly touted as something that “kick starts” (for lack of a better phrase) testosterone production. I’d agree with you that I’d also like to see a study on men with low T levels getting tribulus.

      • Frank says

        I have low t and am balking @ TRT so I may be trying an n=1 experiment using tribulus. I would prefer to use something like Clomid but cant find a doc to work with me.

  17. Nessa says

    HI
    I’m a woman 31 y.o, my personal just recommended Tribulus to help with my performance at the gym. After reading the warnings on the Tribulus bottle about birth defects I wonder if it would have any problems in case I wanna have babies in future … or if it would have any other serious effect in women
    I didnt find much about side effects for women

  18. Roman says

    Hey Joe

    Im an 18 year old and ive been looking into getting a testosterone booster for a while now. I know many young kids like me wanna get it and many older people think its completely redundant seeing as our T levels and Libido should be at their peaks right now..

    But honestly, I am not the case. I was a very late bloomer, always the smallest kid out of all my peers all the way from elementary to about 11th grade when I hit my growth spurt, and I was never a “horny teenager”. I weighed 122 pounds at 6ft tall only a few months ago before i got fed up with looking like a skeleton and started lifting weights.
    My libido is extremely low and sometimes I honestly don’t even feel like a man. I know it sounds terrible, but I’m just being honest.

    I had my T levels tested not too long ago but haven’t got my results back.
    Quite frankly I don’t care if they come back average, because I know i don’t feel average. You seem like the type of guy who has done his research and knows a lot about this kind of stuff, and the fact that you reply to the majority of the comments on this review tells me you re also in it to help people out. I don’t want to take a supplement which will sabotage the testosterone my body is already producing.

    If you could recommend supplements i could start taking to change my situation around, that would be very much appreciated. Sorry for the long post. Thanks again

    • Joe says

      Hi Roman, here is what I think you should do. Call your doctor and find out what your testosterone levels are. better yet, make an appointment and see the doctor and find out. that way you can tell him/her what you just told me. It may be that you are low and maybe need some medication -or maybe not. I do know that testosterone levels do rise as a result of exercise and they stay elevated for a period of time afterward. I really cant recommend any testosterone boosters because honestly I don’t think any of them will work. All of the products Ive looked at so far are very similar in the ingredients they contain and none of them have shown me any good proof they help raise testosterone in humans.

      I really think talking to your doctor about this is be the best thing to do. Remember, its not just about testosterone levels either so it could be more tests are needed to figure out if anything is indeed out of order with what we’d expect in someone who is 18.

      Don’t feel bad or funny because you are not a “horny teenager” either. Not every 18 year old has to feel that way. Sometimes it seems that way because people brag because they feel they are expected to act in a certain way. Please follow up with your doctor. I do feel at the very least, this will help ease the anxiety you are feeling over this – and it may even give you some of the answers you are seeking.

  19. Roman says

    Thanks Joe, I will do that forsure. Ill let you know what the doctor thinks the right thing to do is in case you get asked a similar question in the future

  20. george e. says

    I think tribulus works. I got it and after a week or so I noticed an increase in libido (as measured by morning errections) and also an increase in agression. I am in my late 30s and I had measured testotestorone before taking it but not after it. Anyway, I think if you are in your 20s you will not notice any difference, because your t levels should be high.
    In addition you should not be taking for more than 1 month because then the body increases the FSH hormone or something like that. I had seen a study about this.

    • Joe says

      George, I’m happy for you but I’m older than you are and I saw no difference at all. it was a total waste of money.

  21. K. Five says

    Hey Joe,

    Thanks for the site and all of your work.

    Another n=1 experiment here.

    A few years back I tried it in my late thirties. The response was so ridiculously profound, I was worried that the manufacturer had doped it. The strength gains were concerning. The sexual results were unusual as well. Life at night was normally fine anyway. But, on this stuff just the thought of my wife at inopportune times caused borderline priapism. I was so concerned that I stopped it, thinking that anything this reactive couldn’t be normal. Unfortunately, I didn’t really pursue the issue because I was doing fine in the gym and at home without it. I had purchased it just as another gym supplement and the demands of entering med school and running a business demanded my attention shortly thereafter. Wish I had kept the bottle, now. Having tried Viagra recreationally a couple of times, I can say that the Trib was identical in effect.

    I didn’t have T levels measured before or since. And honestly, I don’t care what the values are or were. I’m a former investigator and will graduate as an MD in a couple of months, I find it impossible to place faith in any study based on my past experiences as well as current involvement in several research programs at the moment.

    There are far too many variables to trust any study that I haven’t personally been involved with. And there are too many dishonest/arrogant PhDs/MDs/Researchers with too much to lose or with too large of an axe to grind for me to trust any of them. This doesn’t begin to address the problems with equipment calibration, measurement standards, etc. Sounds terrible, I know. I take the info, but I don’t hold it as gospel.

    As I observe regularly in a pain management practice, what works well for patient A does nothing for patient B. So, I’m not surprised at all to see such a disparity of results here. That in no way means Trib is a waste of money for everyone (assuming the Trib product isn’t adulterated). Interest in T levels is fine. But, if Trib works via an unknown mechanism and we toss it out because of an unchanged T level, we’ve lost an option that still worked for some.

    In medicine, 10 docs will give 10 opinions with 10 different studies to back each opinion. I’ve lived this for several years now in my training. Its exasperating for us and maddening for the patients. For this reason many of the docs I’m close to will never go to another doc for anything less than an emergency.

    In short if it works for one guy, it works for that one guy. This doesn’t help anyone else. But, the happy patient doesn’t give a rip. Every patient is an entirely new reality because each patient is a unique genetic protein machine. I’ve seen too many patients told that Evidence Based Medicine proves their complaint isn’t legitimate…that they are crazy and need to see a shrink, only to have them leave our office pain free for the first time in years.

    I tried Trib and it appeared to work well. This means nothing for the next guy. If I had tried it and it appeared to not work, again it would mean nothing for the next guy. The next guy is a blank slate.

    Looking back, if I had needed the effects that Trib gave me back then, I couldn’t care less what the lab values said, nor what any studies show (aside from patently obvious “30 people took it 30 people died” results). The only thing pertinent is if it worked for me or not. Barring data collection for future investigation, how it worked is purely academic. I’ve found 50% of patients in my encounters had great results with Melatonin for sleep, and 50% tell me its useless crap. Both groups are correct. To muddy the water further…at a dinner sponsored by Lunesta a physician friend of mine was also told Melatonin was crap. Of course he laughed because he knew the reality. Its as bad as Hollywood portrays it.

    I don’t mean to sound antagonistic. But, for an honest answer, does Trib work? Yes!…if it works for you…and….No!…if it doesn’t work for you.

    Or, deeper down the rabbit hole…did it work because it was doped, or because a rabbit peed on that plant before harvesting? Or, did it not work because there wasn’t any Trib in the capsules?…or the Trib was grown during a bad season or was processed poorly, or because a rabbit peed on the plant before harvesting???

    Our culture craves solid info that we can count on. We don’t want uncertainty. Even so, the more you peel the onion of medicine looking for something solid to hold on to the more nervous you become…if you’re paying attention.

    I’m older now. And I’m going to buy another bottle. Who knows…it may/may not work. I’ll report back with the anecdotal results. Take care.

    • Joe says

      K.Five, for what its worth I’m glad you say it worked for you and I hope it keeps working. I still have my doubts about tribulus but Im always open to the possibility that I am wrong or maybe there is an unknown mechanism afoot. I continue to keep my eyes open for new research so time will tell.

  22. K. Five says

    Thanks, Joe.

    Yeah, the unknown mechanism is the thing for me. I’m wondering if the unknown ‘mechanism’ in my case was adulteration. I started another bottle yesterday. So, far nothing noticeable. I don’t recall what the time frame for efficacy was back then. So, I’ll just play along and let you know how it goes.

    It’s frustrating to know that there are so many unknown variables (weather, soil, drunk plant pickers, etc.) that we will never truly get a grasp on most non-synthetic goods. Even in synthetics, the variation between Brand drugs and between the different generics is astounding.

    I recently heard a talk by a pharmacist on one of my rounds that described how the differences between generics is pronounced. Yet, most docs are dismissive when patients swear that generic A is better/worse than generic B. I guess we don’t know what we don’t know:)

    Take care.

  23. Greg says

    I’m a 40 year old man who just started noticing some T related issues, libido down, less emotional stability, longer recovery time from hard workout, metabolism slowing down as measured at waistline. I tried a supplement that uses 500 mg of Tribulus and it took longer than 2 weeks but after that I definitely noticed the effect. So did my wife.

      • Greg says

        This is what I took:

        http://www.vitaminshoppe.com/store/en/browse/sku_detail.jsp?id=VS-2249#.UUSBAtEVsgE

        It has other ingredients so I’m can’t say for sure the Tribulus was responsible for the effects I saw, but I noticed the effects starting in the third week. This also coincides with some other lifestyle changes, like trying to eliminate factory farmed meat from my diet, switching to natural diet free range meat and a lot of organic locally farmed veggies to eliminate pesticides and chemicals, so there are some overlapping factors that I can’t account for in here.

        Effect 1, and most unmistakably linked to the product, was libido. I was back to wanting my wife every night, and we had slowly become a once a week kind of couple before I started on the product.

        The other effects were possibly psychological just from having more sex or even placebo, but they were:

        Effect 2: working out harder and longer, not sure it was a physical effect or just feeling more aggressive from either T or more sex.

        Effect 3: lost weight quicker, this also could come from the psychological effects causing effect 2.

        Effect 4: recovered quicker from workouts, but maybe I just *thought* i did because I seemed to be overall feeling better.

        So overall my results were positive – although I don’t necessarily have a reason to believe they were definitely higher T, they could have been. Either way, I’m ordering some more, I plan to cycle 4-6 weeks on, 1-2 weeks off for a while and see what happens.

        • Joe says

          Greg, Im included to think what you experienced may have had more to do with the other stuff you did – working out, eating better ect and not tribulus. My instincts also are that the sexual improvements you noticed may have had to do with horny goat weed and arginine and not tribulus. I think diet an exercise may have been the biggest contributor.

          Either way glad something, whatever it was, helped you :)

          • Anonymous says

            Thats certainly possible. I’m going to go off it for a couple of weeks before starting a new course. After that maybe I’ll do a course of just tribulus and see what happens.

  24. Jason says

    I am 35 years old and Ive been taking Tribulus Terrestris for a couple months now. I have noticed a gain in muscle mass and my strength has gone up. My sex drive has not increased, which the product said it would, which is the main reason I purchased the product, I have noticed my drive has been decreasing as I am getting older.

    I take 6 tablets a day which equals 6000 mg a day. If I don’t take the product for a few days, and I return to the gym the weight I can lift drops dramatically. I have had my T levels checked in the past and the doctor said everything was in the normal range (not sure what my numbers were). I go to the doctor again on Tuesday to get tested again. I am going to ask him about this product, and to see if he will prescribe me an injectible testosterone, for other reasons then lifting weights, I’m trying to increase my libido and increase my energy.

    I have read most of your reviews on this product, and I think it will vary from person to person. I think everyone system will react differently. I have a trainer and he has been impressed with my gains. I will keep you posted on my T levels after i get tested again. Thanks for all the research you do and the options to leave our opinions.

  25. praful says

    im 57.used tribulus 750mg/day for two months. neither t level increased nor muscle mass. no side effects.

  26. mark says

    Hi can tribulus cause any vaginal infections trough sex i’m planning to use it my wife is concerned?

    • Joe says

      Roger, and you have proof that tribulus raised your testosterone levels? would love to see the test results

  27. martialartfailures says

    I would think a guy my age at 54, someone who has not worked out regularly in yrs., and started taking trib., would notice a difference very quickly, like in days if he started taking it. So after one capsule of 500mg as recommended did nothing for 2 weeks, I upped it to 2 then to 3 and still nothing.

    An old fart like me whose body is worn down just a little bit more(smile) than a 25 yr olds, should be a prime candidate to benefit. Nada! I personally think its a scam. Yep, I think tribulus is a scam and those who claim they are affected are paid endorsers or have placebo affect. I also admit I then added in Testosterone and dianabol and still tribulus did nothing which meant I was producing more testosterone than a 19 yr old kid.

    Its ok, after they bilk us out of a few hundred million with ridiculous cases studies and questionable doctors testimonials they will pull the old bait and switch. They will bring it back with another “do nothing” supplement saying these 2 have to be combined to get the full effect. Sound familiar?

  28. Heath says

    I’m 43, haven’t worked out In yrs. been married 15 of them. Although my girl says she content with my size, says I’m the (biggest) she’s ever had, there’s always been that question in the back of my mind. How can I naturally go bigger without surgery or BS pills? Is there really something out there that really works or is it all BS?

    • Joe says

      Heath, Im naturally skeptical about most testosterone boosters. I dont see any clinical proof their ingredients raise T levels in people. Im always willing to keep an open mind on this and so I will keep reviewing those that make claims that they work.

  29. Alex says

    hi,i took tribulus rau powder,cheap as a superfood,and tooked 2 grams/day,the recommended maximum dose…in tea..and noticed in one month at gym my arms growth 1 cm at least,my opinion is that if you take it…no matter the brand,you must eat more than before,to have results with tribulus,sorry for my english,eat like crazy with this and you will notice something

  30. joe4liberty says

    Blood tests people, blood tests!!! Joe is right, unless and until someone does a controlled study using no less than 350 participants (more would be better – and screw muscle growth size etc.. since too many factors play into muscle growth), and instead check testosterone (free-testosterone vs. total-testosterone vs. Estradiol), then we will never know whether this stuff effects testosterone hormone levels.

    And let’s not forget about Aromatase and SHBG – no use upping the “T” if it all turns to estrogen…

    I personally have been taking raw tribulus (available from Nutra-Bio in powdered form – MUCH CHEAPER than buying a lot of pills) for about six months now. I just had my levels checked. Total as well as free “T” levels are in the “low-normal” range, but still lower than ideal, and my doctor and I agree that for optimum health I need to raise both.

    My biggest problem however is that my estrogen levels are through the roof (42.0 pg/mL)– I’m damned near a woman! So I am going to begin an herbal anti-aromatase / SHBG program to see if I can correct this. If I can’t get it turned around with herbal supplementation in 90 days, I’ll begin an artificial hormone replacement therapy regimen.

    I only wish that

    #1 I had tested my levels before taking the supplemental tribulus so that I could see a rise or fall in “T” levels,
    and

    #2 I take other supplements such as 50-100 mg of zinc, 2,000 mg Acetyl-L-carnitine, and DHEA, and so there would be no way to know what the tribulus is and is not actually doing.

    Again, the raw powder from Nutra-Bio of the above was cheap, so I figured “what the hell, not like it’s gonna hurt”, but now I wish I had done a controlled test on myself… My doctor actually wants me to keep taking the tribulus as part of the overall herbal cocktail. His thoughts are the same “it’s cheap, and it can’t hurt, and if it can help avoid artificial treatments, it’s worth a try.”

    Anyway, every time I see someone talk about the “results” that they are getting in the gym it makes me cringe since you have no way of knowing if those results are coming from increased “T” levels, or from something else. It takes a lot of different factors to grow muscle, and you can have low-“T” and still grow muscle – I know, I did it.

    I went up 15 lbs of body mass, and dropped body fat from 15% to 9% in a year, and as mentioned, my “T” levels have been low. This is not bad for a 50 year old man who looks like he’s in his 30’s and has the blood of a 20 year old (aside from hormone levels that is).

    So STOP guessing, and get yourselves to your doctor, have your blood drawn and find out what your hormone levels actually are! You should have blood work done every year to track all of your nutrient levels anyway…

  31. Syed says

    Hello Joe,

    I am 24 years old,

    From last three years i am experiencing low libido and not very good erections.I got my T level tested….it was just on a border line of the lower limit…..From some where i got to know about Tribulus terrestris and this is the product offered by himalya pharmaceutical company..Is it Safe???

    • Joe says

      Syed, Ive never heard of that brand but I honestly dont believe tribulus raises testosterone levels. Because I could say is try it for a month and get your T levels tested again. if it changes let me know. Are you overweight? if yes, even a little, losing a few lbs can raise testosterone levels.

  32. David says

    I would like to see a study done on tired middle-aged men who are overweight and undersexed, and suffer from a general lack of motivation. Why does everyone think that rugby players and weight lifters are the ones who need it the most ??

  33. Hatem says

    my T levels is 1.54 ml/ng and im 33 years old my libido is getting down with my wife ? im taking the local Tribulus Terrestris .
    i would like to ask for the suitable dosage for better improvement?

    • Joe says

      Hatem, I have no idea what an effective dosage would be. my best guess is try it for a month and get your T levels tested again. you will know in a month if it raises your T levels.

  34. Ken Kaplan says

    My problem with your data is it all involves young men, most who are athletes. The issue is testosterone is supposed to decline with age. Therefore I will be 66 in two days and the studies should have been done with older males, both with and without training. Thus to me there is a serious flaw in the research.

    I can get it very inexpensive ($3.29 a bottle) for about 750 mg a day. I tried fenugreek and longjack but did not do them very long and did not notice a difference.

    However might try this because its so reasonable. Some formulas are more complete for about $15.

    I like the reply that results are highly individual. With supplements you have to see what works for you.

  35. Barry says

    Hi Joe,
    Im 53 and started taking 2103mg of Tribulus Terrestris and Citrullins Malate for 2 weeks (Nugenix), I have noticed a diff. in libito for sure… it caught me off guard,I wasn’t anticipating it So I know its not a sugar pill effect. Ill let you know about the effect in the gym, If there is any. I think that older users will get the benefits more than younger men.

  36. Jason says

    Hi there, I am 25 yrs old, 6ft 2 and am generally pretty active. I am looking to increase muscle mass and lean up. I have taken US Metabolics’ Tribulus a couple of times and have had some positive results. I came across the product as it was being sold with my pre-workout energy booster Gaspari Superpump on amazon. Gave it a go, took 1-4 tablets a day with a fairly clean diet. Each tablet contained 1000 mg / min. 45% Saponins. I trained in the gym 3-4 times a week and played football (Soccer) 2/3 times a week.

    I noticed an increase in muscle mass generally and my weight increased from 13st to 14st in the space of around 1 month. I found my focus increased, strength and size. My libido also increased and was not aware of this affect before taking the supplement. I did however notice an increase in fat around my lower abdomen

    • Joe says

      Thanks Jason for the feedback and your experiences. when you can, do get your testosterone measured (free and bound testosterone) as this will help your doctor 30 years from now, know what it was like today. this can help future doctors help you when your T is lower.

  37. Kilo says

    Doctor diagnosed low T when I was 47 tried the creams with some results.
    Found Tribulus (Bulgarian) at 50, complete turn around.
    I did not just depend on taking a pill, but used it as part of a exercise program of lifting heavy and cardio.
    I’m 53 now, lost 40 lbs had my T checked, levels are high, sex drive and performance is all my girl can do to keep up. I take 4,000 mg with no Dairy product in my stomach.
    I agree that 18 to a mid 30′s athlete is not who I what to hear about taking Tribulus.

    • Joe says

      Kilo, I appreciate you writing and am glad things have improved but it sounds like you had your testosterone levels checked after you lost 40 pounds. Since weight loss – as well as exercise – is known to raise testosterone levels, we really don’t know if it was tribulus gave you the improvements you are seeing. I’m inclined to think it was the weight loss and exercise program but regardless, I’m glad you are better than you were.

  38. thiago says

    Good morning, I wonder if anyone noticed any waist reduction, reduction of the hip bones after consumption of Tribulus terrestris.

    • Joe says

      Hyde, I’m not preventing anybody from trying tribulus. I’m just showing people the facts that nobody talks about – the current lack of proof that tribulus works – so they can make a more informed decision about where they spend their money. Testimonials from people we dont know is one thing, but I just need better evidence. I’m hoping that people see my words and it spurs better research that is currently out there.

  39. Cal says

    Hi Joe,

    Love the thoroughness and thoughtfulness of your info. here!

    Recently came across aenutrition’s APE product which promises, “22% greater increase in free testosterone in only 12 hours”. It lists tribulus as well as several other ingredients. See ingredients here: http://www.aenutrition.com/images/ape-supplement.jpg

    Their website has no information to back up the claim of increased testosterone. I contacted the company and it asked if there are any clinical trials or double blind studies.

    After several days a representative replied, “The 12 hour claim is taken from an unpublished double blind placebo controlled acute study on the ingredient testosurge, that can not be shared. It should be noted that another company using this ingredient claims 370+% increase in 12 hours which we did not think was accurately representative of the effects. We took extra steps to ensure that no absurdly gaudy claims were made and have never made unfounded claims.

    The other testosterone claims for APE are taken from a published, peer reviewed double blind study on testosurge. http://www.jissn.com/content/6/S1/P12“.

    That response certainly made me suspicious. Making claims in an ad that can’t be substantiated is a red flag. Still the product seems to get pretty good reviews. I’m curious if you have investigated this product or think any of the other listed ingredients could have a positive effect.

    Thx!

    • Joe says

      Cal, Id be a little skeptical based on that reply also. I looked at that testosurge study you referenced. I think this might be an abstract because the citation only lists 1 page for the study (citations usually list all the pages). It’s interesting that the young men in the study appeared to experience an increase in total testosterone but not free testosterone – its the free testosterone that is thought to do stuff.

      Its an interesting study and I’d like to read the entire study to get a better idea, but if it is an abstract, that decreases the power of the study in my view (abstracts do not have to go through the peer review process).

      I also noticed that the testosurge supplement is based on Fenugreek (not tribulus). Fenugreek has been in a lot of supplements Ive looked at.Just search for “Fenugreek” and they will all pop up.

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