Q: What do you know about the herb tribulus terrestris? I hear it's supposed to stimulate testosterone production and make you horny. Is there any truth to that?
A: Tribulus terrestris is an herb that's been used in Turkey as a diuretic and to treat hypertension and smooth-muscle spasms such as those that occur in colic pain. Some herbalists state that it may enhance sexual desire and improve the strength and endurance of erections and the formation and development of sperm. For women they say tribulus may help increase libido, improve ovulation, help to regulate hormonal balance, decrease menopausal symptoms and help to restore orgasmic capacity.
They claim it does that by increasing testosterone levels, but there are no unbiased scientific studies that prove this. As a matter of fact, most studies on tribulus show that it has no effect on testosterone levels in athletes. An interesting study performed at the Teaching and Naval Hospital in Surabaya, Indonesia, showed that the phytochemical protodioscin, derived from tribulus, improves sexual desire and enhances erection because it converts to DHEA.
There are numerous anecdotal accounts of how the herb has affected various people. For instance, Roger Libby, Ph.D., a sex therapist, uses tribulus in his private practice. He states in Let's Live magazine that he has observed members of both sexes increase their sexual desire and arousal after taking tribulus. One of his patients was a 31-year-old woman who had almost no sexual desire. She was out of shape, and her testosterone levels were low. He suggested that she take 1,200 milligrams of tribulus daily along with initiating an exercise routine and healthy diet. In a month she had a strong desire for sex, and she was having regular intercourse with her husband. He further stated that he suggests a daily dose of 1,200 to 2,400 milligrams for most of his patients, but it can cause stomach upset, so it should be taken with food.
Another interesting story comes from my very own experience counseling an NFL player whose blood levels of testosterone continually tested too high. He was put on probation by the league because they suspected that he was taking anabolic steroids. (I know, I know'unbelievable, right?) But he really was clean'and very distressed about his problem. It didn't take long to pinpoint the cause of the problem. He was drinking a tea made from tribulus terrestris three times a day. Once he cut out the tea, his testosterone blood levels returned to normal.
So there appears to be a lot of truth to the idea of tribulus terrestris improving libido and souping up testosterone levels. Further good news is that compounds found in it prevent cell death in diseased livers'great news for those who overindulge in alcohol or drugs known to damage the liver. IM