So you’re looking for a way to boost your testosterone levels?
Then you’ve probably already seen tribulus.
This natural herb has been marketed towards bodybuilders and gym-goers for decades due to its uncanny ability to boost the body’s production of testosterone, leading to large gains in muscle mass in just 5-28 days.
There’s just one problem… it doesn’t work.
What Is Tribulus?
Tribulus Terrestris is an ingredient which has been floating around the supplement world for a long, long time.
It first rose to fame when it was sold as an aid for increased male sexual performance, but it really caught fire in the early 1990s when supplement manufacturers began labelling it as a muscle builder.
The reason for this is because one of the ingredients in tribulus terrestris, called protodioscin, increases secretion of luteinizing hormone from the pitulary gland, which regulates fertility, and this signals the testicles to produce more testosterone. Given the huge role which testosterone plays in the muscle building process, it makes sense that higher test levels could lead to a greater muscle building response, right?
Heck, that’s basically why people use steroids.
But all of these potential results hinge on tribulus’ ability to actually boost testosterone levels in the first place…
Why Tribulus Is A Poor Test Booster
Ah, it was all going so smoothly!
Alas, much like 3D televisions and the 2016 Ghostbusters remake, this is one of those “punch in the face” moments where a great theory doesn’t work out in real life.
You see, when we look at the human studies which have attempted to use tribulus to increase testosterone we are greeted with a number of in-depth trials showing that it simply doesn’t work. Also, while the theory increasing testosterone by boosting luteinizing hormone sounded great, this is just another aspect which didn’t play out as expected, with a 2005 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacoly showing that there was actually no increase in LH. (1, 2, 3)
There is only one study showing slight improvements in testosterone with tribulus supplementation. It came from Egyptian researchers in 2016, but these improvements were likely because participants were suffering from partial androgen deficiency (very low test). (4)
I’ll stop short of saying tribulus is completely useless, because it holds some merit in terms of guarding against the formation of kidney stones and boosting sexual appetite (not performance!), but these are not the reasons most people are using it. (5, 6, 7).
So let me clear this up once and for all:
Tribulus is NOT an effective test booster, and it is NOT a proven muscle building supplement!
- Rogerson S., et al. The effect of five weeks of Tribulus terrestris supplementation on muscle strength and body composition during preseason training in elite rugby league players. J Stregth Cond Res (2007).
- Saudan C., et al. Short term impact of Tribulus terrestris intake on doping control analysis of endogenous steroids. Forensic Sci Int (2008).
- Neychev V. K., et al. The aphrodisiac herb Tribulus terrestris does not influence the androgen production in young men. J Ethnopharmacol (2005).
- Roaiah M. F., et al. Pilot Study on the Effect of Botanical Medicine (Tribulus terrestris) on Serum Testosterone Level and Erectile Function in Aging Males With Partial Androgen Deficiency (PADAM). J Sex Marital Ther (2016).
- Sellandi T. M., et al. Clinical study of Tribulus terrestris Linn. in Oligozoospermia: A double blind study. Ayu (2012).
- Santos Jr C. A., et al. Tribulus terrestris versus placebo in the treatment of erectile dysfunction: A prospective, randomized, double blind study. Actos Urol Esp (2014).
- Anand R., et al. Activity of certain fractions of Tribulus terrestris fruits against experimentally induced urolithiasis in rats. Indian J Exp Biol (1994).
Who Is Russ Howe PTI?
Featured in Men’s Fitness magazine and voted in the world’s top 50 fat loss coaches by HuffPost, Russ is the author of ‘The Rip Down’ and is among the UK’s most subscribed personal trainers with 104,357 people getting his free weekly fitness tips e-mail.
In the gym Russ’ clients range from busy parents, to models, to athletes and actresses. Russ also worked alongside the UK government for 8 years in a venture combating childhood obesity in England.
Outside of the gym, he’s a proud Dad to three young boys.
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