Tribulus terrestris is the scientific name of a herbal supplement. It is commonly known as puncture vine or caltrop. It is a perennial herb which belongs to the Zygophyllaceae family. It can grow in a warm, desert climate and can survive even in a poor soil condition. The regions where it is most commonly found are Africa, northern parts of Australia, southern part of Europe, and parts of Asia.
Normally, the height of this plant is not more than one meter. The flower is small in size and faint yellow in color, whereas the fruit has a five-angled shape and has spines on its surface. The medicinal properties of this herb are owing to two active components of saponins present in its leaves. These steroidal saponins are: furostanol glycosides and spirostanol glycosides.
Tribulus terrestris has been used in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda since centuries. However, its use as a herbal medicine began somewhere in the 1970s. When it is taken as a herbal supplement, it increases the level of testosterone in human body, lowers elevated blood pressure, and improves blood circulation. All these properties help treat different types of ailments, including problems like low libido, cardiovascular disease, gout, etc.
It has some diuretic properties which help improve the functioning of the kidneys. It is believed to have some antiseptic properties which is beneficial for curing kidney infections and urinary stones. Sometimes, athletes take it for the purpose of increasing the muscle mass. This is possible because an increase in testosterone facilitates muscle growth. It has been proved to have helped in lowering the cholesterol levels. Some minor problems like headache, eye problems like conjunctivitis, and itching of the eyes can also be treated with this herb. It has a positive effect on the overall immune system of our body.
The most common side effect which has been observed is stomach upset and nausea feeling. However, it is a temporary effect and can be controlled if the supplement is taken along with a meal. In some women, it has been observed that their voice have changed. Usually, the tone of the voice decreases. This may be caused due to the change in the level of hormones in the body.
Mood swings is another minor side effect. It shows up in the form of anger. In some people, excessive hair growth over the body and face has been observed. Too much of testosterone is mainly responsible for this kind of a side effect. Lung damage is one of the rare side effects of this herb. However, in most such cases, it has been found to occur due consumption of the fruit of the herb, rather than the processed extracts of the supplement.
The correct dosage of tribulus terrestris extract may vary in between 85 to 250 mg thrice daily along with meals. The exact dosage is ascertained by the doctor after examining the health condition of a person. In order to get maximum benefits from the intake of the supplement, it should be accompanied by right kind of diet, proper exercise, and adequate rest. However, high dosage of this supplement can lead to severe side effects. It can damage the functioning of the brain, affect the function of the muscle, and in worst cases, it can even lead to death.
When taken in right proportion, the chances of side effects become less. Therefore, it should be taken under medical supervision only. This medicine is strictly not recommended for children and pregnant women. Those with medical history of diabetes, high-blood pressure, asthma, and high cholesterol should consult their concerned physician to check out if it is suitable for their health condition.
Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.