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When you hear the name tribulus terrestris (TT) you might be thinking of a Roman god, or reminiscing about your really interesting Latin lessons at school.
In fact tribulus terrestris is a spiky plant that grows throughout the USA and is also known as puncturevine, goat head, cat’s head and devil’s weed.
Many people think that tribulus terrestis has no other function, but is a pain in the butt when you ride over it with your bike tyres.
However, over the last decade this supplement has appeared on the shelves of many health and fitness shops all over the world.
The two main claims are that tribulus terrestris can boost your sexual libido and increase your muscle growth.
The active ingredient in TT is the steroidal saponin protodioscin and it is this in compound that is used as alternative to artificial steroids.
Does Tribulus Terrestris really boost testosterone levels?
Tribulus terrestris has been used primarily as a herbal testosterone booster and has been added to numerous supplements to enhance muscle mass and strength.
Current research investigated the impact of 600 mg of 40% saponin containing TT for 3 times daily for twenty days.
The results indicated that circulating testosterone increased during the initial 10 days of the investigation and then plateaued out between the 11th-20th day.
It was concluded that tribulus terrestris may boost testosterone levels by attenuating the luteinizing hormone or the follicle stimulating hormones, and this initial raise in testosterone levels may be attributed to a reduction in blood glucose levels.
However, the plateau in the testosterone levels during the second half of the investigation could be the body adapting to the dosage of the tribulus terrestris, with the blood sugars stabilising accordingly.
If tribulus terrestris does raise testosterone levels, then its response is definitely dose specific. Thus, the transport of the active ingredient within tribulus terrestris, saponin protodioscin appears to work only in a confined range and too big or too little a dose as no impact on testosterone levels.
The magic range for TT seems to be between 2.0-4.5 milligrams of saponin protodioscin per pound of bodyweight, on a daily basis.
Like many plant derived supplements, the quality of the plant and amount of saponin protodioscin is related to the area that it is grown in.
Check the label as the best countries that grow TT and have the highest amount of saponin protodioscin are Turkey and Bulgaria.
Why is testosterone important for muscle gain?
Testosterone is the key male hormone that is responsible for muscle growth and development. The anabolic effects of testosterone are responsible for protein synthesis, protein retention and muscle hypertrophy when resistance training.
This is the main rationale behind testosterone and steroid use, as this increases this artificially promotes muscle growth behind their natural boundaries and limitations.
There are several claims that TT is both safe and effective in helping you to build muscle, and that this avoids the nasty side effects that are associated with steroids.
TT is commonly stacked with other supplements such as D-asparatic Acid, Phosphatidylserine and Vitamin D3.
It is recommended to take TT on an empty stomach and to ingest on when you wake up in the morning and about 1 hour before training.
On recovery days consume TT with meals or again in the morning when your blood glucose levels tend to be lower.
Additional benefits of Tribulus Terrestris
Some current research postulates that TT is an adaptogenic herb and that it stabilises many of the physiological responses within the body and promotes homeostasis.
These types of supplements only tend to work when the body needs rebalancing, then would dictate that the use of TT should be used when in a training cycle of intense exercise and dieting.
Therefore, if TT was taken on an off cycle or during a rest/recovery period would be of any benefit. Probably not..
Some side effects
TT has a primary role in reducing blood glucose. As with any supplement where blood glucose is lower you may experience some shakiness and you may feel slightly light-headed.
The jury is out on the effectiveness of TT to build muscle mass and gains. There is some primary evidence to suggest that TT does in fact boost testosterone levels but after an initial decrease in blood glucose levels.
There needs to more valid and robust research to determine the true benefits of TT, as there are some serious medical claims by the supplement companies that improve your sex life, reduce kidney stones, reduce blood pressure and certain forms of cancer.
These are big assumption/claims with little scientific evidence backing them up!