The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey states that 68 percent of all American adults are overweight or obese. The risk factors associated with these conditions include high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Many people turn to supplements when trying to lose weight and stay healthy, and the market is flooded with products that manufacturers claim have weight loss capabilities. The extract of tribulus terrestris, a flowering plant common to America, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, has been used in folk medicine in various parts of the world. These supplements are often marketed for sexual enhancement, and their effect on body weight has been studied.
Components of Tribulus Terrestris Extracts
Also known as puncture vine, tribullus terrestris contains saponins, glycosides, flavonoids, alkaloids, resins, tannins, sugars and sterols. Steroidal saponins are considered to be the biologically active components of the herb, and the amount found in an extract will vary depending on where the herb was grown and the part of the plant used.
Tribulus Terrestris Uses
While most often used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction and sexual enhancement, tribulus terrestris has been shown to have the potential to treat other medical conditions. A 2009 Turkish study found that this herb reduced serum lipids in rabbits, which is good news for high cholesterol sufferers, while a Chinese study found a positive effect of tribulus terrestris extract on blood sugar regulation. These were experimental studies, and need confirmation in clinical trials, but the results are encouraging. Study of the relationship between this supplement and weight loss has not produced such positive results.
Tribulus Terrestris May Not Affect Body Weight
The "International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism" published a 2000 study where subjects were given 3.21 mg of tribulus per kilogram of body weight daily over an eight-week period. The results showed no change in body weight or body fat at the end of the study. This suggests that tribulus terrestris may not be an effective weight loss product.
Tribulus Terrestris Availability and Side Effects
For those who want to try the product, supplements are most commonly found as powders. You can find regular powder or those with 20 or 40 percent saponin extracts. The herb is also available in a range of dosages, from 250 to 750 mg, and is often sold combined with other herbs used for sex-enhancement. No major side effects have been associated with this herb, however, there have been no studies of the long-term effect of tribulus terrestris usage.
The lack of scientific evidence to support the use of tribulus terrestris for weight loss purposes indicates that you might have better results using other means to advance your weight loss plans. Lifestyle changes that include a balanced diet and exercise can be effective in weight management. If you choose a supplement, consult a medical professional before including it in your diet.
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Statistics
- Tribulus Terrestris Extract: Review
- Pubmed.gov: Influence of Tribulus Terrestris Extract on Lipid Profile
- Pubmed.gov: Inhibitory Effects of Saponins From Tribulus Terrestris on Alpha-Glucosidase
- Pubmed.gov: The Effects of Tribulus Terrestris on Body Composition