(Tribulus Terrestris for Erectile Dysfunction, by David Jaynes)
If you search deep enough and long enough on the web, you can find a blog post or forum post recommending taking pretty much any substance to cure pretty much any ill.
That’s why some of my posts here examine the claims of how one treatment or another work for curing erectile dysfunction. We look at the claims, the science, and what people experience on the ground.
Today’s candidate: tribulus terrestris.
Tribulus terrestris is a spiny, fruit-producing plant that grown in the Mediterranean. It’s not too unlike blackberries or raspberries. Folks have used its berries, leaves, and vines for centuries to boost performance, help with circulatory conditions, and improve fertility.
Performance, circulation and fertility are big “green lights” in traditional medicine that can point to a cure for erectile dysfunction. Even if neolithic men didn’t understand why the remedies worked, they could tell from experience that they had an impact.
In modern years, more than a little anecdotal evidence supports the assertion. Bodybuilders, elite athletes, and sufferers from minor circulatory ailments all have their advocates for tribulus terrestris.
And where there’s smoke, there’s fire, right?
The science is less one-sided. We’ve seen plenty of studies on tribulus and and its impact on sexuality or the hormones that drive sexuality. Some have shown robust impact on sexual health. Others have found no impact. Still others were inconclusive.
Let’s look at these in more detail.
Like I said, a whole lot of tests have investigated the impact of tribulus terrestris on erectile dysfunction and associated problems. Some of these seem to prove that tribulus terrestris can help ED.
Gauthaman & Ganesan at the University of Singapore conducted a study of 2008 using primates, rabbits and rats in which they treated the mammals with tribulus terrestris and measured testosterone and related substances in their blood (source).
They found significant (up to 50%) increases in testosterone content, indicating tribulus terrestris can help with erectile dysfunction if that dysfunction is caused by low testosterone.
In 2003, the same team divided 40 rats into four groups of ten each. One was a control group, and the other three received different doses of tribulus terrestris extract. All groups were treated for 8 weeks, during which the researchers checked for frequency of sexual activity.
They study found that taking tribulus terrestris increased sexual activity. Further, it found that the activity increased more in the groups that took the greater doses of tribulus (source).
That kind of “dose-dependent” result is a sort of holy grail for determining the effectiveness of a treatment or program. Any time something not only makes a change, but has changes that increase in proportion to how much is taken is very strong evidence that a treatment is effective.
From these studies, the case looks pretty clear. Tribulus terrestris definitely helps with erectile dysfunction, or at least some of the mechanisms that can cause ED. .
But read on…
Studies on animals seemed to prove that tribulus reliably helped with ED and issues that let to ED. However, attempts to demonstrate similar results using human subjects were not as successful.
In 2009, Santos and his team Universidad Catolica de Campnias in Sao Paolo Brazil tested tribulus against a placebo in a randomized, double-blind study.
They chose 30 men from 100 volunteers, all of whom suffered from erectile dysfunction despite being under 40 and without common health triggers for ED.
Half of the subjects received 800 mg of tribulus for 30 days, and the other half got a placebo. The researchers found no statistically significant change between the two groups.
This research supported a 2005 study, in which, Neychev and his team at the Medical University in Sofia, Bulgaria tested 21 men between 20 and 36 years old with a similar double-blind experiment using doses of 20 mg per kg of body weight and 10 mg per kg of body weight.
They tested both test groups for changes to androgens (like testosterone) in the blood stream periodically for 30 days. They found no significant difference between the two groups, suggesting that tribulus terrestris had no impact on testosterone production (source).
Both of these studies seem to prove conclusively that tribulus terrestris does not help when it comes to erectile dysfunction. Which contradicts the other studies that show how it does help.
It’s okay to be confused. I’m here to try to unconfuse you.
One issue with some of the studies is that the dosage was too low to make any kind of difference. Just like your headache won’t go away if you take ¼ of an aspirin, a couple hundred milligrams of tribulus terrestris won’t do your erection any good.
In the studies I mentioned that showed tribulus terrestris doesn’t work for ED, one used 800 mg per day, and the other dosed between 600 to 1200 mg per day (based on body weight).
To gain any benefit from tribulus, you’ll need to dose at least 2,000 milligrams per day.
The positive studies were conducted on smaller animals. Though the dosage wasn’t at 2,000 mg per rat per day, they were proportional to 2,000 mg in a human.
If we ever reach a point where research uses those larger doses, we may see more research supporting what traditional medicine and personal experience consistently supports.
If you choose to use tribulus for your erectile health, dose at 2,000 mg for best results.
You can also create some nice herbal symmetry by combining tribulus with tongkat ali. Taken together, they have a synergistic effect that super-charges both supplements in terms of helping to fire up erections.
Neither herb has any serious significant side effects (unless you’re allergic, which you’ll notice right away), so feel free to experiment with both until you see some results.
The studies may be all over the board, but experience among people who have used a quality tribulus product is pretty uniform. It can boost erectile function and libido, especially the first few times you use it.
Keep in mind, though, based on my experience tolerance builds up quickly with this particular herb.
Dose once or twice, then take a break. You can cycle in other herbs and supplements so that you don’t build a tolerance up to any one particular supplement.