The name tribulus identifies a genus of approximately 20 species. Tribulus terrestris, a vine-like plant growing in subtropical climates, is one of the tribulus species. Bulgarian tribulus terrestris is the type that is typically used in dietary supplements. It can be extracted for a number of different constituents, with its protodioscins being the constituent believed to be responsible for most of the effects of Bulgarian tribulus terrestris. Typical uses of this herb are to promote energy, a healthy libido, increased muscle mass and elevated testosterone levels.
An additional benefit of Bulgarian tribulus terrestris is that it may have hypoglycemic (blood sugar lowering) effects. This makes Bulgarian tribulus terrestris of benefit to diabetics or anyone who is looking to keep their blood glucose under control. Hypoglycemic agents are of use to athletes as well, as they shuttle ingested carbohydrates to be stored in muscle tissue as glycogen rather than to be stored as body fat. Hypoglycemic agents can produce gains in muscle tissue, losses in body fat, and increased strength.
How significant the effects of Bulgarian tribulus terrestris are on blood sugar levels is debatable. More research really needs to be done before a conclusion can be reached about the effectiveness of Bulgarian tribulus terrestris as a hypoglcemic agent.
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1. Li M, Qu W, Wang Y, Wan H, & Tian C. (2002). [Hypoglycemic effect of saponin from Tribulus terrestris]. Zhong Yao Cai = Zhongyaocai = Journal of Chinese Medicinal Materials. 25(6), 420-2.
2. Li M, Qu W, Chu S, Wang H, Tian C, & Tu M. (2001). [Effect of the decoction of tribulus terrestris on mice gluconeogenesis]. Zhong Yao Cai = Zhongyaocai = Journal of Chinese Medicinal Materials. 24(8), 586-8.