“Does Cyto Gainer Work?” It “works” in giving you 550 powdered calories
“Build Muscle with Light Weights?” First… always pay attention to detail

“Does Tribulus Work”; does it raise testosterone or improve muscle growth?

Call me a stickler for ‘truth in advertising.’ Or just count me as someone who gets annoyed by all the brazen claims made about testosterone boosting” supplements that get bandied about in the name of selling product at the expense of unsuspecting newbie bodybuilding consumers. When addressing the question “does Tribulus work”, the image that gets under my skin is that of online videos in which bodybuilding supplements resellers sit at a table and “review” some well-known bodybuilding pills, powders, and potions. These guys will shamelessly display a bottle of Tribulus Terrestris and with nary an acknowledgment of the very legitimate question “does Tribulus work”, they’ll tell you “how” it works with a straight-faced assumption that it does. It’s as if any positive claims that were ever presumed about a product, whether hypothesized or even purely imagined, are repeated as fact if that’s what’s expedient for the supplement sellers. I’ve just heard a couple of them repeat the following worn-out claim:

“Tribulus works to raise testosterone levels by increasing luteinizing hormone to the testes.”

Muscular_TorsoThis has been the claim about Tribulus Terrestris for at least the past twenty years. It’s based on some animal studies that have demonstrated that it has some effect on androgens in their bodies.

But the question “does Tribulus work” has never been definitively answered within the realm of human studies. In fact, some research suggests that it has no positive testosterone-boosting effect in healthy human males at all. Apparently, this doesn’t stop some supplement hawkers from assuming the animal studies are positively conclusive and ripe for extrapolating that tribulus will increase T-levels in humans. Evidence doesn’t support that assumption. Keep this in mind the next time you’re browsing bodybuilding supplements and a store clerk tells you “tribulus raises testosterone”… as if it’s fact.

‘Does Tribulus Work’: What do the studies show?

There are two likely reasons why a guy might be interested in the “does tribulus work” question: 1) He’s a bodybuilder or athlete interested in raising endogenous testosterone levels for greater strength and muscle gains. 2) Suspected low testosterone levels have caused a flagging libido that he wants to regain. In either case, if tribulus has significant positive effect on raising testosterone, the effects should be anecdotally measurable. And in the case of reason number one, a heightened libido would likely be the acute effect en-route to better muscle gains if tribulus did trigger any significant increases in testosterone.

The notion that extracts of tribulus terrestris (a flowering plant of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia) can boost testosterone levels is supported by evidence of animal studies. The most prominently cited of such studies seems to be one done by Gauthaman K, Adaikan PG, Prasad RN, in 2002 and published right here in PubMed. The researchers sought to determine whether tribulus terrestris possesses aphrodisiac properties in castrated rats. They divided the rodents into five groups of eight subjects each and tested them for eight weeks. Two groups (one castrated and one “intact”) received distilled water (a placebo). Another two groups (one castrated and one intact) received doses of testosterone (10 mg/kg body weight). The fifth group was castrated and received 5mg/kg bodyweight of tribulus terrestris. All the rodent’s body weight and prostate weight were measured, along with measurements of six sexual behavior parameters. 

So what were the results; “does tribulus work” as an aphrodisiac in rats?

“Statistical significance” from this study showed that it does. As expected, all groups of castrated rats showed decreases in body weight, prostate weight, and sexual behavior. However, compared to the ‘control group’ (placebo) of castrated rats, both the testosterone and tribulus treated groups of castrated rats showed slight increases in body weight, prostate weight, and sexual behavior. The researchers concluded that the increase in these parameters among the tribulus terrestris treated rodents was probably due to aphrodisiac activity from the plant’s androgenic properties.

It might be worth noting that the dosage of tribulus terrestris given to the rats in this study was not excessive; equivalent to about 400 mg. daily of tribulus for a 180-pound man.

The few human studies done on tribulus terrestris, however, do not substantiate the findings of animal research done on the plant. One such study was performed on twenty-one young men (ages 20-36) in Bulgaria and published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. In this experiment, the men were divided into three groups of seven subjects each. One group was given 10 mg/kg of bodyweight of tribulus terrestris. A second group of seven guys was given 20 mg/kg of bodyweight of tribulus. The other seven (the control) was given a placebo. The groups were tested for four weeks with the experimental subjects taking three even dosages per day of their respective amounts of tribulus. Measurements of the test subject’s serum testosterone, androstenedione, and luteinizing hormone were taken before supplementation began – four times during the experiment – and once at the conclusion of the four weeks.

So what were the results; “does tribulus work” for boosting luteinizing hormone and testosterone levels in twenty and thirty-something-year-old-guys?

Well, not according to that experiment. It showed no statistical significance at all between the guys that got the tribulus and the ones who got the fake pills.


Trib x 90
'Does Tribulus Work' in high dosages of concentrated forms? If it did so consistently and not through a placebo effect - the stuff would likely sell itself


Another human study, this one done on elite rugby players in Australia, sought to determine if tribulus terrestris would improve testosterone levels and strength gains within a five week period of supplementation. The twenty-two subjects were divided into two groups of eleven. One group received one daily dosage of 450 mg. of tribulus while the control group received a placebo. Both groups underwent their usual pre-season heavy weight-training regimen while the researchers monitored their strength gains, muscle gains, and urinary testosterone/epitestosterone (T/E) ratios.  An increase in this ratio would be the easiest way of determining if testosterone levels have risen significantly.

So what were the results; “does tribulus work” in improving ‘T-levels’, strength gains, and muscle gains in elite male athletes?

It didn’t in this test. Although all the subjects gained strength and muscle from their workouts, there were no significant increases among those using tribulus versus those taking the placebo. Furthermore, researchers found no increase of the T/E ratio in the tribulus-taking group.

Are the studies cited here (among a few others) conclusive in answering the question “does tribulus work?” Hardly; the question seems worthy of bigger and better studies with higher dosages of this supplement. All I can do for now is provide my own anecdotal feedback about high dosages of the most purportedly concentrated and “potent” tribulus terrestris on the market.

‘Does Tribulus Work’: Is it just a ‘concentration’ and ‘dosage’ thing?

Some people insist that tribulus terrestris really is effective at raising testosterone if only taken at a potent concentration and high enough dosage. I’m willing to accept this hypothesis, while currently only inclined to expend the resources to test it anecdotally, not scientifically. I’d love to see better-controlled and bigger human experiments done on this product. For now, however, I’m relegated only to personally testing the “hottest” tribulus product every few years – usually when a company claims to have maximized the dosage and percentage of ‘steroidal saponins’ within the product.

Just such a new tribulus product was recently released on the market. It’s called Trib X 90, and it’s purported to contain 90% saponins in each of the 750 mg. capsules. Saponins are what’re believed to be the active ingredients in tribulus terrestris, and I’d only ever seen a maximum percentage of 45 until this product came out. Wow, it’s got double that amount. If tribulus works to raise testosterone in high dosages of potent concentrations, this stuff should deliver the goods.

And I didn’t “test” it in a sparing manner. I went all-out and took up to 6 capsules of Trib X 90 per day. That’s going as high as 4.5 grams of daily intake of tribulus. Of course, I started out with two capsules per day and built up slowly to that max dosage to be sure my body didn’t have a negative reaction to large amounts. I took 2 capsules per day for one week – 4 capsules per day for the second week – and 6 capsules per day for another eight days. This got me through the entire contents of the 90-capsule bottle in just a little over three weeks.

By-the-way, my decision to test this stuff on myself at high dosages was personal; I’m not recommending that anyone reading this should do the same. And be sure to consult your physician before making the decision to use the product (at any dosage) yourself.

So what were my results; ‘does tribulus work’ anecdotally (for me) at high dosages of maximum concentrations?

That’s a negative. I experienced no tell-tale effects of “jacked-up” testosterone. The only physiological effect I noticed was a temporary increase of an “antsy-like” energy… but no different than what I might have gotten from a daily dosage of 5-hour energy drink.

Proponents of tribulus terrestris might argue that ‘increased energy’ was a positive effect of higher testosterone. Maybe… I can’t say for sure because I didn’t have any blood tests done before or during the time I used the product. What I can say for sure is that my muscle building progress derived from a unique and already extremely effective training system remained the same. Also, I noticed no sudden jump in libido from this very high dosage of tribulus.

Admittedly, I have no way of knowing if there’s truth-in-labeling being practiced by the company whose tribulus product I used. Also, I admit to ‘testing’ it for a relatively short period of time with the notion that it should begin showing results in three weeks if it ever would at all.

Does tribulus work? My personal recommendation is that people not waste their money on this stuff. There’s too much evidence showing that even if you get some benefits from the product, they won’t be nearly commensurate with the monetary costs.

In conclusion, I would love to hear feedback and opinions on the “does tribulus work” question. Your comments are welcome and encouraged.


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Like most performance-enhancing drugs, testosterone can help athletes build bigger, stronger muscles very quickly, improving their athletic ability and their recovery time..

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Scott Abbett

Hi Kdogbb,

Thank you for your comment about your experience.

I don't doubt your sincerity. However, what you've described raises more questions for me than it answers. At a personal level, I'm wondering why - with such phenomenal results - you only used these supplements once and didn't remember or write down the sources. What was your reason for using them? Were you bodybuilding or strengthening up for sports performance? Were you using them because you found out your T-levels were low? I'm just curious about what your motivation was and whether tribulus and chrysin helped you achieve your goal/s.

You're right... without knowing where your T-levels were before the regimen, there's really no reliable benchmark for comparison. Your doc might have been using a mistakenly low standard for what's considered a "normal" free T-level, while your levels might have been at the high end to begin with.

Interestingly, chrysin has since been just about proven worthless as an anti-estrogen supplement. Tribulus provides such mixed annecdotal results that the small amount of positive feedback can be totally attributable to placebo effect.

With such a positive experience, weren't you even tempted to use the stuff again?

Would love to get more comments from you.



Around 8 years ago I took a regime of tribulus and a natural anti estrogen called chrysin, after 8 weeks I went to the doc and had some blood tests done, my free testosterone was 700% above the highest average mean level for an adult my age. Please keep in mind I haven't mentioned brand names and dosages, to be honest I can't remember the amounts except that they were high, also without pre regime testing of my testosterone levels my after testing to some extent is subjective, but it was enough of a result that my doctor made me bring in some left overs to test as he was genuinely concerned they contained illegal substances.

Does tribulus work? I can't answer that for you. Did my testosterone levels seems excessively high post regime testing if it did nothing? Definitely. Take what you will of the info, just thought I'd offer my experience.


The Vitosterone add above is the same add i have seen on many forums.I have been trying to research Vitosterone and all i see is this add promoting there product with there website attatched..I brought a bottle and it too contains tribulus in it SCAM...

Scott Abbett


Did you even bother to read the article before linking to the product you're marketing?

Your recommendation of finding 'natural' products is pretty mindless considering it's their very "natural-ness" that puts the efficacy potential of such products in question.

Can you tell us what's in ViTosterone that would make it effective compared to 99.9% of crap out there? That's not a rhetorical question, BTW; I'm sincerely interested.

I've a mind to recommend to every guy thinking of buying these types of "natural" products to consider an alternative: Get your body fat at least below 12%... then go to your personal physician to get the "okay" for a urologist to put you on a few weeks of (medically supervised) HCG shots coupled with an estradiol squelcher.

This would require more effort and money in the short run. But the cost/benefit trade-off would probably provide a better return in the long run - especially if the guy keeps his body fat down after that.

Of course, I would NOT recommend doing any of this without consulting with one's personal MD first.


Pat Turner

Interesting article. Most so called male enhancement products haven't gone under vigorous testing, so there is a bit of a gap in whether or not they actually work.
I do know that you want to find the all natural supplements.
One of the better ones out there is ViTosterone which is a more of a male performance or libido enhancer. You can find out more about it at www.VitalGenex.com

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