Spotlight on the Fertility Herb Tribulus

What is Tribulus?

Tribulus terrestris, also known as Tribulus or puncture vine, is an important plant medicine with a long history of use. Tribulus is a small shrub found in India, China, America, Spain, Bulgaria and Pakistan, that produces small yellow flowers and spiky fruit. It is this fruit that is used medicinally. Tribulus has been used as a medicinal herb in both India and China for thousands of years. Traditional uses of the herb included genitourinary disorders, sexual dysfunction, eye conditions such as conjunctivitis, mastitis, headaches, and as a general health tonic. Tribulus contains a number of important active constituents, including steroidal saponins and flavonoids, which are involved in its anti-inflammatory, hormone-modulating and antioxidant actions on the body.

How is Tribulus Used to Help Fertility and IVF?

Tribulus has a number of mechanisms that make it a highly useful herb for helping women with low fertility. One of the ways Tribulus can help to boost female fertility is through its effect on androgen production. Low levels of androgen hormones (i.e. “male” hormones such as testosterone and DHEA) are a recognised contributing factor for reduced IVF and fertility success, as these hormones are required for the growth and development of follicles in the ovaries, which release the egg for conception. Animal studies of Tribulus have demonstrated its ability to increase serum androgen levels in females thanks to its steroidal saponins. Tribulus has also been shown to optimise ovarian function to boost fertility. A study on rabbits found Tribulus stimulated the production of growth factors in the ovaries, improving ovarian function and boosting fertility rates.

Other Uses for Tribulus

In addition to its beneficial effect on fertility in women, Tribulus has been found to be effective in managing a number of other health conditions, including:

  • Erectile dysfunction
    • Because of its ability to increase testosterone, Tribulus has been used successfully in the treatment of erectile dysfunction in both human and animal trials.
  • Male Infertility
    • In vitro and animal studies have shown Tribulus to have a positive effect on several different parameters of male fertility, including increasing sperm production and improving the health and quality of sperm produced.
  • Diabetes
    • Tribulus may also help in managing blood sugar levels in diabetics. A clinical trial of women with diabetes found Tribulus reduced fasting blood glucose levels and also had a positive effect on cholesterol levels
  • PCOS
    • Interestingly, Tribulus has also been shown to be beneficial in PCOS, a condition that is typically associated with elevated androgen levels in women. A study on rats found treatment with Tribulus normalised hormone levels and the menstrual cycle, suggesting the herb may in fact have a regulatory effect on androgen hormones.
  • Low libido in women
    • A study from 2014 found Tribulus helped to improve libido and sexual function in women, improving desire, arousal, lubrication and orgasm after just 4 weeks’ treatment.

About Michelle Blum

Michelle Blum is a fertility, pregnancy and women’s health Naturopath and Acupuncturist located in Brisbane. If you would like to find out more about how natural medicine may be able to help you with your fertility, please contact the clinic here. Alternatively, you can book an appointment here.

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