We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are the Most Common Tribulus Side Effects?

By L. Roux
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The most common tribulus side effects are mild nausea and stomach upset, though in most cases these dissipate within a few days of starting a supplementation regimen. More concerning side effects include hormonal imbalances. While not necessarily problematic in the short term, hormone shifts over time can cause some pretty profound changes. Men often develop an enlarged prostate, for instance, which can put them at risk of many other problems, and women sometimes notice a deepening of their voices. Some studies have also linked long-term tribulus use to the development of certain cancers, though this is perhaps more of a risk than a true side effect. People who consume the plant’s fruits are also thought to be at risk for lung damage, though it’s worth noting that most dietary supplements don’t include the fruits, and health experts don’t usually recommend eating this part, particularly not raw. Though the supplement is usually considered safe and the side effects, if they occur, tend to be mild, it still isn’t always safe for everyone. People who are thinking about adding this or other natural compounds to their diets are usually wise to check with a qualified medical practitioner first.

Supplement Basics

The dietary supplement known as “tribulus” is, in most cases, made entirely or at least mostly from extracts of the Tribulus terrestris plant. This plant is native to southern Italy and elsewhere in Mediterranean Europe, but has adapted to grow in almost all climates around the world. The dietary supplement is usually derived from the leaves and sometimes also the stems. Oils are usually contained in capsules, though sometimes the leaves are dried and crushed into a powder that can be blended into drinks or swallowed in pill form.

In holistic medicine, the supplement is used primarily for treating kidney problems and certain skin ailments. Its ability to stimulate cell growth and to boost natural levels of testosterone has also led to its popularity in the bodybuilding community. People hoping to quickly build muscle mass often take it daily, frequently in conjunction with other natural stimulants. Results can vary a lot from person to person, and in general health experts don’t recommend taking more in order to get better results. Excessive exposure often triggers side effects.

Nausea and Digestive Distress

One of the most common side effects is nausea. This may occur more often when taking a dose on an empty stomach or when using tribulus for the first time. Nausea is considered to be a very temporary side effect and should only occur at the beginning of a supplementation cycle. For many people, discomfort be corrected or avoided by consuming a meal when taking the supplement.

Hormonal Imbalance

Tribulus is widely thought to increase the amount of testosterone in the body, which is one of the reasons it’s so valuable to bodybuilders. Increased testosterone may also affect the levels of other hormones, and could over-stimulate the androgen receptors in the brain. These receptors regulate the DNA function in the body and play an important role in the regulation of gene expression. Some experts believe that changing hormone levels in this way could have serious and potentially even fatal results, although no research has proven this.

Gender-Specific Symptoms

Men who take this supplement for prolonged periods of time often develop an enlarged prostate. Whether there is any true connection between tribulus and prostate growth hasn’t been proved with any degree of certainty, though it’s thought by many in the field that the plant’s role in testosterone production likely causes enlargement. In addition to causing discomfort, enlarged prostates can also impact urination and sexual performance.

It has also been reported that some women who have taken this supplement experience a change in the tone of their voice. This is usually due to the change in hormones levels within the body, specifically testosterone. This is also one of the temporary tribulus side effects, and the voice usually returns to normal once the supplementation cycle has been discontinued.

Possible Link to Cancer

The potential risk of cancer is also important when supplementing with tribulus. Tribulus contains 5-Dehydroepiandrosterone, a steroid also known as 5-DHEA. This steroid may increase the risk of cancer in the body. It is not recommended to consume large dosages of this steroid due to the risk of cancer associated with it; by association, then, long-term use of tribulus isn’t usually recommended for the same reasons.

Lung Damage

In some rare cases, lung damage might occur as a tribulus side effect, although this is usually only seen when consuming the fruit of the Tribulus terrestris plant. Many experts advise that the fruit should never be eaten in raw form. The spiky fruit is the sources of the plants common names, including puncture vine and caltrop.

Common Precautions and Getting Help

Although tribulus is usually considered to be safe when used in moderation, it isn’t usually regulated by governmental authorities the way most prescription drugs are. Among other things, this means that not all compounds are identical, and also that they aren’t subjected to the same quality screening requirements. This may also explain why only a limited number of tribulus side effects have been documented. Anyone considering this supplement should usually consult a medical professional, and anyone experiencing side effects that don’t seem to be getting better or going away on their own after a few days should usually seek a medical evaluation, too.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.