Tribulus extract may protect against exercise-induced inflammation: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Tribulus terrestris L. is a creeping herb that is also known as Puncture Vine.   Image © yujie chen / Getty Images
Tribulus terrestris L. is a creeping herb that is also known as Puncture Vine. Image © yujie chen / Getty Images

Related tags Tribulus terrestris Oxidative stress Inflammation Sports nutrition

Supplementation with extracts from Tribulus terrestris L. may reduce oxidative stress and inflammation linked to exercise, says a new study from Cyprus.

Scientists from the University of Nicosia report that four weeks of supplementation with a Tribulus extract led to a reduction in exercise-induced oxidative muscle damage and inflammatory responses, compared to placebo.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study that has specifically investigated the effects of 4 weeks of ​Tribulus terrestris L. supplementation on oxidative stress markers, antioxidant status, and the inflammatory response to acute aerobic exercise,” ​they wrote in the Journal of Dietary Supplements​.

Study details

Tribulus terrestris​ L. (TT) is a herbal dietary supplement for exercise and athletic performance. The herb is composed of saponins, flavonoids, glycosides, alkaloids, and tannins. It has previously been reported to boost testosterone booster and aid recovery​.

The new study used a TT supplement by Gopata Ayurveda co., India, and participants of the randomized, double-blind, crossover design study ingested three capsules per day or placebo for four weeks. This was followed by a two-weeks washout period before crossing over to the other group.

In total, 13 men completed the study, which included an exercise test to exhaustion before and after the intervention periods.

The researchers found that the exhaustive exercise led to alterations in a range of markers of oxidative muscle damage and inflammatory responses, including the ratio of reduced (GSH) and oxidized (GSSG) glutathione, protein carbonyls, total antioxidant capacity, creatine kinase activity, and white blood cell count.

However, supplementation with TT attenuated these alterations, said the researchers.

On the other hand, Tribulus terrestris​ L. supplementation did not have any effect on delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) or knee joint range of motion (KJRM).


“This study was successful in demonstrating for the first time, that oral administration of ​Tribulus terrestris L. may significantly attenuate exercise-induced oxidative stress and inflammation. This key finding could be important for athletes who may be able to sustain harder training sessions with less inflammation or oxidative stress as a result,” ​wrote the researchers.

“From a different standpoint, the effects of ​Tribulus terrestris L. on reducing oxidative stress may also be beneficial to clinical populations, but this assumption remains to be investigated.

“As ​Tribulus terrestris L.’s mechanism of action is not clearly known, it is difficult to explain how ​Tribulus terrestris L. could alter the inflammatory and oxidative indices without reducing muscle soreness or improving range of motion. It is plausible that the effect of ​Tribulus terrestris L. on inflammation is through a pathway that is independent of muscle soreness,” ​they concluded.

Source: Journal of Dietary Supplements
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1080/19390211.2022.2120147
“Effect of​ Tribulus terrestris L. supplementation on Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress and Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness Markers: A Pilot Study”
Authors: L. Ataei et al.

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