Tribulus terrestris is a vine plant that grows in the United States, Europe, Mexico, China and India. This plant traditionally has been used to treat waning energy levels, depression, infertility and impotence. Athletes use Tribulus terrestris because it is thought to increase strength, increase lean muscle mass and enhance athletic performance. Tribulus terrestris is considered a dietary supplement, and, as with any supplement, there are potential dangers users should watch for.
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Dietary supplements available over-the-counter are not closely regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Companies that market dietary supplements do not have to prove safety or effectiveness to sell the products, and occasionally herbal supplements from unscrupulous manufacturers are found to contain toxic chemicals or dangerous metals. Purchase Tribulus terrestris only from a reputable source and always check with your pharmacist or doctor before taking any herbal or dietary supplement to avoid any dangerous side effects or drug interactions.
Tribulus terrestris has diuretic properties and may cause adverse effects if taken in conjunction with prescription diuretics. In people taking lithium medications, Tribulus terrestris' diuretic properties also might increase the amount of lithium that stays in the bloodstream, raising the risk that toxicity may develop. Tribulus terrestris may increase the risk of low blood sugar if taken with diabetes medications such as insulin, so diabetics who take this supplement may find it necessary to monitor their blood sugar more often.
Tribulus terrestris is most commonly taken by men to enhance sexual performance and increase the male hormone testosterone. Although women can take this supplement, it is not recommended during pregnancy. EMed TV reports that no clinical studies have been performed on pregnant women but that animal studies have shown that taking Tribulus terrestris during pregnancy could adversely affect fetal brain development and cause an increase in testosterone. Increased testosterone levels are associated with masculinisation of female genitalia in unborn babies.
Although Tribulus terrestris is not usually associated with serious side effects, it may increase levels of testosterone. Side effects of this increase may include rage, increased growth of facial or body hair and a lowering of the voice in women. Increasing levels of testosterone in the body may also worsen pre-existing conditions such as an enlarged prostate and some hormone-related cancers.
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