Tribulus Terrestris, which is commonly known as bullhead, cats' head, devils' thorn, puncturevine, goathead and tackweed amongst others, is a flowering plant which is prevalent throughout Africa, Australia, and the southern reaches of Europe and Asia. It is particularly adept at thriving in conditions which receive little rainfall, and in poor soil conditions. Some of the pseudonyms of the plant derive from its appearance –the seeds of Tribulus Terrestris resemble that of the head of a goat or bull, with sharp thorns, strong enough to cause painful injury.
The plant is widely cultivated for a variety of uses, particularly in nutrition and medicine. In some areas of the US and Europe, it is considered a weed – due in no part to its prevalence, and propensity to thrive in almost all manner of conditions. Tribulus Terrestris has been a fixture of traditional Chinese medicine for over four centuries, and is renowned and revered for playing a part in reducing high levels of cholesterol, which in turn helps regulate and maintain healthy heart function.
The plant is also said to be adept in its use as a natural anti-depressant, with many users reporting an increase in feelings of well-being, vitality and libido after being prescribed with the herb. Certain properties of the plant make it of particular interest to the bodybuilding community, as the extract is purported to help rehabilitate and boost levels of testosterone.
Many bodybuilders take the supplement in order to restore testosterone to naturally occurring levels, following the completion of a cycle of anabolic steroids. A healthy level of testosterone is important with regard to building muscle, as well as for sexual performance. While the pharmacological effects of Tribulus Terrestris have yet to be fully, formally established in the world of medicine, it is thought that the plant extract encourages healthy hormone levels by means of stimulating the anterior pituitary gland, increasing testosterone levels by promoting the secretion of Luteinizing Hormone. The supplement originally began to gain popularity amongst athletes in the 1990s, and has been used as an aid to improving fitness ever since.