Tribulus terrestris is an herb also known as puncturevine caltrop or small caltrops. Its leaves, fruit, and roots have been used in the traditional medicines of China and India for centuries.

It is used in dietary supplements as a “testosterone booster” because an active component, protodioscin, has a chemical structure similar to that of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a hormone involved in testosterone and estrogen production in humans. For this reason, testosterone-booster products with Tribulus terrestris are marketed for sexual enhancement and athletic performance. However, there is little or no reliable scientific evidence regarding the ability of Tribulus terrestris to increase testosterone levels in humans or to enhance strength or athletic performance. Further studies are needed to determine whether these types of products lead to greater strength and gains in muscle mass.

Tribulus terrestris will not cause a positive result on a standard military drug test. However, as FDA has stated, “hidden ingredients are increasingly becoming a problem in products promoted for sexual enhancement.” For more information on dietary supplements that might be contaminated, please read FDA’s “Tainted products marketed as dietary supplements.”

Updated 28 March 2019


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U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2019). Tainted sexual enhancement products.   Retrieved 5 March 2019 from