When searching for the natural testosterone booster, tribulus terrestris, many people stumble upon its cousin; tribulus aquaticus. But does this plant from the same family share any of the benefits of tribulus terrestris?
Keen to take advantage of any replacement for anabolic steroids that purport similar results, many people are led to believe that tribulus aquaticus offers a safe way to build lean muscle and reduce body fat without the side-effects.
In this guide, we take a look at what tribulus aquaticus consists of and its major benefits to health as well as looking at the claims (by some) that this plant can boost testosterone levels.
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What is Tribulus Aquaticus?
Also known as the underground pear, the bulbs of the tribulus aquaticus plant are similar to a water chestnut. A perennial herb grown in boggy soil, the stem and leaves shoot dark green tufts whilst the bulb is a dark brown ‘hoof’ shaped fruit. Inside the bulb, the flesh is juicy and white with a sweet and crisp taste.
The plant is native to India but is also grown in Asia, Africa and Europe. Used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines, the leaves, fruit and stem have also been reportedly used in bodybuilding communities as a replacement for anabolic steroids to enhance muscle growth and boost testosterone.
What does Tribulus Aquaticus Contain?
A nutrient rich plant, 100g of fresh bulbs contains:
- Protein: 0.8g to 1.5g
- Carbohydrate: 12.9g to 21.8g
- Fat: 0.3g
- Dietary fibre: 0.3g
- Ash: 0.8g
- Calcium: 4mg
- Phosphorous: 45mg
- Iron: 0.8mg
Tribulus aquaticus also contains carotene, vitamin C, vitamin B (riboflavin, B6 and folate), antioxidants (polyphenols, flavonoids and tannins) as well as other minerals, including:
What are the Benefits of Tribulus Aquaticus?
With ancient roots in traditional medicine, tribulus aquaticus has been used to treat the symptoms of a variety of ailments and there is strong scientific evidence to support its use in the following ways:
- Rich in starch and crude protein, tribulus aquaticus can promote good bowel health and has been used to treat constipation, abdominal distension and dyspepsia.
- A good diuretic, an extract can be used to treat patients with urinary tract infections.
- Preparations of the herb have been shown to have anti-mucus benefits and can be used to treat patients suffering from excess mucus as a result of chest, nasal and throat infections and can reduce the amount of phlegm produced.
- According to recent research, tribulus aquatics has antimicrobial properties that can make it a powerful treatment against pathogens and bacteria such as Micrococcus flavus and Trichosporon beigelli; the latter can cause pneumonia.
- A juicy and crunchy bulb, the ‘fruit’ of the tribulus aquaticus is a tasty addition to salads and stir frys in the same way that conventional water chestnuts are. They are not recommended to be eaten raw.
- A preparation of the plant has been used to treat ulcers in Ayurvedic medicine but it is unclear whether this has any basis in modern science.
- There is also some early evidence to suggest that this starch rich plant can have a positive effect as an alternative treatment for patients suffering from high blood sugar such as diabetics. Further research is needed in this area though it continues to be used in Ayurvedic medicine to regulate blood sugar in patients suffering from diabetes.
- Also requiring further evidence based research, the tribulus aquaticus bulb has been found to have pain relieving properties. This has yet to be assessed in humans but, in findings published in the Journal of Current Pharmaceutical Research (January 2010), the plant may be a suitable alternative to opiate based pain relief. It seems to work in two capacities; reducing inflammation and supressing pain signals in the central nervous system.
In addition, sports nutritionists (in particular those that prepare commercial supplements for athletes) claim that tribulus aquaticus can help reduce body fat, promote lean muscle growth and boost testosterone levels.
What are the Side Effects of Tribulus Aquaticus?
It is not recommended that pregnant women eat any part of the tribulus aquaticus plant as it can induce uterine contractions. People who suffer from loose stools or poor digestion are also cautioned against eating this plant.
Because the plant has been linked to reducing blood sugar it is not recommended that anyone who is using other forms of blood sugar lowering medication use tribulus aquaticus.
Overall, the safety of the plant has not been thoroughly studied but it is not thought that there are any serious side effects associated with its use.
Is There Any Evidence Behind the Claims That Tribulus Aquaticus Can Boost Testosterone?
Unfortunately not. The fact that tribulus aquatics shares a similar name to tribulus terrestris and come from the same family of plants appears to be all that supports this claim. Whereas the terrestris variety contains steroidal saponins that have been shown to boost testosterone levels both in animal studies and blind human studies, these components are lacking in the aquaticus variety.
Whilst aquaticus is rich in antioxidants which can be a useful building block in muscle repair in the result of injury, there are no compounds within the physical make-up of tribulus aquaticus that support claims it can boost testosterone.
Are there any other species of Tribulus that are similar?
There are thirteen species of the Tribulus plant, most are cultivated for their ornamental appeal and none have similar properties to tribulus terrestris. Most grow in warm, tropical conditions and many are considered weeds, including terrestris, cistoides, zeyheri and longipetalus.
For further reading on natural ways to boost testosterone, you can read our full guide here.
Featured image courtesy of difangzhi.org