Puncturevine (Texas Burr, Tribulus terrestus, TT) is an herb that is used in natural medicine as an energizer. The authors studied the effects of TT in rats, testing weight gains and losses, sexual behavior and blood pressure before and after treatment.
TT contains steroidal glycosides (saponins) and protodioscin (PTN), which is an aphrodisiac. The present study was to confirm the aphrodisiac nature of TT. Erectile dysfunction is “the inability to achieve or maintain an erection that is sufficient for satisfactory sexual performance.”
Male rats, in this eight-week study, were treated with 2.5, 5, or 10 mg./kg. TT, or given a placebo. They were placed with females and their sexual behavior was observed.
Weight gain was found in the treated group, especially the group that received the highest dose of TT. Treatment increased sexual activity, especially in the groups receiving 5 and 10 mg./kg. TT. Blood pressure increases were seen, especially at the higher doses. Testosterone and dihydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) are known to increase the blood pressure in humans.
Previous studies of primates have shown higher levels of testosterone, dihydrotestosterone and DHEA. Weight gain can be seen when androgens cause increased appetite. PTN can be converted to DHEA in the body.
CONCLUSION: Weight gain and increased sexual behavior seen with Puncturevine may be the result of androgen activity. TT seems to be “sex enhancing.” The active ingredient may be a chemical that is converted to DHEA. The result could be increased levels of nitric oxide synthesis. DHEA has an antagonistic effect on GABA, which has sexual inhibiting activity.
NOTE: Protodioscin (PTN) is a steroidal saponin found in herbs that has been shown to have anti-cancer effects. Saponins are a group of glycosides found in plants, which forms foam with water. Glycosides are composed of a sugar combined with a non-sugar component. A steroidal saponin is composed of a glucose and a steroid and steroids are a group of lipids with hormonal effects.
Read about the sexual effects of Maca, an herb from Peru.