The observed pharmacological effects on androgen status provide a theoretical basis for this activity, but little clinical testing has been conducted.

Results from a 2002 animal study have produced positive results suggestive of aphrodisiac activity (Gauthaman et al 2002). The study compared the effects of subcutaneous testosterone, an orally administered tribulus extract containing protodioscin (45% dry weight) or placebo over 8 weeks in castrated rodents. Both testosterone and tribulus treatment significantly improved sexual behaviour compared with controls, although testosterone was the more effective treatment.

A follow-up study by the same research team added further data (Gauthaman et al 2003). In this study rats were treated with 2.5, 5 and 10 mg/kg once daily for 8 weeks. The results showed a considerable increase in sexual behaviour and slight weight gain compared to controls. Interestingly, the results were more pronounced at the lower dose range.

Despite positive data from animal studies, a recent small controlled clinical trial of tribulus in young men aged between 20 and 36 years showed no statistical increase in testosterone levels in the treated group (Neychev & Mitev 2005). Men were divided into two treatment groups (each n = 7) and one control group (n = 7). One group was given 10 mg/kg and the other 20 mg/kg per day divided into three even doses for 4 weeks. There was no significant change in testosterone, androstenedione or luteinising hormone.

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