3D illustration of “MUSCLE SORENESS” title on a medical document

Making the time to exercise, developing a balanced routine, and setting goals can be challenging, but adding the muscle soreness that comes with adapting to that fitness regimen may make it challenging to stay on track. But, don’t worry, if these researchers are right, muscle soreness may be history.

According to Leila Ataei, Tribulus Terrestris L. supplementation can reduce acute aerobic exercise-induced oxidative stress and inflammation and improve delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

Tribulus Terrestris L. belongs to the Zygophyllaceae family and is used for various diseases worldwide. Since it is a component of many supplements available over the counter and widely recommended, generally as enhancers of human vitality.

Traditional folk medicine is widely used as a tonic, palliative, astringent, stomachic, antihypertensive, diuretic, and urinary disinfectant. Tribulus Terrestris L. is especially popular in the sports industry.  

Tribulus Terrestris L. has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, but its effects on exercise-induced oxidative stress and inflammation remain unclear. Therefore, a randomized, double-blind, crossover study was conducted with thirteen healthy men who received either a daily supplement of Tribulus Terrestris L. or a placebo for four weeks (two weeks washout between trials).

Participants were assessed for DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), thigh circumference, knee joint range of motion, and knee joint range of motion after an exercise test (2, 24, and 48 h) before and after the supplementation period.

Purpose of Using Tribulus Terrestris L. for Muscle Soreness

There is a growing popularity for Terrestris products in sports. The plant has been widely marketed as a sport dietary or nutritional supplement to increase testosterone levels. In addition, its androgenic derivatives, such as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), have been shown to promote muscle growth. Still, many studies have not supported such effects. Therefore, athletes must remember that some sports authorities do not recommend using products that contain Tribulus Terrestris L. extract.  

Tribulus Terrestris L. herb is a testosterone enhancer, which may partly explain why active individuals often take its supplements to enhance their body composition by increasing muscle or reducing fat. However, research shows that it may not live up to these claims.

There are also limited studies on whether Tribulus Terrestris L. improves body composition or performance in active men and women. One study examined how the supplement affected rugby performance in elite men.

Supplements were taken for five weeks while men were weight trained, but there was no difference in strength or body composition between supplement and placebo groups by the end of the study.

An additional study found that after eight weeks of taking this supplement with exercise, there was no significant improvement in strength, muscle endurance, or body composition. 

What Did The Study Reveal?

Reduced (GSH) and oxidized (GSSG) glutathione levels, GSH/GSSG ratios, protein carbonyl levels, total antioxidant capacity, creatine kinase activity, white blood cell counts, and TBARS were measured in blood samples. 

Both the Tribulus and Placebo groups experienced inflammation and a change in blood redox status (p < 0.050) during acute exercise to exhaustion. As a result of Tribulus Terrestris L., GSH fell (p = 0.005), GSSG rose (p = 0.001), and GSH/GSSG ratios were maintained at the 2 h point (p = 0.034), TBARS decreased, protein carbonyls, creatine kinase activity, and white blood cell count were significantly diminished (p < 0.050). 

Tribulus Terrestris L. administration did not alter DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), thigh circumference, and KJRM (p > 0.050). Four weeks of treatment with Tribulus Terrestris L. attenuated oxidative stress responses but did not improve DOMS.  

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