Tribulus terrestris (puncture vine) has been used as a supplement for treating everything from infections to high blood pressure -- but does it really work?

Jill Fromer/Photodisc/Getty Images

When you hear the name tribulus terrestris, you might think that you're about to get a lesson in Latin. Fear not, though, tribulus terrestris is the name of a noxious weed that grows prevalently throughout most of the United States [source: USDA]. Tribulus terrestris is not native to all the places it grows now, but the herb has become naturalized in most all regions. You might also hear it referred to as "puncture vine" because of the plant's spiny parts [source: Calflora].

Though the barbed bur of the tribulus terrestris may sound intimidating, many people claim that it has quite a few functions for the body other than poking holes in the skin. You can find tribulus terrestris in the form of a supplement on the shelves of most health and fitness stores. The supplement is a combination of extracts from different components found within the tribulus terrestris plant [source: Monson and Schoenstadt].

There are several claims about what tribulus terrestris supplements can do for the body. The two most common reasons people begin taking the supplements is to increase sexual desire and to increase muscle mass. Athletes especially are attracted to the muscle-building properties promoted by tribulus terrestris claims. People have also taken tribulus terrestris to treat serious illnesses such as cancer, kidney problems and blood pressure problems [source: Monson and Schoenstadt].

These restorative properties and more are claimed to come from this prickly plant. Read the next page to discover the benefits of using tribulus terrestris.