Protodioscin is a steroidal saponin, whose term in the official IUPAC nomenclature is: (2S,3R,4R,5R,6S)-2-[(2R,3S,4S,5R,6R)-4-hydroxy-2-( hydroxymethyl)-6-[[(1S,2S,4S,6R, 7S,8R,9S,12S,13R,16S)-6-hydroxy-7,9,13-trimethyl-6-[(3R)-3- methyl-4-[(2R,3R,4S,5S,6R) -3,4,5-trihydroxy-6-(hydroxymethyl)oxane-2-yl]oxybutyl]-5-oxopentacyclo[10.8.0.02,9.04,8.013 ,18]icos-18-en-16-yl]oxy]- 5-[(2S,3R,4R,5R,6S)-3,4,5-trihydroxy-6-methyloxane-2-yl]oxoxane-3 -yl]oxy-6-methyloxane-3,4,5-triol.
Protodioscin has a brute or molecular formula: C51H84O22.
This substance is a substance found in a number of plant species, particularly in the Tribulus, Trigonella Dioscorea and Trillium families, and is best known as the purported active component of the aphrodisiac plant Tribulus terrestris.
In fact, about 45% of this substance is obtained from the extract obtained from the aerial parts of this plant.
The substance is able to increase the endogenous production of testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, luteinizing hormone (LH), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEA-S).
The pharmacological tests performed on Tribulus terrestris did not reveal any particular contraindications, so much so that in Italy, the sale of T. terrestris is not subject to any type of restriction.
Researches in this regard have demonstrated that the extracts of T. terrestris standardized for the protodioscin content produce pro-erectile effects in isolated tissues and an aphrodisiac action in various animal species.
Protodioscin is thought to achieve this primarily by causing an increase in androgen receptor immunoreactivity, meaning that it increases the concentration of androgen receptors in cells, causing the body to become more sensitive to androgens such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Nonetheless, the mechanism of these effects has not yet been clearly established; in animal laboratory studies protodioscin has been shown to trigger the release of nitric oxide in corpus cavernosum tissue and also produce statistically significant increases in the levels of the hormones testosterone, dihydrotestosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone; however, human studies have failed to demonstrate efficacy, so its use remains controversial and debated.
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