Tribulus terrestris


Tribulus terrestris


No documentation.

Vernacular Name

Tadjaroft ,Gokhru, Nerunji, Puncture vine, Gokshura


Tribulus terrestris has the prostate, flat stems radiate from the crown to a diametre of up to a metre. They grow in horizontal patches unless growing in shade where they tend to grow taller. T. terrestris produces flowers that are mesuaring 5mm to 10mm wide with yellow petals. The flowers produce a fruit that is composed of four or five sections or nutlets which have sharp spines. The carpals of the fruit resemble the cloven hoof of a cow.

Origin / Habitat

T. terrestris is a flowering annual found widely throughout India at elevations up to 5,400 metre. It thrives in warm and tropical areas of the world and can grow in desert conditions and sandy soils. It can also grow as a summer annual in colder climates.

Chemical Constituents

Terrestrosins A, B, C, D, E; alkaloids; Sterols including Beta-sitosterol, campesterol, stigmasterol; flavinoids; terrestiamide, tannins, tribol, spirostanol saponins [1][2][3].

Plant Part Used

Fruit and root. Occasionally the stem is used as an astringent [4].

Traditional Use

In the variety of African traditional medical systems, the most concentrated usage of T. terrestris occurs in the Central Saharan region of the continent. Most commonly, it is the fruit of T. terrestris that is used in its various applications. As it is throughout the rest of its natural habitat, one of the most common uses of T. terrestris is that of an aphrodisiac. In Algeria, one popular application of T. terrestris as an aphrodisiac is an infusion of the fruit ingested [4]. In West Africa, it is more common for the fruits to be ingested alone to achieve the same effect [4].In other cases, the whole plant is decocted and ingested [5]. In cases of certain sexually transmitted diseases, namely gonorrhea, the roots are boiled in water, and then ingested throughout the day [6].

Another very common usage of T. terrestris is as a gastrointestinal aide. In cases of diarrhea, the leaves and twigs are often used to alleviate symptoms. In some cases, leafy twigs are macerated and combined with herbs into a sauce which is eaten with meals [5]. In other cases, a leaf tea is ingested [4]. T. terrestris is also considered in some African traditional medical systems to be a very effective diuretic. Fruit extracts of T. terrestris have been used and thought to be both diuretic and stimulant [7].



T. terrestris has been found in laboratory studies to possess antifungal and antibacterial properties. In one study this herb was tested against 11 species of pathogenic and non-pathogenic microorganisms. Extracts from all parts of the plant were tested and all demonstrated antimicrobial activity against most of the 11 organisms. Of the plant parts tested, the most active against both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria was ethanol extract from the fruits. This same extract also demonstrated anti-fungal activity against C. albicans [8]. An in vitro study examined the anti-fungal activity of eight saponins from T. terrestris against six fluconazole-resistant yeasts. The results demonstrated effective antifungal activity for two of the saponins (TTS-12 and TTS-15) against several candidal species [9]. Additional research has supported these findings [10].

Research has continued into the cytotoxic properties of T. terrestris against several types of cancer cell lines. One of the active principles of this herb, spirostanol glycoside, demonstrated a broad range of anticancer activity against multiple areas [10]. In one study, saponins from T. terrestris were examined against liver cancer cell lines. The saponins demonstrated cytotoxic activity against the liver cancer cells through apoptosis [11]. In an in-vitro study, saponins were examined against renal carcinoma cells and again, the results indicated that the saponins decreased the number of cancer cells though apoptosis [12]. The method by which this action takes place is thought to involve up- and down-regulation of polyamines' homeostasis, suppression of proliferation, and inducing apoptosis [13].

T. terrestris is also often used in the treatment of hypertension [14] and in heart disease. In one fairly large study of over 400 patients with coronary heart disease, saponins from T. terrestris demonstrated the action of dilating coronary artery and improving coronary circulation and demonstrated more positive effects on improving ECG of myocardial ischemia than patients in a control group taking Yufen Ningxin Pian. Researchers concluded that this herb has the potential to be an ideal treatment for angina pectoris as it produces no adverse side effects on hepatic and renal functions even when taken over a long period of time [15].

T. terrestris is also used as anaphrodisiac, primarily in males [16] and, due to its ability increase certain sexual hormones, it has been used in mild cases of erectile dysfunction [17].


T. terrestris is also marketed as a dietary supplement to improve endurance and strength during exercise. Not only has this not been substantiated, but there have been numerous studies that have shown negative results for this application [18][19]. There have also been reports of increased incidence of gynaecomastia in male body builders [20].

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.

Interaction with Drugs

Based on pharmacology, use with caution if taking hormonal medications such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

Tribulus has been reported safe in recommended dosages


Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

No documentation.

Read More

  1) Ayuverda


  1. Conrad J, Dinchev D, Klaiber I, Mika S, Kostova I, Kraus W.A novel furostanol saponin from Tribulus terrestris of Bulgarian origin. Fitoterapia. Mar. 2004;75(2):117-122.
  2. Huang JW, Tan CH, Jiang SH, Zhu DY. Terrestrinins A and B, two new steroid saponins from Tribulus terrestris. J Asian Nat Prod Res. Dec. 2003;5(4):285-290.
  3. De Combarieu E, Fuzzati N, Lovati M, Mercalli E. Furostanol saponins from Tribulus terrestris. Fitoterapia. Sept. 2003;74(6):583-591.
  4. Baerts-Lehmann M, Lehmann J. Prelude Medicinal Plants Database. Catholic University of Louvain. 2007 Available from: [Accessed on  March 18, 2010]
  5. Neuwinger HD. African Traditional Medicine: A Dictionary of Plant Use and Applications. Stuttgart, Germany: Medpharm Gmbh Scientific Publishers; 2000:338-339.
  6. Samuelsson G, Farah MH, Claeson P, Hagos M, Thulin M, Hedberg O, Warfa AM, Hassan AO, Elmi AH, Abdurahman AD, et al. Inventory of plants used in traditional medicine in Somalia. IV. Plants of the families Passifloraceae-Zygophyllaceae. J Ethnopharmacol. Jan. 1993;38(1):1-29.
  7. Kerharo J, Adam JG. La Pharmacopée Sénégalaise Traditionnelle: Plantes Médicinales et Toxiques. Paris, France: Vigot Publishing; 1974.
  8. Al-Bayati FA, Al-Mola HF.Antibacterial and antifungal activities of different parts of Tribulus terrestris L. growing in Iraq. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. Feb. 2008;9(2):154-159.
  9. Zhang JD, Cao YB, Xu Z, Sun HH, An MM, Yan L, Chen HS, Gao PH, Wang Y, Jia XM, Jiang YY. In vitro and in vivo antifungal activities of the eight steroid saponins from Tribulus terrestris L. with potent activity against fluconazole-resistant fungal pathogens. Biol Pharm Bull. Dec. 2005;28(12):2211-2215.
  10. Bedir E, Khan IA, Walker LA. Biologically active steroidal glycosides from Tribulus terrestris. Pharmazie. Jul. 2002;57(7):491-493.
  11. Sun B, Qu WJ, Zhang XL, Yang HJ, Zhuang XY, Zhang P.Investigation on inhibitory and apoptosis-inducing effects of saponins from Tribulus terrestris on hepatoma cell line BEL-7402. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. Jul. 2004;29(7):681-684.
  12. Yang HJ, Qu WJ, Sun B. Experimental study of saponins from Tribulus terrestris on renal carcinoma cell line. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. Aug. 2005;30(16):1271-1274.
  13. Neychev VK, Nikolova E, Zhelev N, Mitev VI.Saponins from Tribulus terrestris L are less toxic for normal human fibroblasts than for many cancer lines: influence on apoptosis and proliferation. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). Jan. 2007;232(1):126-133.
  14. Premila, M.S. Ayurvedic Herbs: A Clinical Guide to the Healing Plants of Traditional Indian Medicine. Binghamton, NY: The Hayworth Press; 2006.
  15. Wang B, Ma L, Liu T. 406 cases of angina pectoris in coronary heart disease treated with saponin of Tribulus terrestris. Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. Feb. 1990;10(2):85-87, 68.
  16. Gauthaman K, Ganesan AP, Prasad RN.  Sexual effects of puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris) extract (protodioscin): an evaluation using a rat model. J Altern Complement Med. Apr. 2003; 9(2): 257-265
  17. Gauthaman K, Ganesan AP. The hormonal effects of Tribulus Terrestris and its role in the management of male erectile dysfunction and evaluation using primates, rabbit and rat. Phytomedicine Jan. 2008;15(1-2):44-54
  18. Neychev VK, Mitev VI. The aphrodisiac herb Tribulus terrestris does not influence the androgen production in young men. J Ethnopharmacol. Oct. 3, 2005;101(1-3):319-323.
  19. Rogerson S, Riches CJ, Jennings C, Weatherby RP, Meir RA, Marshall-Gradisnik SM. The effect of five weeks of Tribulus terrestris supplementation on muscle strength and body composition during preseason training in elite rugby league players. J Strength Cond Res. May 2007;21(2):348-353.
  20. Jameel JK, Kneeshaw PJ, Rao VS, Drew PJ.Gynaecomastia and the plant product "Tribulis terrestris". Breast. Oct. 2004;13(5):428-430.