Ji Li

Tribulus terrestris

Vernacular Name

Gokhru, Nerunji, Puncture vine

Chemical Constituents

Terrestrosins; alkaloids; Sterols including Beta-sitosterol, campesterol, stigmasterol; flavinoids; terrestiamide, tannins, tribol, spirostanol saponins. [3][4][5]


Six to nine grams of powdered herb as directed. [1]




Tribulus terrestris has bitter and pungent taste. It is slightly warming and acts on liver channel dispelling wind. It is regularly used to treat symptoms of liver hyperactivity; treatment of ocular opaqueness and related symptoms; analgesic for chest pain. [1] 


Anti-microbial activity:  

T. terrestris has been found in laboratory studies to possess anti-fungal 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. [6] An invitro study examined the anti-fungal activity of eight saponins from T. terrestris against six fluconazole-resistant yeasts. The results demonstrated effective anti-fungal activity for two of the saponins (TTS-12 and TTS-15) against several candidal species. [7] Additional research has supported these findings. [8] 

Cytotoxic activity: 

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 anti-cancer activity against multiple areas. [8] 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. [9] 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. [10] 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. [11] 

Hypotensive activity: 

T. terrestris is also often used in the treatment of hypertension and in heart disease. [12] 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. [13] 

Aphrodisiac activity: 

T. terrestris is also used as an aphrodisiac, primarily in males and, due to its ability increase certain sexual horomones; it has been used in mild cases of erectile dysfunction. [14][15] 

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. [16][17] There have also been reports of increased incidence of gynaecomastia in male body builders. [18] 


No documentation.

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. [18]

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

May produce hypotensive effects. [12]


Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

Limited data is available. LD50 is 19.8 g/kg body weight expressed as crude plant. [2]


  1. Z. You-Ping. Chinese Matria Medica: Chemistry, Pharmacology and Applications. Florida:CRC Press;1998.530.
  2. A.A. Muneer, W. Salman, T. Husni, A.B. Ahmad. Tribulus terrestris: preliminary study of its diuretic and contractile effects and comparison with Zea mays. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. April 2003;85(2-3):257-260.
  3. J. Conrad, D. Dinchev, I. Klaiber, S. Mika, I. Kostova, W.A. Kraus. A novel furostanol saponin from Tribulus terrestris of Bulgarian origin. Fitoterapia. Mar2004;75(2):117-122.
  4. J.W. Huang, C.H. Tan, S.H. Jiang, D.Y. Zhu. Terrestrinins A and B, two new steroid saponins from Tribulus terrestris. J Asian Nat Prod Res. Dec2003;5(4):285-290.
  5. E. De Combarieu, N. Fuzzati, M. Lovati, E. Mercalli. Furostanol saponins from Tribulus terrestris. Fitoterapia. Sep2003;74(6):583-591.
  6. F.A. Al-Bayati, H.F. Al-Mola. Antibacterial and antifungal activities of different parts of Tribulus terrestris L. growing in Iraq. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. Feb2008;9(2):154-159.
  7. J.D. Zhang, Y.B. Cao, Z. Xu, H.H. Sun, M.M. An, L. Yan, H.S. Chen, P.H. Gao, Y. Wang, X.M. Jia, Y.Y. Jiang. 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.
  8. E. Bedir, I.A. Khan, L.A. Walker. Biologically active steroidal glycosides from Tribulus terrestris. Pharmazie. Jul2002;57(7):491-493.
  9. B. Sun, W.J. Qu, X.L. Zhang, H.J. Yang, X.Y. Zhuang, P. Zhang. Investigation on inhibitory and apoptosis-inducing effects of saponins from Tribulus terrestris on hepatoma cell line BEL-7402. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. Jul2004;29(7):681-684.
  10. H.J. Yang, W.J. Qu, B. Sun. Experimental study of saponins from Tribulus terrestris on renal carcinoma cell line. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. Aug2005;30(16):1271-1274.
  11. V.K. Neychev, E. Nikolova, N. Zhelev, V.I. Mitev. 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). Jan2007;232(1):126-133.
  12. M.S. Premila. Ayurvedic Herbs: A Clinical Guide to the Healing Plants of Traditional Indian Medicine. Binghamton, NY: The Hayworth Press; 2006.
  13. B. Wang, L. Ma, T. Liu. 406 cases of angina pectoris in coronary heart disease treated with saponin of Tribulus terrestris. Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. Feb1990;10(2):85-87, 68.
  14. K. Gauthaman, A.P. Ganesan, R.N. Prasad. Sexual effects of puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris) extract (protodioscin): an evaluation using a rat model. J Altern Complement Med. Apr2003; 9(2): 257-265.
  15. K. Gauthaman, A.P. Ganesan. 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.
  16. V.K. Neychev, V.I. Mitev. The aphrodisiac herb Tribulus terrestris does not influence the androgen production in young men. J Ethnopharmacol. 3Oct2005;101(1-3):319-323.
  17. S. Rogerson, C.J. Riches, C. Jennings, R.P. Weatherby, R.A. Meir, S.M. Marshall-Gradisnik. 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.
  18. J.K. Jameel, P.J. Kneeshaw, V.S. Rao, P.J. Drew. Gynaecomastia and the plant product "Tribulis terrestris". Breast. Oct2004;13(5):428-430.