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Tribulus terrestris

Tribulus terrestris


No documentation.

Vernacular Name

Gokshura, gokhru, nerunji, puncture vine.


The prostate, flat stems radiate from the crown to a diameter of up to a meter. They grow in horizontal patches unless growing in shade where they tend to grow taller. Gokshura produces flowers that are 5 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

Gokshura is a flowering annual found widely throughout India at elevations up to 5,400 meters. 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. [2][3][4]

Plant Part Used

Fruit and root. Occasionally the stem is used as an astringent. [1]

Traditional Use

Gokshura fruit is classically known as a diuretic in Ayurvedic medicine and is favored for its balancing and cleansing properties. In traditional Ayurveda, Gokshura is known to cleanse the urinary tract, assist in maintaining a healthy respiratory system, and as an aphrodisiac. Gokshura mollifies all three doshas, specifically the Vata and Pitta doshas. Gokshura has a Madhura (sweet) rasa and typically has a cooling effect on the body. In Ayruveda, both the fruit and the root are used, most typically dried and powdered. The dried plant and fruit are demulcent, tonic and reportedly aphrodisiac. 

According to the Indian Materia Medica, its actions include Mathura rasam, seethe verryam, mootralam, vrishyam, dipanam, balakaram, pushtikaram, prameham, arsas, krichram among others. [5] 


5-1g dried fruit powder as directed. [1]

Standardization Dosage

250 mg extract of fruit standardized to contain 40% saponins.



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] 

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] 

T. terrestris is also used as anaphrodisiac, primarily in males and, due to its ability increase certain sexual horomones, it has been used in mild cases of erectile dysfunction. [12][13] 

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. [14][15] There have also been reports of increased incidence of gynaecomastia in male body builders. [16]


T. terrestris is also often used in the treatment of hypertension 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. [17][18]

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. [12][13]

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

T. terrestris has been reported safe in recommeneded dosages.


Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

No documentation.

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  1)  South Africa Herbs


  1. Kapoor, LD. CRC Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1990.325.
  2. Conrad J, Dinchev D, Klaiber I, Mika S, Kostova I, Kraus W.A novel furostanol saponin from Tribulus terrestris of Bulgarian origin. Fitoterapia. Mar2004;75(2):117-122.
  3. Huang JW, Tan CH, Jiang SH, Zhu DY.Terrestrinins A and B, two new steroid saponins from Tribulus terrestris. J Asian Nat Prod Res. Dec2003;5(4):285-290.
  4. De Combarieu E, Fuzzati N, Lovati M, Mercalli E.Furostanol saponins from Tribulus terrestris. Fitoterapia. Sep2003;74(6):583-591.
  5. Nadkarni AK, Indian Materia Medica, Volume 1. 3rd Edition. Bombay:Popular Prakashan Pvt. Ltd;1982.
  6. 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. Feb2008;9(2):154-159.
  7. 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.
  8. Bedir E, Khan IA, Walker LA.Biologically active steroidal glycosides from Tribulus terrestris. Pharmazie. Jul2002;57(7):491-493.
  9. 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. Jul2004;29(7):681-684.
  10. Yang HJ, Qu WJ, Sun B.Experimental study of saponins from Tribulus terrestris on renal carcinoma cell line. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. Aug2005;30(16):1271-1274.
  11. 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). Jan2007;232(1):126-133.
  12. Gauthaman K, Ganesan AP, Prasad RN. Sexual effects of puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris) extract (protodioscin): an evaluation using a rat model. J Altern Complement Med. Apr2003; 9(2): 257-265.
  13. 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. Jan2008;15(1-2):44-54.
  14. Neychev VK, Mitev VI.The aphrodisiac herb Tribulus terrestris does not influence the androgen production in young men. J Ethnopharmacol. 3Oct2005;101(1-3):319-323.
  15. 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.
  16. Jameel JK, Kneeshaw PJ, Rao VS, Drew PJ.Gynaecomastia and the plant product "Tribulis terrestris". Breast. Oct2004;13(5):428-430.
  17. Premila, M.S. Ayurvedic Herbs: A Clinical Guide to the Healing Plants of Traditional Indian Medicine. Binghamton, NY: The Hayworth Press; 2006.  
  18. 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. Feb1990;10(2):85-87,68. 

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