Tribulus terrestris L.

Last updated: 10 January 2017

Scientific Name

Tribulus terrestris L.

Synonyms

Tribulus lanuginosus L. Tribulus saharae A. Chev. Tribulus terrestris var. sericeus Andersson ex Svenson. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Tadjaroft , gokhru, nerunji, puncture vine, gokshura [2]
Thailand khokkrasun (central); naam krasung, naam din (northern) [3]
Vietnam t[aaj]t l[ee], b[aj]ch t[aaj]t l[ee], gai ma v[uw][ow]ng [3]

Geographical Distributions

Tribulus terrestris is native of the Mediterranean region, now widespread throughout the world from 35°S to 47°N, often as a noxious weed. It is not recorded as a weed in Central or South America, South-East Asia or western Africa. [3]

Botanical Description

T. terrestris has the prostate, flat stems radiate from the crown to a diameter 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 measuring 5 mm to 10 mm 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. [2][3]

Cultivation

No documentation

Chemical Constituent

T. terrestris  has been reported to contain terrestrosins A, B, C, D, E; alkaloids; Sterols including β-sitosterol, campesterol, stigmasterol; flavinoids; terrestiamide, tannins, tribol, spirostanol saponins. [4][5][6]

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. 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. In West Africa, it is more common for the fruits to be ingested alone to achieve the same effect. [3] In other cases, the whole plant is decocted and ingested. [7] In cases of certain sexually transmitted diseases, namely gonorrhea, the roots are boiled in water, and then ingested throughout the day. [8]

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. [7] In other cases, a leaf tea is ingested. [3] 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. [9]

Preclinical Data

Pharmacology

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. [10] 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. [11] Additional research has supported these findings. [12]

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. [12] 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 apoptosi. [13] 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. [14] 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. [15]

T. terrestris is also often used in the treatment of hypertension and in heart disease. [16] 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]

T. terrestris is also used as anaphrodisiac, primarily in males and, due to its ability increase certain sexual hormones, it has been used in mild cases of erectile dysfunction. [18][19]

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. [20][21] There have also been reports of increased incidence of gynaecomastia in male body builders. [22]

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

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. [20][21] There have also been reports of increased incidence of gynaecomastia in male body builders. [22]

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. [20]

Interaction & Depletion

Interaction with drug

Based on pharmacology, use with caution if taking hormonal medications such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. [14][15]

Dosage

Dosage Range

5-1g dried fruit powder as directed. [2]

Most Common Dosage

No documentation

Standardisation

250 mg extract of fruit standardized to contain 40% saponins. [2]

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing

No documentation

References

  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Tribulus terrestris L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Apr 18; cited 2016 Jan 15]. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/search?q=Tribulus+terrestris
  2. Kapoor LD. CRC Handbook of Ayurvedic medicinal plants. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 1990; p. 325.
  3. Chuakul W, Soonthornchareonnon N, Ruangsomboon O. Tribulus terrestris L. In: van Valkenburg JLCH, Bunyapraphatsara N, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 2001; p. 562
  4. Conrad J, Dinchev D, Klaiber I, Mika S, Kostova I, Kraus W. A novel furostanol saponin from Tribulus terrestris of Bulgarian origin. Fitoterapia. 2004;75(2):117-122.
  5. Huang JW, Tan CH, Jiang SH, Zhu DY. Terrestrinins A and B, two new steroid saponins from Tribulus terrestris. J Asian Nat Prod Res. 2003;5(4):285-290.
  6. De Combarieu E, Fuzzati N, Lovati M, Mercalli E. Furostanol saponins from Tribulus terrestris. Fitoterapia. 2003;74(6):583-591.
  7. Neuwinger HD. African traditional medicine: A dictionary of plant use and applications. Stuttgart, Germany: Medpharm Gmbh Scientific Publishers, 2000; p. 338-339.
  8. Samuelsson G, Farah MH, Claeson P, et al. Inventory of plants used in traditional medicine in Somalia. IV. Plants of the families Passifloraceae-Zygophyllaceae. J Ethnopharmacol. 1993;38(1):1-29.
  9. Kerharo J, Adam JG. La Pharmacopée sénégalaise traditionnelle: Plantes médicinales et toxiques. Paris, France: Vigot Publishing; 1974.
  10. 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. 2008;9(2):154-159.
  11. Zhang JD, Cao YB, Xu Z, et al. 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. 2005;28(12):2211-2215.
  12. Bedir E, Khan IA, Walker LA. Biologically active steroidal glycosides from Tribulus terrestris. Pharmazie. 2002;57(7):491-493.
  13. 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. 2004;29(7):681-684.
  14. Yang HJ, Qu WJ, Sun B. Experimental study of saponins from Tribulus terrestris on renal carcinoma cell line. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2005;30(16):1271-1274.
  15. 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). 2007;232(1):126-133.
  16. Premila MS. Ayurvedic herbs: A clinical guide to the healing plants of traditional indian medicine. Binghamton, New York: The Hayworth Press; 2006.
  17. 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. 1990;10(2):85-87, 68.
  18. Gauthaman K, Ganesan AP, Prasad RN.  Sexual effects of puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris) extract (protodioscin): an evaluation using a rat model. J Altern Complement Med. 2003; 9(2): 257-265
  19. 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. 2008;15(1-2):44-54
  20. Neychev VK, Mitev VI. The aphrodisiac herb Tribulus terrestris does not influence the androgen production in young men. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005;101(1-3):319-323.
  21. 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. 2007;21(2):348-353.
  22. Jameel JK, Kneeshaw PJ, Rao VS, Drew PJ. Gynaecomastia and the plant product "Tribulis terrestris". Breast. 2004;13(5):428-430.