Tribulus Terrestris

Botanical Name: Tribulus Terrestris

Sanskrit Name: Gokshura

Family Name: Zygophyllaceaea


Vernacular names :

Common name – cow hage

  1. Hindi – gokhura
  2. Kannada –sannaneggilu
  3. Malayalam –nerunji
  4. Tamil –neringil
  5. Telugu – palleru


Iksugandhika, svadamstra ,Trikantaka, Svadukantaka , Palankasa

Ganas in classical texts:

Charaka: sothahara, mutravirechaniya, krimighna

Susruta: vidarigandhadi. Virataravadi, laghupanchamulavirataravadi



The name and synonyms of Goksura are not found in the vedicliterature. Charaka identified it as the best drug for mutrakrichra(dysuria) and Vatarogas (C.S.Su.25). It is one ofthe herbs which is “Mutrala” (diuretic) as well as “Sothahara(anti-inflammatory). The root is used in Dagamula while the fruitis Vrisya. Bapalalji is of the view that both roots and fruits art. In be used along with whole plant in Ashmari (Urolithiosis)

Controversial Studies

Quoting his great teacher late AmritalalPattani, VaidyaBapalal stated that ‘Trikantaka’ should possess three spines/spurs but not six or four as the case with TribulusPedalium. Even considering the term Gokshura the fruit is not like the hoof of a cow. Another herbMartyniadiandra (Pedaliaceae) may be the true Gokshura according to Pattani. Bapalalji is of the opinion that Acanthospermumhispidium Dc is the real Goksura. ivadasasen considered that bigger variety of Goksura is the best one (while commenting on Chakradatta).

Nrityakundaka or Nrityakundala mentioned by Vagbhata(A.H.Ci.11/30) is considered as another source for Gokshura according to Pattani. But Thakur BalvantSinghji described it as Eleusinecorocana which is a different plant.(compositae)

In Punjab and Sindh Xanthium strumarium used for smallpox. Late Dr. SakharamArjun considers it as Goksura.


We come across utilization of two varieties of Goksuraviz, Brihat(Pedalium murex Linn.) and Laghu (T. terrestris) varieties.

Botanical details

(i) Tribulus Terrestris —A small, prostrate, hirsute or silky hairy herb. Leaves-stipulate, opposite, usually unequal, abruptly pinnate; leaflets 4-7 pairs, oblong, mucronate.

Flowers- solitary, axillary or leaf-opposed, yellow or white. Fruits-globose, hairy, 5-angled, spinous with 2 long and 2 short spines on each cocci. Seeds- obliquely pendulous.(Flowers and fruits during April-August).

(ii) P. murex— A glabrous annual herb. Leaves- opposite or alternate, petioled irregularly toothed or almost lobed. Flowers-solitary, axillary, with 2 glands at the base, Calyx small 5-partite. Corolla yellow. Stamens 4, didynamous, included, Ovary 2-called. Fruits-hard indehiscent, pyramidal-ovoid capsules with 4 patent spines from base.

Chemical constituents

Fruits—Chlorogenin, diosgenin, gitogenin, rutin, rhamnose

Roots—Campesterol,   p—sitosterol       and   stigmasterol, neotigogenin

Aerial parts— astragalin, dioscin, diosgenin, hecogenin, ruscogenin, trillin, furostanol glycoside, spirosterolsaponin; terrestrosides A-F saponins C and G etc.


Rasa –madhura

Guna – guru, snigdha

Virya – sita

Vipaka –madhura

Karma –vata- pitta hara, vrisya, mutrala, rasayana


Mutrakricchra, Asmari, Prameha, Hridroga, svasa-Kasa, Klaibya.


Decoction 50-100ml, powder 3-6g

Therapeutic uses

(1) Vajikarana- Powder of Goksura fruit is boiled withmilk and consumed (G. N.)

(2) Amavata— Decoction of Sunthi and Goksura (root?) will be of defenite use (C. D.)

(3) KesaVardhana— Gokshura and the flowers of Tila are applied externally by making them into paste using honey (Sa.Sam.)


  • Gokshuradiguggulu
  • Gokshurakarasayana
  • Gokshuradichurnam
  • Gokshuradyavaleha
  • Gokshuradikvath

Tribulus Terrestris and Testosterone

As a dietary supplement, Tribulus Terrestris has been shown in some animal studies to increase levels of testosterone and to increase sex drive and performance. See also our article on Testosterone. Historically, it has been used to treat a wide variety of conditions, but today it is mainly used by athletes to increase strength and muscle mass, as well as for sexual enhancement in both men and women. A study in Bulgaria in the seventies alleged that it encouraged androgen production and reception. Some attribute the Olympic success of the Bulgarian weight-lifting team to the use of this herb. It continues to be used by those who believe that the active ingredients increase testosterone levels, as well as sexual and athletic performance. It is believed to increase sperm production in men and egg production in women. It also is used to treat erectile dysfunction.

Research works

(1) Anti-cancer activity – One of the three new steroidsaponins from the fruits of T. terrestris exhibited cytotoxic activity against a human malignant melanoma cell line (Behdirkhan, 2000).

(2) Nephroprotective activity– Nephroprotective activity was evaluated in gentamicin-induced nephrotoxicity (80 mg/kg/daS.C.) in male albino rats, NR-AG-I (Containing C. nurvala, T Terrestris, D. biflorus&Shilajit) and NR- AG-II (C. nurvala, B diffusa S. officinarun& B, frondosa) were tested given for i2 days. Vrea clearance and microscopical examinations of kidney were performed after the treatment. Gentamicin causednephrotoxicity as evidenced by significant reduction in urea clearance and was prevented by both formulations. Study of renal microscopy showed necrosis, epithelial loss with granular degeneration and fatty changes in gentamicin treated rats and was reversed by both formulations. But, NR-I Proved to be better formulation (due to presence of T-terrestris)-(Samiulla& Harish, 2001).

Simultaneous adminitstration of T-terrestries (200g/kg/dayp.o.) and gentamycin to female rats decreased gentamycin induced renal damage in both structural & functional terms (Nagarkatti et al; 1994)

(3) Lithotriptic property – Aqueous extract of T. terrestris(5 g/kg p.o./day) was tested in 6 male rats in whom hyperoxaluriawas induced. 24 hr urinary oxalate excretion reversed to normal, from 1.97±0.314 to 0.144±0.004 mg/ingcreatinine (p<0.001)within 21 days of administrationof drug and renained so until 15 days after withdrawl of extract and sodium glycoate ( samgeetha et al; 1993).

An ethanolic extract from fruits showed significant dose dependent protection against urolithiosis induced by glass bead implantation in albino rats (Anand et al; 1994)

The following reports are also available on the clinical effects of Gokshura in urolithiosisNair P.S. (BHU), 1966; Usha R. (Trivendrum), 1993 &upadhyaya K.N. (BHU), 1995.

Administration of aqueous extract and a significant significantly reduced urinary oxalate excretion, and a significant raise in urinary glyoxylate excretion is also observed as compared to sodium glycoate fed animals (Sangeet et al; 1994).

(4) Hepatoprotective activity –The hepatoprotective activity of T. terrestrio is reported against CC14-induced hepatotoxicity in rats (Lee et al, 1992)

(5) Diuretic activity – The decoction of fruits found to possess a moderate diuretic activity in rats (Gujral et al; 1955).

An alkaloid from T. terrestris produced slight rise in B.P. and appreciable rise in kidney volume (Chopra, 1956).

Watery extract of Gokshura possesses similar diuretic activity like urea both in rats and dogs. The diuresis was due to the potassium content of the extract (Karandikar et al;1960)

(6) Aphrodisiac property – A new original prriloimitio’Tribestan’ has been obtained from T. terrestris having aeffect on sexual functions (Tomova,          1987).

(7) The fruits are credited with diuretic and tonic properties and are used for the treatment of calculousaffections and painful micturition; they are also prescribed in Bright’s disease. The diuretic activity has been a subject of detailed study in both human beings and animals. In dogs, the fruits showed activity comparable to that of urea, but in the rats the activity was less. The diuretic effect of the seeds as well as the aqueous extract of the ashes, obtained by burning the seeds has been studied in albino rats : in isotonic solution, their action was found to be comparable to that of potassium chloride. Besides the potassium content of the fruits, the diuretic effect has also been ascribed to the alkaloidalfraction present in the seeds. This observation has been supported by clinical trials; the use of alkaloidal fraction in cases of ascites and oedema showed mild diuretic action (Kirt. &Basu, I, 421; Indian J. Pharm., 1960, 22, 263; Haravey, Indian J. med. Res., 1966, 54, 774; SanthaKumari&Iyer, ibid., 1967, 55, 714; Chopra &Ghosh, ibid., 1929, 17, 377; Bose et al., loc. cit.)

(8) The leaves are considered to possess stomachic properties. A paste prepared from them is given for the treatment of stones in the bladder. The root is credited with aperient and tonic properties. It forms a constituent of the well-known Ayurvedic medicines Dashamoolarishtha and AmrithaPrasaGhritha, prescribed for several diseases (Rama Rao, 57; Kirt. &Basu, I, 421; Koman, 1919, 46; Pradhan, Indian J. Pharm., 1963, 25, 303).

Side Effects

Tribulus Terrestris may cause stomach upset, but this can usually be controlled by taking the herb with food. It may affect blood sugar levels. Research suggests it can increase prostate size, so should not be used by men with enlarged prostates. It should not be used by women with a history of breast or uterine cancers.

Courtesy : The Wealth of India series , DravyaGuna by Dr. J.L.N. Sastry , InidanMateriaMedica by VaidyaBhagwan Dash , DravyaGuna by Dr. GnjanendraPandey