Tribulus Summary:

Tribulus is a small shrub that can be found growing all over the world, including the harsh environments of the desert. It has the ability to adapt quickly and change its growth pattern depending on the climate they are growing in. 

Medicinally, the leaves and aerial parts are used to treat heart conditions, and sexual dysfunctions. The mechanism of action is much the same, improving blood flow via cardiac innervation and by improving microcirculation. 

Botanical Name

Tribulus terrestris



Part Used

Leaves, aerial parts

Herbal Actions:

  • Tonic
  • Male aphrodisiac
  • Estrogen in females (indirectly)
  • Androgenic in males (indirectly)
  • Fertility enhancer
  • Cardiotonic


Dry Herb Equivalent

3-10 g/day

A Note On Long Term Use

No restrictions reported for long term use within the listed dosages.

Recommended Source


+ Male Reproductive

  • Poor libido
  • Male infertility

+ Female Reproductive

  • Poor libido
  • Female infertility
  • Menopausal symptoms

+ Other

  • To improve atheltic or physical performance
  • Cardiovascular disease

Common Names:

  • Tribulus
  • Caltrops
  • Puncture vine
  • Gokshura (Sanskrit)
  • Bai Ji Li (China)

Traditional Uses:

+ Western Herbal Medicine

Traditionally the whole herb has been used as medicine, although there is not much literature on its uses from the past. [6].

+ Traditional Chinese Medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine, the fruit is reportedly used for chest pain, skin lesions, and swollen or painful eyes [6].

+ Ayurvedic Medicine

In Ayurveda, the fruit has been used to treat urinary tract infections and inflammations, as well as reproductive disorders. [6].

+ Unani Medicine

In Unani medicine, tribulus has been used as a diuretic, mild laxative, and general tonic [8].

+ Traditional Use Summary

Overall, the traditional uses of tribulus involves its use as a tonic, aphrodisiac, palliative, astringent, stomachic, antihypertensive, diuretic, lithotriptic, for chest pains, paifnul swollen eyes, and urinary tract infections [5].

    Botanical Description:

    Tribulus is a small hardy herb, found growing in even the most extreme dry climates. The leaves tend to grow outward in a flat patter, but may grow in a more upward pattern if in a shadier location. 

    The seeds have sharp, rigid spines on them [6]. 

    Habitat Ecology, and Distribution:

    Tribulus is considered an invasive weed in many regions of the world. [6]. 

    Harvesting Collection, and Preparation:

    Although the fruit has been used in the past, the leaves are considered superior and are the preferred part used today [6]. 



    Tribulus leaves contain steroidal saponins (mainly furostanol glycosides including protodioscin and prototribestin), as well as small quantities of spirostanol glycosides, phytosterols (beta-sitosterol), harmala alkaloids (tryptophan-derived beta-carbolines)(some debate as to the presence of this however) [1-4, 7]. 

    Pharmacology and Medical Research:

    + Cardioprotective

    The constituent tribulosin was shown to protect the myocardium against ischemia/reperfusion injury (through protein kinase C epsilon activation) [9].

    + Aphrodisiac




    The LD50 of tribulus leaf extract was found to be greater than 10g/kg in mice. this indicates very low toxicity. [6]. 



    • Some Tribulus products marketed towards performance enhancement have been found to contain anabolic steroids [6]. be cautious of this and only purchase from reputable companies. 
    • The root and fruit of tribulus have also been sold as supplements, however, there is indication that these are not suitable for equal substitution for the leaf [6]. 


    • Tribulus fruit has often been employed with Withania in Ayurvedic formulas. [6]. Synergy may be present between these 2 herbs.

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    Justin Cooke

    the Sunlight Experiment

    Updated: July 2017

    Recent Blog Posts:


    1. Gjulemetowa, R., Tomowa, M., Simowa, M., Pangarowa, T., & Peewa, S. (1982). Determination of furostanol saponins in the preparation tribestan. Die Pharmazie, 37(4), 296.
    2. Tomova, M., Gjulemetova, R., Zarkova, S., Peeva, S., Pangarova, T., & Simova, M. (1981, September). Steroidal saponins from Tribulus terrestris L. with a stimulating action on the sexual functions. In 1st Proc Int Conf Chem Biotechnol Biol Active Nat Products. Varna (pp. 298-302). Chicago
    3. Yan, W., Ohtani, K., Kasai, R., & Yamasaki, K. (1996). Steroidal saponins from fruits of Tribulus terrestris. Phytochemistry, 42(5), 1417-1422.
    4. Conrad, J., Dinchev, D., Klaiber, I., Mika, S., Kostova, I., & Kraus, W. (2004). A novel furostanol saponin from Tribulus terrestris of Bulgarian origin.Fitoterapia, 75(2), 117-122.
    5. Chhatre S, Nesari T, Somani G, Kanchan D, & Sathaye S. (2014). Phytopharmacological overview of Tribulus terrestris. Pharmacognosy Reviews, 8(15), 45-51. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.125530
    6. Bone K, Mills S. (2013). Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. Elsevier health. China.
    7. Usman H, Abdulrahman F, Ladan A. Phytochemical and antimicrobial evaluation of Tribulus terrestris L. growing in Nigeria. Res J Biol Sci 2007;2:244-7
    8. Khare CP. Indian medicinal plants: An illustrated dictionary. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Verlag; 2007. p. 669-71.
    9. Zhang S, Li H, Yang SJ. Tribulosin protects rat hearts from ischemia/reperfusion injury. Acta Pharmacol Sin 2010;31:671-8.
    10. Singh S, Nair V, Gupta YK. Evaluation of the aphrodisiac activity of Tribulus terrestris Linn. in sexually sluggish male albino rats, J Pharmacol Pharmacother 2012;3:43-7.