Monday, October 3, 2016
PUNCTURE VINE –Tribulus Terrestris, Tribulus Pterocarpus, Haskoro Hirsut, Bogdanzi Glabr, Ankara, etc.
Also known as: Protodiscin, Trib, Gokshura, Caltrop, Goat’s Head, Bindii, Bullhead, Cat’s Head, Devil’s Eyelashes, Tackweed, Devil’s Thorn, etc.
Parts used: fruit, leaf, root
Systems/organs affected: cardiovascular, respiratory, urinary, reproductive, blood cholesterol, pancreas, liver, kidneys
Properties: analgesic, aphrodisiac, adaptogenic, antidepressant, anti-hypertensive, cardio-protective, anti-platelet (pterocarpus), anti-diabetic, antispasmodic, anodyne, alterative, abortifacient, stimulant, astringent, diuretic, galactagogue, antiviral, antibacterial, hepato-protective
PUNCTURE VINE is a member of the Zygophyllaceae (caltrop/caper) family. It is a ground loving plant (for the most part) that comes from a taproot. It sends out a number of stems that are multi-branched creating a sort of dense rug several feet long. Amongst these stems and branches you find the ‘fruit’ which is really a needle sharp woody burr that has spines so strong they can puncture bicycle tires with ease (not to mention what they do to one’s feet). The leaves are opposite on the branches and a bit furry. The flowers are yellow with five petals and bloom generally from April to October (depending on the location). The ‘fruit’ begins appearing about a week after the plant starts to bloom. It seems to like deserts, pastures, fields, waste places, roadsides, vacant lots as well as vineyards and orchards. It also does well in poor soil conditions. Grazing animals tend to stay away from this plant as it can be toxic to their intestines, stomach and mouth as well as cause damage to their hooves from walking on it. It is especially bad for sheep when consumed in large amounts. It is believed to be native to India and the Mediterranean but can be found throughout the globe. It is said that livestock brought it to the usa from the Mediterranean (trade deals, etc). There are several species of this plant-their composition depends entirely on the region in which they are found. The burrs are what is used most as medicine but the leaves and roots can be found in formulas as well.
Caltrop-as this herb is sometimes called, stands for a military weapon (an iron ball covered in spikes). An appropriate name for it if you have ever come in contact with this plant.
This plant has a host of uses in several different countries. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) it is used for immune issues, liver and kidney complaints and cardiovascular problems. In Ayurvedic medicine it is used for urinary issues, kidney and bladder complaints, to build strength in all the tissues of the body, for respiratory problems, back pain, sciatica and to help strengthen and/or build the sexual/reproductive organs. Eastern Europeans used it to build muscle strength and sexual potentcy. The Turkish used it for high blood pressure and inflammation.
There have been several studies done on this plant, especially since the Bulgarian weight lifting team attributed its use to their win in the 1970’s. Tribulus terrestris seems to be the most well-known of this species but each variety tends to be known for their unique make-up. There are currently 25 different varieties of tribulus, 12 of which are in the middle east. The most commonly marketed types for muscle building are the Macedonian, Turkish and Bulgarian varieties which contain twice the amount of protodioscin as all the other kinds. Protodioscin is the active steroidal saponin compound responsible for the increase in androgen receptors within the cells. This is what seems to be the trigger for pro-erectile effects (meaning it helps one to achieve and maintain an erection for longer periods). A study was actually done on the aphrodisiac capability of this plant. It was tested against Viagra and was found to be just as effective as the synthetic drug at producing erections and increasing libido. It was also found to improve sperm count and sperm quality as well as increase the sex drive of those individuals who seem diminished in that regard. (It was found to work for women as well).
Another study was done in Iran to judge its applications for pain management. The study was done on mice that were subjected to both thermal and chemical pain inducers. They found that Tribulus terrestris was indeed effective at reducing pain. It worked better than aspirin but not as well as morphine. It was also able to prevent hyperalgesia (the heightened sensitivity to pain) experienced by diabetic rats just as well as Pregabalin (aka Lyrica), which is one of the most prescribed nerve and muscle pain drugs on the market. (Used for fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, diabetes, etc.)
In yet another study using stress induced rats it was found that this plant had the ability to act as an antidepressant in high doses, (although that is NOT recommended). Perhaps one of the most interesting studies was in regards to cardiovascular health. Tribulosan, another component found within tribulus, was found to protect cardiac cells from cell death. Similarly it was found to reduce blood pressure (partly due to its diuretic effects), cholesterol and protects the liver better than vitamin E against heavy metal toxicity. This may also be due in part to the fact it contains vitamin C, quercetin and keampferol. The infusion of the fruit was found to assist
in reducing kidney stone formation in vitro and in rats when paired with Boerhaavia Diffusa (pigweed/hogweed).
It has also been found to be beneficial for BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or commonly called Enlarged Prostate), but it was indicated that more studies needed to be done to verify its use in that regard. Some studies also show positive results in its use for breast and kidney cancers. Again, more research needs to be done.
There are some contraindications with this plant. Those on nitroglycerine or angina medications shouldn’t take this. It is also said that those with enlarged prostate or prostate issues in general should avoid this plant as it can increase testicular size. Pregnant and nursing women are advised against using it as are diabetics and those scheduled for surgical procedures as it may cause one’s blood sugar to dip too low. Those on blood pressure medications or lithium drugs should also avoid taking this herb. (I know…..don’t get me started). As always, consult a qualified physician before starting any herbal product or regimen.
As is customary with all of my postings I am including some links herein for your benefit. Use them wisely! Stay strong and healthy!