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Tribulus terrestris is an annual plant in the caltrop family (Zygophyllaceae) widely distributed around the world, that is adapted to grow in dry climate locations in which few other plants can survive. In Ayurvedic pharmacology, tribulus terrestris is used as a powder form of the aerial parts, particularly the fruits, and it is known in Sanskrit as gokshura, meaning the "cow's hoof", possibly because the small thorns tend to get stuck on grazing animals. Nevertheless, an unrelated plant, pedalium is also known as gokshura, more specifically as bada gokshura ("big cow's hoof"), whereas the gokshura proper is referred to as chhota gokshura ("small cow's hoof"). The two herbs are often found mixed in powder blends used.
Gokshura is believed to contribute to overall physical, as well as sexual, strength by building all the tissues, especially shukra dhatu (reproductive tissue) but it is not considered as a particular vajikarana (sexual functions) herb. It is believed to be useful in kidney, bladder, urinary tract and uro-genital related conditions, where it is said to act as a diuretic.
One chemical compound found in T. terrestris is protodioscin (PTN). Also, T. terrestris was shown to have strong inhibitory activity on COX-2. Two alkaloids commonly found in Tribulus terrestulis are the beta-carboline alkaloids harman (harmane) and norharman (norharmane). Another phytosterol that is found in T. terrestris is called hecogenin. Hecogenin has application in the synthesis of 11-oxaethisterone.