Tribulus terrestris (Gewone Dubbeltjie, Puncture Vine) is a widely used and popular remedy for eczema, enlarged prostate, reproductive disorders, infertility, and many other ailments.
Ethno Medicinal Uses of Tribulus terrestris
Administered to people: For syphilis, the whole plant of Tribulus terrestris, with roots of Grewia occidentalis is administered. For chlamydia (a common sexually transmitted disease), the whole plant and roots of Ziziphus mucronata is decocted for 20 minutes and one cup of the decoction is taken orally, three times a day. For rheumatism, Tribulus terrestris is mixed with Heteropogon contortus.
In West Africa, a bath with a decoction of leaves is used for digestive and urinary disorders. Stems with leaves, pounded and macerated in milk is taken orally for metrorrhagia (bleeding from the uterus that occurs in between periods), For infectious diarrhoea stems with leaves of Tribulus terrestris, Sorghum bicolor, and Colocynthis vulgaris, powder in water is taken orally. Leaves and stems are used for dysentery. Ripe fruits are used as an aphrodisiac. Also used for fever, asthenia (abnormal physical weakness or lack of energy.), and articular pains. For measles, a tar (alkabri) is made by a long cooking in a closed jar of Tribilus terrestris, almond of the fruits of Balanites aegyptiaca, and eventually barks of Calotropis procera and Boscia senegalensis.
In East Africa, the stems are used as a toothbrush. For kidney diseases, soaking crushed plant of Tribulus terrestris in water is taken orally. Roots macerated in water is taken orally for diabetes and kidney disorders. For erectile dysfunction, the whole crushed plant is chewed or used as a decoction. Juice of leaves is used for ear infections.
In Mauritius, Tribulus terrestris is used for: galactogenic (fruits), diuretic, urinary tract, mouth inflammation, tonic, throat, aphrodisiac, impotence.
Administered to animals: Young plants is a fodder plant eaten by livestock (horses and cattle). Cattle farmers in Madikwe (North West Province) use the whole plant for retained placenta and bloating in cattle.
Edible: The leaves or whole plant is cooked as a healing vegetable or used in sauces. The leaves are also eaten raw.
Caution: May cause adverse side effects.
Habitat and Ecology
Throughout southern Africa in sandy flats, grassland, roadsides and disturbed areas.
Vredefort Dome Savanna; Kalahari Deciduous Acacia-wooded Grassland; Dry Grassland; Mesic Grassland; Dwarf Karroid Shrubland; Zastron Moist Grassland.
Family: The Zygophyllaceae (Caltrop family) is a fairly cosmopolitan family of herbs, subshrubs or shrubs occurring in tropical and subtropical areas, mainly in hot, arid, occasionally also saline regions. Globally there are 27 genera and ± 250 species. In southern Africa, there are 8 genera and 55 species occurring mainly in the southern and western parts of the area. (SANBI)
Four genera, Peganum (one naturalised species), Sisyndite (one species), Tribulus (one species), and Zygopyllum (3 species) are used medicinally in southern Africa.
Morphology: Annual herb. Branches spreading, procumbent or decumbent. Leaves pinnate, usually unequal with 1 of a pair shorter than other. Flowers: intrastaminal glands free; petals 3-12 mm long, yellow; Sep.-Mar. Fruit schizocarp; mericarps with 2 lateral divergent acute spines inserted above middle, and 2 shorter spines directed downwards and inserted near base of mericarp. (e-Flora)
This monograph contains details of Tribulus terrestris as per the references cited below. If you can provide any additional information, photos or reliable records, or spot any errors, please leave a comment below or in The Muthi Flora of southern Africa Facebook group.
Arnold. T.H., Prentice, C.A., Hawker, L.C., Snyman, E.E., Tomalin, M., Crouch, N.R. and Pottas-Bircher, C. (2002). Medicinal and magical plants of southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 13. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
Bussmann Rainer, W., P.Swartzinsky, W. Aserat & P.Evangelista. Plant use in Odo-Bulu and Demaro, Bale Region, Ethiopia. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine , 7:28 (2011)
Daruty, C. (Dr). Plantes Médicinales de l’Ile Maurice et des Pays Intertropicaux (p. 215) General Steam Printing Company, 6, rue du Gouvernement – Maurice (1886) https://archive.org/details/b24400270
e-Flora of South Africa. v1.21. 2018. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
Hassan-Abdallah, A., A. Merito, S. Hassan, D. Aboubaker, M. Djama, Z. Asfaw, E. Kelbessa. Medicinal plants and their uses by the people in the Region of Randa, Djibouti Journal of Ethnopharmacology 148 701–713, (2013)
Issa T O , Y S Mohamed, S Yagi, R H Ahmed, T M Najeeb, A M Makhawi and T O Khider. Ethnobotanical investigation on medicinal plants in Algoz area (South Kordofan), Sudan Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 14:31 (2018) https://doi.org/10.1186/s13002-018-0230-y
Kipkore, K., B. Wanjohi, H. Rono, G. Kigen. A study of the medicinal plants used by the Marakwet Community in Kenya Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 10:24 (2014) http://www.ethnobiomed.com/content/10/1/24
Mac Donald, I., & D. I. Olorunfemi. Plants used for medicinal purposes by Koma people of Adamawa State, Nigeria.Indigenous Knowledge and Development Monitor, November 2000. http://www.nuffic.nl/ciran/ikdm/8-3/res-macdonald.html
Mabogo, D.E.N. The ethnobotany of the Vhavenda. Magister Scientiae in the Faculty of Science (Department of Botany) Thesis, University of Pretoria. (1990)
Phillips, E.P. A contribution to the flora of the Leribe Plateau and environs. Annals of the South African Museum16: 1–379 . (1917) From: The medical ethnobotany of Lesotho: a review. Bothalia 41,1: 209–228 (2011)
Seed plants of southern Africa: families and genera. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria
Semenya, S.S, M. J. Potgieter. Bapedi traditional healers in the Limpopo Province, South Africa: their socio-cultural profile and traditional healing practice Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2014, 10:4 doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-4 http://www.ethnobiomed.com/content/10/1/4
Tabuti, J.R.S., K.A. Lye, S.S. Dhillion. Traditional herbal drugs of Bulamogi, Uganda: plants, use and administration. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 88, pp. 19-44 (2003). http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874103001612
Traore, M. Le Recours à la Pharmacopée Traditionnelle Africaine dans le Nouveau Millénaire :<< Cas des Femmes Herboristes de Bamako >> http://www.codesria.org/Archives/ga10/Abstracts%20GA%201-5/AIDS_Traore.htm
AG ARYA Moussa. Quels remèdes pour les principales pathologies du dromadaire chez les Touareg de la région de Tchin – Tabaraden (Niger).Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey. Pharm. Méd. Trad. Afr. 1998, Vol. 10, pp. 114 – 127. Secrétariat Général du Conseil. Africain et Malgache pour l’Enseignement Supérieur (CAMES)
van der Merwe, D., G. E. Swan, C. J. Botha. Use of ethnoveterinary medicinal plants in cattle by Setswana-speaking people in the Madikwe area of the North West Province of South Africa. Journal of the South Africa Veterinary Association 72, 189-196, (2001)