NaturHeals – Wild Weeds 4 - Gokshura – Tribulus Terrestris - Puncture Vine
Weeds are always seen in a bad light, especially by farmers, as they have to find ways to ensure that they do not destroy their crops. However, Ayurvedic doctors have a different take on weeds, as there are plenty of wild weeds that can be used to treat a variety of illnesses that affect human kind. The best part of using weeds for medical treatment is that they have very less or no side effects in comparison to synthetic medicines. One such weed is gokshura, and here you will get to learn everything about this super weed.
Different Names of Gokshura
The scientific name of gokshura is tribulus terrestris, and it belongs to the Zygophyllaceae family. The ‘go’ in gokshura means ‘cow’ and ‘Akshura’ means ‘hoof’’. In short, gokshura literally means ‘hooves of the cow’, as the fruit of the plant resembles the same. Apart from gokshura, the herb is also called gokhru, gokhri, trikanta, bhakra, palleruvery, sharatte, nerinjil, gokshra, michirkand, khar-e-khasak khurd, etc. In English, this plant is known as devil’s thorn, as its fruits are thorny, and also goat head, as the fruits do resemble the head of a goat. It is also known as puncture vine, as the fruits have the ability to puncture tires.
Ideal Soil and Climate
Gokshura is a herb that is native to the Mediterranean region and prospers in sandy soils. As it is a weed, it can grow in almost all kinds of soils, but the gokshura thrives in light sandy loam soils. It does not do well in high level alkaline soils as well as in soils where water logging is a problem. Likewise, the plant prefers dry and warm climate, without much rain. You can find this plant in tropical, sub-tropical, and desert climates. Gokshura can be found in Southern Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, and Southern Europe. It has been seen in the USA (California) and Canada since the 20th century. In India, gokshura can be seen in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Gujarat.
Gokshura is a broad-leaved, herbaceous, perennial plant with stems that grow around 10 cm to 1 m. The stems branch out from the crown and grow widely. The leaves are densely hairy and pinnately compound. The flowers of gokshura are light yellow in color and grow 4-10 mm wide with around 5-10 stamens. The fruits have 5 burs and have 2-4 sharp spikes or thorns, which can injure bare feet of people and animals and even puncture tires. Each fruit is filed with clusters of tiny seeds.
Gokshura is a weed that is endowed with a wide variety of essential chemical components and nutrients. It has active components like alkaloids, phytosterols, Harman, and norharman. It is rich in disogenin, saponins, gitogenin, chlorrogenin, kaemperol, 2- D-spirosta, glucoside, rutinoside, furostanol, and tribuloside. It is also a great source of stearic acid, oleic acid, and glucose. Gokshura also has carbohydrates, proteins, fats, calcium, iron, flavonoids, and vitamin c.
According to Ayurveda, gokshura is sita (cold) in potency and madhura (sweet) in taste, although its taste becomes the opposite after digestion. Moreover, it is oily in texture and heavy to digest. It also acts as a coolant and balances the three doshas, i.e. the vatta-pitta-kapha.
With the presence of so many chemical components, it is not surprising that gokshura offers several medical benefits. This herb has diuretic, aphrodisiac, anti-inflammatory, cardiotonic, styptic, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, hypotensive, chandoprotective, and anti-aging properties.
Skin Infections: One of the main skin problems that gokshura helps to cure is acne. Its antioxidant properties cleanse the toxins, thus removing acne and at the same time preventing them from reoccurring. The healing properties of the plant help in treating several skin conditions like hives, skin inflammation, itchiness, skin eruptions, eczema, and wounds. It also has anti-aging properties and hence helps in lessening age spots, dark spots, dark circles, wrinkles, etc. Gokshura aids in enhancing overall skin health, providing you with a smooth and radiant skin.
Body Building: Gokshura is a traditional and a safe alternative to steroids used for body building. The alkaloids and glycosides in the plant aid in improving muscle strength and body composition, thus helping to gain muscles. It helps in the release of nitric oxide by increasing the levels of testosterone and lean mass. This aids in expanding the blood vessels, thus providing better oxygen supply to the muscles, which further leads to toned muscles.
Digestion: Gokshura is both a diuretic as well as an appetizer, and hence aids in improving digestion. The herb stimulates the secretion of the digestive juices that are required for digestion, while ensuring that all the essential nutrients are absorbed in the body. It is also a great cure for several stomach related problems, including stomach pain, flatulence, constipation, ulcerative colitis, distension, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A hormonal disorder that causes unwanted weight gain, irregular periods, acne, hair loss, and mood swings, can be cured with the help of gokshura herb. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) can also cause infertility and pregnancy complications. The regular consumption of gokshura helps to minimize the size of the cysts by removing the excess water in them. Moreover, this herb boosts the development of ovarian follicle stimulating hormone, which is essential for conception.
Fertility and Libido: Apart from treating female infertility, gokshura has the potential of curing male infertility as well. This herb helps in treating erectile dysfunction in men and at the same time improves sperm quality and quantity. Moreover, as gokshura is an aphrodisiac agent, it is a common herb used for improving libido in both men and women. This medicinal weed enhances energy, stamina, and virility, thus improving libido or sex drive.
Urinary Tract Infections: Gokshura is a diuretic and helps in treating Urinary Tract Infection or UTI. The diuretic, antibacterial, and anti-microbial properties of the herb aid in flushing out all the toxins and bacteria that cause the infection by increasing urine output. The anti-inflammatory property of gokshura helps in reducing the symptoms caused by UTI, i.e. pain and burning sensation while urinating. Its rejuvenating properties relax, cleanse, and strengthen the urinary tract and the bladder. It is a great treatment for other urinary problems like urinary incontinence, dysuria, etc.
Kidney Problems: The diuretic property of gokshura makes it an important element for treating and preventing kidney problems. As it has the ability to flush out toxins, including excess calcium, the herb is useful in treating kidney stones. Apart from getting rid of the existing kidney stones, gokshura prevents the formation of new ones. It also helps in the excretion of excess uric acid, thus preventing gout. Gokshura is effective in treating kidney cysts too, including polycystic kidney disease.
Heart Health Issues: The presence of antioxidants in gokshura provides its cardioprotective properties, making it a herb that helps in treating several heart problems. Regular consumption of gokshura helps to manage the body’s cholesterol levels, treat mild to moderate hypertension, and maintain heart rate, thus preventing problems like blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, etc. It helps to improve the blood circulation in the heart and to strengthen the heart muscles. This herb is also useful in reducing the pain and discomfort caused by coronary heart diseases.
Diabetes: Along with cholesterol and blood pressure, gokshura is also used for curing diabetes. The saponins present in gokshura give it the ability to control the blood sugar levels in the body, making it an effective treatment for diabetes. The antioxidant and diuretic properties of the herb help to get rid of all kinds of toxins, including those that cause the blood sugar levels to spike.
Brain Functioning: Apart from physical health, gokshura is beneficial for your mental health as well. The herb can control the serotonin levels in the brain, which has the ability to influence emotional and mental states. This is the reason why gokshura is used in the treatment of problems like anxiety, depression, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. Apart from reducing stress, it also helps in curing headache. Gokshura also helps in improving the overall function of the brain by enhancing concentration, alertness, tranquility, and memory.
Gokshura is helpful in treating prostate gland disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, piles, and fistula. Some research has also highlighted its ability to treat and prevent hair loss.
Uses of Gokshura
While the entire plant of gokshura is filled with nutrients, the roots and fruits are the two main components used for medicines. Gokshura is available in tablet, churna (powder), capsule, and kadha form as well. This herb can be used in the following ways:
- The kadha of gokshura, consumed early in the morning along with water and honey, helps in curing urinary problems, including UTI.
- The powder or churna of the herb along with milk and honey should be taken twice, after meals.
- If you are taking gokshura in the form of capsules or tablets, you can swallow 1-2 of them with water after meals.
- Apply a paste made with gokshura powder and rose water to reduce the signs of aging and dullness.
There are not many side effects of gokshura. However, if consumed in large quantities, you are likely to experience diarrhea and vomiting. Some people may also have allergic reactions to the herb in the form of rashes and stomach distress. In this case, you must stop using gokshura immediately. The supplements or powder of the plant should be avoided by pregnant women, as it can hinder the growth of the developing fetus and may even cause miscarriage. Lactating mothers and children should also avoid gokshura, as there is no enough evidence about the effects of gokshura on these two groups of people.
Planting and Harvesting
As gokshura has so many medicinal benefits, there is quite a high demand for the plant that has been cultivated and harvested for the purpose of converting them to medicines. The propagation of the plant is done through seeds and can be directly done on the land. You would need 1-2 kg seeds for sowing in 1-hectare land. The sowing should be done in February-March.Once the seeds are sowed, ensure that they receive enough sunlight. If there is no rainfall, it is important to water them. The germination period is long, and it takes around 30 days to see the saplings. The full growth of the plant takes around 240-250 days, i.e. it would be ready for harvest in October. It is important to harvest fully ripen seeds and roots, as these are used for the production of medicines.
When the plants are harvested, the roots and seeds have to be separated and dried. They should then be packed in gunny bags and placed in a cool-air go-down.
Jaivik Farms is an organization that practices, promotes, and encourages organic farming. We are on the lookout for farmers who are interested in cultivating and harvesting weeds like gokshura. Our experts would provide you with all the support you need to plant, care for, and harvest these weeds. As Jaivik farms would use this herb to make medicinal products, it is crucial that no herbicides or pesticides are used to remove weeds or other pests.