Chemical Components

Different parts of the plant contain different constituents in varying ratios. Overall, the steroidal saponin content is considered the most important and includes constituents such as protodioscin, diosgenin, yamogenin, epismilagenin, tigogenin, neotigogenin, gitogenin and neogitogenin (Miles et al 1994). Two additional steroidal saponins, terrestrinins A (1) and B (2), have recently been isolated in 80% ethanol from the fruit (Huang et al 2003). The significance of this has not yet been determined. Beta-sitosterol, vitamin C, potassium and calcium are also found in the herb (Li et al 1998). Two major alkaloids have been identified: harmane and norharmane (Bourke et al 1992).

Of the steroidal saponins, protodioscin is considered the chief constituent responsible for the plant's effects on libido and sexual functioning. Preliminary observations suggest that Tribulus terrestris grown in different soils does not consistently produce this constituent and considerable variations have been identified in commercial products (Ganzera et al 2001).

Steroidal saponins consist of a furostanol- or spirostanol-based aglycone and an oligosaccharide attached to a steroid nucleus. Steroidal saponins are very common in © 2007 Elsevier Australia

the plant kingdom and are natural components In many foods, such as asparagus, garlic and oats.

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