Toxicity

Although toxicity levels in humans are not known, extensive grazing on tribulus by sheep produces a syndrome known as 'staggers', which is characterised by nervous and muscular locomotor disturbances (Bourke 1984). Outbreaks are repeatedly associated with drought periods during which sheep graze on large areas of Tribulus terrestris for many months at a time (Bourke 1995, Glastonbury et al 1984). Investigation with isolated harmane and norharmane found naturally in tribulus have found these constituents to be responsible for the 'staggers' syndrome (Bourke et al 1992).

Hepatogenous photosensitivity has also been reported among sheep grazing on Tribulus terrestris for long periods (Bourke 1984, Glastonbury et al 1984, McDonough et al 1994, Miles et al 1994, Tapia et al 1994, Wilkins etal 1996). A small animal study examined the clinical, laboratory and pathological findings of this disease in sheep and concluded that tribulus was responsible for hepatogenous photosensitivity (Aslani et al 2003). Laboratory and pathology tests found significantly increased white blood cells, bilirubin, total serum protein and plasma fibrinogen, and histological © 2007 Elsevier Australia

findings showed crystalloid materials in the bile ducts with hepatocyte degeneration. A year later the same research team found very similar results in goats (Aslani et al 2004).

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