English: Puncture vine fruits

Chinese: 蒺藜

Parts used: Dried ripe fruit

TCM category: Herbs that pacify Internal Liver Wind and stop Tremors

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Organ affinity: Liver Lung

Scientific name: Tribulus terrestris

Other names: Goat's head, Bindii, Bullhead, Burra Gokharu, Bhakhdi, Caltrop, Small caltrops, Cat's head, Devil's eyelashes

Use of Ji Li (puncture vine fruits) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Collect ripe fruits, remove impurities and dry.

Dosage: 3 to 9 g

Main actions according to TCM*: Calms Liver-Yang. Clears Wind-Heat and clears the eyes. Invigorates Liver Qi by removing Stagnation. Relieves itchiness.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Ji Li may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Headache Dizziness Hypochondrium pain Mastitis Vertigo Painful eyes Bloodshot eyes Eye nebula Swollen eyes Excessive tearing Chest pain Chest distention Low milk supply

Contraindications*: Not for these with Yin or Blood Deficiency. Also should not be used during pregnancy.

Common TCM formulas in which Ji Li is used*

Ming Mu Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1642 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes the Liver. Enriches the Kidneys. Improves the vision.

Ji Li is an assistant ingredient in Ming Mu Di Huang Wan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Ming Mu Di Huang Wan, Ji Li suppresses Liver Yang Rising and Liver Qi Stagnation. Therefore it is able to relieve symptoms such as red eyes with excessive tears, skin itching due to Liver Wind or hypertension. 

Read more about Ming Mu Di Huang Wan

Dang Gui Yin Zi

Source date: 1253 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes the Blood. Moistens Dryness. Clears Heat. Dispels Wind. Relieves itching .

Conditions targeted*: UrticariaEczema and others

In Dang Gui Yin Zi, Ji Li calms the Liver, anchors Yang, dredges Liver Qi, disperses Stagnation, dispels Wind and stops itching. 

Read more about Dang Gui Yin Zi

Key TCM concepts behind Ji Li's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ji Li belongs to the 'Herbs that pacify Internal Liver Wind and stop Tremors' category. These herbs are used to treat so-called 'hyperactive Liver Yang'. Concretely this translates into high blood pressure as well as seizures, spasms, convulsions, dizziness and vertigo. These herbs often seem to have a powerful antispasmodic effect on the nervous system.

Furthermore Ji Li is Warm in nature. This means that Ji Li tends to help people who have too much 'Cold' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Hot in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Cold in their body are said to either have a Yin Excess (because Yin is Cold in nature) or a Yang Deficiency (Yang is Hot in Nature). Depending on your condition Ji Li can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Ji Li also tastes Bitter and Pungent. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like Ji Li tends to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. On the other hand Pungent ingredients tend to promote the circulations of Qi and Body Fluids. That's why for instance someone tends to sweat a lot when they eat spicy/pungent food.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Ji Li is thought to target the Liver and the Lung. In TCM the Liver is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body.