Go to page content

Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit (Tribulus Terrestris)

Close up of Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit (Tribulus Terrestris)

What is Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit (Tribulus Terrestris)?

Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit (ci ji li, 刺蒺藜) is the dried ripe fruit of Tribulus terrestris, a plant species that belongs to the Zygophyllaceae family. This plant is commonly referred to as Puncture Vine, Goat’s Head or Bindii. It is a low-growing herbaceous plant that typically forms prostrate stems with small leaflets and produces yellow flowers with small, spiky fruits that resemble caltrops or goats’ heads with sharp thorns.

Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit (Tribulus Terrestris) has a long history of use in traditional medicine systems, including Ayurveda medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In China, Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit is produced in provinces such as Henan, Hebei and Shandong. In autumn, these fruits are collected when they are ripe, and then dried under the sun, where its hard thorns and impurities are removed. Later on, these fruits are then stir-baked for medicinal usage.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit (Tribulus Terrestris) falls under the category of ‘Herbs that pacify Internal Liver Wind and stop tremors’. Such herbs are used to treat hyperactive Liver yang, which translates into high blood pressure, seizures, spasms, convulsions, dizziness and vertigo. 

Warm in nature, Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit (Tribulus Terrestris) can help individuals with too much Cold in their body, such as those experiencing a Yin Excess or a Yang Deficiency, to restore a harmonious yin-yang balance in their body. Bitter and pungent in taste, Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit can cleanse the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. The herb can also promote the circulations of qi and body fluids. In particular, Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit targets the Liver and the Lungs.

Functions and Benefits of Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit (Tribulus Terrestris)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit (Tribulus Terrestris) has the following health benefits.

Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit can pacify the Liver to treat hyperactivity of Liver yang. For dizziness and headache caused by Liver yang hyperactivity, Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit can be combined with other herbs such as Chrysanthemum Flower (Ju Hua) and Mother of Pearl (Zhen Zhu Mu) to enhance its treatment effectiveness.

As Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit can soothe the Liver, it can help to relieve symptoms such as Liver qi stagnation, distending pain in chest, hypochondria, irregular menstruation and insufficient lactation. 

Also. Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit can improve one’s vision. It is especially effective in treating blood-shot eyes with swelling and pain, profuse eye secretion due to Wind-Heat or nebula, and vision-disturbed ophthalmopathy. 

In addition, Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit can dispel Wind and relieve itching, and is thus used to treat symptoms such as rubella with pruritus and dryness of skin.

Close up of Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit (Tribulus Terrestris)
Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit (Tribulus Terrestris) is effective in relieving skin irritations.

How to Use Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit (Tribulus Terrestris)

The recommended daily dosage of Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit (Tribulus Terrestris) is 6 – 10g, when used as a decoction. This herb can be prepared and used in different forms, such as powder and pills.

Dry-frying Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit will increase its warm properties. In cases of severe Yang Deficiency or Yin Excess, healthcare practitioners may recommend you to consume the herb after dry-frying it.

Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit and its supplements can be found in many herbal stores, Asian markets and specialty stores.

Cautions and Side Effects of Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit (Tribulus Terrestris)

Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit (Tribulus Terrestris) should not be used by individuals experiencing Yin Deficiency, Blood Deficiency and pregnancy. Also, topical application of Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit is sometimes associated with rash and itching.

Do note that Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit should not be used concurrently with diuretics such as chlorothiazide, hydrochlorothiazide, bumetanide and torsemide. Pregnant women are not advised to use this herb.

We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit to your healthcare routine!


Here is a summary for Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit (Tribulus Terrestris):

  • Herb name (Chinese): 刺蒺藜
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): cì jí lí
  • Herb name (English): Puncturevine Caltrop Fruit
  • Herb name (Botanical): Fructus Tribuli
  • Origin of species: Tribulus terrestris L.
  • Part(s) of herb used: Fruit
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Henan, Hebei, Shandong, Anhui
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Pungent, bitter; Slightly warm; Administrates the Liver Meridian
  • Actions: Eases symptoms related to hypertensive conditions, e.g. frequent dizzy or giddy spells; Relieves painful or tender mammary glands, painful eyes and skin irritations

The contents of the All Things Health website are for informational and educational purposes only.
Our website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.