Botanical: Polygonum multiflorum
Family: Polygonaceae (buckwheat)
Other common names: He Shou Wu, Shou Wu Chih, Kashuu (Japan), Chinese Cornbind,
Fo-Ti Root is a soothing, tonic herb that has been used for centuries in China to rejuvenate the body, combat premature ageing and promote longevity. The herb is said to strengthen the liver, kidneys and reproductive systems. Traditional herbalists say it restores vitality, energy and fertility and possibly even reverses graying hair.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Fo-Ti Root is a vigorously-growing, woody perennial vine that can reach from six to thirty feet in length. It is an ornamental, lush green climber that may grow in sun or shade, but will not tolerate high heat and needs protection from severe weather, and it thrives in rich, peaty, moist soil. The roots are said to grow as big as a football, and the plant produces a vine of ovate leaves and small, white or pink-tinted flowers in slender panicles that bloom in autumn and are followed by three-winged fruits. The Fo-Ti plant is a native of China, where it continues to be widely grown for its medicinal qualities, and it is also grown extensively in Taiwan and Japan (where it is used as a popular tonic herb and called Kashuu). It is one of the most widely praised herbs in Chinese herbal medicine, some claiming that it is second only to Ginseng in reputation and use. In China, Fo-Ti has a long history of reversing and preventing the effects of ageing as a bittersweet, astringent, slightly warming herb that was first recorded in an "herbal" written in 973 A.D., as a key remedy for the elderly. The Chinese common name for Fo-Ti is He-Shou-Wu, and its history is rich in legend. He Shou Wu (called "the black-haired Mr. He") supposedly was the name of a Tang Dynasty man, who, at fifty-eight years of age, had been unable to father a child. He was advised to take Fo-Ti Root and then not only fathered several children, but his hair turned from gray to black, and his body became more youthful. He lived to 160 years of age (still with black hair!), while his child lived to be 130. Fo-Ti Root was said to cure his infertility, and his long life was attributed to the tonic properties of this herb. Since that time, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has used Fo-Ti Root to treat premature ageing, weakness, vaginal discharges, numerous infectious diseases, angina pectoris and impotence. According to Chinese legend, Fo-Ti Root not only will turn gray hair dark again, but a 150-year-old root will cause teeth to grow back in the elderly! It is interesting to note that traditional Chinese herbalists place great emphasis on the shape and age of the roots, with older roots being in greater demand. Both "processed" and "unprocessed" roots are used. When the root is boiled in a special liquid made from black beans, it is called red Fo-Ti and is considered superior to the unprocessed root, sometimes called white Fo-Ti in Chinese medicine. All the active ingredients in Fo-Ti Root have not been fully determined, but Fo-Ti does include emodin, phospholipids, anthraquinones, bianthraquinonyl glucosides and the leucoanthocyanidins, which are thought to promote the medicinal actions for which this herb has become famous.
Fo-Ti Root is considered an excellent tonic that has been used for centuries to produce longevity, fertility and vitality. It is also believed to rejuvenate the body, prevent premature ageing and counteract fatigue and exhaustion. The herb is also considered a key tonic for the elderly, alleviating knee pain, replenishing semen/sperm in men, countering impotence, erectile dysfunction and darkening gray hair in both sexes; in other words, all the problems associated with ageing.
As an internal astringent, Fo-Ti Root has been helpful in reducing excessive bleeding, particularly controlling menstrual flow. Externally used, its astringent properties are included in poultices to control bleeding wounds and sores.
Fo-Ti Root is considered a mild purgative that causes evacuation of the bowels, and this action helps to treat chronic constipation. It is regarded as a demulcent laxative that not only clears waste, but also soothes and softens damaged or inflamed gastrointestinal mucous membranes, which is particularly helpful for constipation in the elderly.
Fo-Ti Root is believed to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the blood. There is apparently a component of lecithin in the root that helps to diminish arterial plaque, which thus helps to reduce hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis). The decreased arterial plaque and cholesterol are believed to reduce high blood pressure and increase blood circulation, which may lessen the risk of strokes and cardiac problems. There are also claims that Fo-Ti reduces blood sugar.
As an overall demulcent tonic, Fo-Ti Root is said to restore, nourish and strengthen the entire body, while at the same time soothing inflamed mucous membranes. It has long been thought to have a rejuvenating effect on the liver, reproductive, urinary and circulatory systems. Fo-Ti has been used to clear toxins from, as well as support, a weak liver and kidneys.
Current research is investigating the use of Fo-Ti Root and its role in enhancing a strong immune function in the body. The herb is believed to have beneficial effects on the blood by helping improve blood deficiency and increasing red blood cell formation. Improved red blood cell production may significantly help to play a strong role in the immune system, helping the body to ward off infection and disease. In a 1991 study, researchers claimed that one of Fo-Ti's active principles, Emodin, served as an effective immunosuppressive agent in human cells and speculated that the herb may be useful against transplant rejection and autoimmune disease.
Currently, there are no warnings or contraindications with the use of Fo-Ti Root Herbal Supplement from Herbal Extracts Plus, but excess (many times the recommended dosage) is not recommended, as it may cause skin rash.