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Posted by on Apr 13, 2017 in Herbs, Herbs A-F | 0 comments

Fo Ti Root (Polygonum multiflorum)

Fo Ti Root (Polygonum multiflorum)

This anti-aging herb is commonly known in the west as Fo-Ti root (or Fo-Ti-Tieng) and is a member of the buckwheat family. This western nickname was given to it in the 70’s and is now its most commonly recognized name. The latin name for the Fo-Ti root’s whole plant is polygonum multiflorum. The Chinese name is He Shou Wu which roughly translates as Mr. Wu’s hair stays black. This should give you an idea of the potential that fertility herbs can have on your health, especially as you supposedly “get older”.

Traditional properties:

He Shou Wu is a premier yin tonic and anti-aging herb that can be consumed daily to increase your human longevity potential. It is sweet, bitter, astringent and slightly warming. It affects and tones the liver and kidney meridians. He Shou Wu will increase your energy levels, however it is not a stimulant. It is in fact a Jing herb and slightly sedative. It stands out among the top fertility herbs and builds sexual staying power for men and women (as all yin tonics do).

Fo-Ti root is infamous for gray hair reversal. Folklore and legends tell a few different versions of how the Chinese name (He Shou Wu) for this herbal adaptogen came about. One of them describes that a General He was convicted of a serious crime and sentenced to death by confinement to a remote cell that was dug into the ground with no access to food or water. After a year, upon returning to the cell to have his remains removed, his executioners were surprised to find that not only had General He survived, but he had gone through a complete rejuvenation that had been able to reverse gray hair on his head back to black. It turns out he had survived exclusively on a vine that grew in the crevices in his cell walls… the Fo-Ti root.

Li, Ching Yuen was a master herbalist and baguazhang player (Jiulong Baguazhang) who purportedly lived to be 256 years old (according to an article from the May 15th, 1933 issue of “Time” magazine). He consumed an organic tincture of various herbs, one of which was the Fo-Ti root on a daily basis for the last 100 years of his life. He also included Ginseng, Chinese Licorice and Gotu Kola in his rice wine organic tincture. It is highly unlikely that the life of this famous Taoist will ever be proven as fact or fiction, but we can take his teaching about using lifestyle and diet for longevity as a clue for creating changes in life expectancy within ourselves. Many of the Li family descendants were centenarians and even super-centenarians.

Scientific properties:

The prepared Fo-Ti root has been shown in animal and/or human studies to have the following effects: anti-tumour, anti-pyretic, sedative, anti-progestational, anti-inflammatory, decreases blood coagulability, cardiotonic, hypotensive, vasodilatory. Raw and prepared Fo-Ti roots are understood to be two different herbs in Chinese herbalism. These differences have been validated by modern science. Although raw foodists like myself might like the idea of taking raw He Shou Wu, its tonic effects are absent when un-prepared and it is actually a strong laxative. Prepared Fo-Ti roots, which are stewed in a black bean soup and then dried, have been shown to have the strongest beneficial effects in both human and animal studies.

Cardiovascular benefits

Processed Fo ti contains protein-sugar complexes known as lectins. Because they attach to specific arrangements of carbohydrates on cells in the body, lectins act like antibodies, but they do not cause allergy symptoms. The lectins in processed Fo ti may affect fat levels in the blood, helping to prevent or delay heart disease by blocking the formation of plaques in blood vessels. Plaques are accumulations of fat and other cells that restrict the size of blood vessels and limit the flexibility of their walls.

The whole root has been shown to lower cholesterol levels, according to animal and human research, as well as to decrease hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. Other Fo ti research has investigated this herb’s role in strong immune function, red blood cell formation and antibacterial action.

Protects liver

In animal studies, processed Fo ti also reduced the amount of fat that deposited in the liver and it may protect the liver from damage by toxins such as dry cleaning fluid. Processed Fo ti may also have immune system effects.

Potential anti-aging effect

Although supported by a small number of animal studies and numerous human case reports from China, where processed fo-ti has been used for centuries as an anti-aging tonic, none of these uses for processed Fo ti has been confirmed by controlled studies in humans.

Latin Name

Fallopia multiflora


Polygonum multiflorum, Helxine multiflorum, Pleuroptterus cordatus, Polygonum convolvulus, Polygonum multiflorus

Common Names

Chinese Knotweed, Climbing Knotweed, Fo ti, Flowery Knotweed, He-Shou-Wu, Kashuu


Astringent, demulcent, tonic.


Atherosclerosis, Constipation, Fatigue, High cholesterol, Hair Health, Rejuvenation, Sexual Vigour, Detox the body, Lower cholesterol and blood pressure

Indicated for

Blood deficiency, premature graying of the hair, nerve damage, wind rash, eczema, sores, carbuncles, goiter, scrofula and inflammation of lymph nodes and heat toxicity. Immune boosting.

Some people who are sensitive to Fo ti may develop a skin rash. Very high doses may cause numbness in the arms or legs.

Some people who are sensitive to Fo ti may develop a skin rash. Very high doses may cause numbness in the arms or legs.