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Fo-ti Root, He Shou Wu Benefits as a Tonic Herb Fo-ti root Polygonum multiflorum , also called he shou wu or ho shou wu , is one of the most important traditional Chinese "longevity herbs" classified under the system of major tonic herbs. He shou wu is a famous tonic adaptogen that modulates the hormones, tonifies kidney yin and liver weakness. Polygonum multiflorum is a top "Jing" herb one of the 3 treasures in TCM known to replenish the "root of our vitality" by providing deep nourishment, via Jing essence, primarily to the kidney and liver systems.
Although it is an overall energizer to the body, fo-ti is slightly sedative in nature and calming to the nerves with building effects as an energy yin tonic that accumulate with use.
Regular consumption of teas or extracts is particularly strengthening to the lower back and knees as well as fortifying to the bones, muscles and ligaments. Fo-ti is one of the main ingredients in the patent longevity herbal formula, Shou Wu Chih, originally developed by the well-known herbalist Moo San Do Sha. It contains other tonics such as rehmannia and dong quai, and is used as an anti-aging rejuvenation elixir throughout China.
Fo-ti root is known for its ability to concentrate tremendous amounts of "Chi" and nutritional components into its dense root system. When these roots are consumed, these life-giving nutrients are transferred, helping to both cleanse and nourish the bloodstream and related organs.
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The Legend of Li Ching-Yuen He shou wu is native to China and has a deep seated history among Taoist longevity masters who were proposed to have lived healthy and youthful lives well over the age of One of the greatest legacies told throughout Asia is the story of Li Ching-Yuen, tonic herbalist and Taoist master. As the legend depicts Li Ching-Yuen was said to have lived to the age of consuming large doses of tonic brews and tinctures consisting of ginseng, fo-ti root, gotu kola, reishi and goji berries.
However, this story, as well as many others, represent the traditionally recognized notion of Taoists living well beyond what we think is humanly possible. This is believed to be due, in part, to the regular consumption of tonic herbs, like he shou wu.
He Shou Wu Benefits Supports Kidney Health Fo-ti root is specific for building strength in the kidneys and is an essential herb for those with "kidney yin deficiency" or anyone suffering from extreme fatigue, weakness, cortisol depletion or adrenal exhaustion.
In TCM "yin" is the material basis for "yang" energy and therefore, when deficient, needs to be replenished in order to build back strength and stamina.
All yin energy in the body comes from the kidney yin and is the reason the kidneys are often referred to as the "root of our vitality" with their position seated close to the bottom of all major organs. They are a store house for vital life energies, called "Jing" or "essence" in Chinese medicine, and are in charge of reproduction, water metabolism, filtering of the blood and waste removal. Fo-ti extracts and teas used over a period of time naturally help to restore Jing energy and nurture kidney functions.
What Causes Yin Deficiency? As we age we become more susceptible to yin deficiency, which is represented by the drying of the skin, hair and tissues of the body. However, there are many lifestyle habits that can contribute significantly to the depletion of kidney yin over the course of a lifetime. This includes the consumption of low quality foods, sodas, alcohol, salty foods, pharmaceuticals; as well as smoking, chronic emotional stress and exposure to environmental pollutants in the air we breathe and foods we eat.
We personally feel that consuming major tonic adaptogens, like fo-ti root, on a regular basis are especially important as an adjunct to a health promoting diet and lifestyle. Most people today are extremely yin deficient, this is why we promote fo-ti root as one of our top 10 superfoods. It is important, however, to consider your own unique constitution, conditions and health goals as some herbs or combination of herbs may be more appropriate for your individual needs and health goals.
It is known throughout China, not only as a preventative, but also to help gray hair regain its original color and pigment. He shou wu literally translates as "black haired Mr. He" and has been recognized for centuries as a famous restorative root and anti-aging tonic herb for transforming hair color back to its natural state.
It is also respected as a hair restorative helpful for hair growth and baldness. According to one study , "Extracts of P. It is helpful for increasing fertility, most likely due to its revitalizing effects that nurture yin fluids. In addition, it helps to maintain and protect the liver. The liver is in charge of constructing various building blocks needed for proper hormone production and activity that keeps our reproductive systems healthy and strong. In it he writes about the story of Neng Si, a 58 year-old man in poor health who was never able to bear children.
He was the first to discover a twisting 3-yard vine of fo-ti that appeared to be "making love" and out of curiosity took the root home and used it for a period of time. Over the next ten years, he fathered several boys and changed his name to Neng Si, meaning "Capable of Bearing Offspring.
It is often likened to the river systems that nurture, feed and cleanse the earth itself. Likewise, when the blood is running unobstructed, it is subsequently able to help the liver do its job at purifying the body. Polygonum multiflorum can provide a gentle liver detox by cleansing as well as building the blood. It is known to clear redness from the eyes a sign of liver stagnation. Prepared he shou wu contains a number of antioxidants that act as a liver tonic with protective and regulatory actions that help to stabilize cells and maintain liver health.
Raw fo-ti can actually be toxic to the liver when consumed in high amounts and should largely be avoided. It is always important to purchase the prepared herb from high quality sources that are processed appropriately using traditional Chinese methods. Prepared roots are stewed in black soybean broth and may undergo various steaming and drying techniques. They are very different than raw unprepared fo-ti which, in our opinion, should never be consumed because of its hepatotoxic effects that have been shown in some research to have the opposite results on the liver organ.
Cured fo-ti is a dark black-brown color with a reddish hue, whereas raw unprepared roots generally have a light brown or off-white pigmentation. He shou wu is thought to help preserve healthy amounts of SOD even as we grow older. SOD is present in almost all extracellular fluids which are increased with regular use of fo-ti root extracts. These less reactive ions are then further transformed by the antioxidants catalase and glutathione into safe molecules.
This transformation, called dismutation, is essential to life. He shou wu supports the normal dismutation process. TSG, derived from fo-ti root, is shown in a Chinese study to help increase SOD as well as improve memory and regulate body weight. The studied result also suggested, "that TSG had a promising anti-aging effect by regulating the Klotho gene.
It contains more than both dong quai and goji, which are known to have considerable amounts. It is an important nutrient for energy production, muscular functions and also supports a healthy circulatory system.
Contains Zinc Fo-ti root is very rich in zinc, containing 24 times the amount of other herbs with about 42mg of zinc per grams. This is much higher than even animal foods which normally contain between mg per g. People who eat a high raw vegan or vegetarian diet are often deficient in this important mineral, which is required for cellular metabolism, neurological functions, healthy immune response, reproductive vitality and muscle growth.
High in Lecithin He shou wu is a good source of lecithin and choline, helpful for cognitive function. A constituent in lecithin, called inositol, is also known to be good for maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. He Shou Wu Benefits Nourishes deep energy; kidney yin and "Jing" Acts as a potent reproductive tonic Mildly sedates the nervous system Nurtures ovaries and may help increase sperm count Contains high amounts of zinc, lecithin and iron Increases libido and sex drive Purifies the blood liver and kidneys Contains antioxidants and increases SOD How to Use Dried Root Pieces or Slices One of our favorite ways to prepare fo-ti is as a tonic tea.
All adaptogens need to be simmered to release their beneficial properties and healing components. This involves using the dried root pieces or sometimes slices and preparing a decoction by simmering it for 20 minutes to an hour or more in water.
This produces a dark richly-flavored tea you can drink throughout the day. We usually decoct fo-ti with other tonic herbs and liver cleansers like reishi mushroom, eucommia and dandelion root. It is a wonderful addition to most other herbal formulations and can be used as a decocted base for herbal tea infusions using nutritive herbs. Try it in our Energy Tonic Tea recipe.
It is cheaper in the long run to buy it in bulk quantities which gives you a large supply to keep up your tea making habits. There are different grades you can purchase, with the higher quality "premium" roots being older and also more expensive. We usually buy different grades and mix them together.
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He Shou Wu Tinctures Tinctures can be a convenient way to take fo-ti as they are easy to add into teas or can be blended into water.
Herb Pharm offers a high quality prepared fo-ti tincture containing distilled water, certified organic grain alcohol and fo-ti root extractives. The best company in our opinion for high quality tonic extracts is either Jing Herbs or Dragon Herbs.
Jing Herbs sells the prepared powdered extract as a loose powder as opposed to capsules. Recommended Dosage Fo-ti root extract or teas are generally safe to use over a long period of time. The standard dosage for a powder extract would be approximately: Precautions Prepared Polygonum multiflorum is considered to be safe and suitable for long term and daily use. Mild gastrointestinal disturbance, characterized by soft stool, is the only side effect, but this is very rare.
As we mentioned, you should only consume "prepared" roots rather than "raw" versions, which are known to be toxic to the liver in large amounts and can have quite the opposite effect of prepared fo-ti for some individuals.