(Polygonum multiflorum)

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Common Names: He-Shou-Wu, Chinese Knotweed, Climbing Knotweed, Flowery Knotweed, Kashuu

Uses: Immune function, Atherosclerosis, Insomnia, Fatigue, High cholesterol, Hair Health, Rejuvenation, Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's Disease, Detox the body, Lower cholesterol and blood pressure

Plant Background

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Fo-Ti is one of the main herbs used to help improve the heart and relax the mental state. The stems are red, possessing heart shaped leaves and the flowers vary from white and pink. The literal English translation of Fo-Tiactually means "vine to pass through the night." This herbal remedy has a “distinctively sweet, yet bitter taste. It has been rumored to have been able to unblock the channels of energy through the body, allowing the escape of the pathogenic influences that cause symptoms such as generalized weakness, soreness, pain, and fatigue.” Reports have also showed that there are four major types of Fo-Ti on the market: raw, cured, wine, and steamed. Chinese tradition teaches that the herb should be used by itself when treated and by people, or it can be used after in a cured form in the water used to cook black beans for this purpose. “The curing of Fo-Ti has been found to increase the phosphates (presumably lecithin) by close to 30%, also increasing the sugar content. “
Traditional Chinese medicinal analysts have always kept the production of the traditional Fo-Ti root as a close secret; nonetheless, the basic process of producing the herb incorporates the use of raw Fo-Ti roots in a soup of black bean sauce and wine. Those with gluten sensitivities may want to avoid using this product.
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Fo-Ti usually comes in the form of tea, tablets, juice, powder, extract or the roots could be applied directly to the skin.

The recommended intake is approximately 1–1 1/2 teaspoons (4–8 grams) per day. A tea can be made from processed roots by boiling 1/2–1 teaspoons (3–5 grams) in 1 cup (250 ml) of water for ten to fifteen minutes. Three or more cups are suggested each day. Five fo-ti tablets (500 mg each) can be taken three times per day.
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The perennial flowering vine stands with skinny branches, growing from 3 to 6 feet in height.

Effects/Uses of Fo-Ti

Side Effects:Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease is not known. The root is considered to have minimum toxicity, however,excessive use can cause numbness in the hands and feet. The unprocessed root can cause loose stool, diarrhea, with abdominal pain, and nausea.

Uses: “Raw and cured are the most used, and the ones mostly imported into the US.” Other uses have involved using the plant to wash for itching and skin rashes. The herb has also been known to have the ability to turn the color back to graying hair.

Numbness in the arms and legs can occur when an excess of 15 processed grams of Fo-Ti are taken daily. Side effects are considered minimal.

Fo-TI’s Family

(POLYGONACEAE) Knotweed Family

Fo-Ti’s Location

Fo-Ti is native to China and most commonly found in that area, but it could also be found in various places in Asia that have grasslands, roadsides, and forest edges. The herb can also be found a lot in Japan.

Fo Ti is found growing in mountain thickets, valley shrub thickets and along the banks of streams. This plant grows well in acidic, neutral, moist and basic soils.
The plant grows well in partial shade and full sunlight as well.

fo-ti dried root
fo-ti dried root

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“The Chinese nickname of this herb actually means ‘Mr. He's Black Hair,’ Mr. He being a man of Chinese legend who restored his youth and sexual potency by taking Fo-Ti tea. “ Also, A Tang dynasty legend about a gentleman by the name of He Shou-wu is the source for the common name of this member of the bindweed family. He Shou-wu was “credited for remarkable vigor, youthfulness and fathering of many children.”

Sources Referenced