Ho Shou Wu [Circulatory, Immune]. This remarkable herb possesses properties similar to ginseng.
It is highly prized in China as an adaptogenic herb.
A member of the buckwheat family, ho shou wu contains bioflavonoid-like compounds that help protect and maintain blood vessel health.
Take two capsules with a meal twice daily.
SIZE: 100 capsules STOCK NUMBER: 375-5
Serving Size: 2
Servings Per Container: 50
Amount Per: 2 Capsules
% Daily Value *
He Shou Wu Root (Polygonum Multiflorum)
*Daily Value Not Established
Other Ingredients: Gelatin And Water.
He Shou Wu
He shou wu (Polygonum multiflorum), also known as “ho shou wu” or “fo-ti,” is among the most popular herbs in traditional Chinese medicine and has been widely used as a rejuvenative tonic and anti-aging remedy.1-5
In Traditional Chinese medicine, he shou wu is used to tonify and improve liver and kidney function; moisten the intestines and unblock the bowels; lower cholesterol levels and inhibit atherosclerosis; and enhance immune system function. Practitioners of Chinese medicine have used he shou wu for a variety of health concerns, including angina (chest pain), blurred vision, constipation, dizziness, impotence, insomnia, premature aging and graying hair, respiratory system diseases, and weakness in the lower back and knees. He shou wu is also said to “calm the spirit” and “nourish the heart” (the seat of the emotions); thus, he shou wu is considered particularly useful for dream-disturbed sleep, especially in cases of repeated nightmares.1,2,6-15
He shou wu has demonstrated cardioprotective effects in numerous animal studies, including anti-atherosclerotic effects. One of the main constituents in he shou wu has been shown to significantly decrease serum total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, as well as reduce the severity of experimentally-induced atherosclerosis. Recent in vitro studies also indicate that he shou wu reduces apoptosis (cell death) and helps protect endothelial function. Endothelial cells are specialized cells that line the arteries. Endothelial dysfunction impairs the ability for blood vessels to dilate and is an early indicator of atherosclerosis.2,11,13,16-18
He shou wu also exhibits significant antioxidant activity. He shou wu root extracts have been found to increase the activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD)—an antioxidant enzyme that protects cells against free radical damage—and inhibit the formation of oxidized lipids (fats), which is a risk factor for atherosclerosis. In addition, the antioxidant effects of he shou wu extracts may help prevent brain degeneration and inhibit age-related deficits in learning and memory ability. For example, the main constituent in he shou wu has been shown to prevent and even reverse Alzheimer’s disease-like learning-memory deficit in mice. Results from another study found that long-term pretreatment with he shou wu is neuroprotective (prevents damage to the brain) and may protect the brain against focal cerebral ischemia—a deficiency in blood supply to the brain, which can cause irreversible brain damage.3,4,11,12,19-22
He shou wu has also been studied for its immune system-enhancing effects and antibacterial and antiviral activities. He shou wu was found to be among the most active of 19 Chinese medicinal plants in combating pathogenic (disease-causing) isolates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in vitro. Additional research has shown that he shou wu contains an active ingredient that significantly blocks viral attachment and inhibits the infectivity of the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus.1,4,23,24
Furthermore, research has discovered surprisingly high in vitro estrogenic activity in extracts of he shou wu. The estrogen bioactivity for he shou wu has been determined at approximately 1/300th that of estradiol—estradiol is the main estrogen influencing the menstrual cycle. Comparative analyses found that the estrogen activity in he shou wu was equivalent to that observed for red clover and soy, suggesting that he shou wu may be another natural alternative to estrogen replacement therapy for the treatment of menopausal symptoms.25-28
No interactions with drugs have been reported for he shou wu. According to some traditional sources, he shou wu should not be taken with onions, chives or garlic. Although he shou wu is generally a safe herb, it is not recommended for people with spleen deficiency, diarrhea or heavy phlegm in the respiratory tract. Those who are particularly sensitive to he shou wu may develop a skin rash. Reported side effects with he shou wu are generally rare and include diarrhea, flushing of the face and skin rashes. However, taking an excessive dosage (more than 15 grams) of he shou wu can cause numbness in the extremities.1,6,8
1Duper, D. “Fo ti.” Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. <http://tinyurl.com/2fw7cgo>. Accessed June 2010.
2Yang, P.Y., et. al. “Reduction of atherosclerosis in cholesterol-fed rabbits and decrease of expressions of intracellular adhesion molecule-1 and vascular endothelial growth factor in foam cells by a water-soluble fraction of Polygonum multiflorum.” Journal of Pharmacological Sciences; 2005, 99(3):294-300.
3Xu, Y.L., et. al. “Simultaneous quantitative determination of eight active components in Polygonum multiflorum Thunb by RPHPLC.“ Journal of Chinese Pharmaceutical Sciences; 2009, 18: 358-361.
4Hwang, I.K., et. al. “An extract of Polygonum multiflorum protects against free radical damage induced by ultraviolet B irradiation of the skin.” Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research; 2006, 39(9):1181-1188.
5Wang, W., Wang, D.Q. [Progress of study on brain protective effect and mechanism of Polygonum multiflorum]. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi; 2005, 25(10):955-959.
6Bensky, D. & Gamble, A. Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica, Revised Edition. Eastland Press, 2003.
7Reid, D. A Handbook of Chinese Healing Herbs. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications Inc., 1995.
8Lininger DC, S., et al. The Natural Pharmacy, 2nd ed. Rocklin, CA: Prima Health, 1999.
9Rister, R. Japanese Herbal Medicine. Garden City Park, NY: Avery, 1999.
11Zhang, W., et. al. “Effects of 2,3,4',5-tetrahydroxystilbene 2-O-beta-D-glucoside on vascular endothelial dysfunction in atherogenic-diet rats.” Planta Medica; 2009, 75(11):1209-1214.
12Dharmananda, S. “Ho-Shou-Wu.” Institute For Traditional Medicine; June 1998. <http://www.itmonline.org/arts/hoshouwu.htm>. Accessed June 2010.
13Liu, Q.L., et. al. “Effect of 2,3,5,4'-tetrahydroxystilbene-2-O-beta-D-glucoside on lipoprotein oxidation and proliferation of coronary arterial smooth cells.” Journal of Asian Natural Products Research; 2007, 9(6-8):689-697.
14Chen, F.P., et. al. “Prescriptions of Chinese Herbal Medicines for Insomnia in Taiwan during 2002.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine; 2009, April 1. [Epub ahead of print]
15Han, L.Q., et. al. [Determination of the contents of trace elements in chinese herbal medicines for treating respiratory system diseases]. Guang Pu Xue Yu Guang Pu Fen Xi; 2008, 28(2):453-455.
16Ling, S., et. al. “Effects of four medicinal herbs on human vascular endothelial cells in culture.” International Journal of Cardiology; 2008, 128(3):350-358.
17Gao, X., et. al. [Blood lipid-regulation of stilbene glycoside from polygonum multiflorum]. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi; 2007, 32(4):323-326.
18Davignon, J., Ganz, P. “Role of Endothelial Dysfunction in Atherosclerosis.“ Circulation; 2004, 109:III-27-III-32.
19Ryu, G., et. al. “The radical scavenging effects of stilbene glucosides from Polygonum multiflorum.” Archives of Pharmacal Research; 2002, 25(5):636-639.
20Chan, Y.C., et. al. “Polygonum multiflorum extracts improve cognitive performance in senescence accelerated mice.” The American Journal of Chinese Medicine; 2003, 31(2):171-179.
21Wang, R., et. al. “Changes in hippocampal synapses and learning-memory abilities in age-increasing rats and effects of tetrahydroxystilbene glucoside in aged rats.” Neuroscience; 2007, 149(4):739-746.
22Chan, Y.C., et. al. “Long-term administration of Polygonum multiflorum Thunb. reduces cerebral ischemia-induced infarct volume in gerbils.” American Journal of Chinese Medicine; 2003, 31(1):71-77.
23Zuo, G.Y., et. al. “Screening of Chinese medicinal plants for inhibition against clinical isolates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).” Journal of Ethnopharmacology; 2008, 120(2):287-290.
24Ho, T.Y., et. al. “Emodin blocks the SARS coronavirus spike protein and angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 interaction.” Antiviral Research; 2007, 74(2):92-101.
25Kang, S.C., et. al. “Evaluation of oriental medicinal herbs for estrogenic and antiproliferative activities.” Phytotherapy Research; 2006, 20(11):1017-1019.
26Zhang, C.Z., et. al. “In vitro estrogenic activities of Chinese medicinal plants traditionally used for the management of menopausal symptoms.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology; 2005, 98(3):295-300.
27Oerter Klein, K., et. al. “Estrogen bioactivity in fo-ti and other herbs used for their estrogen-like effects as determined by a recombinant cell bioassay.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism; 2003, 88(9):4077-4079.
28Mulcahy, N. “Chinese herb fo-ti has estradiol-like activity; laboratory tests.” OB/GYN News; September 1, 2003. <http://tinyurl.com/2cj6nkq>. Accessed June 2010.
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He Shu Wu (also known as fo-ti, ho shou wu, ho shou wu, flowery knotweed, and fleece flower) is a Chinese tonic herb. Its uses were first recorded in Kai pao pen tsao. Its name literally means Mr. Hos hair is black (shou = head, wu = black). The name is based on a story about a 58-year-old gentleman named Ho, whose gray hair turned black again after taking the herb. He also become more youthful and was able to father several children. Supposedly he was able to live to 160, retaining his black hair. There are numerous variations of this story, but all center on the fact that the herb not only restored normal hair color, it restored vitality, strength and sexual vigor.
While it is probable that these tales are highly exaggerated or completely fictitious accounts, He Shu Wu does have a solid reputation in China as an anti-aging herb, and there is plenty of historical, clinical, scientific evidence that demonstrates its value as a medicinal herb.
He Shu Wu has a bitter, sweet flavor with an astringent nature. Energetically, it is a warming herb, used as a tonic for rebuilding weakened conditions. In China it is used to strengthen the body and nourish the vital essence, or basic life energy. It primarily affects the liver and kidneys, nourishing the yin energy of both of these organs. Some of its traditional indications in Chinese medicine include: pain in the loins and knees, involuntary seminal emission, bleeding, intestinal gas, and malaria.
The botanical name for He Shu Wu is Polygonum multi-florum. The Polygonum genus contains a number of useful medicinal plants, including the Western herb bistort (Polygonum bistorta). All of these plants contain tannins, which make them astringent, meaning they tone tissues and arrest discharges.
What makes He Shu Wu interesting is that it also contains anthraquinones, the same compounds found in cascara sagrada and senna. This gives the herb a mild laxative effect. The combination of a stimulant laxative action and an astringent action, makes He Shu Wu useful for a variety of gastrointestinal problems. In India it is used for colic and enteritis; in Brazil, it is used for hemorrhoids, in China for ulcerations.
He Shu Wu also has some definite circulatory-enhancing properties. Studies have confirmed the plant has the ability to reduce hypertension and blood cholesterol. In addition to directly inhibiting cholesterol, it also decreases cholesterol absorption in the digestive tract. In one study in China, over 80% of high cholesterol patients showed improvement when taking a decoction of the root.
He Shu Wu also helps inhibit the formation of arterial plaque, thus reducing the risk of heart disease. One of the major constituents of this plant is lecithin, a substance that works with cholesterol in the body, which may account for some of these effects.
In Chinese herbal medicine, the most important properties of He Shu Wu are its abilities to strengthen liver and kidney function. These are the primary organs that cleanse the blood, giving the plant a tonic action for the blood. It is used for dizziness, weakness, numbness, blurred vision and other symptoms of blood deficiency. It is also useful for backache, a common symptom of kidney weakness.
He Shu Wu has some infection fighting qualities. It has been found useful for tuberculosis, malaria, and some types of virial infections. There is also some evidence that He Shu Wu can help increase sugar levels in the blood, making it useful for hypoglycemia.
Considering the overall properties of this plant, it is obvious why it would earn the reputation as an antiaging herb. Its ability to aid the cardiovascular system alone makes it a useful tonic to counteract some of the effects of aging.
But, what about He Shu Wus reputation for restoring color to gray hair? Although there isnt a lot of scientific data to support this claim, there is folk evidence for it, and clinical trials of various formulas containing He Shu Wu in China suggest it may be useful in treating alopecia or hair loss. According the Chinese medicine, the health of the hair is governed by the kidneys and liver blood. The kidneys are also thought to govern the bone marrow, and the health of the teeth is connected to the quality of the bone marrow. So, He Shu Wu may help us hold onto both our hair and our teeth as we age.
He Shu Wu has also been marketed under the name fo-ti. There is no such herb in China, and the name was invented by Western marketers trying to make an association with a proprietary formula called Fo-Ti-Teng.
He Shu Wu is a gentle, tonic herb that must be taken regularly over a period of many months to have optimal effects. It is very safe and can be consumed in doses up to 5 grams per day (about 8 capsules). Recommended dose is 2-4 capsules twice daily.
The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine by Daniel B. Mowrey.
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants by Andrew Chevallier
Oriental Materia Medica: A Concise Guide by Hong-Yen Hsu
Ho shou wu: Whats in an Herb Name? by Subhuti Dharmananda