Polygonum multiflorum or Fo-ti root (traditionally known as He-Shou-Wu in China, or as tuber fleeceflower in North America) is a Chinese plant which is popular due to its rejuvenating properties. The Chinese people use the root of the plant for medicinal purposes such as promoting fertility, restoring hair color and preventing aging effects. Polygonum multiflorum is a native plant of China but it is also grown extensively in Japan, Taiwan and some parts of North America. Consult with your health care provider before taking Fo-ti or any supplement.
For centuries, Polygonum multiflorum has been used an herbal medicine by the Chinese. The significance of the plant is from the reddish roots which are usually boiled with black beans to form a preparation called the red Fo-ti. This processed Fo-ti is said to prevent heart disease by not allowing plaque to form in the blood vessels. At the same time it may also reduce cholesterol in the blood and the liver due to the presence of chemicals called lectins, which prevent fat accumulating in the blood. The processed roots of the Fo-ti also contain anti-oxidant, anti-tumor, immune-stimulant and sedative properties.
The unprocessed Fo-ti is called "white Fo-ti." It is used for laxative purposes through oral administration, or it may be applied topically to treat skin conditions such as acne, razor burns, dermatitis, scrapes and athlete's foot. White Fo-ti is chiefly used to fight against inflammation, hyperlipidemia, constipation and toxicosis. Fo-ti is available as sliced or whole roots, capsules, powder, solution and tonics, but before using it consult with your health care provider for possible interactions with existing medications you may be taking.
Fo-ti is also believed to provide the following health benefits: improve immunity, enhance red blood cell production, enhance the libido, aid in weight loss, reduce cholesterol levels, decrease blood pressure, promote better sleep, improve memory function, safeguard skin from ultra violet rays, decrease weakness and fatigue, and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It is also used to treat menopause symptoms and vaginal discharge in women, erectile dysfunction in men, premature graying of hair, bone loss and skin problems such as eczema and goiters.
Though Fo-ti has many health benefits, people with existing medical conditions should consult their health care provider before using Fo-ti. Pregnant women and breast feeding mothers should consult with an obstetrician/gynecologist to ensure it is safe to use Fo-ti. Use of Fo-ti can result in side effects for some people, such as mild stomach upset or skin rashes. Discontinue use of the herb under such circumstances.