The knotweed plant was prized for its decorative qualities upon its early trade from Asian to European countries in the 1800s. It's now highly valued for its medicinal qualities. The herb has the ability to outgrow and suffocate the growth of other plants. Notwithstanding its invasive nature, the supplement form of the herb has gained increasing popularity as a potent antioxidant and cardiovascular system tonic and Lyme’s disease treatment.
The knotweed plant has many varieties. Japanese knotweed, also known a polygonum cuspidatum, is the most commonly encountered and the variety most studied for its healing potential, but other knotweeds such as the Chinese knotweed offer some medicinal benefit as well. The knotweed plant, according to the Invasive Plant Atlas of New England, also goes by the common names Mexican bamboo and fleece flower. It's described as a perennial plant that appears woody in texture and can grow to be 3 to 10 feet in height. The plant produces a flower that appears from August to September, as well as a fruit. The plant, native to Japan and other Asian countries, was brought to the U.S. through Britain. It was distributed for its ornamental properties but was soon despised due to its rampant reproduction and ability to starve the growth of other nearby plants.
Resveratrol is an isolated substance known as a polyphenol that can be extracted from the knotweed plant. Resveratrol can be isolated from red grapes and peanuts, but the Oregon State Linus Pauling Institute notes that the knotweed plant is the greatest source of resveratrol. Most resveratrol supplements sold in the U.S. are extracted from this herb. Resveratrol has great potential as a cardioprotective, cancer-preventive and anti-aging supplement.
Japanese Knotweed and Lyme's Disease
Although knotweed populates many areas of the world, its most concentrated growth is in areas with a high Borrelia infestation, according to the Invasive Plant Atlas of New England. This herbal supplement is considered a mainstay remedy in Stephen Harrod Buhner’s Lyme’s disease protocol, notes Scott Forsgren, interviewer for the Public Health Report website. Borrelia is the microorganism that causes Lyme’s disease.
Lyme’s disease is often effectively treated with conventional antibiotics in its early and acute forms. But as the disease becomes chronic, it's commonly held that the microorganism hides in many areas of the body, such as the nervous system. The Borellia spirochete’s metabolites are toxic to the neurological system, and supplements of Japanese knotweed herb appear to cross the blood brain barrier to act as an effective antibacterial and toxin-binding substance. The Public Health Report adds that Japanese knotweed can help with Lyme’s-related arthritis symptoms.
Chinese Knotweed Supplements
The Chinese knotweed plant supplement also goes by the name of Fo-Ti or He Shou Wu. This supplement is sold individually and often accompanies many hair-growing products; one of its suggested properties is its ability to potentially reverse prematurely graying hair. The Herbal Resource notes that its other anti-aging properties include its use in Traditional Chinese Medicine patent remedies for diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Its rejuvenating abilities are coupled with laxative, immune-boosting and fertility-enhancing properties.
Chinese knotweed supplements are recommended in doses between 8g and 25g per day, or as a tea, according to the Herbal Resource Guide. The Public Health Report notes that Japanese knotweed is the premier herb for Lyme’s disease. It's suggested as a full-spectrum herb, meaning in its whole root form, in doses of 500mg to 2000mg three to four times per day for eight to 12 months. There may be benefits within two weeks to two months, according to the Public Health Report.
The Herbal Resource Guide notes that Chinese knotweed supplement can be sold in crude or unprocessed forms, as well as those forms that have undergone processing. The unprocessed forms exhibit more of the laxative qualities than the processed forms, and side effects of the supplement may be abdominal upset or loose stools. The Public Health Report says Japanese knotweed should not be used by pregnant women and may lead to a metallic taste in the mouth. The Oregon State University monograph on the concentrated knotweed supplement, resveratrol, notes that a single dose of up to 5g per day has not been found to cause any side effects. It is also not suggested for use in pregnant or lactating women, or in people with estrogen-sensitive cancers because of lack of evidence to prove safety. The herb may interact with several medications, such as blood thinners and drugs metabolized by the P-450 enzyme system in the liver.