He Shou Wu: Benefits, Side Effects and Dosage


Original to traditional Chinese medicine, He Shou Wu, sometimes also called Fo Ti, is a traditional Chinese herb found in south China. The herb, scientifically known as Polygonum multiflorum, is known to be discovered around 812 AD by a sterile, old man who had ingested the roots of the herb in order to discover its effects. He magically turned virile and was even able to father children a few months later. This herb is one of the most revered and sought after exotic herbs in traditional Chinese medicine. It is used to treat a number of ailments such as hair loss, constipation, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. But it should be taken in proper dosages as it can have some very serious side effects such as liver damage.

All You Need to Know about He Shou Wu

he shou wu


What are the benefits of He Shou Wu?

Rich in anti-oxidants

It is rich in anti-oxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. He Shou Wu is often called the ‘motherlode of antioxidants’. Due to this property, the herb has the ability to prevent natural processes that break down the body such as ageing and chronic diseases. It can also stop chronic inflammation occurring due to cellular oxidation, which makes it an amazing anti-inflammatory herb.

Promotes DNA protection

He Shou Wu promotes DNA protection and repair and enhances longevity. It promotes production of superoxide dismutase, the most powerful antioxidant in the body and thus, enhances longevity. It promotes DNA repair and protection. He Shou Wu inhibits MAO-B enzyme that in turn, produces life-extending and health enhancing effects.

Boosts immunity

He Shou Wu has anti-viral properties. It can boost your immunity and combat viruses. It has even been found in a study that it is probably effective against HIV virus.

The herb protects your liver. It can promote natural detoxification and even reduce the chances of fatty liver disease. However, if taken in large quantities, it can cause liver damage. Hence it should be taken only when the herb has been allowed to age and has been properly prepared.


Protects against diabetes

It can help protect against diabetes and other metabolic diseases. A 2011 study showed that He Shou Wu’s antioxidants can help reduce oxidative stress caused by high blood sugars, as in the case of type 2 diabetes. It has also been found that He Shou Wu lowers insulin resistance and improves your blood pressure.

Breaks down bad cholesterol

Certain phytochemicals present in He Shou Wu  can help break down bad cholesterol more quickly and more efficiently. It thus lowers cholesterol and prevents arteriosclerosis i.e. hardening of the arteries.

Enhances hair growth

A very significant benefit of He Shou Wu is that it enhances hair growth. In a 2011 study, He Shou Wu increased both the size and number of hair follicles in test subjects with shaved hair patches as compared to unshaved areas. Although the mechanisms are not completely understood, substances with a marked harmonizing effect on the endocrine system (hormone-producing glands) and high zinc content present in He Shou Wu tend to have a beneficial effect on hair growth and restoration.

Improves focus

It is known to improve cognition, memory and focus. In addition to its physical effects, He Shou Wu is known to stimulate our intuitive abilities as well. Users consuming Fo Ti have often observed an increase in their creativity, inspiration and focus as well as their intuitive guidance. This makes it an important herb for artists and meditators.

What is the proper dose of He Shou Wu?

He Shou Wu is available as powder and capsules. It is also available as tinctures and even in teabags. There has been no safe limit prescribed for the intake of He Shou Wu. You can start with the dosage prescribed on the label of the product. It depends on a variety of factors including your age and your health status. If you are pregnant or are a lactating mother, then you should consult your physician before consuming the herb. You can increase your dosage once you are comfortable with the current one. But do note that large quantities of this herb can have some side effects, although they are rare.

What are the side effects of He Shou Wu?

Although He Shou Wu is a very popular herb, some side effects have been noted. General side effects include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. If you are observing any of these, it is advisable that you should decrease your dosage of the drug.


However, the most notable side effect is that it has been linked with acute liver damage. People suffering from this side effect have recovered with the help of consecutive treatment. But chronic liver disease, including hepatitis, and death have also been noted in a few rare cases. Due to this side effect, it is generally not advised to take He Shou Wu in large doses and for long periods of time.

He Shou Wu is also known to mimic estrogen hormone in the body. This can led to hormone-related diseases such as breast cancer or ovarian cancer, endometriosis or uterian fibroids. So, if you are suffering from any of these diseases, or from any other ailment that might increase on exposure to estrogen, then do not consume Fo-Ti.

Thus, He Shou Wu or Fo Ti is a very popular and important herb. It has several life-enhancing properties. It promotes DNA repair and hair growth, acts as a liver tonic and is rich in anti-oxidants. However, it can also have some serious side effects such as acute liver damage, diarrhoea and is even related to a number of hormone related cancers. So, it should be always consumed in proper doses, preferably under the consultation of a physician.




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