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logo icon 9 Incredible Benefits of He Shou Wu (Fo-Ti) - Does It Support Longevity?

9 Incredible Benefits of He Shou Wu (Fo-Ti) - Does It Support Longevity?

He Shou Wu is a popular Traditional Chinese Medicine that has been used for thousands of years. It is used to help various concerns and is well known for its potential longevity and virility benefits. Discover He Shou Wu’s history, potential benefits, and usage instructions by reading below; let’s get started. 

What Is He Shou Wu?

He Shou Wu is a popular remedy that is derived from the Fo-ti (Polygonum multiflorum) plant. It is a popular Traditional Chinese Medicine and is listed in the Chinese Pharmacopeia. It is known as He Shou Wu in East Asia and Fo-ti in North America. He Shou Wu loosely translates to “the black-haired Mr. He” in Chinese. This remedy gained this name after the restorative and transformative nutritional benefits it had on Mr. He after discovering the herb.

All the parts of this vine-like herb are beneficial and are used for different purposes. The leaves, tuber, and roots are normally used as tonic and age supporting agents, while the stem, leaf, and flower are used for sleep and blood circulation support. [1] 

Zhi He Shou Wu is made using traditional methods from the root of Polygonum multiflorum. First, the roots are carefully selected based on their age. After selection, they are then brewed in black bean or soybean stew. The leftovers are then dried and ground into a finely-milled powder that is ready for consumption. This meticulous preparation process allows the body to digest the herb’s nutrients more easily. 

The History of He Shou Wu

The first mention and record of He Shou Wu can be traced to the Ri Huazi Bencao (Tang Dynasty, 713 A.D.). It was then incorporated into Kaibao Bencao in 973 A.D.). However, before it was called He Shou Wu, the herb was referred to as jiaoteng due to its intertwining nature (jiao = intersecting, teng = creepers). The name He Shou Wu came from the story of Mr. He. 

Mr. He was a 58-year-old man from Hebei province who had not been able to father a child. As an avid Taoist follower, he went to see a Monk who advised him to eat jiaoteng gathered from a mountain. He consumed the herb regularly, and after a few months, he started noticing that he had newfound energy (virility). Within no time, he was able to father several sons. In addition, his hair started turning black, he became more youthful, and he lived to 130 years with black hair. Since then, the herb gained the popular name “He Shou Wu,” which translates to “the black-haired Mr. He” as mentioned above. Mr. He’s son is also believed to have lived up to 130 years. 

He Shou Wu was discovered in East Asia, but how did it find its way to America? This was made possible by one Hawaiian entrepreneur. This Hawaiian entrepreneur saw an article in a newspaper that covered a Chinese herbalist and how he’d lived to a very old age by eating local plants from the mountains. Fascinated by this story, the Hawaiian created a marketable concept and made a concoction of three herbs that he claimed would help longevity. The three herbs were gotu kola from India, meadowsweet from Europe, and cola nut from Africa. He named his portion “Fo-Ti-Tieng,” and it became an instant hit in the health foods and herbs market that emerged in the 1970s in the U.S.

Other merchants at the time who were involved with Traditional Chinese Medicine got wind of the product’s success and made the mistake of ignoring the history of the product and started pursuing Chinese literature on Fo-Ti-Tieng. Their search was obviously unsuccessful because this name had been created by the Hawaiian entrepreneur for marketing purposes. However, they would not give up and badly wanted something that would ride the wave that Fo-Ti-Tieng had created.

A Westerner who dealt in Traditional Chinese Medicine sat and reasoned that “Fo-Ti-Tieng was reputed to support long life, and the Chinese herb known for this is He Shou Wu. Therefore Fo-Ti-Tieng might as well be He Shou Wu.” He thought it reasonable to sell He Shou Wu to people seeking Fo-Ti-Tieng. However, because the name was already trademarked, he opted to call his product Fo-Ti, which is how He Shou Wu found its way to the United States under the popular name, Fo-Ti. It was even integrated into other health products as a single herb ingredient. [2] Perhaps, this is because Fo-ti is the standardized common name for Polygonum multiflorum (a.k.a. fleece flower) botanical herb in the States.

9 Powerful Benefits of He Shou Wu


Limited and inconclusive clinical studies of Polygonum multiflorum show He Shou Wu contains significant benefits that may be used for brain function, hair growth, liver function, and blood health, as discussed below.* [1]

  • He Shou Wu Age Support
  • He Shou Wu’s age support was first discovered by Mr. He. The herb transformed his countenance and made him feel younger. Western medicine attributes this to two main bioactive compounds: 2,3,5,4'-tetrahydroxystilbene-2-O-β-D-glucoside (TSG) and emodin-8-O-β-D-glucoside (EG). It is reported that these two have the ability to possibly support  lifespan and help other age-related characteristics.* [3]

    In other inconclusive studies, the potential use of this botanical is reported with other nutritional concerns that are normally associated with age.* The presence of various naturally occurring stilbenes, quinones, flavonoids, phospholipids, and other compounds are attributed to supporting a healthy life. [4] The bioactive components present in this herb also offer nutrition for the brain, which supports memory and plays a role in feeling your best .*

  • He Shou Wu for Hair Growth
  • According to TCM tenets, healthy hair results from proper nutrition for qi flow, liver and kidney functions. The English-Chinese Encyclopedia of Practical Traditional Chinese Medicine says, "hair concerns can be caused by nutrition deficiency of liver and kidney with subsequent failure of blood to go up and nourish the hair. The hair pores are open when the hair is poorly nourished, and wind invades the pores on the occasion. Therefore, deficient blood with wind [invasion may] lead to hair loss. However, stagnation of liver qi and impaired qi mechanism will also result in hair loss because of the malnutrition of hair due to stagnation of qi and stasis of blood." [2]

    He Shou Wu can be used to stimulate hair growth because it is a tonic that supports qi flow in the body and supplements nutrition deficiency which results in more nourishment to the scalp and hair. *

    According to Western medicine, there are limited studies supporting the viability of He Shou Wu in hair growth support. According to a limited in-vitro 2011 study, Polygonum multiflorum root extract was included in one such study with mice. [5] According to another inconclusive study, Polygonum multiflorum is one of the herbs that showed promise in helping normal hair growth. [6] He Shou Wu supports hair growth by providing nutrition for the hair follicle growth cycle by targeting the FGF0-7 gene, which encodes proteins particular to epithelial cell growth.*

  • He Shou Wu as a Kidney, Liver, and Blood Tonic
  • He Shou Wu is lauded for its blood nourishing properties. It supports the normal growth and development of blood cells and red blood cell membranes.* In Traditional Chinese Medicine, He Shou Wu is used to nourish the blood, kidneys, and liver.*

  • He Shou Wu Industrial Antibacterial Studies
  • In an inconclusive comparative study done in 2008 that screened nineteen Chinese medicinal plants for inhibition against clinical isolates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Polygonum multiflorum was reported to demonstrate anti-MRSA activity with MIC of 1.25-3.07mg/mL.* [7]

  • He Shou Wu Inflammation Support
  • He Shou Wu is one of the popular TCM herbs that has been shown to display healthy inflammatory response properties.* [1] Several inconclusive studies report Fo-Ti interacting with inflammatory factors like cyclooxygenase-2, tumor necrosis factor-α, cytokines (e.g., Interleukin-1 beta), inducible nitric oxide synthase, nuclear factor-κB, and chemokines (e.g., CCL2) which contribute to normal inflammation system responses.* [1] 

    A limited 2008 study reported that Fo-Ti extracts had a possible interaction with the production of NO by downregulating iNOS expression in mouse peritoneal macrophages. It concluded that it might be beneficial in conditions related to macrophage-mediated concerns.* [8]

  • He Shou Wu Antioxidant Nutrients
  • A limited and inconclusive 2017 study investigating the antioxidant activity of stilbene glycoside from Polygonum multiflorum in-vivo reported high in-vivo antioxidant effects. [9] In another limited study investigating the antioxidant effects of Polygonum multiflorum, it was reported that it has significant in-vivo and in-vitro antioxidant activities stating its potential ability to scavenge oxidants.* [10]

  • He Shou Wu Brain Health Properties
  • In a limited 2005 study, researchers found that He Shou Wu could potentially provide nutrition for the brain.* [11] In an inconclusive 2006 study, tetrahydroxystilbene glucoside (TSG), the main component of Polygonum multiflorum, was studied for learning and memory abilities. It was reported that it may be helpful in learning and memory in the early stages of life and may also have considerable support in the late stages of life.* [12] Another inconclusive 2007 study concluded that “TSG may be beneficial for brain health.”* [13]

    A limited 2012 study screened fifteen herbs that are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, including Fo-Ti (i.e., Polygonum multiflorum) root, to investigate their potential health benefits. The results reported that the “extract of Polygonum multiflorum root can support Aβ generation by modulating APP processing in the N2a-SwedAPP cell line.” These results point to the benefits of Polygonum multiflorum root in helping brain health.* [14]

  • He Shou Wu and Liver Support
  • In a limited 2012 study investigating the benefits of water extracts from fresh Fo-Ti on carbon tetrachloride (CCl(4))-induced liver damage in rats, researchers reported  antioxidative properties.*[15]

  • He Shou Wu Glucose Support
  • According to an inconclusive 2010 study, oxidative stress is a common underlying factor in diabetic nephropathy common in type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Tetrahydroxystilbene glucoside (TSG), is a nutrient in Fo-Ti. TSG was reported to demonstrate antioxidative effects, presenting a potential supportive benefit during healthy glucose regulation.* [16]

    How To Use He Shou Wu

    Traditionally, He Shou Wu exists in powder form or as a concoction. It normally has an earthy taste and can be readily used as a black tea substitute. If you combine it with other herbs, it makes for tasteful and nourishing herbal tea. However, you can also consume He Shou Wu raw or cooked. The leaves and seeds can be consumed raw, but the roots have to be cooked. If you prefer having it raw, you may want to wash it as it is bitter thoroughly. Washing it well helps remove the bitterness. 

    He Shou Wu is a very versatile herb, and if you love options, you can add a teaspoon to your daily health juice or in your smoothie. You can also make your own special longevity concoction by blending it with cinnamon, milk, and vanilla. And if you are not into concoctions, you can sprinkle He Shou Wu powder on your food, bread, and other snacks.

    When brewing or grinding it raw, ensure you prepare it well to remove emodin, a natural laxative. If unsure about your preparation skills, we recommend using He Shou Wu prepared powder. 

    How Much He Shou Wu Should You Take?

    We recommend consulting with a TCM practitioner so that you can know the proper serving for any Traditional Chinese Medicine. 


    He Shou Wu is a great Traditional Chinese Medicine to stock up on and use for numerous situations. It's a great essential in everyone’s health kits and daily healthy lifestyle. It can help with qi stagnation, liver, and kidney function. Moreover, it may help you feel younger and benefit your life.*

    Solstice Medicine Company is the premier Traditional Chinese Medicine distributor globally. We take pride in offering the world natural and trusted Chinese regimens and remedies. You can purchase authentic He Shou Wu supplements directly on Solstice Medicine’s website.

    This blog is not and should not be construed as medical advice. In case you are suffering from any medical condition, please seek a certified medical practitioner’s help.


    * These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. 




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