Polygonum multiflorum


Polygonum multiflorum


This herb is also known as Ho-shou-wu (pinyin: heshouwu). It is a root from this plant. The herb was originally called jiaoteng, referring to its form: an intertwining vine (jiao = intersecting, teng = creepers). The newer name came from a story called Heshouwu Lun (Notes on Ho-shou-wu) by Li Ao, written around 813 A.D. The following is a compressed version: Mr. Ho from Hebei Province, at age 58, had not been able to father a child. A monk advised him to eat jiaoteng gathered from a mountain, which Ho then did, and consumed regularly. Soon after, he was able to father several children, his hair turned from gray to black, his vision improved, and his body became more youthful. He lived to age 130 (some say 160), still with black hair. Since then, the herb has been called Mr. Ho's hair is black (shou = head; wu = black). Don’t bother to search for any historical information under the name Fo-Ti. It’s a made up name invented by early marketers of an “energy” formula distributed in US Health Food Stores in the 1970’s.

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Traditional Health Benefits of Fo-Ti

Energy Support, Men, Women

What is Fo-Ti Used for?

The functionality of Ho-shou-wu in traditional chinese formulas is to nourish the blood, liver and kidneys. This would help support the health of the skin, hair, and support overall energy levels. There are more anecdotal stories about it's success than recorded clinical studies.

View Important Precautions

Active Constituents of Fo-Ti

Stilbene glucosides, anthraquinone derivatives such as chrysophanol, emodin, and physcion (emodin-3-methyl ether); rhein, and questin

Parts Used


Additional Resources

Bensky D, and Gamble A, Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica, 1993 rev. ed., Eastland Press, Seattle, WA. Chen Keji and Zhang Wenpeng, Advances on antiaging herbal medicines in China, Abstracts of Chinese Medicine 1987; 1(2): 309-330. Lien EJ, et al., Longevity-promoting agents: a survey, International Journal of Oriental Medicine 1992; 17(4): 177-186.

Important Precautions

Not for use during pregnancy or lactation. If you have a medical condition or take pharmaceutical drugs please consult your doctor prior to use.


This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

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