The Powerful Benefits of He Shou Wu (Fo-Ti): A Comprehensive Look at its Proven Health Benefits
Our beautiful planet is rich with a startling treasure trove of health-boosting herbs.
He shou wu is one of the most powerful, effective, and legendary medical herbs of old.
Research shows this botanical is a top contender in the adaptogen category. We’ll explore 18 Powerful ways he shou wu is the exact herb people need in their lives.
HE SHOU WU IS AN ANTIOXIDANT-RICH, ANTI-INFLAMMATORY HERB
He shou wu goes by many names. It is sometimes called fo-ti, fo ti, ho shou wu, and is scientifically known as Polygonum multiflorum.
Whatever its name, this herb has many health benefits.
The majority of them all stem from one thing: it contains the motherlode of antioxidants.
Studies (like this one in 2014) on the herb have unveiled that it contains potent phytochemicals called polysaccharides. Many of these in he shou wu have antioxidant properties.
By stopping oxidation and scavenging free radicals, he shou wu’s compounds slow the natural processes that break down the body. Some of these processes include aging and various chronic diseases.
But it also can stop chronic inflammation, which happens due to cellular oxidation. This makes he shou wu an anti-inflammatory and ultimately healthful herb.
ANTIOXIDANT POWERS ALSO BOOST IMMUNITY
Being chock-full of antioxidants and able to halt harmful chronic inflammation is all well and good.
Yet all these antioxidant properties have another perk to them: they could also help boost and strengthen the immune system naturally.
Naturally, antioxidants help the immune system by reducing burdens it faces in the body. It does this by curbing chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation tends to a faulty and even overactive immune response in the first place.
What’s even better? Studies are showing very direct benefits between he shou wu’s antioxidants in the immune system.
In one study, use of the herb had such a beneficial anti-allergic effect on the immune system. It helped open airways in test subjects experiencing asthma.
THE POWER TO FIGHT VIRUSES
Experience lots of viral infections much? What about lots of colds and flu during the winter season?
On top of boosting immunity to help combat viruses, he shou wu also has anti-viral potential. This means it can literally kill viruses or create an environment where they can’t survive in the body.
A 2014 review of different Polygonum species, including he shou wu, attributed them with anti-viral benefits all across the board. This also included activity that could possibly shut down and treat the influenza virus.
Yet another study in 2010 found the herb contained compounds powerful enough to fight HIV.
Perhaps one day, with more research, the herb may be a therapy for HIV and other viral illnesses.
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PROTECT AND STRENGTHEN THE LIVER
This Chinese herb has drawn quite a bit of attention and research. In all other areas, it probably hasn’t drawn quite as much attention as it has with liver health.
In one 2011 study, he shou wu’s antioxidants were shown having some strong liver protection potential. It also appeared to help protect the liver against certain cancers.
But this liver-protection is a double-edged sword if too much is taken, it could cause liver damage. It’s vital to find a perfect balance and follow supplement dose instructions carefully. Make sure that the source of he shou wu you use gives it time to age and properly prepares the herb.
If it’s prepared properly, though, he shou wu could do wonders for the liver: including some support of its natural detoxification, or reducing the chances of fatty liver disease.
That’s why here at Primal Herb we make sure all our He Shou Wu has been given the time to mature. We age our herbs for several years to ensure potency and effectiveness. Once harvested the roots prepared the traditional way sliced, stewed with black beans, and dried. We then extract it to make sure that we provide only the purest and most potent quality.
DIABETES & OTHER METABOLIC SYNDROMES
That’s right: on top of promoting immunity bolstering liver health, he shou wu may even be a remedy for insulin issues. This is good news for people with type 2 diabetes—and those worried about getting it, too.
In a 2010 study, he shou wu’s antioxidant compounds helped reduce oxidative stress caused by very high blood sugars. High blood sugar is commonly associated with type 2 diabetes or its development.
Not only that—a 2016 study showed these effects could also help protect against kidney damage in people who had already developed type 2 diabetes.
And, last but certainly not least, another 2016 study showed he shou wu could help many aspects of fructose-induced metabolic disorders. This even meant improving blood pressure and lowering insulin resistance as well.
FANTASTIC FOR HEART HEALTH
Want to use every possible tool in the toolbox to ramp up cardiovascular health?
Regular exercise and a great nutrient-dense diet are important factors. But studies show he shou wu may add a little special extra icing on top of the heart health cake.
One study in 2014 showed that, despite stress on the heart, compounds from he shou wu helped heart tissue function continually well and stay relatively the same. No doubt, this is due to some powerful antioxidant benefits.
It is popular In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as well. He shou wu is listed as one of the most often-used herbs to successfully help lower elevated blood pressure. It has research and thousands of years of traditional use to back up its amazing ability to help the heart.
HE SHOU WU HELPS LOWER CHOLESTEROL
Branching out from cardiovascular health, he shou wu appears to have some additional ability to lower cholesterol.
This, in turn, can do wonders for overall heart health and beyond. High cholesterol can also have a number of other negative health impacts elsewhere, and not just on the heart.
One 2014 study took a hard look at certain phytochemicals in the he shou wu plant. It found that a number of them literally helped process and break down LDL more efficiently. LDL is often referred to as the “bad cholesterol” that many want to lower.
The herb, when combined with many others used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, helped lower cholesterol in this 2014 study as well. It may not have acted on its own here, though it did contribute to cholesterol-improving effects.
HARDENING OF THE ARTERIES
If he shou wu is good for cholesterol, then it’s good for hardening of the arteries.
That’s because atherosclerosis—the clinical term for hardening of the arteries—is often caused by high cholesterol.
Coupled with high blood pressure, these two factors together can really catapult one’s heart disease risk into a high stakes game.
Luckily, as it so happens, he shou wu is quite often described as very heart-healthy. This is due to its multi-faceted support for lowering high blood pressure, cholesterol, and reducing hardening of the arteries. A 2014 review thoroughly analyzed each of these aspects of he shou wu’s heart-healthy support.
This review also mentioned a couple of other studies in passing. In one study, subjects experienced reduced atherosclerosis taking he shou wu.
IT SHIELDS AGAINST BLOOD CLOTTING DISORDERS
For yet another benefit to cardiovascular health that still shouldn’t be overlooked, he shou wu may help with some blood clotting disorders.
Apparently, in a 2014 trial, a specific compound extracted from the herb was found to help with human blood platelet development. In particular, it reduced platelets from building up too much, and in any health-threatening sort of way.
It did all this while still maintaining the status quo and normal health of blood flow.
What this means is that he shou wu might not just be helpful to overall cardiovascular health. It could also help reduce the risk of complications from various blood clotting disorders. It can thus assist people in being less dependent on medications with unwanted side effects.
GREAT FOR DIGESTIVE HEALTH
Most of us will have digestive issues at some point. Whether from stress, travel, sickness, or diet, occasional constipation is normal. He shou wu can work as a natural laxative to promote regularity.
Take raw he shou wu for 2-3 days to relieve occasional constipation. It’s very effective though, so it should not be taken longer than that for constipation benefits.
While he shou wu can help with occasional digestive issues, it also can help with long-term digestive problems. A review of clinal studies on he shou wu shows that it may support relief from inflammatory bowel disease. They noted that its bioactive components work the same way as anti-inflammatories prescribed to those suffering with IBD.
What this means is that the anti-inflammatory aspects of he shou wu has the ability to help digestive health. It can calm the digestive track both in the short-and long-term.
MENS’ REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH
He shou wu got its name after the sterile old man who allegedly discovered it, Mr. He. The legend states that after taking it for a few months he fathered a child. Mr. He went on to father many more children until his death at 130.
Although the legend may have stretched the story, it does speak to the power of the herb on reproductive health. Two recent studies have validated the link between he shou wu and improved testosterone levels.
Low sperm count in America and Europe has become a hot button issue. Scientist have been debating about the cause. Some point to toxins in the environment, while others think it might be poor diet and sedentary lifestyles. Whatever the cause, men who hope to become fathers may need to boost their reproductive health.
He shou wu can offer that extra boost needed. A 2014 study found that rats who were supplemented with he shou wu had increased testosterone secretions and sperm functions. This means it has the ability to help hormone balance for better reproductive health.
Another concern for men is their hormone levels as they age. A study from 2016 showed that the herb improved testicular cell function. Many men experience a decline in their reproductive health as they age. He shou wu can offer the support they need to maintain their health no matter their age.
Another 2012 study on rats found that he shou wu had an anti-aging effect on gonadal axis secretion. What this means is that it can reduce the signs of aging with hormonal and reproductive health.
Another helpful factor in men’s health is he shou wu’s blood boosting effects. It not only improves blood flow to the heart, but to the rest of the body as well. Researchers have long known that boosting blood flow to one part of the body improves it everywhere. That is why Viagra has recently sparked interest for its ability to improve heart health.
Likewise, he shou wu can help men improve their drive and desire. As men age, these can often decline. Increased blood flow means better performance and more pleasure naturally, which many men want.
MANAGE MENOPAUSE SYMPTOMS AND INCREASE ESTROGEN
He shou wu isn’t just for men. It has amazing effects for women going through menopause as well.
Hormone replacement therapy was a popular way to relieve some of the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause. However, there is increasing concern over the side effects and possible damage that synthetic hormones can have on women.
Many women want a natural alternative to hormone replacement therapy to get relief without scary side effects. He shou wu could be just the answer. Although more research needs to be done, promising studies point to it as a great way to increase estrogen.
Estrogen drops during menopause and causes many of the symptoms, such as low desire, flushing, hot flashes, and night sweats. One study found that he shou wu contains a high level of estrogen that wasn’t discovered before. In fact, it was second only to soy.
What that means is it has the ability to increase estrogen in women and provide menopausal support.
SUPPORTS COGNITION, MEMORY, AND FOCUS
Beyond the liver, heart, reproductive, digestive and immune system, could he shou wu be good for the brain and even neurological brain disorders? Absolutely, according to studies.
One study in 2016 found that he shou wu’s antioxidants could be “anti-neuroinflammatory.” Meaning: they could help reduce chronic inflammation in the neurons and tissues of the brain. It works in the mind just as well as everywhere else in the body.
Reducing neuro-inflammation, in turn, could improve brain function such as focus, learning, memory, and cognition. It could also preserve brain function with old age.
Yet another study in 2017 found that the herb could protect against oxidative damage to the hippocampus in the brain. The hippocampus is the most important locus of the brain when it comes to memory.
REDUCE THE RISK OF PARKINSON’S DISEASE
On the subject of protecting the brain, he shou wu could be a strong player for natural Parkinson’s disease support. It can even be used for reducing its risk.
This may very well be due to findings in a 2013 study. In this trial, test subjects with Parkinson’s disease were given extracts of compounds found in he shou wu.
The results showed strong neuroprotection of any neurons associated with Parkinson’s disease. It also suggested the possibility of eventual treatment, support, recovery, and even reducing its overall risk.
Use of the herb also showed improvement in Parkinson’s symptoms. Lots more research, though needs to be undertaken before considering he shou wu a remedy. However, it does open the door to hopeful ideas.
REDUCE THE RISK OF STROKE
Good for the heart, brain, and even against stroke are all things that can be attributed to he shou wu.
It’s easy to make conclusions on how this ancient Chinese herb could also benefit against stroke risk. Especially when its properties can protect against degeneration and even Parkinson’s disease in the neurons and brain.
Studies have a lot to show and support on the subject, too. A 2014 trial found that he shou wu could block damage from happening in the brain due to stroke. This is most likely due to its antioxidants.
Like Parkinson’s, though, lots more research will be needed before calling, using, or even considering the herb a stroke treatment.
FORTIFIES ONE’S ABILITIES FOR RESTFUL, QUALITY SLEEP
Getting restorative, deep sleep is an essential foundation to good health.
Amazingly, he shou wu can help in this department, too. It may also have substantial enough benefits to support better sleep. It can aid those with sleep disorders and insomnia as well.
One 2017 study explored the use of he shou wu for sleep. It noted it is one of the most widely-prescribed herbs for sleep in China and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Turns out tradition lines up with modern science. Results showed that the herb regulated sleep length and stopped insomnia from happening in advance.
Another study in 2014 on he shou wu and sleep explored its use for those with mental illness. Researchers found that it also helped cases of insomnia and sleep disorders in people with anxiety and bi-polar disorder, too.
STIMULATE BETTER HAIR GROWTH
Surprisingly, he shou wu’s most ancient claim to fame may be that it helped enhance hair growth.
One ancient Chinese figure was believed to have a thick head of hair all throughout his lifetime thanks to the herb.
But what does research have to say? Quite a bit, it would seem.
In a 2011 study, he shou wu extract increased both the size and number of hair follicles in test subjects.
In a 2013 study, it also increased the number of certain cells that contribute to better hair natural growth. It even did so better than over-the-counter hair growth promoters!
SLASH ONE’S RISK OF GETTING CANCER
Research shows this plant may protect against the deadliest chronic disease of all time: cancer. It may be one of he shou wu’s greatest assets.
Because it’s an antioxidant, it can forestall free radical damage that opens the door to cancer and tumor development.
Studies have been undertaken to explore its potential against a wide range of cancers. This includes colon cancer, breast cancer, gallbladder cancer, and more.
In each, besides just shutting down free radicals, he shou wu also induced death in cancer cells. By this measure, he shou wu both effectively reduces cancer risk as well as kills cancer.
One day, with more research, it could even be an alternative treatment candidate.
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