(pronounced huh show woo)

Other names: Polygonum multiflorum, Ho Shou Wu

Out of about 10,000 Chinese medicinal plants, He Shou Wu (HSW) is one of the most highly regarded herbal tonics for health and longevity for men as well as women. HSW is the prepared tuberous root of Polygonum multiflorum, a plant that grows in the mountains of central and southern China.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is by virtue of its ability to accumulate tremendous quantities of Qi (life force) into its root, that this herb is believed to nourish organs, muscle, bone, and the blood. The power of this herb partially comes from its ability to support and maintain the healthful cleaning functions of the kidney and liver, which in turn clean the blood. It also is rich in antioxidants, zinc, and iron. TCM physicians have long documented the effect of the herb on the vitality of the reproductive system, the hair and skin, brain and nervous system, and the immune system. A primary tonic in Chinese herbalism, in healthy individuals, HSW helps promote healthy aging, supports the youthful condition and color of the hair, and supports the vitality of sperm and ova.

Even though HSW has been an important remedy in TCM for thousands of years, only in recent years has the herb come under the microscope in scientific studies*. International researchers are examining the ancient claims that Polygonum multiflorum has chemical and medicinal properties pertinent to health and healing. Areas of research include examining the effects of HSW on conditions such as alopecia, atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, cancer, immune function, brain and nervous system conditions, and chronic fatigue.

More than 100 chemical compounds have been isolated from this plant, and the major components have been determined to be stilbenes, quinones, flavonoids, and others. Crude extracts and pure compounds of this plant are used as effective agents in preclinical and clinical practice due to their anti-aging, anti-hyperlipidaemia, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory effects and to promote immunomodulation, neuroprotection, and the curing of other diseases. However, the herb can reach toxic levels if not used under the supervision of a healthcare provider.

Many factors can affect the quality of HSW, including how it is harvested, prepared, and method of ingestion (extract, tea, powder). Consult with your wellness practitioner before taking this herbal supplement. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take Polygonum multiflorum, as the safety of this supplement has not been evaluated during pregnancy. Additionally, avoid taking this supplement if you have liver disease or are scheduled to undergo surgery.

*To date, there are few controlled clinical trials on effectiveness or safety in human populations.
June 08, 2015