Fo-ti, Polygonum multiflorum, is a plant native to China. The Chinese name of this herb is He Shou Wu, which means “balck-haired Mr. He”. The story comes from the legend about an old villager who took Fo-ti to restore his dark hair, youth and vitality.
Fo-Ti is usually valued for its reddish brown bitter roots. It is the root of Fo-Ti that is used for medicinal purposes. Traditionally, it is boiled with black beans to make a preparation known as red fo-ti. The unprocessed root is known as white fo-ti. Red and white fo-ti are used in different ways and have different curing effects.
The unprocessed (white) fo-ti is used to relax the bowels and detoxify the blood. It is also used to treat skin conditions such as acne, athlete’s foot, dermatitis, razor burn, and scrapes due to its anti-bacterial and anti-fugal properties.
The processed root is used to strengthen the blood, invigorate the liver and kidneys, and supplement vital energy, called Qi by Chinese.
Processed fo-ti is one of the more widely used tonics in traditional Chinese medicine, and is used to enhance longevity, increase vigor, and promote fertility. It is also an ingredient in TCM formulas for premature gray hair, low back pain, angina pectoris, low energy, and other conditions.
Some animal studies show that fo-ti can reduce cholesterol in the blood. Fo ti contains lectins. In studies it has been shown that lectins may prevent the accumulation of cholesterol in the liver and may also prevent the retention of fat in the blood. Animal experiments have also shown that fo ti can assist in reducing the formation of fat deposits and plaque on arterial walls. Fo ti can also reduce the growth of bacteria, and has been shown to increase the ability of laboratory animals to adapt to cold conditions. It also promotes the production of red blood cells. Fo ti has also been shown to have an anti-tumor effect and acts as an antioxidant. A number of scientific studies carried out in China show that processed fo ti may be helpful in treating heart conditions, high cholesterol and chronic bronchitis.
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