Ephantus, fondly known as Ephy, is a seasoned freelance writer with a passion for alternative cures and natural medicine.
Chinese Knotweed (PolygonumMultiflorum)
Chinese Knotweed, the herb with a mystical history
He Shou Wu also known as Fo-ti or Chinese Knotweed is a popular herbal tonic in the Asian culture with a rich and mystical history. The herb is said to have incredible health and spiritual boosting capabilities, however, before examining the benefits of using He Shou Wu in detail, it is important to begin with a brief history of the herb
History of He Shou Wu
According to Daoist records, the herb was discovered in 812 AD. Legend holds that a sterile, weak and frail man known as Neng Si had fallen asleep in the forest after partying and drinking for the whole night. When Neng Si woke up, he saw some entwined vines growing within reach. In his drunken stupor, he thought the vines looked like they were making love and decided to dig up their roots to take back to his bachelor’s cottage. When he tried to inquire from local villagers on whether anyone knew the name of the plant, no one seemed to recognize the herb. However, a hermit from the mountains told him that the herb could serve as a divine tonic.
Neng Si decided to take the hermit at his word. He ground the roots into powder and proceeded to consume a small amount before eating anything. In a few days, the frail man started to notice a feeling of vitality coursing through his body. Soon, the man who had never married due to his weak body started to experience virility. With time, he could barely control his sexual desires.
Within a few months, Si became very strong and decided to continue taking the herb in small doses. Over time, his hair grew back and he regained his youthfulness. Eventually, Si fathered several children and lived well into his hundreds. According to some sources, he lived for more than 160 years.
How to prepare and use Fo-ti
The Chinese knotweed tonic is prepared from the root of Polygonum multiflorum, a native plant of the mountainous regions of southern and central China. Naturally, the plant accumulates high levels of Qi in its roots. This is what gives it the ability to tonify human and animal organs.
To prepare a potent mix of Fo-ti, the root of the herb is usually cooked in a pot containing black beans. The beans are thought to activate certain compounds that make Fo-ti a highly effective herbal remedy.
In its pure form, He Shou Wu has a mild, pleasant sweet flavor which makes it ideal for consuming as a tincture, tea or by just mixing with clean drinking water to make a power beverage. For people who are unable to stand the taste of powdered herbs, they can take the capsule option. The herb is not only effective when consumed, it can also be applied topically by mixing the powder with oil or water and rubbing it into the skin.
He Shou Wu is known to be highly beneficial to humans. Benefits of using He Shou Wu(fo-ti) include:
Inflammation contributes to pathological and physiological processes by activating the vascular and immune system within the damaged tissues. When inflammation is prolonged due to irritation or pathogen infection, a chronic condition occurs. This is what results in chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, edema, cancer and sepsis. The only way humans can prevent the occurrence of chronic inflammation is by inhibiting production of pro-inflammatory molecules.
He Shou Wu has been shown to help in inhibiting pro-inflammatory pathways and controlling diseases associated to inflammation due to its bioactive constituents. In studies published in the US National Library of Medicine involving 141 patients with inflammatory bowel disease, researchers found that patients who took a daily dose of 250 mg of the tonic orally showed significant improvement of the condition compared to patients who received a placebo. The authors concluded that the bioactive constituents of the herb contain anti-inflammatory agents that combat free radicals.
Promotion of immune system
Fo-ti contains xylose, rhamnose and glucose as well as anthraquinone glycosides. These components boost the response of the immune system and the general functioning of the immune system. The herb is also great for encouraging the production of T and B cells. These improve activities of the immune cells and enhance the production of the inflammatory tumor necrosis factor.
Longevity of life by supporting dismutation process
Superoxide dismutase or SOD is a category of natural antioxidant produced by the human body to protect the body against the destructive effects of superoxide. Superoxide is a highly destructive free radical and if allowed to reign, it damages the DNA and other body tissues. Out of all the antioxidants produced by humans, SOD is the most important because its proteins are present in most of the extracellular fluids and aerobic cells. SOD is the body’s defense against the ravaging effects of superoxide.
SOD changes superoxide radicals into less reactive ions. These tamed ions are further transformed by antioxidants such as glutathione and catalase into safe molecules. The transformation process, commonly known as dismutation is critical to life.
Unfortunately, SOD levels decrease as you age which allow superoxide to destroy body cells and cause defects in genes. These defects are distributed throughout the body as cells divide and lead to diseases.
He Shou Wu helps in the dismutation process by increasing and preserving healthy amounts of SOD as you grow older. In one controlled study involving mice, the group fed with the herbal extract showed a significant reduction of superoxide compared to the control which showed a strong decrease in SOD production.
Apart from stimulating SOD production, the herb is known to contain stilbene glycosides which are potent antioxidants. The combination of these powerful antioxidants together with the SOD stimulating effects of the Fo-ti are what enhances longevity in humans.
Research also shows that antioxidant in the herb have the ability to protect the brain against the effects of degenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, studies conducted on animals show that the herb contain properties which enhance learning and boost memory.
He Shou Wu is a powerful yet gentle sexual tonic and aphrodisiac. The herb stimulates and harmonizes adrenal gland functioning while promoting endocrine balance at the same time.
In addition, the herb is extremely rich in zinc. Animal products that contain high levels of zinc usually have 3-8mg per 100g. Fo-ti contains 42 mg per 100g which makes it an ideal source of zinc alongside oysters.
Primarily, male semen contains high levels of zinc. When semen is lost without replenishing the supply of zinc, males start experiencing low libido due to decreased levels of zinc. This eventually leads to low fertility and increased risk of prostate cancer.
Apart from helping to boost semen levels, zinc is also a critical component of the body’s response to inflammation due to the presence of free radicals. In a study conducted in 2001 on healthy Italian centenarians, researchers discovered that these healthy 90+-year-olds did not have zinc deficiency. These nonagenarians seemed to have high levels of metallothioneins which are special proteins that bind and release zinc when the body experiences oxidative stress. This stimulates superoxide dismutase, the body’s defense mechanism against DNA and tissue damage.
High estrogen levels
In a study conducted in 2003 and published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researcher were surprised to discover that the herb contained compounds with high estrogen levels. This suggests that fo-ti is a potential source of estrogen for menopausal women who rely on estrogen replacement therapy.
The herb has long been accepted as the perfect hair growth and rejuvenation tonic. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, your hair reflects the state of your liver, kidneys and blood. Studies published in the US National Library of Medicine show that the herb contains Radix Polygoni Multiflori (RPM) which has hypolipidemic effects. Basically, hypolipidemic agents reduce the concentrations of lipids or fats in the blood which improve the essence of blood and enhances nourishment to the liver as well as kidneys. Hypolipidemic agents are also known to revitalize hair and strengthen bones.
The ability to enhance blood circulation is said to play an important role in rejuvenating hair growth and reverse gray hair by restoring its rich color and thickness. In a study involving 36 people with gray hair, 24 of the participants experienced total gray hair reversal at the end of the trial period. 8 more participants experienced a significant reversal of gray hair. Generally, the study established that consuming Fo-ti extract achieved 88.9 percent reversal of gray hair which is quite miraculous. The herb is thought to achieve this by harmonizing the hormone-producing glands and enhancing zinc levels which are critical for hair growth.
Managing sleep disorders
Sleeplessness or insomnia is a disorder where people are unable to fall asleep or stay asleep to enjoy the full effects of a good night’s sleep. Common ways of combating sleep disorders involve targeting melatonin receptors, GABA receptors and serotonic receptors using pharmaceutical products. Unfortunately, pharmaceutical products come with undesired effects including tolerance and dependence.
In a large scale done survey conducted in Taiwan, Fo-ti was shown to be the most effective treatment of insomnia without incurring the undesired effects associated with pharmaceutical products due to its sedative effects. Though more research is required to discover the full benefits of anxiolytic and sedative capabilities of the herb, Fo-ti still remains one of the best options in Asian populations for combating sleep disorders.
Fo-ti is highly beneficial to your heart because it contains lectins which to attach to carbohydrates in the cells of the body. Lectins help in reducing the accumulation of plaque in blood vessels which can result in cardiovascular conditions. In addition, Fo-ti lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular conditions as well as maintaining the elasticity of arteries which carries the risk of heart attack.
He Shou Wu is high in iron compared to the highly acclaimed Goji berries. Iron is critical for the making of red blood cells in the body. In addition, the herb is packed with lecithin which makes up nerve tissue and is thought to enhance membranes of red blood cells.
In studies involving animals, the herb has been shown to protect against excessive clumping of blood platelet and enhance blood flow. While blood clumping is important for forming scabs on injury sites, excessive clots inside blood vessels results in strokes or heart attacks.
The fo-ti root extract is highly effective in helping the liver to clean up blood by preventing accumulation of liver fat. Lipid peroxidation usually happens when cell membranes experience reduced electrons taken away by free radicals or oxidation. When the liver is functioning optimally, it is highly effective in getting rid of toxins from the blood.
Enhancing athletic performance
The list of the benefits of using He Shou Wu(foti) would not be complete without mentioning its ability to enhance athletic performance. He Show Wu is known to support muscle growth and tissue recovery making it ideal for weightlifters and bodybuilders. While there is not enough clinical evidence to show how the herb helps in increasing muscle strength and size, Fo-ti constituents are known to induce vasodilation.
At the most basic level, vasodilation which is characterized by widening of blood vessels assists in improving nutrient delivery and better blood circulation in the body. Improved circulation provides more growth hormones, more proteins and repair hormones as well as critical constituents get to the muscles in higher concentrations. This results in improved muscle growth and tissue recovery. In addition, Fo-ti is known to have analgesic effects which calm joint aches after strenuous athletic workouts.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, spiritual sensitivity is important for people who want to expand their knowledge and experiences. Fo-ti is known to stimulate intuitiveness and promote spiritual sensitivity which opens people to deeper awareness and spirituality. People who use the herb regularly often notice an increase in creativity, guidance and inspiration.
The above are some of the benefits of using He Shou Wu(foti), however, He Shou Wu is still cloaked in mystery since modern science has not yet unraveled all the compounds that make it such a highly potent herb. To discover the full benefits of the herb, more scientific studies and clinical trials need to be conducted to enable humans and animals enjoy the various health benefits associated with Fo-ti.
When taken raw, the Chinese Knotweed is known to cause nausea, stomache and diarrhea due to its laxative effects. The herb is also said to affect the ability of the liver to metabolize certain pharmaceuticals. This can either intensify or diminish the effects of certain pharmaceutical products.
Safety and side effects
He Shou Wu is not known to cause any serious adverse effects, however, some studies have indicated that the herb may cause liver damage. Since foti is a potent medicinal herb, it is not recommended for the following groups:
- Nursing and expectant women
- People with conditions that cause hypoglycemia including diabetes
- People with estrogen-sensitive disorders such as ovarian cancer, uterine fibrosis and breast cancer
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