So what is Fo-ti?
Fo-ti (Polygonum multiflorum) is a species of plants of the Fallopia genus, that is native to China and some other Asian regions. Fo-ti is also known as He Shou Wu.
It has a truly iconic status in traditional Chinese medicine. He Shou Wu literally means "Mr. He with black hair". According to a Chinese legend, Mr. He was a man who took Fo-ti and had black hair well into his old age, enjoying great health and living a long life.
In fact, one of the studies on Fo-ti suggests that it can promote hair growth by inducing the anagen phase (active growth stage) in hair follicles. (Ref. 1)
Some of Fo-ti's beneficial effects on health may be attributed to the presence of bioactive compounds such as alkaloids, stilbenes, proanthocyanidins B1 and B2, catechins, gallic acid and glucosides. (Ref. 2 and 3)
An experiment in rats demonstrated that Fo-ti is able to deliver myocardial protection through an enhancement in myocardial glutathione antioxidant status (ref. 4), possibly meaning that this herb would be useful for management of heart-related conditions.
Another study showed that some glucosides extracted from Polygonum multiflorum exhibited anti-atherosclerotic activity in rats as well. (Ref. 5)
We consider Fo-ti to be an energy food because it can improve mental clarity, memory and general cognitive function. People usually stop complaining about tiredness and fatigue once they regain mental clarity.
This status of Fo-ti as a potential mental booster is further supported by other research projects. Tetrahydroxystilbene glucoside extracted from this plant showed an improvement in memory and learning capacity in some animals too. (Ref. 6)
For plants like Fo-ti and many others, it is usually an endless number of their unique phyto-chemical compounds that produce some amazing results on health. We still don't know much about how these phyto-chemicals work.
However, what we do already know makes their usefulness indisputable.
In traditional Chinese medicine, Fo-ti roots are often boiled with black beans because they are believed to be a good "introductory agent" for the herb to do its work, and make it more powerful.
As a general guidance, you can take 2 - 3 grams of fo-ti per day.