Fo-Ti pill benefits and adverse effects, how well does it work?
March 1 2017

Benefits of this herb
Fo Ti has several properties, including the ability to lower triglyceride levels and can also act as a good antioxidant. Studies in rodents indicate Fo-Ti can enhance memory. Does it work for hair growth? We have not seen human studies yet that show this benefit.

According to Chinese herbal medicine, Fo Ti is used to invigorate the kidneys and liver, and serve as a tonic to increase overall vitality. In China, FoTi is known as Ho Shou Wu (or He Shou Wu) and has a reputation for enhancing longevity and energy.

buy Fo-Ti Root, 610 mg pill Nature’s Way
Polygonum multiflorum is known in China as He Shou Wu. Considered one of China’s four great herbs, it is used on an alternating basis with Ginseng.

Supplement Facts
Fo-Ti (root) 610 mg each pill

Recommendation: Take 1 Fo-Ti capsule before breakfast or lunch. Fo-ti he shou wu pill long term human studies are not available.

What’s in the plant, what substances does it have?
Fo Ti contains a number of compounds, including stilbene glucosides, anthraquinone glucosides and anthraquinone derivates.

The radical scavenging effects of stilbene glucosides from Polygonum multiflorum.
Arch Pharm Res. 2002.
The extract of the root of Polygonum multiflorum exhibited a significant antioxidant activity assessed by the DPPH radical scavenging activity in vitro. The bioassay-guided fractionation of the extract yielded a stilbene glucoside, as an active constituent responsible for the antioxidant property. Compound 1 demonstrated a moderate DPPH radical scavenging activity, while the corresponding deglucosylated stilbene 2 exhibited a much higher activity.

Aphrodisiac Properties
Fo Ti is sometimes claimed to be a sex enhancer and found in some sex pill products. We have not come across any studies regarding this property of Fo Ti as a use for improving low sex drive. We are not aware of specific human studies regarding the role of fo-ti herb in erectile dysfunction but a more potent aphrodisiac is tongkat ali.

Brain and memory
Changes in hippocampal synapses and learning-memory abilities in age-increasing rats and effects of tetrahydroxystilbene glucoside in aged rats. Neuroscience. 2007.
The aim of the present study is to investigate the changes in hippocampal synapses and their relation with learning-memory abilities at different ages, and evaluate the effects of 2,3,5,4′-tetrahydroxystilbene-2-O-beta-d-glucoside (TSG), which is one of the major components of a traditional Chinese herb Polygonum multiflorum Fo Ti, on brain aging. In conclusion, hippocampal synapses count and synaptophysin expression decreased in aged rats, which may be one of the mechanisms involved in learning-memory deficit. TSG reversed the above changes in aged rats, suggesting that TSG may be beneficial for the treatment of Alzheimer disease or cognitive impairment in old people.

Beneficial effects of different Polygonum multiflorum(Fo-Ti) extracts on memory and hippocampus morphology.
J Nutr Sci Vitaminol 2002. Four groups of 1-mo-old male senescence-accelerated mice (SAMP8) were fed Fo-Ti extract for 18 wk to determine the effect of PM on memory ability and histopathological changes in mice. The baseline diet consisted of a casein diet group, and the three test diets were supplemented with 50% ethanol, 95% ethanol, or water extracts of Fo-Ti. It was found that the mice fed with Fo-Ti extracts had better active shuttle avoidance response, fewer vacuole numbers, less lipofuscin in the hippocampus, and lower MDA concentrations in the brain. Our data showed that the ethanol Fo-Ti extract groups (both 50% and 95% groups) had lower lipofuscin percentages and MDA concentrations, and higher total thiol concentrations than the water PM extract group. The 50% ethanol Fo-Ti extract group showed significantly lower total cholesterol and triglyceride values than the other groups, but the HDL cholesterol level was the same. These results suggest that dietary supplementation with either ethanol or water extracts can reduce brain pathological changes and promote learning and memory ability. The performance of Fo-Ti extracts depended on the extraction method, with ethanol extraction tending to obtain better results.

Protective effect of polygonum multiflorum on the cerebral cholinergic neurofibers in rats.
Hunan Yi Ke Da Xue Xue Bao. 2003. Excitative neurotoxin kainic acid was injected into the basal forebrain, Meynert neucleus, medial septal neucleus and the Broca neucleus to establish the destruction model. Then the destructive experimental group was fed with Fo-Ti, and the histochemical method was used to display the changes of AChE fibers, the protection and activation of Fo-Ti. The number of projecting AChE fibers to the cortex and the hippocampus in PMT group was larger than that in the control group, and no morphological destruction was seen in the experimental group. Fo-Ti has a protective effect on AchE projecting fibers in rats.

Fo Ti for cholesterol
Blood lipid-regulation of stilbene glycoside from polygonum multiflorum.
Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2007. To study lipid-regulating action of tetrahydroxy stilbene-2-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside (TSG) from Polygonum multiflorum Fo Ti on experimental model hyperlipidemic rats. TSG, which shows effects and mechanism in part like atorcastatin, is a major constituent with blood-lipid regulating effect of Fo Ti and can be explored as a potent medication for hyperlipidemia.

Use for hair loss
Although this herb is commonly used for this purpose, we have not seen clinical trials that show it to be effective in reversing hair loss.

Colitis, inflammatory bowel disease.
Protective effects of 2,3,5,4′-tetrahydroxystilbene-2-O-beta-d-glucoside, an active component of Polygonum multiflorum, on experimental colitis in mice.
Eur J Pharmacol. 2007. Reactive oxygen metabolites and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) are involved in pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease. In this study, we examined the effects of tetrahydroxystilbene-2-O-beta-d-glucoside (THSG), an active component extracted from Fo Ti, on acetic acid-induced acute colitis and mitomycin C-induced chronic colitis. We find that THSG exerts protective effects on experimental colitis through alleviating oxygen and nitrogen free radicals level and down-regulating iNOS expression.

Fo Ti side effects and danger, hepatitis
There have been rare reports of chronic consumption of Fo-Ti inducing liver damage or hepatitis. The title of the medical report is “New case of acute hepatitis following the consumption of Shou Wu Pian, a Chinese herbal product derived from Polygonum multiflorum.”

Hepatitis from Shen Min
Shen-Min is a herbal product sold as a supplement for women to enhance hair growth. It is widely available across Asia, Europe, and the United States and sold without prescription as a hair nutritional supplement. Shen-Min is a Chinese herbal product with a mixture of several plants and vitamins including Fo ti.

Acute hepatitis due to shen-min: a herbal product derived from Polygonum multiflorum.
J Clin Gastroenterol. 2006.
We describe a case of acute liver injury in a 28-year-old white woman who developed symptomatic hepatitis 8 weeks after starting Shen-Min. All other potential causes of acute hepatitis including viral, hypoxic/ischemic, metabolic, and autoimmune etiologies were excluded. The liver injury slowly resolved over 3 weeks after discontinuing the herbal product. Although the mechanism of Shen-Min hepatotoxicity is unknown, we suspect an idiosyncratic reaction because the patient developed a fine maculopapular rash, mild eosinophilia, and did not overdose. Nonetheless to our knowledge this is the first reported case of herbal-induced hepatotoxicity in a patient taking Shen-Min per se. Clinicians taking care of patients with acute hepatitis of unclear etiology should be aware that the consumption of Shen-Min, a hair supplement widely available in the United States and Western countries might cause acute hepatitis.

Red or white forms
The Nature’s Way Fo-Ti that you advertise, is that the red or processed form, or the white or unprocessed form? the actions of the two are somewhat different, and it is the red that I wish to buy.
This Nature’s Way Fo-Ti product is the whole root. We did a Medline search for “Red Fo-Ti” and could not find any mention in the literature regarding this term. We have not seen any human studies with Fo-Ti and therefore we question claims made that one form of Fo-Ti is better than another form for human consumption. We are not sure what is meant by the word processed. Normally the terms used with herbs are extracts or concentrates.

I am doing a biology project on the effect polygonum multiflorum on Drosophila Melanogaster. How does polygonum multiflorum increase the superoxide dismutase in the body?
We are involved in the clinical aspects of FoTi use, so this is outside our range of knowledge. Sorry.