He Shou Wu: A Legendary Longevity Herb

He Shou Wu: A Legendary Longevity Herb

25th Nov 2016

What Is He Shou Wu?

With its rich history and powerful medicinal qualities, he shou wu remains one of the most highly revered tonic herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Also known as foti, this precious powder is made from the polygonum multiflorum root which is native to mountainous regions in parts of Southern and Central China.

Traditional preparation methods are used to make high-quality he shou wu: first, the roots are carefully selected based on their age, and then brewed in black bean or soy bean stew. What’s left is dried and ground down into a finely-milled powder that is ready to use. This slow process enables the body to more easily digest the herb’s nutrients.

While it has been used for thousands of years in the East, recent scientific studies in the West are backing up he shou wu’s claims. From strengthening the immune system to nourishing the liver and kidneys, he shou wu’s many health-promoting benefits are certainly worthy of attention.

He Shou Wu’s Taoist Roots

The first recorded use of he shou wu dates way back to around 812 AD when it was mentioned in the ancient Taoist text, Heshouwu Lun (Notes on He shou wu) by Li Ao. Legend has it that an old man called He Tianer discovered the root and showed it to a hermit who encouraged him see what health benefits it would bring. After one week of daily ingestion, He’s virility returned and after a year he was able to father a child and had a full head of thick black hair. This story is what gave the herb its name, as he shou wu loosely translates as Mr. He’s hair is black.

Many people do report a noticeable change in the thickness, strength and colour of their hair after regularly consuming he shou wu. Several American hair-loss treatments contain he shou wu powder because of these hair-health enhancing benefits.

A Superfood Superstar in Traditional Chinese Medicine

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, he shou wu is seen as a jing tonic. Jing is an invisible essence which is vital for the healthy functioning of the physical body, particularly for the reproductive and nervous systems. As we age, we naturally ‘leak’ jing which can result in an imbalance of vital life energy, lead to physical weakness and ultimately reduce our zest for life. Jing is notoriously hard to rebuild, but ancient texts reveal that practicing physical exercises like Qigong, and consuming jing-boosting tonic herbs such as he shou wu and reishi will help to replenish the body’s natural jing stores.

He shou wu has an impressive nutritional profile as it’s extremely rich in antioxidants, lecithin, and zinc, and it contains more iron than the much-loved goji berries. It has also been proven to contain superoxide dismutase (SOD), which is an enzyme that neutralizes free radicals and has powerful inflammatory properties.

He Shou Wu: Health Benefits At A Glance

  • Beautifying: Helps to strengthen nails and improve skin condition
  • Hair Health: Believed to prevent and even reverse grey hair
  • Circulation-Boosting: Improves blood flow
  • Anti-Anxiety: Can calm the nervous system
  • Anti-Ageing: Antioxidants and lecithin help to prevent premature ageing
  • Aphrodisiac: Boosts libido and encourages a healthy sex drive
  • Longevity Tonic: Contains SOD which is one of the most powerful antioxidants around
  • Mildly Sedative: Helps to relax the body, produce feelings of calm and aid sound sleep
  • Adrenal Health: May help to strengthen the adrenal glands
  • Jing Tonic: Tonifies the kidneys, builds blood and increases vitality
  • Adaptogen: Enables the body to better deal with stress
  • Safe to Use: Traditionally prepared he shou wu is safe to use daily

How To Use He Shou Wu (Fo-Ti)

Attempting to brew, dry and grind raw roots is not recommended for novices, as the process required a lot of care, attention and time. Poor preparation of the root will also fail to remove some of the emodin, which acts as a natural laxative. Luckily, there is an easier way to harness the power of the root without the messy preparation, and that it to use a pre-prepared he shou wu powder.

This fine powder has a pleasant, naturally sweet and earthy taste, so it can be stirred into warm water to create a warming tonic tea. If you’re feeling creative, blend in some freshly made nut milk, a dash of cinnamon, a vanilla pod and some natural sweetener for a delicious longevity elixir. Just a single teaspoon of the powder is enough to provide a nutritious boost to smoothies and juices. He shou wu can also be sprinkled over foods, or used in recipes when making sauces, dips, protein balls, raw chocolates, bread and other savoury treats.

When it comes to choosing the very best he shou wu powder, quality, purity and preparation methods are of the utmost importance. Our he shou wu powder differs from others on the market as it is a potent 10:1 concentrated extract. This means that we use traditional methods to transform 10 pounds of the raw root into one pound of potent powder, so each spoonful contains ten times the nutritional value of the original root.

Head over to our online store for more information on he shou wu, as well as other tonics and superfoods such as chaga, reishi, shilajit and pink pitaya powder.


[1] http://www.itmonline.org/arts/hoshouwu.htm

[2] http://www.shen-nong.com/eng/lifestyles/tcmrole_health_maintenance_habits.html

[3] https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/emodin

[4] http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/mpacms/at/article.php?id=32900

[5] http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Polygonum+multiflorum

[6] http://www.consciouslifestylemag.com/he-shou-wu-fo-ti-benefits-spiritual/

[7] Nong, Shen: Shennong Bencao Jing (The Classic of Herbal Medicine)

[8] Reichstein, Gal: Wood Become Water: Chinese Medicine in Everyday Life