He Shou Wu (Fo-Ti)

Latin:  Fallopia multiflora

Family:  Polygonaceae

Parts Used:  Prepared roots

Taste/Energetics:  Slightly bitter, sweet, warming

Properties:  Libido enhancement, anxiolytic, nervous system and general health tonic

Actions:   This is one of the most important energy tonics in Chinese medicine.  One of the classic stories told about this herb is that a man born with a weak constitution who was aging quickly dug up this root and started taking it regularly  In time his white hair turned black again, he became very virile and his appearance became youthful.  He went on to father a number of children.  Whether this story is apocryphal or not, this herb has long been noted to improve energy levels, stamina and libido.  In Chinese medicine HeoShou Wu is used to tonify qi and jing.  While qi refers to general energy, jing is the basic essence that we are born with that provides us with our underlying strength, vitality and resilieency.  It can be burned up by excessive sex, partying, stimulants and too little sleep.  He Shou Wu has the ability to restore and tonify this essential energy.   This root has a moistening and nourishing quality that is helpful for folks who are weak, anemic, pale, deficient and dry in constitution.   Ho Shou Wu is very starchy and rich in tannins and is generally processed by steaming the roots in black soybean juice and then dried.  This processing helps the herb to become more useful as a blood and yin tonic to nourish the muscles, joints, hair and skin and help with conditions such as dizziness, weakeness, tinnitus, numbness and anemia.

In terms of mental health, this is a deeply tonic herb that is often best to take in whole form and mixed with other herbs in a formula.  It is supremely nourishing and strengthening for folks who are cold, dry and deficient who have burned out their reserves either through lifestyle choices or because their life has been traumatic and stressful.  Great for those who are sensitive and easily triggered into shock and dissociation.

Dosage:  9-15 grams in standard decoction.  As powder 1-4 grams daily.

Contraindications:  Can cause loose stools and stomach upset in some.