How the Benefits of Fo-Ti Extend to Hair and Vitality

by Lauren Tannenbaum

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Fo-Ti, aka He Shou Wu, is a revered plant in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) gaining popularity in the West for its diverse herbal prowess. Keep reading to learn more about the different benefits of Fo-Ti for hair growth and color, as well as vitality and hormones.

What Is Fo-Ti?

Fo Ti—scientifically known as Polygonum multiflorum—is a plant native to China. However, it also grows in Taiwan and Japan.

Westerners renamed the plant Fo-Ti when they were trying to market it to consumers in the US. Its traditional name, and the name still used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, is He Shou Wu.

Fo-Ti appears in documents as far back as 713 AD and is a staple in TCM. A perennial tuber, it presents as a vine and is part of the polygonaceae buckwheat family. Its flowers come in a variety of pink and white shades and are favored by pollinators across the land.

Man bent over showing his gray hair to illustrate concept of fo-ti benefits for hair to reduce and prevent gray hair

Fo-Ti Benefits for Hair

For its first trick, Fo-Ti can not only improve hair growth, but also reduce hair loss.

The verdict is still out on how exactly this happens. But a 2015 study suggests that Fo-Ti stimulates hair growth by working on the FGF-7 gene, which encodes proteins specific to epithelial cell growth (and therefore hair growth) when administered orally.

It also stimulates SHH expression. Studies suggest that the SHH gene, a crucial growth regulator in embryonic hair follicles, may also have an effect on postnatal hair growth when administered topically.

Lastly, perhaps a more impressive Fo-Ti benefit for hair is its ability to significantly boost color. Research shows that Fo-Ti has a positive impact on gray hair—both to better maintain your natural color and delay the onset of new grays.

Other Benefits of Fo-Ti

Promotes Vitality

People who need a boost in vitality may find Fo-Ti particularly beneficial. This go-to plant for healthy aging is deeply nourishing and supportive by building strength and improving overall heath.

As with any plant medicine, there are usually a number of reasons, constituents, and interactions that contribute to its healing, pro-aging benefits. One possible factor here is Fo-Ti’s antioxidative properties.

Boosts Libido

Herbalists are known to use Fo-Ti as a sexual tonic, perhaps due to its general benefits for longevity.

Since Fo-Ti may help reduce cholesterol, it’ll interact with the endocrine system. And since the endocrine system regulates hormones, libido regulation would be included as well.

That said, Fo-Ti may help increase libido, regulate sex drive, and improve general stamina.

Supports Estrogen Levels

The research on estrogen in Fo-Ti is compelling. It’s possible that Fo-Ti could provide a natural alternative for those who need to boost their levels of the primary female sex hormone.

How to Take Fo-Ti

You can take Fo-Ti in a number of forms. It’s lovely as a tea, but is also traditionally eaten in soup. You can also take it in supplement form, as well as in a powder or extract.

Asian woman with beautiful long hair thanks to He Shou Wu, or Fo-Ti benefits for hair and vitality

Is Fo-Ti Safe?

To ensure the safety of taking Fo-Ti, always look for supplements from trusted companies backed by valid research. Additionally, be sure to follow proper dosage instructions.

People who aren’t advised to take Fo-Ti include:

  • children
  • pregnant women
  • women breastfeeding
  • those with abnormal blood sugar
  • those with compromised liver health

The verdict is also still out on whether Fo-Ti is safe for those with estrogen-sensitive conditions, on account of the plant’s phytoestrogens. Of course, it’s best to err on the side of caution and consult your doctor on the matter.

Next, Fo-Ti may interact with medications such as warfarin, ibuprofen, and amitriptyline, as well as diabetes medication and laxatives, to name a few.

Additionally, you should stop using Fo-Ti two weeks before surgery since it may interfere with blood sugar and clotting.

Finally, you may want to consider taking Fo-Ti under the guidance of an herbalist, TCM practitioner, or after consulting your physician.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, folks: a handy guide to Fo-Ti and its benefits.

Whether you know it by Fo-Ti or He Shou Wu, this ancient plant holds intrigue that only seems to get better with age. Mindfully incorporate Fo-Ti into your routine, and you’ll get better with age, too.


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