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Scientific names: Polygonum multiflorum

Common names: Fo-ti also is known as he shou wu (Chinese), flowery knotweed, climbing knotweed, Chinese cornbind. This plant should not be confused with the commercial product Fo-ti Tieng, which does not contain fo-ti.

Efficacy-safety rating:

ÒÒ...Ethno or other evidence of efficacy.

Safety rating:

...Little exposure or very minor concerns.

What is Fo-Ti?

Fo-ti is native to central and southern China and is distributed in Japan and Taiwan. It is a perennial climbing herb, which can grow to 30 feet in height. The plant has red stems, heart-shaped leaves and white or pink flowers. The roots of 3- to 4-year-old plants are dried in autumn. The stems and leaves are used also.

What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

Fo-ti is a popular Chinese tonic herb, dating back to 713 A.D. It is considered one of the country's great 4 herbal tonics (along with angelica, lycium, and panax). Regarded as a rejuvenating plant, fo-ti has been thought to prevent aging and to promote longevity. According to folklore, the older and larger roots have the most power. One source quotes “... 300-year-old (root) product makes one immortal.”

Miscellaneous uses

In China, millions take fo-ti regularly for its rejuvenating and toning properties. It is used to increase liver and kidney function and to cleanse the blood. The plant also is prescribed for symptoms of premature aging such as gray hair. Fo-ti also is used for insomnia, weak bones, and constipation. It can increase fertility, increase blood sugar levels, and relieve muscle aches, and exhibits antimicrobial properties against mycobacteria and malaria. The Chinese use the root of the plant for cancer as well. There is limited evidence in animal experiments of its antitumor properties. Fo-ti also has been suggested as beneficial for atherosclerosis. In a clinical trial in humans, fo-ti exhibited cholesterol-lowering effects

What is the recommended dosage?

Fo-ti is used at daily doses of 9 to 15 g of raw herb; however, there do not appear to be any clinical studies supporting this dosage.

How safe is it?


Contraindications have not yet been identified.


Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.


None well documented.

Side Effects

Little information exists on fo-ti's side effects. Discourage use in pregnant women.


There is little information in the area of toxicology from fo-ti.


  1. Fo-ti. Review of Natural Products. factsandcomparisons4.0 [online]. 2005. Available from Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. Accessed April 16, 2007.

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