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Botanical names:
Polygonum multiflorum

Parts Used & Where Grown

Fo-ti is a plant native to China, where it continues to be widely grown. It also grows extensively in Japan and Taiwan. The unprocessed root is sometimes used medicinally. However, once it has been boiled in a special liquid made from black beans, it is considered a superior and rather different medicine according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. The unprocessed root is sometimes called white fo-ti and the processed root red fo-ti. According to Chinese herbal medicine, the unprocessed root is used to relax the bowels and detoxify the blood, and the processed root is used to strengthen the blood, invigorate the kidneys and liver, and serve as a tonic to increase overall vitality.

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for Why
1 Star
Refer to label instructions
The unprocessed roots of fo-ti possess a mild laxative effect.

The unprocessed roots of fo-ti possess a mild laxative effect. The bitter compounds in dandelion leaves and root are also mild laxatives.

1 Star
High Cholesterol
Refer to label instructions
Preliminary Chinese research has found that high doses of the herb fo-ti may lower cholesterol levels.

Preliminary Chinese research has found that high doses (12 grams per day) of the herb fo-ti may lower cholesterol levels. Double-blind or other controlled trials are needed to determine fo-ti’s use in lowering cholesterol. A tea may be made from processed roots by boiling 3 to 5 grams in a cup of water for 10 to 15 minutes. Three or more cups should be drunk each day. Fo-ti tablets containing 500 mg each are also available. Doctors may suggest taking five of these tablets three times per day.

1 Star
Immune Function
Refer to label instructions
Preliminary research suggests that fo-ti plays a role in a strong immune system and has antibacterial action.
Preliminary research suggests that plays a role in a strong immune system and has antibacterial action. More research is needed to further understand the potential importance of these effects.

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

The Chinese common name for fo-ti, he-shou-wu, was the name of a Tang dynasty man whose infertility was supposedly cured by fo-ti. In addition, his long life was attributed to the tonic properties of this herb.1 Since then, Traditional Chinese Medicine has used fo-ti to treat premature aging, weakness, vaginal discharges, numerous infectious diseases, angina pectoris, and erectile dysfunction.

How It Works

Botanical names:
Polygonum multiflorum

How It Works

The major constituents of fo-ti are anthraquinones, phospholipids (e.g., lecithin), tannins, and tetrahydroxystilbene glucoside. The processed root has been used to lower cholesterol levels in Traditional Chinese Medicine. According to animal research, it helps to decrease fat deposits in the blood and possibly prevent atherosclerosis.2 , 3 However, human clinical trials are lacking to support this use. Test tube studies have suggested fo-ti’s ability to stimulate immune function, increase red blood cell formation, and exert an antibacterial action.4 None of these effects has been studied in humans. The unprocessed roots have a mild laxative action.

How to Use It

The typical recommended intake is 1–1 1/2 teaspoons (4–8 grams) per day.5 A tea can be made from processed roots by boiling 1/2–1 teaspoons (3–5 grams) in 1 cup (250 ml) of water for ten to fifteen minutes. Three or more cups are suggested each day. Five fo-ti tablets (500 mg each) can be taken three times per day.


Botanical names:
Polygonum multiflorum

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.

Interactions with Medicines

Certain medicines interact with this supplement.

Types of interactions: Beneficial Adverse Check

Replenish Depleted Nutrients

  • none

Reduce Side Effects

  • none

Support Medicine

  • none

Reduces Effectiveness

  • none

Potential Negative Interaction

  • none

Explanation Required

  • Chlorphen-Pyrilamine-PE Tannts

    Many drugs used in the treatment of high blood pressure cause relaxation or dilation of blood vessels. Laboratory studies show that emodin, a compound in Polygonum multiflorum, also relaxes blood vessels. However, animal studies reveal that phenylephrine blocks the action of emodin.6 Controlled studies are needed to determine whether Polygonum multiflorum helps people with high blood pressure and whether phenylephrine blocks its beneficial effects.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

Side Effects

Botanical names:
Polygonum multiflorum

Side Effects

The unprocessed roots may cause mild diarrhea.7 Some people who are sensitive to fo-ti may develop a skin rash. Taking more than 15 grams of processed root powder may cause numbness in the arms or legs.


1. Foster S, Yue CX. Herbal Emissaries: Bringing Chinese Herbs to the West. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1992, 79-85.

2. Foster S, Yue CX. Herbal Emissaries: Bringing Chinese Herbs to the West. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1992, 79-85.

3. Foster S. Herbal Renaissance. Layton, Utah: Gibbs-Smith Publisher, 1993, 40-1.

4. Foster S, Yue CX. Herbal Emissaries: Bringing Chinese Herbs to the West. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1992, 79-85.

5. Bone K. Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs. Warwick, Australia: Phytotherapy Press, 1996, 49-51.

6. Huang HC, Lee CR, Chao PD, et al. Vasorelaxant effect of emodin, an anthraquinone from a Chinese herb. Eur J Pharmacol 1991;205:289-94.

7. Foster S. Herbs for Your Health. Loveland, CO: Interweave Press, 1996, 40-1.

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