Fo Ti is a remedy that is vitally important to Chinese herbology. In China, it is named ‘He Shou Wu’ (or ‘Black Haired Mr. He’), after a village elder who took it and was miraculously restored to youthful vitality. In Asian medicine it plays an important role in balancing all the systems in your body, with particular focus on the immune system.
In modern herbology, Fo Ti has a variety of uses, including treatment for high cholesterol, constipation and erectile disfunction (ED). However, it is most important as a tonic for good health, vitality and youthfulness; hence in China it is very popular amongst the elderly.
Fo Ti is actually a marketing name invented for the European and American market – it has no meaning in Chinese. The real Chinese name is He Shou Wu, and it has been used in China and other parts of Asia for over two thousand years.
The plant itself is a crawling vine, found in most parts of China apart from the North East. The vine is very hardy and can grow extremely long, up to 40ft in length in some examples.
Fo Ti has a large number of medical uses, but first and foremost it is an immune system builder and a promoter of longevity and good health. The legendary Chinese herbalist Chung Yun (who reputedly lived 256 years) took Fo Ti regularly and had 24 wives at the time of his death!
The active ingredients in Fo Ti are yet to be classified, hence it has not yet won FDA approval as a medical supplement. However herbologists know from experience that it can help with a variety of ailments.
Fo Ti contains chemicals known as lectins, which attach to red blood cells and can reduce levels of cholesterol in the blood, preventing or delaying heart disease. In a Chinese clinical trial, over 80% of patients demonstrated lower cholesterol.
This powerful herb is also effective in countering a number of genito-urinary problems. It increases the red blood cell count, which has been shown to aid patients with ED or similar conditions. It also controls Estrogen levels in female patients, helping to regulate periods and alleviate some of the symptoms of menopause.
All the above remedies use the processed form of Fo Ti (an important distinction). The unprocessed, raw form can be used as a mild laxative, but does not have the same effects.
Fo Ti is used by many elderly people in a general-purpose daily tonic. It slows aging, promotes youthfulness and increases the body’s defenses against infection. It is even more popular than Ginseng in many parts.
In North America, gardeners prize Fo Ti as an ornamental plant
Fo Ti has a mild laxative effect, which is however greatly diminished in the processed form. Other side effects include occasional skin rashes and numbness in arms and legs. Be sure to always consult your doctor before starting a course of herbal treatment.