For so long, Fo-ti root or Polygonum multiflorum has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to combat the effects of aging and improve liver as well as kidney health. The wide range of fo-ti’s benefits is usually because of the root’s antioxidant properties and potent compounds such as chrysophanic acids, emodin, and anthraquinones.
Fo-ti has shown to be effective for treating a number of health conditions, including cancer, insomnia, constipation, tuberculosis, prostatitis, high cholesterol, joint pain, skin problems, atherosclerosis, and neurodegenerative issues.
Fo-ti is also used to combat symptoms of aging, including hair problem, as well as treat skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, and acne.
The Health Benefits of Fo-Ti Root
Let’s take a closer look at the health benefits of fo-ti root.
Fo-ti root is a natural laxative that helps to relieve constipation and ease bowel movement. When used to promote regularity, it is advised that you do not consume the root for too long–about two to three days is recommended. Consuming laxatives for a long period of time may result in frequent stools and dehydration. Therefore, take precaution when taking fo-ti tea, capsules, or tinctures.
Fo-ti contains dietary lectin compounds that have proven to promote healthy cholesterol levels. In fact, lectins are protein-sugar complexes that stick to specific arrangements of carbohydrates in the body, functioning like antibodies but without the allergy symptoms. The root uses this mechanism to stop plaque formation in blood vessels, inhibiting or delaying the onset of heart conditions like cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis.
Improves Skin Health
Fo-ti is effective in certain skin care and hair care routines and can be topically applied to the skin to help in the treatment of various skin issues, including itching, dermatitis, razor burn, acne, sores, carbuncles, scrapes, athlete’s foot, and skin eruptions. Fo-ti can help protect the skin due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Promotes Hair Growth
It is believed that fo-ti can help prevent hair loss, premature hair graying, and thinning hair. As a matter of fact, according to some studies, fo-ti can significantly facilitate melanin synthesis, as it has a positive effect on hair pigment.
According to some studies, fo-ti root increases the production of the antioxidant known as superoxide dismutase (SOD). High levels of this vital antioxidant reduce with age, making the body vulnerable to damage by one of the most harmful free radicals called superoxide. When this aging-inducing damage is fundamentally addressed, it promotes longevity.
To improve the antioxidant activity of fo-ti root, it also has the strong antioxidants known as stilbene glycosides.
Facilities Quality Sleep
Studies have found that fo-ti root helps in the treatment of sleep-related conditions such as insomnia. While fo-ti is commonly used to treat insomnia, no research exists verifying the root for its sedative effects.
However, there is some evidence that fo-ti root’s bioactive compounds may be beneficial for treating anxiety and insomnia in people with bipolar disorder.
Effective Against Alzheimer’s Disease
A compound, tetrahydroxystilbene glucoside, found in Fo-ti helps with memory loss issues. In fact, studies have shown that Fo-ti extract is effective against Alzheimer’s disease. What tetrahydroxystilbene glucoside does is to slow down memory loss linked to aging. Also, treatments that involve the use of Fo-ti root extract help to reduce amyloid plaque that can result in Alzheimer‘s disease.
In addition, emodin, a chemical present in Fo-ti, blocks the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine. This is similar to how conventional Alzheimer‘s drugs help with cognitive function.
Manage Menopause Symptoms
With so many concerns over the use of hormone/estrogen replacement therapy, many post-menopausal women are prone to look for other sources of estrogen, including herbal remedies, to minimize their symptoms. In fact, studies also show estrogen bioactivity in herbs such as licorice, red clover, soy, dong quai, hops, black cohosh, as well as chaste tree berry.
Fo-ti root is, thus, very effective in alleviating symptoms of menopause.
Prevents Abnormal Blood-Clotting
Blood-clotting or thromboembolic disorders are usually as a result of loose blood clots that form in a blood vessel. These loose blood clots are transported by the bloodstream into another vessel that then becomes blocked. This commonly occurs kidneys, brain (causing stroke), leg, in the lungs (leading to pulmonary embolism), or the gastrointestinal tract. This condition is called thromboembolism.
But thankfully, the chemical tetrahydroxystilbene glucoside isolated from Fo-ti can help prevent abnormal blood clotting in blood vessels.
Boosts Sexual Health
Fo-ti root increases fertility, sexual drive, and helps to treat erectile dysfunction. Studies suggest that these beneficial effects are because of the root’s ability to increase red blood cell counts and boost blood circulation. Fo-ti has the ability to increase blood flow to all the organs of the body, including the reproductive organs.
The anthraquinones in Fo-ti root help to induce apoptosis or cell death in cancer cells. In fact, the emodin and aloe-emodin in Fo-ti can prevent cell growth, especially for cervical, tongue, melanoma, gallbladder, and neuroblastoma cancer cells. Fo-ti can also significantly reduce the weight and volume of colon tumor.
Side Effects and Precautions
Although there are no proven safe doses for fo-ti, it is important to take some precautions.
- Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should steer clear of products that contain fo-ti.
- Due to its estrogen-like effects, people who have a history of estrogen-related ovarian, breast, prostate, and uterine cancer should avoid the use of fo-ti.
- Some of the common side effects of using fo-ti include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
- Fo-ti may also lower the body’s potassium level, resulting in symptoms such as muscle weakness.
- The herb may also cause allergic rashes and in some cases, lead to serious liver damage.
The Bottom Line
For so many years, fo-ti root has been used in making longevity tonics to combat premature aging. The herb is also used in the treatment of a range of other health conditions such as constipation and skin issues. However, more research is required to ascertain the benefits of fo-ti root. This is because while the herb might be helpful for treating certain health conditions, it has also been linked to certain serious side effects.
It is advisable to always consult your doctor before using any dietary supplement, including fo-ti root.