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The sweet story of He Shou Wu

The sweet story of He Shou Wu

何首乌 He Shou Wu (Polygonum Multiflorum Thunb) is one of the most revered tonic herbs of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The legend of its discovery is both a sweet story and testament to the ‘doctrine of signatures’ - the concept that a plant resembles the condition or part of the body it will benefit.

He Shou Wu is the root of the Ye Jiao Teng plant, whose name translates as "vines that tangle in the night". The unlikely hero of the Shou Wu story is ‘He Tianer’, a weathered, frail and aging man; childless at 58 years old. One morning he saw the vines intertwined like lovers and was intrigued (sweetly, male and female plants grow separately and unite at night).

Perhaps hoping for a change in circumstances, or as the legend states, prompted by the village jester to try the root in case it was a divine drug for the impotent man, Tianer dug up the plants’ root and started taking it.

It is said, after a short while, vitality awoke within him and he “recognized clearly the principles of human life”. Feeling unburdened, strong, full of energy & sexual desire. His snow-white hair darkened, his vision improved and the re-emergence of youth was present more and more. His depression & loneliness faded away and he soon married - going on to father many children! He ascribed all this to the root and said: "This was caused by the climbing plant. When one takes it, one can live to be 160 years old”.

Since then, the herb has been named He Shou Wu in reference to He Tianer’s (new) dark hair: Shou translating to “head”, and Wu to “black”. It is now widely used throughout Asia for its hair darkening properties and is revered as one of the primary fertility enhancing herbs. Prepared (simmered in black bean sauce) ‘He Shou Wu’ is a potent yin tonic - used for maintaining youthfulness and strengthening the body. Unprepared He Shou Wu is something very different and acts as a laxative!


In ancient Chinese texts, He Shou Wu is said to ‘master the five hemorrhoidal complaints" and be helpful in emaciating illnesses. It tonifies kidney Qi and liver Qi and is said to help root our essence. It is used as a sexual tonic, to promote longevity, and build energy. It nourishes the blood and semen. Modern research confirms it improves the immune system, reverses hardening of the arteries, is liver protective & antioxidative. It's also been shown to regulate blood sugar, improve the development of red blood cells, protect the brain and has lipid-modulating & age-reducing effects.

The recommended dosage of our full-spectrum prepared He Shou Wu 10:1 extract powder is 200-1000mg / day. Prepared He Shou Wu is also included in our ‘Elixir Supreme’ & 'Tonic Gold M' herbal elixir blends. A cup between 5-7pm when the kidney meridian is most active is our favourite and offers a nourishing, supportive drink as we begin to wind down after the day.




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