Fo-Ti is an herb derived from the dried roots of a Japanese evergreen called Polygonum multiflorum. In China, where it is called Ho shou wu, Fo-Ti is said to possess almost magical rejuvenating properties and it is especially popular with the elderly who believe it can help one maintain hair color, preserve youthfulness, and restore fertility.
Traditional Chinese herbalists place great emphasis on the shape and age of the roots, with the older roots being in great demand. Made into a tea or infusion for oral ingestion, Eastern and Western herbalists recommend Fo-Ti as a tonic to maintain youthful vigor, increase energy, tone the kidneys and liver, and purify the blood. It is also employed as a remedy for insomnia, stomach upset, and diabetes.
Fo-Ti contains a number of glycosides that account for the herbs use as a remedy for stomach disorders and constipation. Researchers suspect that the roots may contain compounds with mild cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory effects, but this has yet to be proved. Fo-Ti should not be confused with Fo-Ti Tieng, which is a trademarked formula containing Gotu Kola.