He Shou Wu is a popular herbal remedy, common in traditional Chinese medicine.
It’s used to treat a variety of ailments and has been linked to a number of health benefits, such as healthy aging, longevity, and virility.
However, despite its widespread use, this herb has come under scrutiny as it may cause serious side effects, such as liver damage (1).
This article reviews He Shou Wu, its potential benefits, side effects, and dosage.
He Shou Wu is a Chinese herbal medicine, derived from the Polygonum multiflorum Thunb plant (2).
The name “He Shou Wu” translates to “the black-haired Mr. He.” It’s said that the remedy was named due to the transformational, youth-restoring effects it had on “Mr. He” when he discovered the herb.
It’s also referred to as Chinese knotweed and known as Fo-Ti in America.
This popular herbal remedy is used worldwide — often to promote good health and virility, as well as to treat a variety of different health conditions (2).
The plant itself is a type of vine. Once harvested, the leaves, roots, and root tubers are separated and combined with other ingredients to create remedies to treat different ailments.
Summary He Shou Wu is a traditional, Chinese herbal medicine, derived from the Polygonum multiflorum Thunb plant. It’s known as Fo-Ti in America.
He Shou Wu is a versatile herb in traditional Chinese medicine.
Many people take it to promote general good health, especially in old age (3).
However, this herb is also used to treat various health conditions, such as diabetes, hair loss, heart disease, constipation, and cancer (3).
Summary He Shou Wu is used in traditional Chinese medicine to promote healthy aging and treat a variety of conditions, including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
In laboratory tests, He Shou Wu and its compounds have been shown to have biological activity. This indicates that it may offer a number of health benefits.
The biological compounds found in He Shou Wu may also positively affect blood cholesterol levels and improve conditions caused by an age-related decline of the nervous system, such as Alzheimer's (2).
However, test-tube studies don’t tell us if these compounds are effective in humans, and research in people is limited and generally of poor quality.
This means that most of the evidence for He Shou Wu stems from anecdotes.
Currently, it’s impossible to reliably know whether He Shou Wu is effective at treating the conditions it’s claimed to aid (2).
Summary Some laboratory studies show that He Shou Wu has potential as a medicine. However, studies in humans confirming its health effects are insufficient.
The amount of He Shou Wu you should take depends on a number of factors, including your reason for using it, as well as your age and health status.
However, evidence to make recommendations for an effective dose of this herbal medicine is insufficient.
More high-quality studies are needed to determine how much He Shou Wu you may need to improve different health conditions.
Additionally, not much is known about safe levels of He Shou Wu, or how it may interact with other drugs or over-the-counter remedies.
Overall, with the information currently available, a safe dosage of this herb is unknown.
Summary At the moment, little is known about safe and effective dosages for Ho Shou Wu. More research is needed to determine it’s possible benefits and risks.
Though He Shou Wu is a popular herbal medicine, side effects and risks have been noted.
Anecdotally, general side effects include diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting.
Most notably — although rare — t’s been linked to cases of liver damage. The vast majority of people who experience this side effect have recovered with treatment. Still, some cases of chronic liver disease and death have been recorded (1, 4).
It’s currently unclear why some people sustain liver damage while using this herb. Processed He Shou Wu may be safer compared to its raw form, but this hasn’t been tested in people (5).
The majority of people taking herbal medicines — including He Shou Wu — do so in accordance with the instructions given by the manufacturers (3).
However, the risk of liver injury may increase with longer-term use, especially at higher doses. This can be seen in studies in people who developed liver injury when taking He Shou Wu.
Those who consumed doses of less than 12 grams per day took an average of 60 days to develop the condition, whereas those who with doses higher than 12 grams developed a liver injury in an average of 30 days (3).
As a safe dosage is unknown, a recent review advised being cautious. Due to the risk of liver damage, it was recommended to avoid taking He Shou Wu without medical supervision — especially at higher doses and for long periods of time (3).
He Shou Wu is also thought to mimic estrogen in the body (6).
This means you should be cautious about taking this herb if you have or have had a health condition linked to this hormone, such as estrogen-related breast cancer.
Summary He Shou Wu has been linked to serious side effects, including liver damage. It may also mimic estrogen in your body. Always speak to your doctor before using this herb.
Yet, evidence to support its effectiveness is insufficient, and no safe dosage has been determined.
Additionally, the remedy has been linked to serious side effects like liver damage.
To minimize your risk, speak to your doctor before you begin taking any herbal supplements, including He Shou Wu.