It has been used for a long list of ailments including atherosclerosis, constipation, fatigue, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, blood deficiency, nerve damage, eczema, scrofula and inflammation of lymph nodes and heat toxicity. It is also indicated to boost the immune system and increase sexual vigour.
Chung Yun, a famous Chinese herbalist who reportedly lived to be 256 years old, used Fo ti on a daily basis. This herb is thought to have been responsible for both his long life and his legendary sexual prowess, (he was said to have had 24 wives). In another Chinese legend Fo ti was thought to be responsible for returning natural black colour to a previously gray-haired man- He Shou Wu means "black haired Mr. He."
Thankfully, we have a little more to go on than folk medicine legends. Modern research indicates that this herb contains an alkaloid that has rejuvenating effects on the nerves, brain cells and endocrine glands. It stimulates a portion of the adrenal gland and helps to detoxify the body. Hair health, energy and sexual vigor are the products of this rejuvenation.
Processed Fo ti contains protein-sugar complexes known as lectins. Because they attach to specific arrangements of carbohydrates on cells in the body, lectins act like antibodies, but they do not cause allergy symptoms. The lectins in processed Fo ti may affect fat levels in the blood, helping to prevent or delay heart disease by blocking the formation of plaques in blood vessels. Plaques are accumulations of fat and other cells that restrict the size of blood vessels and limit the flexibility of their walls.
The whole root has been shown to lower cholesterol levels, according to animal and human research, as well as to decrease hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. Other Fo ti research has investigated this herb's role in strong immune function, red blood cell formation and antibacterial action.
In animal studies, processed Fo ti also reduced the amount of fat that deposited in the liver and it may protect the liver from damage by toxins such as dry cleaning fluid. Processed Fo ti may also have immune system effects.
Potential anti-aging effect
Although supported by a small number of animal studies and numerous human case reports from China, where processed fo-ti has been used for centuries as an anti-aging tonic, none of these uses for processed Fo ti has been confirmed by controlled studies in humans.