Fo-ti (Polygonum multiflorum)
Fo-ti is a plant native to China that is used in Chinese herbal medicine. It also grows in Japan and Taiwan. The vine of the herb was called ye jiaoteng, referring to its form, an evening intertwining vine (ye = evening, jiao = intersecting, teng = vine). It is also known by its Latin name, Polygonum multiflorum. The Chinese-sounding names fo-ti-teng and fo-ti were made up by U.S. businesspersons.
The roots and rhizomes (underground stem of plant) of fo-ti are harvested from 3-4 year-old plants, dried, and then used in an unprocessed or processed form (processing involves steaming the dried roots in black soybean juice). The vine of fo-ti is also used in Chinese medicine. Unprocessed fo-ti (also known as "white" fo-ti) is taken by mouth as a laxative. Unprocessed fo-ti is also applied to the skin to treat conditions such as acne, athlete's foot, skin inflammation, razor burn, and scrapes. Processed fo-ti, also known as "red" fo-ti, is used to prevent or delay heart disease.
Currently, high-quality human studies supporting the use of fo-ti for any condition are lacking.
Alzheimer's disease/ cognitive decline
Combination fo-ti has been shown to stop cognitive decline and improve memory and daily functioning in people with mild cognitive decline or Alzheimer's disease. Although this is promising, available evidence is limited by the use of fo-ti combination therapies. A firm conclusion about the effect of fo-ti in this area is unable to be determined, and further research is needed.
Hepatitis B (chronic)
Early research suggests that a combination decoction (extract from boiling in water) with fo-ti, is superior to Jinshuibao capsule for the treatment of hepatitis B-associated liver fibrosis (excess connective tissue). Although this is promising, further research is needed.
Neurodermatitis (itchy skin disease)
Early research has suggested that the mixed-herb decoction (extract from boiling in water) Yangxue Dingfeng Tang, partly made up of fo-ti, has short- and long-term treatment effects when given with localized plumb-blossom needle tapping. Due to the small amount of available research, a firm conclusion about the effect of fo-ti for hepatitis B is unable to be determined. Further research in this area is needed.
*Key to grades:
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use;
B: Good scientific evidence for this use;
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use;
D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work);
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
- Abscesses (pus), acne, aging, anemia, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral,, athlete's foot, autoimmune diseases, back pain (lower), blood purification, bone (weak), cancer, carbuncles (a skin infection involving hair follicles), cerebral ischemia (insufficient blood and oxygen to the brain), chest pain, clogged arteries, constipation, cosmetic uses (gray hair), dementia (vascular), dermatitis (skin inflammation), diabetes, dizziness (vertigo), energy, enhanced immune function, erectile dysfunction (inability to achieve an erection), expectorant (loosen mucus in lungs), fatigue, fever reducer, fluid retention "damp wind", heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) infections, infertility, insomnia, itchiness, kidney dysfunction, laxative, liver enlargement or disease, malaria, memory (learning), menopausal symptoms, muscle soreness, muscle strength, pain relief, Parkinson's disease, scrapes, skin eruptions, skin ulcers, sore throat, stomach disorders, swelling (lymph glands), tonic (liver, kidney), transplant rejection prevention, tuberculosis, vaginal discharge, vertigo (dizziness), yeast infection.
Adults (over 18 years old):
Slices, powders, capsules, extracts, syrups, teas, and skin creams or ointments are commercially available. Fo-ti is used individually, or in combination formulas such as the traditional Chinese 13-herb mixture Shou Xing Bu Zhi.
Doses of 560 milligrams (capsules) 2-3 times daily, three grams of raw herb three times daily, and 9-15 grams of the dried herb daily have been taken by mouth. One teaspoon or five grams of the root boiled in one cup of water for 15 minutes has also been taken by mouth.
Creams or ointments have been applied to the affected skin 3-4 times daily.
Children (under 18 years old):
- Avula B, Joshi VC, Wang YH, et al. Simultaneous identification and quantification of anthraquinones, polydatin, and resveratrol in Polygonum multiflorum, various Polygonum species, and dietary supplements by liquid chromatography and microscopic study of Polygonum species. J AOAC Int 2007;90(6):1532-1538. View Abstract
- Chen L, Huang J, and Xue L. [Effect of compound Polygonum multiflorum extract on Alzheimer's disease]. Zhong.Nan.Da.Xue.Xue.Bao.Yi.Xue.Ban. 2010;35(6):612-615. View Abstract
- Choi SG, Kim J, Sung ND, et al. Anthraquinones, Cdc25B phosphatase inhibitors, isolated from the roots of Polygonum multiflorum Thunb. Nat Prod Res 2007;21(6):487-493. View Abstract
- Furukawa M, Kasajima S, Nakamura Y, et al. Toxic hepatitis induced by show-wu-pian, a Chinese herbal preparation. Intern.Med. 2010;49(15):1537-1540. View Abstract
- Huang WY, Cai YZ, Xing J, et al. Comparative analysis of bioactivities of four Polygonum species. Planta Med 2008;74(1):43-49. View Abstract
- Jung KA, Min HJ, Yoo SS, et al. Drug-Induced Liver Injury: Twenty Five Cases of Acute Hepatitis Following Ingestion of Polygonum multiflorum Thunb. Gut Liver 2011;5(4):493-499. View Abstract
- Kang SC, Lee CM, Choi H, et al. Evaluation of oriental medicinal herbs for estrogenic and antiproliferative activities. Phytother Res 2006;20(11):1017-1019. View Abstract
- Ling S, Nheu L, Dai A, et al. Effects of four medicinal herbs on human vascular endothelial cells in culture. Int J Cardiol. 8-29-2008;128(3):350-358. View Abstract
- Mazzanti G, Battinelli L, Daniele C, et al. New case of acute hepatitis following the consumption of Shou Wu Pian, a Chinese herbal product derived from Polygonum multiflorum. Ann Intern Med 2004;140(7):W30. View Abstract
- Oerter Klein K, Janfaza M, Wong JA, et al. Estrogen bioactivity in fo-ti and other herbs used for their estrogen-like effects as determined by a recombinant cell bioassay. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2003;88(9):4077-4079. View Abstract
- Wang X, Zhao L, Han T, et al. Protective effects of 2,3,5,4'-tetrahydroxystilbene-2-O-beta-d-glucoside, an active component of Polygonum multiflorum Thunb, on experimental colitis in mice. Eur.J Pharmacol. 1-14-2008;578(2-3):339-348. View Abstract
- Xu ML, Zheng MS, Lee YK, et al. A new stilbene glucoside from the roots of Polygonum multiflorum Thunb. Arch Pharm Res 2006;29(11):946-951. View Abstract
- Yao S, Li Y, Kong L. Preparative isolation and purification of chemical constituents from the root of Polygonum multiflorum by high-speed counter-current chromatography. J Chromatogr A 2006;1115(1-2):64-71. View Abstract
- Zhang L, Yang X, Sun Z, et al. [Retrospective study of adverse events of Polygonum multiflorum and risk control]. Zhongguo Zhong.Yao Za Zhi. 2009;34(13):1724-1729. View Abstract
- Zuo GY, Wang GC, Zhao YB, et al. Screening of Chinese medicinal plants for inhibition against clinical isolates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). J Ethnopharmacol 2008 Nov 20;120(2):287-90. View Abstract