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FoTi is a rare botanical native to China. It has been utilized for its many health benefits by many cultures for centuries. It's most well known for its use in ancient Chinese medicine. There, it's known as he-shou-wu, meaning "black haired Mr. He." The name originates from a legend that depicts an elderly Chinese man whose hair is graying. He was said to regain his natural hair color by taking FoTi.
Because of its reputation in Chinese medicine, it's been tested by people around the world as a way to treat receding hairlines, prevent baldness, and reverse it. It has topical benefits and applications, and is most commonly used this way for dealing with baldness. Herbalist suggest it for much more, including: tuberculosis in the lymph nodes, cancer, (prostatitis), and constipation(yikes!). Alternative health practitioners suggest it as a medicine to nourish and cleanse the liver and kidney, as a blood toner, and also to fortify muscles, tendons, and bones. My favorite way to use it is in capsules, or a tincture.
Many wonder how on earth FoTi and other medicinal plants and herbs could function as medicine. The answer is that they create phytochemicals, which are pharmacological constituents studied by phytochemist. Phytochemistry is the study of the medicinal alkaloids, compounds, and chemicals in general that these remedies create. They are also found in foods, and for whatever reason, are not listed or required to be mentioned by the regulatory dictators who require nutritional information to be written on any package of anything edible within the United States. I think we should petition this into existence, and educate the youth on their benefits the same as vitamins and minerals.
He-shou-wu (FoTi) is also regarded in folk medicine as a powerful tonic, that can restore youthful characteristics including vitality and energy(chi). A tonic is basically something that induces a sense of well-being, or stimulates an increase in Chi. The term, "Chi" in Chinese medicine, actually refers to the vital life fore that resides in all living beings. It's the divine spark of energy that gives animation to the living. To have low levels of Chi, is to be ill, according to ancient knowledge. The idea behind this ancient remedy system is to raise the level of Chi by utilizing foods, and various plants for their healing and life giving benefits.
The root of FoTi (Polygonum multiflorum) is the most prized part of the plant. Ancient Chinese medicine praised FoTi for combating premature aging. It's been used sense then to build strength and tone the liver, kidneys and blood. Of course, it should be consumed in moderation, as too much of anything is potentially not healthy. Modern herbalist use it to promote estrogen production in women gong through menopause. FoTi is even used as a treatment for erectile dysfunction.(see also Damiana for aphrodisiac/erectile dysfunction.) Schwing!
In ancient Chinese medicine, practitioners could identify illness by simply looking at the patients tongue. Different areas of the tongue were associated with different parts of the body. Certain indications would appear on the patients tongue, and then practitioner would then come up with a treatment plan. Herbs such as FoTi were often combined with others to create synergistic infusions, also known as elixirs. In modern times this practice is referred to as creating infusions. They blends have had many names by many cultures including potions, elixirs, and 'spirits'.
As mentioned above, FoTi root was most commonly prepared as a decoction. A decoction is almost always made when dealing with roots. The plant material is boiled for a certain period of time. Many cultures would boil roots for hours at a time so that the chemicals in them which give their benefits could surely be extracted. It all depends on the type of alkaloids you desire. Some phytochemicals are destroyed by heat, others are not so sensitive. Aside from decoctions, alchemical elixirs can be prepared, as well as the standard tincture, or teas. I suggest covering the mixture and adding a drop of oil so that nothing can evaporate.
These is really no set dosage for FoTi. Depending on the patients age, health, and other influential factors, the dosage is simply guessed. It's better to take too little than too much. Research precautions, interactions, and side effects. Unless you know for sure, assume that it can't be combined with any other prescription medication. Even herbs need to be researched before mixing them because certain ones could be dangerous when combined. The root typically comes in powdered form, so what looks like very little is actually quite a bit. Capsules and decoctions are the two most common forms in which this medicine is used.
The root is commonly reported to be toxic to the liver in excessive dosages. It does have a history of use as being beneficial to the liver, yet this was done so in precise dosages by experience practitioners. A medical rule known as the "Arndt-Schulz rule" states that small doses stimulate, moderate doses inhibit, and large doses kill. This is a general statement or rule in medicine. In other words, the main difference between a medicine and a poison is the dosage that's administered. For example, the concept of an over-dose be-speaks of a dosage which is poisonous. On the other hand, if we lower the dosage to a specific amount we find that the substance has medicinal properties.
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