He Shou Wu

He Shou Wu is also named Radix Polygoni Multiflori, 何首乌, 首乌, Shou Wu
Raw Shou Wu
Raw Shou Wu
Stir-baked Shou Wu
Stir-baked Shou Wu

Naming

He Shou Wu (Radix Polygoni Multiflori)——Kai Bao Ben Cao (Materia Medica In Kai-Bao Reign)

Origin

The root tuber of the perennial twining plants Polygonum multiflorum Thunb. of family Knotweed.

Location

Henan, Hubei and Guangxi provinces in China.

Harvest

Plucked in late autumn.

The actual smell and taste

Slight smell, slightly bitter, sweet and astringent.

Best quality

Heavy, firm and rich in powder.

Processing

Unprocessed or steamed.

Property

Bitter, sweet and astringent, slightly warm; kidney and liver meridians entered.

Actions

Tonify blood, supplement essence, check malaria, relieve toxicity, moisten intestine.

Indications

A. Blood and essence deficiency syndrome

Being mild in property——neither dry nor greasy——and with the actions of tonifying blood and supplementing essence, it is a good tonic. For blood and essence deficiency, vertigo and tinitus, soreness and flaccidity of lumbar and knees, early white of beard and hairs, it is combined with other liver and kidney-nourishing herbs and blood and essence-tonifying herbs, for instance, it is used with Gou Qi Zi, Tu Si Zi and Dang Gui in Qi Bao Mei Ran Dan from Ji Shan Tang Jing Yan Fang (Experiential Prescriptions from Jishan Clinic).

B. Chronic malaria

It is very indicated for chronic malaria of both qi and blood deficiency type, because both raw and stir-baked He Shou Wu can check malaria. Furthermore, it can tonify blood to improve deficiency. For instance, it is used with Ren Shen and Dang Gui in He Ren Yin from Jing Yue Quan Shu.

C. Ulcers and tuberculosis

Raw Shou Wu is indicated for ulcers and tuberculosis, because it can relieve toxicity, dissipate nodulation, in addition, it also has action of relieving itching. For swelling and pain due to ulcers, it is usually combined with phlegm-eliminating herbs and heat-toxin-clearing herbs, for instance, it is used with Jin Yin Hua, Lian Qiao and Ku Shen in He Shou Wu Tang from Yang Yi Da Quan (A Complete Handbook on Traumato-Orthopedics). For tuberculosis, it is usually combined with phlegm-eliminating herbs, toxicity-relieving herbs and nodulation-dissipating herbs, for instance, it is used with Xia Ku Cao and Chuan Bei Mu from Ben Cao Hui Yan (Supplement Materia Medica). For swelling, itching and pain due to ulcers, it is usually combined with herbs to clear heat, dry dampness, disperse wind and relieve itching, for instance, it is used with Ku Shen, Fang Feng and Bo He in He Shou Wu San from Wai Ke Jin Yi (Essence Argument of External Medicine).

D. Consripation due to intestinal dryness

Sheng Shou Wu can smooth stool through moistening intestines, and tonifying deficiency. For constipation due ro blood deficiency with intestinal dryness, it could be used singly or combined with blood-nourishing and stool-smoothing herbs, for instance, it is used with Huo Ma Ren and Dang Gui.

Dosage and Administrations

Decoct 10~30 g. Stir-baked for tonifying blood and essence, raw material for checking malaria, relieving toxicity, moistening intestines and smoothing stool.

Cautions

Stir-baked Shou Wu is contraindicated for accumulated damp-phlegm because of its astringent properties and its strongly tonifying action. Raw He Shou Wu is contraindicated for loose stool because it can smooth stool.