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He Shou Wu
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

He Shou Wu Usage

Written by FoundHealth.

What Is He Shou Wu Used for Today?

He shou wu is widely marketed today as a general anti-aging herb, said to reduce cholesterol , prevent heart disease , prevent age-related loss of mental function , improve sleep , and extend life span. However, the evidence supporting these uses is far too preliminary to meaningfully indicate effectiveness for any of these proposed uses. 1 2 3 4 5 He shou wu is reputed to strengthen immunity ; however, one constituent of the herb, emodin, has shown some promise as an immune system suppressant! 6 Finally, He shou wu has a traditional reputation as a mild laxative . In support of this, it has been pointed out that emodin belongs to a family of chemicals called anthraquinones; other members of this family act as laxatives. However, animal research has failed to find any evidence that emodin itself has a laxative effect. 7


  1. Chang HM, But PP, eds. Pharmacology and Applications of Chinese Materia Medica. Vol 1. Singapore: World Scientific; 1986: 620-624.
  2. Chen J. [An experimental study on the anti-senility effects of shou xing bu zhi] Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 9(4):226-7, 198.
  3. Hsieh MT, Peng WH, Wu CR, Wang WH. The ameliorating effects of the cognitive-enhancing Chinese herbs on scopolamine-induced amnesia in rats. Phytother Res. 14(5):375-7.
  4. Yim TK, Wu WK, Pak WF, et al. Myocardial protection against ischaemia-reperfusion injury by a Polygonum multiflorum extract supplemented 'Dang-Gui decoction for enriching blood', a compound formulation, ex vivo. Phytother Res. 2000;14:195-199.
  5. Yim TK, Wu WK, Mak DH, et al. Myocardial protective effect of an anthraquinone-containing extract of Polygonum multiflorum ex vivo. Planta Med. 1998;64:607-611.
  6. Huang HC, Chu SH, Chao PD. Vasorelaxants from Chinese herbs, emodin and scoparone, possess immunosuppressive properties. Eur J Pharmacol. 198(2-3):211-3.
  7. National Toxicology Program. NTP technical report on the toxicology and carcinogenesis studies of emodin. Research Triangle Park, NC: National Institutes of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services; June 2001. NIH publication 01-3952.


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