He Shou Wu (pronounced huh –similar to English "huh", but not as open –show woo) is one of the most popular and highly revered tonic herbs in Asian herbalism. He Shou Wu is the prepared tuberous root of Polygonum multiflorum, a plant that grows in the mountains of central and southern China. It shares the position as the primary essence (Jing) tonic of Chinese herbalism with the Goji berry. By virtue of its ability to accumulate tremendous quantities of Qi into its root, this herb can tonify the human and animal organs and can tonify and nourish the blood.
History of Usage
Li Ao from the Tang Dynasty (618-907) wrote a book called “The Legend of He Shou Wu” documenting in detail its discovery.
Neng Si, who is said to have discovered He Shou Wu in China, was born with a weak constitution. Due to his chronic frailty, he had never been able to marry or procreate children. In addition, he had taken to strong liquor. Nevertheless, he was an enthusiastic follower of Taoism and often shadowed his Taoist teacher in the mountain.
One day he fell into a drunken stupor in the forest. When he awoke, he observed a pair of vines entwined for more than 3 yards. He thought to himself that they appeared to be making love, and in a whimsical mood he dug up the root of the plant, which he took back to his cottage. No one in the local village recognized the herb. A hermit from the mountain saw it, however, and told him to take it.
He agreed and ground up the root into powder and swallowed a small amount on an empty stomach. He started to feel an unknown vitality flowing through his veins and after a little while he noticed certain urges starting to develop. Soon this previously hapless guy began to experience something very unfamiliar to him – incredible virility – he could barely control his sexual desire. Over the next several months, he became strong. He decided to continue taking the herb, doubling his dosage. In several years, his hair grew dark again, and his appearance became youthful. Over the next ten years, he fathered several boys and changed his name to Neng Si, meaning “Capable of Bearing Offspring.”
Though the herb called He Shou Wu’s was well famed as an anti-aging tonic and a fertility enhancing sex tonic,it did not gain much attention from the health cultivationists. It was famed by Ming Dynasty Emperor Shi Zong (reigned from 1521 to 1566), who was gifted an herbal elixir called Seven Treasure Beard Beautifying Pill. He enjoyed “great success,” fathering several royal princes and credited the herbal formula for his success. This formula, with He Shou Wu as the main ingredient, became an instant hit among the commoners and He Shou Wu became a household herb throughout Asia ever since.
The Story of Li Qing Yuen
There is a famous story that has been widely spread about a man named Li Qing Yuen, who, as the tale goes, is said to have lived to be 252 years old. All evidence indicates that this is not possible. Nevertheless, it is widely believed in Asia that Li Qing Yuen did indeed live and that he lived to extended age – certainly to be a centenarian.
According to the story, Li Qing Yuen was born in the mountainous southwest of China, he ran away from home at the age of eleven with three travelers. These travelers were in the herbal trade. Together the boy and his three teachers traveled throughout China, Tibet, and Southeast Asia.
As Li Qing Yuen became older, he became a practicing herbalist, and was well known for his excellence of health and amazing vigor.One day, when he was around fifty years old, he met a very old man who, despite of his venerable old age, could out-walk Li Qing Yuen. This impressed Master Li very much because he believed that brisk walking was both a way to health and longevity and a sign of inner health. Li Qing Yuen inquired as to the old sage's secret. He was told that if every day he consumed a "soup" of an herb known as gou qi zi (Lycium chinensis fruit - known to us as Goji berries or Wolfberries) he would soon attain a new standard of health. Of course Li Qing Yuen knew about this Goji but had not made it a central part of his daily herbal regimen. Li Qing Yuen did just what the old sage suggested and continued to consume Goji soup from the time forward.
Because of his radiant health and longevity, he was greatly revered by all those who knew him and he had many disciples who followed him. Even at a very old age, his sight was keen and his legs were strong, and he continued to take his daily vigorous walks. One day, he was on a journey through treacherous mountains. In the mountains he met a Taoist hermit who was much older than him. Impressed by the great illumination of the old Taoist, Li Qing Yuen begged the sage to tell him his secrets. The old Taoist, recognizing the sincerity of Li, taught him some deep secrets of Taoist Yoga (also known as the "Inner Alchemy") and recommended that Li change his diet and consume Ginseng daily, combined with He Shou Wu.
It is said that Master Li also changed his diet accordingly, so as to consume very little meat, and even limited his consumption of root vegetables. He also limited his consumption of grain. Instead, he focused mainly on steamed above-ground vegetables and herbs. He supposedly died in 1930, reportedly after a banquet presented in his honor by a government official. He had married during his lifetime numerous times and lived through many generations of his own descendants, of which he had many.
The story is representative of a tradition that is rich in the lore of Taoists living to ages unimaginable by us. It is well known that among the Chinese population, the Taoists have always far outlived all other people in Asia. Many have lived to be centenarians and few died prematurely. The Taoist art of longevity, known as the "Way of Radiant Health" is one of the great legacies of the East. The Taoist arts of longevity include tonic herbalism, qi gong, tai ji quan, Taoist yoga, Taoist sexual techniques and many of the martial arts.
“Prepared” or “not prepared,” that is the difference.
The tuber of He Shou Wu (Polygonum multiflorum) must be “prepared” in order to be used as a regularly-consumed tonic herb. Unprepared He Shou Wu does not possess the tonic effects and can have unwanted side effects. The freshly picked tubers are sliced, stewed in black bean soup (in a proportion of 10 parts He Shou Wu to 1 part black beans) until the soup is exhausted. The “prepared” roots are then dried. That is all there is to the “preparation.” Of course, no chemicals are used in the making of “prepared” He Shou Wu. Prepared He Shou Wu has extremely low toxicity.
The conjugated anthraquinones (such as emodin) present in unprepared He Shou Wu are laxative. After preparation, the amount of conjugated anthraquinones in He Shou Wu decreases, while the free form anthraquinones that have many health-supporting and protective benefits significantly increase. This is why prepared He Shou Wu has a much milder or nil laxative effect compared to raw, and why prepared He Shou Wu is so safe and effective.
Benefical Effects of prepared He Shou Wu
- increases the cellural antioxidant activity
- enhances immunity
- enhances adrenocorival function
- proliferation of blood producing cells
- improves red blood cell membranes
- contains iron and zinc
- protects the liver
- positive effect on memory
Concentration: He Shou Wu powdered extract is the powdered extract of the highest grade Prepared Polygonum multiflorum tubers grown in the remote high mountains of Yunnan province, China. It is produced by FITT™ technology at a temperature less than 108ºF.
Ingredients: Prepared Polygonum multiflorum (He shou wu) root extract
Recommended Intake: 1–3 tbsp. per day
Keep out of reach of children. Store in a cool, dark and dry place. Do not exceed the recommended daily dose. There is no substitute for a varied diet. Not for children under 3 years of age, pregnant and nursing women.
|Weight including packaging||140 g|
|Quantity||20 tea bags (60 cups)|
|Country of Origin:||China|
Related articles and recipes
Winter is already in full flow! This is how we perceive it from our western perspective now. But some time ago, we would opt for different words expressing aptly the peace of this season. Night took over, nature is getting quiet and slow, countryside is peaceful and cold; and everything is covered in shades of white and black. It´s the perfect time to contemplate and relax both your mind and body. If you make use of the winter to recover your strengths, in the spring the energy will await you instead of spring fever and you´ll be ready for the more active part of the year.
A selection of questions from the Counselling Centre
Here you can ask questions and our experts will try to answer it for you.