Ho Shou Wu

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Ho Shou Wu is an herbal plant native to central and southern China and also widely grown in Japan and Taiwan. The herb is sometimes referred to as He Shou Wu or Fo Ti root.

How it Works

Ho Shou Wu is very honored in Asia for its supposed ability to provide longevity. It cleanses the liver and kidneys and strengthens bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles. Ho Shou Wu is said to rejuvenate impaired sexual functioning and improve fertility. The lecithin in the root is thought to be effective in reducing cholesterol levels. It helps to prevent accumulation of fats in the blood stream and possibly in the arterial lining, which if true, could reduce atherosclerosis. The herb has also been shown to raise blood sugar levels in people with low blood sugar. Some clinicians believe Ho Shou Wu can counteract tuberculosis and malaria. Ho Shou Wu is believed to improve vision and calm the nervous system. It also acts as a laxative and is able to relieve constipation.

Some Chinese medical theories believe that the quality of hair is an indication of how the body’s internal system is working. They say that weaknesses in a person’s liver or kidneys may result in symptoms such as hair loss, or premature grey hair.

The translation of shou-wu means “a head full of black hair” in Chinese and He Shou Wu translates to “black haired Mr. He”. There is a Chinese legend where a man named Mr. He went to the woods to try to find this herbal root because it was said to provide fertility, which was an area in which he was experiencing problems. When he returned, not only was he fertile, but he also had a head full of black hair rather than its previous grey color. The man supposedly lived to be 130 years old and died with a head full of thick, black hair. For this reason, Ho Shou Wu is commonly known as the best herbal ingredient for restoring hair color and growth as well as nourishing the skin, teeth and nails.

It is said that older and larger roots of Ho Shou Wu yield more of these positive effects, as opposed to new roots. Ho Shou Wu is said to have similar properties to that of the more popular herb, ginseng.

How to Use

Some side effects that may result from taking the herb are: mild diarrhea, a skin rash, or numbness in the extremities if the herb is taken at very high doses. Rare, but more serious, side effects mentioned are abnormal liver functioning, jaundice, and hepatitis. However, it is not known if these are effects of Ho Shou Wu, or a particular hair loss vitamin that also contains other herbs. If you follow package directions, you shoud be able to avoid these side effects.


I would recommend using this herb if you are experiencing premature grey hair, or loss of hair. As said above, Ho Shou Wu is thought to be the best Chinese herb in reversing these effects. However, I wouldn’t recommend taking the herb alone – better to use it with a proven hair loss product.

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