Fleece-Flower Root (Polygonum multiflorum)

Traditional Indications

In Traditional Chinese Medicine Polygonum is known as He Shou Wu 何首乌. He Shou Wu, also known as Fo ti, is warm, bitter, astringent and enters the Liver, Lung and Kidney channels. Primarily, it tonifies Kidney Jing, which strengthens and nourishes the hair. He Shou Wu tonifies the Liver and Kidney to treat Yin and Blood deficiency, relieves toxic Fire and treats carbuncles, scrofula (neck lumps) and acne, moistens the intestines to treat constipation and expels wind to treat skin rashes and malaria.

The ancient medical text Kaibao Materia Medica states that regular use of He Shou Wu helps build muscle, bones and bone marrow, and slows down the effects of ageing. Modern research has found the herb can help nerve cells grow and alleviate neurasthenia and other neurological diseases. It can reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels and is also an antioxidant. (1)


Polygonum multiflorum is officially listed in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia, is one of the most popular perennial Chinese traditional medicines known as He shou wu in China and East Asia, and as Fo-ti in North America. Laboratory studies and have demonstrated that three anthraquinones, Cdc25B phosphatase inhibitors, were isolated from the methanolic extract of the roots of Polygonum multiflorum Thunb. (Polygonaceae). Anthraquinones, physcion, emodin, and questin possess anti-tumour activity. (2, 3)

Polygonum plant inhibits clinical isolates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). (4)

In vivo and in vitro studies indicate that Polygonum multiflorum demonstrates antioxidant activities. (5)

Extracts of Polygonum suppressed NO production and showed inhibition of pro-inflammatory cytokines like TNF-α, IL-6 and it attenuated iNOS and COX-2 expression via down-regulation of NF-κB activation. thus down-regulates of immune response. (4)
Polygonum may be effective in attenuating liver damage by reducing lipid peroxidation as well as by positively modulating inflammation. (6)

Polygonum and its active constituent tetrahydroxystilbene glucoside ameliorates diabetic nephropathy in rats. Its alleviation of oxidative stress injury and overexpression of COX-2 and TGF-β1 is partially via activation of SIRT1. (7)

Neuroprotection by tetrahydroxystilbene glucoside in the MPTP mouse model of Parkinson's disease has been observed. (8) Extract of Polygonum multiflorum Thunb. (root) can lower amyloid precursor protein (Aβ) generation by modulating APP processing in the N2a-SwedAPP cell line. (9)

More than 50 TCM formulas have been used to treat hyperlipidemia have been studied including polygonum as an ingredient. (10)


1. House YY. He Shou Wu 2019 [Available from: https://theory.yinyanghouse.com/theory/herbalmedicine/he_shou_wu_tcm_herbal_database.
2. Horikawa K, Mohri T, Tanaka Y, Tokiwa H. Moderate inhibition of mutagenicity and carcinogenicity of benzo[a]pyrene, 1,6-dinitropyrene and 3,9-dinitrofluoranthene by Chinese medicinal herbs. Mutagenesis. 1994;9(6):523-6.
3. Choi SG, Kim J, Sung ND, Son KH, Cheon HG, Kim KR, et al. Anthraquinones, Cdc25B phosphatase inhibitors, isolated from the roots of Polygonum multiflorum Thunb. Natural product research. 2007;21(6):487-93.
4. Zuo GY, Wang GC, Zhao YB, Xu GL, Hao XY, Han J, et al. Screening of Chinese medicinal plants for inhibition against clinical isolates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Journal of ethnopharmacology. 2008;120(2):287-90.
5. Ip SP, Tse ASM, Poon MKT, Ko KM, Ma CY. Antioxidant activities of Polygonum multiflorum Thunb., in vivo and in vitro. 1997;11(1):42-4.
6. Lee B-H, Huang Y-Y, Duh P-D, Wu S-C. Hepatoprotection of emodin and Polygonum multiflorum against CCl4-induced liver injury. Pharmaceutical biology. 2012;50(3):351-9.
7. Li C, Cai F, Yang Y, Zhao X, Wang C, Li J, et al. Tetrahydroxystilbene glucoside ameliorates diabetic nephropathy in rats: Involvement of SIRT1 and TGF-β1 pathway. European Journal of Pharmacology. 2010;649(1):382-9.
8. Zhang L, Huang L, Chen L, Hao D, Chen J. Neuroprotection by tetrahydroxystilbene glucoside in the MPTP mouse model of Parkinson's disease. Toxicology letters. 2013;222(2):155-63.
9. Liu L-F, Durairajan SSK, Lu J-H, Koo I, Li M. In vitro screening on amyloid precursor protein modulation of plants used in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese medicine for memory improvement. Journal of ethnopharmacology. 2012;141(2):754-60.
10. Xie W, Zhao Y, Du L. Emerging approaches of traditional Chinese medicine formulas for the treatment of hyperlipidemia. Journal of ethnopharmacology. 2012;140(2):345-67.