He Shou Wu - Polygonum multiflorum

Professional Data
 Pin Yin
He Shou Wu
Radix Polygoni multiflori
 Introduction Back to Top
Radix Polygoni multiflori is the dried root tuber of Polygonum multiflorum Thunb. (Fam. Polygonaceae). The drug is collected in autumn and winter when leaves wither, removed from two ends, washed clean, and the large one cut into pieces, and then dried.

 Western medical Back to Top
he shou wu is indicated in the treatment of hyperlipemia, insomnia, schizophrenia, whooping cough and alopecia, etc..

 Eastern medical Back to Top
  • Pattern: Nourishes the Essence and Blood, removes Toxin, treats malaria, moistens the Intestines and promotes bowel movements.
  • Properties: Bitter, sweet, astringent, slightly warm.
  • Channels entered: Liver, Heart and Kidney.
 Chemical constituents Back to Top
he shou wu contains phospholipid (containing 3.7% lecithin), hydroxy-anthraquinone derivatives mainly including chrysophanol, emodin, physcion and emodin-1-6-dimethylether, etc..

 Pharmacological actions Back to Top
Effects on blood fat and arteriosclerosis

he shou wu could quickly lower the high blood cholesterol to a level close to normal range of rabbits with acute hyperlipemia. Simulatenous administration of he shou wu to rabbits administrated with cholesterol could lower the serum cholesterol level and reduce the arteriosclerosis. Lecithin contained in he shou wu could provent the deposition of cholesterol in the liver and reduce arteriosclerosisi. It could prevent and treat hyperlipemia and arteriosclerosis through interfereing with the absorption and metabolism and cholesterol.

Effects on the cardiovascular system

he shou wu had ecxiting effect on isolated frog heart, reduce heart beat, slightly increase the blood volume of coronary vessles. It had certain protective effect on acute myocardial ischemia caused by pituitrin.

Anti-ageing effect

Administration of feed containing 0.4% and 2% he shou wu powder to senile quails could significantly prolong its averange survival time and life. Water decoction of he shou wu to senile and young mice could obviously increase protein content, lower MDA in the brain and liver, increase 5-HT, NE and DA contents in the brain, the effects were more obvious in senile mice which indicated that he shou wu had anti-ageing effect on senile mice. Gastrogavage of water extract of he he shou wu to senile mice could antagonize the lowered SOD activity in the brain, liver and blood, increase SOD contents in tissues of both senile and young mice.

Effects on the immune system

he shou wu could significantly increase the weight of thymus gland, celiac lymph nodes and adrenal glands. It could increase total count of normal cells, antagonize the immunosuppressive effect and WBC lowering effect of delta cortef. It could improve the phagocytic ability of celiac macrophages.

Effects on the digestive system

Chrysophanic acid and extracturm of he shou wu could promote the intestinal movements and were laxative. he shou wu could also protect the liver.

Effects on blood glucose and hepatic glycogen

The blood gloucose would rise to the peak 30~60 minutes after the administration of decoction of he shou wu to rabbits, then the blood glucose would lower gradually; 6 hours later, the blood glucose was lower than normal range by 30mg%. Prepared he shou wu could increase hepatic glycogen accumulation by 6 times.


he shou wu could excite hematopoiesis. It could inhbit plasmodium, human tubercle bacillus, Shigella flexneri and influenza virus, etc..

 Clinical Studies Back to Top

he shou wu 15g, gou qi 9g, cao jue ming 30g, water decoction. 43 cases of hyperlipemia were treated. 60 days' treatment showed that it could significantly lower blood cholesterol and b-lipoprotein, but it had no obvious effect on triglyceride.


He Shou Wu Injection and Fu Fang He Shou Pian were used to treat insomnia. 141 cases were treated, and 53.9% were cured, 44.7% improved.


he shou wu 90g, ye jiao teng 90g, da zao 2~9 pieces. 15 days as a course of treatement. 95 cases were treated, 8 were cured, 47 markedly effective, and 11 improved.

Whooping cough

1. he shou wu 6~12g, gan cao 1.5~3g; 2 che qian cao 15~18g, bai bu 6~12g, bai qian 6~9g, lian qiao 6~12g. formula1 and formula 1+2 were used together to treat 78 cases of whooping cough. The curative effects of formula 1 and formula 1+2 were 54.3% and 70.2%.


zhi shou wu 15~45g; jin ying zi 30g; gou qi, dang gui, huang jing, huang qi, bai zhu, di huang, qian shi, suan zao ren (or bai zi ren) 15g. 1 dose daily, or 4 doses every week. Water decoction. Meanwhile, zhi shou wu and jin ying zi 60g each were soaked in alcohol for seven days and the juice was applied to the affected area, 3~5 times daily. 15 cases of alopecia were treated, after 20~45 days, all were cured.

 References Back to Top

Except those noted, all references come from Weng Weiliang, et al., Clinical Chinese materia medica, Henan Science & Technology Press, 1998