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Fo-Ti Root And Your Hair Health


Fo-Ti Root And Your Hair Health

Everyone wants a healthy scalp and healthy-looking hair, which brought about supplements that protect against hair loss and hair graying. There are many natural ingredients said to protect against hair loss and graying, and one of them is Fo Ti Root - also known as Polygonum multiflorum.

No one likes to lose hair, and barely anyone says they’re fine with graying hair. Everyone wants a healthy scalp and healthy-looking hair, which brought about supplements that protect against hair loss and hair graying.  

There are many natural ingredients said to protect against hair loss and graying, and one of them is Fo-Ti root.

What is Fo-Ti Root? Can it help protect against hair loss? Will it reduce gray hair?

What is Fo-Ti Root?

Fo-Ti Root (Polygonum multiflorum), sometimes referred to as He Shou Wu, is an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine. It’s characterized by having red stems, heart-shaped leaves, and either white or pink flowers. Various parts are used for different medicinal purposes such as its stem, rhizomes, and leaves.

Legend has it that an old Chinese man used the herbs to regain his health, which turned his otherwise gray hair black again. This made the herb popular for use in various creams and ointments that promote skin health and shampoos that are said to combat hair loss and hair graying.

What Are Fo-Ti Root Benefits for Hair?

Much of what Fo-Ti can do is linked to its antioxidant content and various beneficial compounds, such as chrysophanic acids, emodin, and anthraquinones. The antioxidants and compounds have been found to reduce hair loss and premature graying of hair.

Fo-Ti and Graying of Hair

A 2017 animal study published in the Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology & Research found a link between fo-ti use and reduced hair graying. [1]

Researchers found that the compounds found in Fo-Ti root induced melanin synthesis, the very substance that produces skin, eye, and hair color. More melanin means your hair color is richer and more vibrant.

Polygonum multiflorum root extract at safe doses could be used as a potential agent for the treatment of early hair graying and other loss pigmentation-related diseases.

Fo-Ti and Hair Loss

A 2020 study suggested a strong link between Fo-Ti and hair growth. The said study was conducted on dermal papilla cells, which play a significant role in hair growth among other types of hair follicles. Researchers suggest that Fo-Ti extract improved dermal papilla cells' mitochondrial qualities, which translated to hair-growth promoting effects. [2]

Other ways Fo-Ti induced hair growth include:

  • Prolonging the active phase of the hair (known as anagen) by delaying the transitional phase of hair (known as catagen). This is further supported by a study on the effects of topical fo-ti root extract on hair follicles. [3]
  • Reducing androgen activity. Androgen causes androgenetic alopecia, which causes hair loss in both men and women. If androgen activity is not blocked or slowed-down, this results in male-pattern baldness and receding hairline.

“Our results strongly demonstrate the possible potential of Polygonum multiflorum extract as a new therapeutic agent for treating hair loss.”

Other Benefits of Fo-Ti Root

Fo-ti’s reputation as an anti-aging ingredient goes beyond hair growth and hair pigment benefits, and some are supported by actual scientific papers.

Fo-Ti Can Help with Neurological Conditions

The antioxidants and compounds found in the herb have been cited to help treat common age-related brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. One of those compounds is called Tetrahydroxystilbene glucoside or simply TSG.

TSG is a bioactive compound that’s been found to exert protective effects on age-related processes that lead to neurological problems that affect memory and motor skills. [4]

“Our study provides the first in vivo evidence that TSG prevents -synuclein overexpression in young Alzheimer’s Disease-like APPV717I transgenic mice…Our results raise the possibility that TSG might bea novel compound for the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia with Lewy Body.

Fo-Ti as a Natural Estrogen Treatment Alternative

An early 2003 study found that Fo-Ti exhibited high estrogen activity. It was found to be 1/300th that of estradiol itself, a major estrogen produced in the ovaries. The estrogen activity was also found to be similar to other estrogen-boosting ingredients like soy and red clover. [5]

Based on findings, researchers suggest“a possible benefit of this procedure in products manufactured for menopausal dietary supplementation.”

Fo-Ti can help with Motility

The anthraquinones found in Fo-Ti have been found to have a laxative effect, according to a 2015 study. However, the researchers also cautioned that the exact compound might also contribute to liver damage. [6]

Fo-Ti and Heart Disease

A 2005 report stated Fo-Ti helped reduce risks of atherosclerosis in cholesterol-fed rabbits. The herb also lowered LDL cholesterol (the bad one), VLDL (the really bad one), and triglycerides. Researchers also noted a dose-dependent benefit, suggesting higher intake might mean higher levels of protection against heart disease. [7]


Fo-Ti root is an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine and is known mainly for its anti-aging benefits, primarily for its hair care benefits. The science around its health effects are still largely debatable, but the future looks promising for those who want to take it for skin and hair health purposes. 

While the herb has potential health benefits, it’s not without side effects, especially when taken orally. If you want to try Fo-Ti root, we advise you to ask your physician if your body won’t have any adverse reaction to the herb’s active substances.

Frequently Asked Questions about Fo-Ti Root

Can Fo-Ti Root Treat Gray Hair?

Fo-Ti has shown positive effects on hair pigmentation, particularly in increasing melanin synthesis. Melanin synthesis is essentially the process involved in “coloring hair.” Higher melanin synthesis, the deeper your hair color.

How Do You Take Fo-Ti Root?

Depending on the supplement you’re taking or using, Fo-Ti can come in creams and ointments for skin conditions, shampoos for scalp and hair care, and it also comes in tea bags and pills.

Is Fo-Ti Root Safe?

Fo-Ti’s safety is still debated. There are no proven safe or effective doses for adults or children.

  • Can I take it while pregnant?
  • Women planning to get pregnant or are already pregnant should avoid Fo-Ti because of its estrogen-like effects. Its estrogen activity might contribute to estrogen-related cancers.

  • Can Fo-Ti cause liver damage?
  • There have been reports of liver damage when taking Fo-Ti orally, though rare.


    1. Thang ND, Diep PN, Lien PT, Lien LT. Polygonum multiflorum root extract as a potential candidate for treatment of early graying hair. J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2017;8(1):8-13. doi:10.4103/2231-4040.197332
    2. Shin JY, Choi YH, Kim J, et al. Polygonum multiflorum extract support hair growth by elongating anagen phase and abrogating the effect of androgen in cultured human dermal papilla cells. BMC Complement Med Ther. 2020;20(1):144. Published 2020 May 12. doi:10.1186/s12906-020-02940-5
    3. Park HJ, Zhang N, Park DK. Topical application of Polygonum multiflorum extract induces hair growth of resting hair follicles through upregulating Shh and β-catenin expression in C57BL/6 mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 May 17;135(2):369-75. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2011.03.028. Epub 2011 Mar 17. PMID: 21419834.
    4. Zhang L, Yu S, Zhang R, Xing Y, Li Y, Li L. Tetrahydroxystilbene glucoside antagonizes age-related α-synuclein overexpression in the hippocampus of APP transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. Restor Neurol Neurosci. 2013;31(1):41-52. doi: 10.3233/RNN-120260. PMID: 23160059.
    5. Karen Oerter Klein, Mona Janfaza, Jeffrey A. Wong, R. Jeffrey Chang, Estrogen Bioactivity in Fo-Ti and Other Herbs Used for Their Estrogen-Like Effects as Determined by a Recombinant Cell Bioassay, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 88, Issue 9, 1 September 2003, Pages 4077–4079, https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2003-030349
    6. Lei X, Chen J, Ren J, et al. Liver Damage Associated with Polygonum multiflorum Thunb.: A Systematic Review of Case Reports and Case Series. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:459749. doi:10.1155/2015/459749
    7. Yang PY, Almofti MR, Lu L, Kang H, Zhang J, Li TJ, Rui YC, Sun LN, Chen WS. Reduction of atherosclerosis in cholesterol-fed rabbits and decrease of expressions of intracellular adhesion molecule-1 and vascular endothelial growth factor in foam cells by a water-soluble fraction of Polygonum multiflorum. J Pharmacol Sci. 2005 Nov;99(3):294-300. doi: 10.1254/jphs.fp0050333. Epub 2005 Nov 8. PMID: 16276035.

    †Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

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