Chinese Name: 何首乌 (he shou wu)
Latin Name: Radix polygoni multiflori
This medical herb is the root tuber of Polygonum multiflorum Thunb. of the family Polygonaceae. Also called Fleece Flower Root, it is grown all over China. The root tuber is harvested in autumn.
The unprocessed material is mixed with black soybean milk, then steam and dried. The process is repeated until the root is black in colour then it is dried in the sun resulting in processed Polygonum.
Use of Polygonum in TCM
Bitter sweet and acrid in taste, it acts on the liver and kidney meridians.
Effects and Medicinal Uses
- Replenishes the vital essence (yin) and invigorates the circulation of the blood, liver and kidnets.
- Detoxifies: Polygonum is good for boils, sores and swelling. Polygonum is often combined with sophora root, peppermint and dandelion.
- Moistens the bowels. For chronic constipation due to dryness of the bowels, it is used with angelica root and hemp seed.
- Helps with senility disorders. To treat blurred vision, vertigo, ringing in the ears, numbness of extremities and lumbago due to kidney and liver yin deficiency, processed polygonum is blended with dried rehmannia, achyranthes root, eucommia bark, rubus ligastrum and siegesbekia.
In a decoction of 9 – 15 grams.
People with diarrhea and phelgm-damp disorders should use this herb with caution.
Side Effects and Toxicity
The herbs is safe at the recommended therapeutic dose levels. However, an extremely high dosage may cause gastrointestinal tract discomfort, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Certain patients may develop skin rashes, numbness of limbs, excessive sweating and fever.
Polygonum contains anthraquinones, stilbene derivatives, tannins, phospholipids, and trace elements. The stilbene tetrahydroxystilbene glucoside may be the major bioactive ingredient.
- Antioxidant and ant-aging properties
- Lowers blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Heart tonic
- Lowers blood sugar
- Lowers blood pressure
- As an antimicrobial, polygonum inhibits the growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Bacillus dysenteriase and S. flexneri.
- Invigorates peristalsis of the intestines