Mention of the he shou wu can be found in the Chinese medical treatise dating to 713 AD, though it is not the earliest tonic herb listed in the Chinese herbal lore, its wide and prevalent use today has certainly made the he shou wu one of the better known herbs. Millions of men and women make use of the he shou wu in the Far East, they take it for its supposed rejuvenating and toning abilities - the herb is also used by men and women as a fertility booster. The greatest use for the he shou wu in the Chinese system of herbal medicine is in the role of a general tonic for the liver and kidneys of people with renal or hepatic problems. The he shou wu cleanses the blood by directly strengthening the functioning of the liver and the kidneys; this action enables the qi within the body to circulate freely inside the person and leads to improved health. Individuals affected by certain distinct physical symptoms, like persistent dizziness, physical weakness and numbness, as well as blurred vision, that are directly indicative of inefficient nerves and "blood deficiency" benefit from supplements of the Chinese herbal medication known as he shou wu. Individuals who show physical signs of premature aging, such as premature graying of hair and wrinkling of skin are often prescribed the he shou wu remedy as a first step. The main reason for the use of the herb is that it will help the body of the person function in a much better balanced and healthy manner. This is one of the main uses of the herb in the Chinese system of medicine. He shou wu is also normally prescribed for the treatment of chronic cases of malaria, in such cases the herb is used combined with other beneficial herbs like the ginseng (Panax ginseng), the Chinese angelica (Angelica sinensis), and the green tangerine peel - Citrus reticulata. The he shou wu is very effective in this role.
The he shou wu herb is cultivated widely in central and southern China, this region is also the original home of this plant. Propagation of the he shou wu is carried out using the seed stocked from harvested plants, the root division method of cultivation is also used during the spring, and the plant is also propagated from stem cuttings during the summer months. Growing plants need a lot of protection from the cold during the winter months, and growth is best in well fertilized soil. Drying of unearthed roots from three to four year-old plants is carried out during the autumn months. Though generally not available in the commercial market, the best therapeutic value can be obtained from the older and larger roots - needless to say, these are highly prized and fetch a premium if sold on the open herbal market.
The ability of the he shou wu to lower raised cholesterol levels was demonstrated in animal experiments conducted in the People's Republic of China, the results were significant and impressive as far as animal subjects were concerned. Similar results were also obtained in another clinical trial involving human subjects, where about 80% of the patients all of them suffering from high blood cholesterol showed improvements after being given he shou wu root decoctions over a period of time. At the same time, the ability of the he shou wu to raise blood sugar levels in people with low blood sugar was also demonstrated in other Chinese conducted research. The ability of the he shou wu remedy to counteract the tuberculosis bacillus has also been demonstrated in research conducted in China. At the same time, some clinicians believe that malaria may also be treatable using the he shou wu derived medications.
He shou wu herbal tea can be prepared from the processed roots of the herb, by boiling about three to five grams of the herb in 250 ml - a cup of water for about 10 - 15 minutes - this decoction must then be strained. Patients typically drink about three or more cups daily as a part of their treatment. In the market, 500 mg he shou wu tablets are also available and these can be used as well. Dosage of these tablets is normally five tablets taken thrice daily.
A mild diarrhea may be caused by the consumption of unprocessed roots. In addition, some individuals have a sensitivity to the he shou wu and can develop a skin rash if using the herb. Some numbness in the arms or the legs may also come on as a side effect if the herbal remedy is taken at very high dosages.