He Shou Wu

He Shou Wu is considered to be one of the most important of the Chinese herbal tonics and is widely used in that country[218]. It is said to restore vitality and virility[174], working especially on the liver and the reproductive, urinary and circulatory systems[238]. Some care should be exercised, however, since excessive doses can cause skin rash and numbness of the extremities[238]. The roots and stems are antibacterial, anticholesterolemic, antispasmodic, astringent, cardiotonic, demulcent, depurative, hypoglycaemic, laxative, sedative, tonic[116, 147, 174, 176, 238, 279]. The roots are taken internally in the treatment of menstrual and menopausal complaints, constipation in the elderly, swollen lymph glands and high cholesterol levels[238]. They are very effective in reducing high cholesterol levels in the blood and increase blood sugar levels[254]. Externally, they are used to treat ringworm, bleeding wounds and sores[238]. The roots are harvested in the autumn, preferably from plants 3 - 4 years old, and are dried for later use[238]. The leaves and roots tonify the liver and kidneys, fortify the blood, strengthen the muscles and prevent premature greying of the hair[218]. The stem is deobstruent and sedative[218]. It is taken internally in the treatment of insomnia and neurasthenia whilst it is applied externally to ringworm[176, 238]. The stems are harvested in late summer or early autumn and are dried for later use[238]. Extracts of the plant have shown antipyretic, antitumour, hypoglycaemic and sedative activity[218].

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