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          Spotlight on He Shou Wu

He Shou Wu is one of our favourite Chinese tonic herbs, along with Reishi, Goji and Schizandra. It is considered a superior herb; these are the herbs that Traditional Chinese Medicine believes are beneficial to take on a daily basis to support good health and longevity.

The TCM paradigm is in direct opposition to the modern Western medical paradigm. Your doctor's job was to give you herbs and prescribe lifestyle practices to keep you well. If a patient was sick, the doctor was seen as failing in his job; contrast that with modern doctors who only see patients when they are sick, and who only look at isolated symptoms, never the whole person.

As the primary Jing herb, He Shou Wu is a herb that can be enjoyed without restraint, in order to sustain spiritual well-being. It is actually prepared from the root of a vine that grows in China, that can grow up to 80 ft in the wild. The roots must be sliced and boiled with black beans initially, to inhibit the laxative effect, then steamed and dried. In TCM, black foods such as black bean, black sesame, and black rice are said to support kidney function, and so Jing energy, which is stored in the kidneys. He Shou Wu also falls into this category of black foods which are kidney tonics.

There are some great legends around He Shou Wu! Neng Si was believed to have first discovered it in China. After falling down drunk in the forest, he was struck by the unique appearance of some he shou wu vines growing nearby, so he picked it, took it home, and ground it into a powder. Legend has it, his hair grew dark again, and he changed his name to Neng Si, which means "Capable of Bearing Offspring."

The name He Shou Wu translates as "Black-haired Mr He." This legend tells of Mr He, who fell into a deep depression when he realised he couldn't have children. This depression also caused his hair to go white. However, after consuming the herb for a year, as well as restoring his hair colour, he fathered a child at 56, and he was reputed to live on to 132.

The Taoist sage Li Ao, had this to say, “I will reveal to you an herbal secret. Taking He Shou Wu helped me to father children. Originally, I preferred peace of mind, and under no circumstances did I want to take this herb, because I had heard it said that it was ‘harmful to peace of mind’ (referring to its stimulation of sexual desire). However, my spouse took it accidentally and we attained the greatest happiness (the highest level of sexual ecstasy). Since then I have continued taking this miraculous herb.”

Li Qing Yuen reportedly lived until 252 years old, and maintained a youthful vigour until the end of his life. Legend has it he was born in 1680, and died in the 1930s! His secret was a daily soup of gojis, ginseng and he shou wu.

Modern Chinese research has much more to say about this plant that has evidently been used for well over a thousand years, and maybe one day we will be able to share those stories with you too. For now, we hope that this has piqued your interest in this amazing plant. If it has, you can consider taking He Shou Wu in a variety of ways:

Our Raw Living He Shou Wu powder is the best value way to purchase the herb. You can add 1/2-1 tsp to soups, or use it as the basis of a coffee substitute drink.

Dragon Herbs offer the finest quality He Shou Wu, which has been grown in a semi-wild state, harvested after five years, and then steamed for under a day, before drying. They produce it in both tincture and powdered form.

For tea-making, you can purchase the dried root pieces, or find it as a core ingredient in our Eterniteea blend.

It's also one of the key ingredients in our chocolate power blend, Tonic Power.

Anima Mundi Herbalsuse it as part of their Collagen formula.

You can find all He Shou Wu products here.