Fo-Ti Supplement Review

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  Evaluated for:
Effectiveness Rating Effectiveness Rating
-2 (Ineffective/Toxic)
-2 (Ineffective/Toxic)


  • Fo-ti is a traditional Chinese medicine used for reversing and preventing the effects of aging. It is also used for its laxative effect, and to prevent or delay heart disease. It is applied to the skin to treat conditions like acne, athlete's foot, dermatitis, razor burn and scrapes. However, scientific evidence supporting these claims is lacking.
  • The active part of fo-ti is its rhizome (root), which can be ingested raw or cured by a process of repeated steaming and sun drying.
  • The raw, white fo-ti root is taken orally to treat constipation or to protect liver health, although it may also cause hepatitis. Raw fo-ti is also applied topically to treat acne, athlete's foot, and razor burn.
  • Cured (or processed) red fo-ti is reported to lower blood sugar, raise HDL cholesterol, and enhance cellular immunity. It is thought to prevent heart disease by blocking the formation of plaque in blood vessels. It may have estrogenic effects similar to those of soy. No controlled trials have generated any data to support these claims.


  • Asian herbal preparations of this type have frequently been found to contain unlisted toxic ingredients, whether due to poor quality control or deliberate adulteration.
  • There are no human or animal studies with fo-ti to demonstrate anti-aging benefits. Patients are taking it without indication of benefit, and this may be harmful.
  • Fo-ti may cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, hepatitis, jaundice, and vomiting.
  • Since there is no literature on fo-ti, reports of adverse events are not available.

Fo-ti may cause hepatitis. There have been several cases of liver damage, from elevated liver function tests to jaundice and hepatitis in patients taking products containing fo-ti. Preparations have frequently been found to contain unlisted toxic ingredients, whether due to poor quality control or deliberate adulteration.

CONCLUSION:We cannot recommend this product for use in treating constipation or promoting vitality. We do not recommend this supplement for any patient population.

“Fo-ti.” Natural Standard –The Authority on Integrative Medicine. Natural Standard, 2013.
“Fo-Ti.” Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2013. 8 November 2013.
Jeuken, A. et al. Activation of the Ah Receptor by Extracts of Dietary Herbal Supplements, Vegetables, and Fruits. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry (2003) 51, 5478-5487
He Shou Wu. EBSCO Publishing (2011) 1-3
Oerter Klein, K. et al. 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 (2003) 88(9): 4077-4079

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