A vast array of plant-based compounds has enriched red biotechnology to serve the human health and food. A peculiar medicinal plant which was an element of traditional Chinese medicine for centuries as a liver and kidney tonic, for life longevity and hair blackening, is Polygonum multiflorum Thunb. (PM) which is popularly known as "He shou wu" or "Fo-ti" and is rich in chemical components like stilbenes, quinones, and flavonoids which have been used as anti-aging, anti-alopecia, anti-cancer, anti-oxidative, anti-bacterial, anti-hyperlipidemia, anti-atherosclerosis, and immunomodulating and hepatoprotective agents in the modern medicine. The health benefits from PM are attained since long through commercial products such as PM root powder, extract, capsules, tincture, shampoo, and body sprays in the market. Currently, the production of these pharmaceuticals and functional foods possessing stilbenes, quinones, and flavonoids is through cell and organ cultures to meet the commercial demand. However, hepatotoxic effects of PM-based products are the stumbling blocks for its long-term usage. The current review encompasses a comprehensive account of bioactive compounds of PM roots, their biological activities as well as efficacy and toxicity issues of PM ingredients and future perspectives.
Keywords: Fo-ti; He shou wu; Polygonum multiflorum; Red biotechnology.