Pueraria (Radix Puerariae; Ge Gen)

TCM Herbal Story


Pueraria (Radix Puerariae; Ge Gen)


Long, long time ago in the remote mountains of ancient China lived an old, old man.  Day after day he would hike the mountains in search of herbs to sell at the local market.  He lived a simple life of solitude in the peaceful mountains.


Then one day, a stampede of neighs echoed through the foot of the mountains.  Voices of soldiers followed.  The old man was startled by the uncommon ruckus.


Meanwhile, a young boy was running away from his pursuers.  Breathing heavily, he scaled the rocky cliffs of the mountain to lose his mounted trackers.  He then continued sprinted across the forests of the mountain. Coincidentally, he ran into the old man who collected medicinal herbs. The boy immediately dropped his hands and knees on the ground and begged.


“Young boy, your face looks pale with fright.  This secluded mountain is now filled with mounted soldiers.  Tell me what in heaven's name is happening here?!” The old main exclaimed.


 “Old man, please save me! Those soldiers you speak of are after me. If I fall into their hands, I'll certainly lose my life!”  With tears and sweat dripping from his cheeks, the boy continued, “A scheming minister told a lie to the emperor.  The emperor believed in his lie and thought that my father was going to rebel against him.  An army of soldiers was sent to surrounded my home and kill my whole family!”


The boy paused, as he recalled his father's last words. You are the only son of the Ge family.  Should those soldiers find you; the descendants of the Ge family will end!  Quickly run my son, you are our family's last hope! “I may've managed to escape from their ambush, but the soldiers know that I've escaped to this mountain.  The trackers will be here any moment! Please save me!”


“Make haste young man. Follow me.” My lord! The old man's mind was racing. The Ge family's reputation as a loyal minister is renown throughout the country. I must save this boy!


Days had passed, and the soldiers had lost all traces of the young boy.  Unknowingly, the boy was well hidden in the mountains.  The old man had shown the boy a hidden cave deep in the mountains.  Giving up, the soldiers left the mountain they thought the boy had escaped to.

As life quieted down in the mountains, the old man asked the boy, “Do you have anywhere you can stay?”


“My family and relatives have all been captured by those soldiers.  Old man, you are not only my savior, but the only person I have now.  Please take me in.”  The boy's hands clamped together as he begged with earnest, watery eyes.


Stroking his beard, the old man replied, “Since you have no one else to rely on, you can stay here.  However, you will have to live by my house rules. You will have to search the mountain with me every day to harvest medicinal herbs.  It is a lifestyle much tougher than the luxurious one you are used to.”


“Please do not worry. I'm not afraid of the hardships to come.”


Thereafter, the boy followed the old man up and down the mountains every day to collect medicinal herbs. There was this particular herb that the old man often found that was very effective in alleviating fevers, dry mouth, and diarrhea.


Years had gone by, and the old man had passed away.  The only son of the Ge family had grown up to a handsome young man.  Legends say, that to commemorate the bond he had with the old man, he named the nameless herb the old man often found as “Ge root.”, which is pronounced as “Ge Gen” in Chinese.  The plant is now known as the Pueraria root in English.  In Mandarin, its name serves as a legend that the “roots” of the “Ge family” had survived.


Pueraia root is the dried root of Pueraria lobata (Willd.) Ohwi (Leguminosae family).  It has sweet, acrid and cool properties and with slight scent and is in slightly sweetish taste.  It enters through the spleen and stomach channels.




Actions & Indications:

  • Release the muscles and clear heat
  • Nourish the fluids and alleviates thirst
  • Alleviate diarrhea
  • Vent measles
  • Treat symptoms of hypertension

Caution & Contraindications:

  • None of significance noted


The original story is from “Stories About Chinese Herbal Medicine” published by Taiwan Panorama magazine in both Chinese and English.  


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