On Gé Gēn 葛根

Gé Gēn (Radix Puerariae)

《神农本草经》: 味⽢,平。主消渴,⾝⼤热,呕吐,诸痹,起阴⽓,解诸毒。
[Shén Nóng Běn Cǎo Jīng]: Sweet flavour, and neutral Qi. Governs dispersion thirst, major body heat, vomiting, and various kinds of impediment. It raises the Yīn Qì and resolves all toxins.

《名医别录》:⽆毒。主治伤寒中风头痛,解肌发表出汗,开腠理,疗⾦疮,⽌痛,肋风痛。
[Míng Yī Bié Lù (Táo Hǒngjǐng – 456-536)]: “[It] has no toxicity. It governs the treatment of cold damage and wind strike headache; [it] releases the muscles, effuses the surface and promotes sweating; [it] opens the interstices, heals metal sores, stops pain and [treats] subcostal wind pain.”

东垣云:葛根⽢平温,世⼈初病太阳证,便服葛根升⿇汤,⾮也.
Lǐ Dōngyuán (1180-1251) said: “Gé Gēn is sweet, neutral and warm; common people, at the onset of a taiyang disease pattern, give Gegen Shengma Tang, this is incorrect.”

好古⽈:⽓平味⽢,升也,阳也。阳明经⾏经的药也。
(Wáng) Hǎogǔ (1200-1264) said: “It’s qi is neutral and flavour sweet, [for it] ascends, and is yang. Gé Gēn is a medicinal which moves the Yangming channel.”

Zhāng Zhìcōng (1616-1674): “sweet and acrid, white when powdered, therefore enters Yangming; the skin is black and flower red, and so unites with Taiyang. Therefore, Gé Gēn is able to diffuse and outthrust the qi of yangming center earth, and unite the taiyang channel on the exterior.”

《本草备要》:轻宣解肌,升阳散⽕。
[Essentials of the Materia Medica (Wáng Āng 1664)]: “[Gé Gēn] Lightly effuses and resolves the muscles, ascends yang, and scatters fire.”

(唐宗海 : “根深能引⽔⽓上达苗叶,故兼能升津液也.”
Táng Zōnghǎi (1846-1897): “[The] Deep roots [of Gé Gēn] are able to carry water qi upwards into the sprouts and leaves, [and is] therefore able to ascend fluids.”

According to Professor Huáng Huáng, patients that respond well to Gé Gēn formulas have the following characteristics.

  • Big, strong patients with thick, strong muscles
  • Slightly overweight
  • Heavy, cumbersome bodies
  • Coarse, thick skin
  • Hairy
  • Lazy appearance
  • Sallow, dark complexion

These patients have the following propensities:

  • Stiff neck and back due to tight muscles (tension in traps, levator scapula, sub-occipitals, etc.)
  • Headaches (Taiyang – Yangming)
  • Heavy Head (cloudy, foggy, etc.)
  • Dizziness
  • Loose Stools
  • Heavy and Cumbersome body

To learn more about Ge Gen and its various formulas, click here to check out my Gé Gēn class