Ge Gen

Ge gen is a very traditional and longstanding Chinese herb often used in herbal formulas. This herb is also referred to as kudzu root. It is a very common and reliable herb used for a variety of conditions. It is one of my favorite herbs in Chinese herbology! 

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According to HB Kim, LAc, some of the main actions of ge gen are to release wind-heat and wind-cold, relax muscles, vent rashes, clear heat and generate fluids, lift yang qi and stop diarrhea due to damp-heat or spleen qi deficiency, and treat hypertension. It is a sweet, acrid and cold herb. Its pharmaceutical name is pueraiae radix. It belongs to the herbal category; disperse wind-heat (p208, Kim). 

What this means in more of a biomedical understanding is, this herb has the ability to treat a common cold from a variety of causes. It can help reduce body aches caused by colds. It also has the ability to relax muscle, especially when the tension is in the upper body. Additionally, it can greatly reduce muscle tension due to stress. 

Ge gen has the ability to treat rashes. Since it "vents" the rash, it may first cause an exacerbation of the rash, helping release the pathogen that has initiated the rash symptom, and then clear the physical manifestation of the rash. 

This herb is very useful in the treatment of diabetes in combination with an MD's prescribed care. This herb helps to generate fluids internally, decreasing excessive thirst. Ge gen also helps in the metabolic function, aiding in the balance of insulin levels and hunger.

Since ge gen raises the clear yang qi, primarily related to the digestive system, it has the ability to increase the metabolic rate and diminish hunger dependent on the root cause. Often patients who have a slow metabolism and are unsuccessful in weight loss even when following a prescribed diet plan, benefit from the addition of ge gen.

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Research has shown that ge gen has the ability to reduce hypertension. It also has a beneficial effect on coronary artery disease. 

Lastly, one of my favorite aspects of ge gen, is it is able to strongly produce these functions as a single-use herb, as well as in an herbal formula. Many times herbs are best used in formulas, as the combined actions of the other herbs produce the greatest benefit. Ge gen is able to produce great benefits and is unlikely to create any side effects alone, or in the combination of other herbs.

While ge gen has many significant benefits, never begin using this herb, or any other herb until discussing it with your health care professional. 

Works Cited: Kim, HB.Minibook of Oriental Medicine. 1st ed. Anaheim: Qpuncture, 2009. Print.