Very long ago in China, dating around 812 A. D. there was a man named Mr. He.
He was born with a weak constitution (jing deficient) and on account of this, even as a younger man, he is simply too weak and frail, thus never able to marry or have children. Feeling a sense of unworthiness from the inability to provide a woman with, and raise a family, he falls into a deep depression for many years.
In such a despondent state, he resorts to drinking as a way to soften his sorrows.
Living a life filled with such regret, he incessantly continues to turn to the bottle as his only respite. As the days go by the alcohol dramatically ages him. His strength shrivels, becoming even more frail and weak. His eyesight and hearing grow dull, and his hair loses its luster, turning gray and thin.
By his late 50s, Mr. He, was now a hunched over old man walking with a cane, and stumbling home drunk each and every night.
Despite his vices, he still was an avid follower of taoism and apprenticed under a taoist master in the Mountains.
Until one night, being so inebriated that he never quite made it back to his home, he ended up falling asleep into an intoxicated stupor.
As he awoke, he found himself on the edge of the forest, and in complete absence of recollection. With his head propped up against an old magnolia tree and with a horrible headache, he dazedly stares up and notices two vines entwined together in the tree above him. This at first brought back a bit of melancholy reminding him of the romantic life he had missed. These two vines delicately twisted together reminded him a compassionate couple embracing one another, and because of his curiosity that had always remained, he was somewhat intrigued, and decided to dig up the roots of these plants for further inspection.
He walked through his village presenting the root to all he sees, inquiring if they recognized or are familiar with it, yet no one had ever noticed the plant or regarded it as unique. Until he comes across an old hermit monk who gives off a reassuring nod and advises him that it just might hold remarkable powers, telling him: “If it has called to you; so to simply eat it.”
As an adventurous man, and with his life already in shambles, he feels as if he has nothing to lose from this venture.
He starts to prepare the roots by grinding it up and eating it. While also using it in traditional Taoist tea making methods; beginning to consume its essence each and every day. Within one week he started to notice a sense of vitality like he had never felt before. Each day thereafter he was noticing more improvements to his health. He started to experience so much virility he could barely contain his newfound desires.
As more months went by, most of his health problems began to fade away. He started to regain his strength and vigor, he loses his slump and recovers his posture. Even his vision and hearing began returning, and his hair started to gain thickness and to turn back to a lustrous deep black. After several years of using increased dosages of the herb, he amazingly fathers his first child after decades of hopelessness.
Mr. He marries a widow and goes on to father 19 children over the following ten years, living out the rest of his life healthily to the age of 160 years old.
It is said that he took the herb everyday for a total 700 days before he had received all the benefits it had to offer, eventually changing his name to Neng Si, meaning: “capable of bearing offspring.”
Although the legend of the He family brought the herb into it’s existence, really most of He Shou Wu’s well-renowned fame came afterwards, with praise coming from Ming Dynasty Emperor Shi Zong, whom had seen astounding results from it himself, and a ancient immortal by the name of Li Qing Yuen, who has been said lived to the age of 252 years old.