‘Fall’ into the benefits of astragalus
HERB OF THE WEEK
By TRISH McCAUL
For the Bulletin
Herb of the Week: Astragalus Latin Name: Astragalus membranaceous
Parts used: Root Fall is officially here. The summer heat is fading and long sleeves will soon beckon us. Unfortunately, immune challenges, the common cold, and the flu are lurking in the cooler weather as well. Fortunately, we have herbs to help us through the season. One such herb is astragalus.
Astragalus is indigenous to China, and is one of the most widely prescribed herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is an overall body tonic which increases general vitality while enhancing and balancing many bodily functions. Astragalus is perhaps best known for its capacity to stimulate and support the immune system. It fortifies the body against pathogens, and when taken during the fall and winter seasons, has been proven to reduce the incidence and duration of colds and flu.
Astragalus works by supporting and increasing the production of many different types of immune cells, which kill off viruses, inhibit viral replication, and protect healthy cells from viral invasion. It’s especially beneficial for people with general fatigue and low vitality. For people who seem to catch every bug that goes around, or experience recurring infections, this herb may save you some suffering.
Astragalus has also been recognized by the National Cancer Institute to exhibit tumor inhibiting properties.
When used in conjunction with radiation therapy and chemotherapy, it has been proven to dramatically increase survival rates in patients with certain forms of cancer. It’s also used to help the body recover from these common, often debilitating cancer treatments.
Additionally, Astragalus strengthens the digestive system and raises metabolism, making it useful for those with digestion, nutrient assimilation and appetite issues. It also helps build the blood, improves circulation, normalizes hormones, protects the liver and kidneys, as well as increasing energy levels and stamina. Astragalus is most effective when taken daily, on a longterm basis. The dried roots are commonly available in slices and can be eaten as is, though the fibrous texture bothers some. The root makes a great addition to soups. To do this, simmer it for at least 30 minutes in the soup and remove the root before serving. Astragalus is also available in tincture form.
A word of caution. There is a plant which grows locally called North American Astragalus, also known as “locoweed”. This plant contains toxic alkaloids which can have a detrimental effect on heart and lung function. Livestock having eaten it, have been observed jumping over imaginary objects and drooling excessively.
So, don’t go out and pick your own. It is not the same plant.
Procure the correct Astragalus from a local health food store.
Astragalus! Use it and enjoy the benefits.
Courtesy of our friends at Mountain View Market Co-op