The Spotlight on Astragalus
Here at Our Botanicals we are so excited to be adding Astragalus to our store as it is one of the most powerful immune-building plants on the planet! As an adaptogenic herb, Astragalus lowers the stress hormone cortisol, and fights disease at the same time. Astragalus boasts some simply incredible benefits, which is why we consider it an essential herb to add to your protocol.
What is Astragalus?
There are thousands of species of Astragalus, but only two types are used medicinally; astragalus-membranaceus is our choice. It usually grows in grassy regions and on mountainsides, reaching between 25 and 40 centimetres (9 to 15 inches) in height. The plant requires plenty of exposure to sunlight and is a herbaceous perennial, meaning that it dies down during the harsh winter months, and then grows back from it’s roots as weather turns warm again. When it is grown for cultivation, it is traditionally harvested after four or five years. The roots are the part of the plant that are used medicinally, and are dried in the sun.
The History of Astragalus
Astragalus has a long and rich history in Asia. It is native to China, Mongolia and North Korea, and is one of the fifty fundamental herbs in traditional Chinese medicine. The herb is mentioned in the Divine Husbandman’s Classic of the Materia Medica, which was written anonymously during the first century AD, and has since been attributed to the teachings of the legendary figure Shennong who is thought to have lived approximately 5,000 years ago.
He wrote that Huang-qi (the Chinese name for Astragalus) is ‘sweet and slightly warm’, and ‘mainly treats enduring illnesses by expelling pus and relieving pain’. Another prolific medical writer in China, Wang Hao-gu said that ‘Astragalus replenishes the defensive mechanisms of the body’ (the immune system) ‘and supports the spleen, stomach and kidneys’.
The herb’s Chinese name ‘Huang-qi’ is comprised of two Chinese words. The first word “Huang” (黃) means “yellow”. Yellow is the color of the herb, and also the color of “earth” and the “spleen”. The second word “Qi” (耆) means “superior” or “senior”. So, it’s name suggests that the herb was considered to be a superior herb for therapeutic functions, or as we would say today, detox and healing.
Why Is It Good For Me?
Modern clinically proven data on Astragalus is lacking, which is why we look to its long use in traditional Chinese medicine. It is traditionally valued for supporting healthy immune function and has been observed to support the heart health. Let’s look at just five of Astragalus’ numerous benefits:
A Powerful Anti-Inflammatory
From acne to arthritis, inflammation is at the root of dis-ease in the body. Astragalus’ potency as an anti-inflammatory comes from it’s saponins and polysaccharides. Saponins are known for their ability to improve the immune system and polysaccharides have antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory capabilities.
An Immune System Booster
Boosting the immune system is Astragalus’ claim to fame! A study in Beijing displayed its ability to control t-helper cells 1 and 2, which essentially regulates the body’s immune responses.
A Cardiovascular Protector
The flavonoids present in Astragalus are antioxidants that help prevent plaque buildup in arteries. A study published in the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine suggests that, an injection of Astragalus, makes treatment of heart conditions more successful.
During a heart attack, the damage to the heart muscle occurs when there is a lack of blood supply and oxygen. At that time, calcium overload creates secondary damage. Astragalus can prevent additional heart muscle damage by regulating calcium homeostasis in the heart.
Contains Antioxidative and Anti-Aging Capabilities
Oxidation from free radical damage is the main driver in aging, and many elements found in Astragalus prevent oxidative stress. The herb’s positive effects on the immune system and improvement of brain function, could also lengthen your lifespan.
Cold and Flu Remedy
Because of Astragalus’ antiviral capabilities, it has long been used to treat common colds and the flu. It’s commonly combined with other herbs like ginseng and licorice. A regimen of Astragalus before the colder months of winter is likely to prevent or decrease the number of colds and upper respiratory illnesses that you encounter.
You can find our Astragalus tincture here!