Astragalus: An Overlooked Immune Supporter
So, you haven’t heard of astragalus as an amazing natural immune support herbal? You're not alone. Since the beginning of the pandemic elderberry syrups and products have been trending, but elderberry is far from the only herbal remedy that can assist in an upper respiratory infection or boost the immune system. Echinacea is another popular supplement, but astragalus is just as (if not possibly more) effective than these two, and it’s easy to combine with elderberry and echinacea. Astragalus comes with more benefits than just immune system support.
There aren’t a lot of extensive studies that detail all the beneficial properties of astragalus, but several decent studies support why astragalus is a favorite Traditional Chinese Medicine herb that’s been used for centuries. Astragalus is a plant from China, and its roots would traditionally be slow-roasted with honey and prepared in a way similar to licorice. The book “The Alchemy of Herbs”, quotes herbalist Paul Bergner, “In Chinese medical terms, astragalus builds up the protective chi. It vitalizes the non-specific immune defenses and wards off infection. This is the protective chi, and astragalus is the premier herb in Chinese herbalism to strengthen it.” Astragalus has several uses that seem supported by formal studies in addition to it’s long history and people who use it regularly today. Astragalus is an adaptogen, immunomodulator, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial Limited human clinical trials and in vitro studies show it to increase white blood cell count, helping with overall immune function.
Some studies show astragalus to decrease viral replication and stimulate T killer cell counts It’s been seen to be especially useful for chemotherapy patients. One study showed astragalus injections had inhibited tumor development, less functional impairment, elevated immune function, and improved quality of life compared to the control group
Heart Health - Extensive research supports it as beneficial for cardiac health. It contains polysaccharides and saponins and boosts red blood cell count. It’s been shown to dilate periphery blood vessels, protecting against high blood pressure.
Kidney/Liver - It has also been shown to repair damage to the kidneys and liver due to medications or viral infection
Liver - Astragalus can also help detox the liver making it even a solution for a hangover Asthma - It’s also commonly used to help with asthma.
As an adaptogen, it can ease an over-active immune system or boost a weak system Astragalus is like a food, so large quantities consumed regularly is suggested. It’s the root that’s medicinal and it can bought in bulk at herbal or health food stores. The best way to consume it is to put a couple of sticks directly into a tea or bone broth. You’ll see it sold as a tincture, although a tea or syrup is ideal. Although it helps with cold and flu, it shouldn’t be used during acute illness (either before or after) or along with immunosuppressant drugs.
For a homemade not-pumpkin spice latte, check out Mountain Rose Herb’s Adaptogen Chai Tea