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Astragalus: Chinese Herb with Amazing Immune Boosting Properties

By Jess Lewis-Peltier
April 25, 2011
File under: Herbs, Natural Remedies


The holidays may be long gone but the drastically fluctuating weather puts us at risk for colds, flu and infection. This is time of year when the body’s immune system and metabolism may be a little sluggish from the long winter and a quick acting boost could be in order.

Astragalus is one of the most effective herbs for boosting the immune system and also benefits physical and emotional wellbeing. Disease occurs when the body is out of balance and this multifaceted and inexpensive herb works wonders to create balance year-round both in and out of flu season.

Astragalus confers benefits similar to colostrums. This herb helps the body to fight infection and inflammation by building the immune system’s defenses at the most basic level without the mucus-forming effects of its animal sourced counterpart.

Native to China, astragalus is a fast-growing perennial touted for its effects on diabetes, heart disease, inflammation and immune support and thought to improve longevity and combat tumors.

Astragalus is a tonic or tonifying herb, which means that it has properties that balance the body in the short term and without ill effects after long term use.

It helps the body fight stressors by tonifying the body by improving the production of antibodies. As an antibacterial and antiviral, astralagus works to increase the body’s resistance to bacteria and viruses.

This potent herb is a master at reducing inflammation, increasing metabolism, improving stomach ulcers and reducing blood pressure, which tend to stress the body and impair the it’s ability to fight off infection.

Stress is a major cause of disease, because it can suppress the immune system. Astragalus has also been shown to improve mood, which help protect against emotional stress.

Since emotional stress often plays a part in whether or not those nasty cold and flu bugs get the better of us, this benefit makes it a well-rounded tonic and a must-have in the alternative medicine cabinet.

Astragalus has been shown to reduce fatigue in athletes.1 This is a property that plays an important role in overall immune function, by reducing the stress load during the recovery phase.

Anyone who has ever had the flu can attest to the amount of fatigue they feel often for sometimes weeks at a time. Increasing the efficiency of the recovery phase when the body has undergone an attack can greatly minimize the time the infection persists.

Astralagus can punch up the body’s immune system unlike any other herbal remedy. As with most herbs, astragalus is best taken with a bit of protein for better absorption into the system and best taken as a tablet or tincture.

Astralagus is contraindicated for those with autoimmune disorders and can react unfavorably with hypertension medication therefore it is best to check with a professional before incorporating this herb into your health care plan.

Common Names: Astragalus root, huang qi, milk vetch

Botanical names: Astragalus propinquus syn. Astragalus membranaceus

Jess Lewis-Peltier, ‘The Holistic Yogini‘ is a naturopath, biochemist, herbalist and yoga teacher living in southern California. Facebook Jess and follow her on Twitter.

1 Chen KT, Su CH, Hsin LH, et al. Reducing fatigue of athletes following oral administration of huangqi jianzhong tang. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2002 Aug;23(8):757-61.

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