Astragalus (also called huangqi or milkvetch) belongs to the legume family. It has hairy stems with leaves made up of leaflets. A hardy perennial, they are indigenous to northern and eastern parts of China, Mongolia and Korea. It can grow up to 36 inches tall and bear pea-like flowers. The root is dried and cut into strips or ground into powder for medicinal use.
As a medicinal plant, astragalus flexes its healing muscle in more ways than one. High in antioxidants, it exerts anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory effects. Consider the following uses:
Stress and emotionally drained and tired? You may be low in “qi” (the life force of the body). Astragalus acts as an adaptogen to protect against emotional, physical and mental stress.
Astragalus can be used as a preventive measure against certain diseases. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, astragalus’ high antioxidant content helps to prevent oxidative damage to cells. In so doing, it may prevent debilitating diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Traditionally, astragalus is commonly used to promote spleen, liver, lungs, circulatory and urinary health. Conditions treated include arthritis, asthma, certain nervous conditions, high blood sugar and high blood pressure.
Because astragalus helps to boost the immune system, it is also used as a dietary supplement to treat colds and upper respiratory infections. Astragalus may also strengthen weakened immune system due to radiation or chemotherapy. Studies concerning the benefits of these uses are still inconclusive.
Traditionally, the patient boils astragalus, together with other herbs and drink the tea thus produced. However, astragalus is also available in capsules or tablets for easier consumption. You can also find them in tincture, as a tea or in injectable forms in Asian countries or in salves, compresses and plasters for topical application.
Astragalus should only be used under the supervision of a certified health practitioner. For more information on how to use astragalus, contact us.