Let me share a little with you about an ancient and powerful herb that I have grown to love and rely upon for keeping myself and my family healthy for years!
I've written about Astragalus Root in our Herbs for Kids Online Course and Ebook and have even shared a delicious and immune-boosting soup recipe. Today, I'd like to share six benefits of Astragalus Root and a little more about how it has worked throughout history.
Astragalus, also known as Huang Qi, has been utilized in Asia for countless centuries and holds a significant reputation as the "yellow leader." This esteemed herb, originating from China, Mongolia, and North Korea, is renowned for its comprehensive healing properties, encompassing physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
The name "yellow leader" is derived from the yellow-colored root of the Astragalus plant, which is commonly employed in herbal medicine. It also signifies Astragalus's classification in the uppermost tier of herbal ingredients in Traditional Oriental Medicine (TOM). Classic medical texts rank Astragalus among the superior category of herbs, designating it as one of the fundamental 50 herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
What is Astragalus?
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) belongs to the Fabaceae or pea family, which stands as the third-largest plant family globally, housing numerous valuable herbs. The wide variety of non-medicinal Astragalus plants is often referred to as "milkvetches." These include a diverse range of edible, poisonous, and ornamental plants. Furthermore, the Fabaceae family proliferates extensively across the globe, offering widespread distribution.
Photo credit: Priya Herbals
Although Astragalus has been utilized medicinally in China for over 2,000 years, its earliest documented usage can be traced back to the revered Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) text known as The Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing (The Divine Farmer's Materia Medica Classic). This foundational text serves as the cornerstone of TCM, organizing medicinal plants according to their type (herbs, fruits, roots, etc.) and ranking them based on potency. Astragalus consistently occupies the highest echelon of herbal ingredients within this classification.
Astragalus was first introduced to North America in 1952, but it gained widespread popularity among Western herbalists only in the 1960s, alongside the rising interest in Eastern herbs, as noted by late and great herbalist Stephen Buhner.
What is Astragalus (Huang Qi) good for?
Astragalus is renowned as one of the most potent immune tonics in both Eastern and Western herbal traditions, available in various forms such as tea, tincture, tablet, capsule, or soup. It also serves as a potent anti-aging ingredient in skincare products. It is great for children and adults.
Astragalus offers a range of potential benefits, including immune support as well as support for allergies, constipation, the common cold, and upper respiratory infections.
According to Traditional Oriental Medicine, Astragalus strengthens the wei qi (vital energy), which acts as a protective layer just below the skin. Strengthening the wei qi is believed to aid in protection against the common cold. Astragalus is often combined with other nourishing and immune-boosting herbs like elderberry, echinacea, reishi, maitake, and shitake mushrooms to prevent the common cold. Research suggests that Astragalus possesses antiviral properties and may stimulate the immune system. Additionally, it exhibits potent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and can be used topically for wound care.
Astragalus is considered a potent adaptogen that safeguards the body against stress and disease, promoting balance within. It is frequently employed to enhance vitality, stamina, and mental focus. When faced with stress and anxiety, Astragalus can be utilized to promote calmness and grounding, restoring harmony in the body.
Longevity, Energy, & Vitality
Astragalus has gained recognition for its potential to boost energy levels and enhance both physical and mental stamina. Within Traditional Oriental Medicine, it is revered as one of the most potent herbs for increasing qi, which refers to life-force energy. Astragalus is often employed to replenish and invigorate when energy levels are depleted.
Studies conducted on human cells have suggested that Astragalus can promote healthy cell replication and facilitate DNA repair. Telomerase, a unique protein responsible for repairing damaged DNA sequences within our cells, has been of particular interest. Astragalus contains compounds that have been found to stimulate and enhance telomerase activity, which is associated with increased longevity, anti-aging effects, and DNA repair.
Astragalus has demonstrated its potential in reducing symptoms associated with allergic rhinitis or hay fever. In a well-known study, it was found to be effective in alleviating the discomfort experienced by individuals suffering from these allergic conditions.
Astragalus boasts a significant content of flavonoids, potent antioxidants that contribute to heart health. Research indicates that flavonoids present in Astragalus may help lower blood pressure, promote healthy cholesterol levels, and improve overall heart function.
Healthy Respiratory & Circulatory Systems
According to Traditional Oriental Medicine, Astragalus plays a protective role in maintaining lung qi, which refers to lung energy. Modern research aligns with this belief, suggesting that Astragalus supports optimal lung function and may contribute to improved circulation and blood flow. Furthermore, its high bioavailable iron content nourishes and strengthens the blood.
Astragalus plays a significant role in enhancing skin health and appearance by promoting qi circulation. This direct impact on skin cells contributes to the overall quality and vitality of the skin. Astragalus aids in restoring the skin's natural balance by eliminating toxins, stimulating collagen production, reducing inflammation, improving blood circulation, and regenerating skin cells. As a result, it has become a favored ingredient in skincare formulations aimed at reducing signs of aging and rejuvenating the skin.
When incorporating Astragalus into skincare products, it supports the promotion of healthier and more youthful-looking skin by facilitating healthy cell replication and mitigating inflammation. Its beneficial effects make it a favored choice among formulators striving to enhance skin vitality and combat signs of aging.
Quality & Potency
As is the case with all herbal products, we here at Birth Song Botanicals strive for the highest quality herbs and work with organic, wild-harvested, or wildcrafted herbs when possible.
Safety & Precautions
When consumed at recommended doses, Astragalus is generally safe and does not pose serious side effects.
However, it is important to note since Astragalus Root is such a potent immune stimulator, it is not recommended to take it while you have a fever or active infection because it will make the symptoms worse. Astragalus is best utilized before the active phase of infection and during recovery.
Additionally, due to its potential to stimulate the immune system, individuals with autoimmune diseases should consult their healthcare provider before incorporating Astragalus into their regimen.
As always, please consult with a healthcare professional such as an herbalist, acupuncturist, or naturopath before taking any medication or herbal supplements to ensure they are safe for individual circumstances and do not interact negatively with other medications being taken.