(Astragalus membranaceus, Astragalus propinquus)
Astragalus is always the herb that comes to mind when someone quips the “Ancient Chinese Secret” joke. Not that it’s a joke. This is a serious little legume with a fairly impressive history. It just isn’t as well known as some of the other herbs in Chinese medicine and so it makes me giggle. I have an acquired and somewhat nerdy sense of humor. It also made me giggle when I learned that it is part of the pea family. It almost seems strange to be talking about something other than the mint family.
Other Names: Chinese milkvetch, Huang Qi, Milk vetch root, Yellow leader, Yellow emperor, Yellow vetch
Parts Used: root
Methods of Administration: decoction, powdered, tincture, capsules, and ointment
Astragalus has been safely used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Traditionally it has been used for a wide variety of ailments all the way from general immune support to cancer. Unlike echinacea that also offers immune support, astragalus can be taken preventatively and so is a great herb to sneak in before crowded events like a field trip to the museum. Like echinacea, it has been shown to reduce the frequency and intensity of the common cold and other viral infections, particularly in the respiratory and urinary tract. What is absolutely amazing to me is that it has also been clinically shown to increase the number of white blood cells and in cancer patients, to return the T-cells back to near normal function.1 Interestingly, while astragalus stimulates the immune system at low doses, it might actually suppress the immune system at higher doses.
- immune stimulant
- mild diuretic
- lowers blood sugar
- stimulates the synthesis of antibodies
- chronic autoimmune
- upper respiratory infections
- allergic rhinitis
- Epstein Barr syndrome
- night sweats
- appetite loss
- Alzheimer’s disease
- to increase fertility
- aids in the mending of broken bones
- lowers blood pressure
- lowers cholesterol
- supports the immune system
- excessive bleeding of the uterus
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- kidney disease
- cold extremeties
- improve wound healing (topically)
- improve blood flow (topically)
Contraindications and Side Effects: Astragalus is safe for most situations, even with long term use. At recommended doses, astragalus has no serious side effects. No adverse side effects have been reported in human or animal studies. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should talk to your doctor before taking any medication, including herbs. It does interact with some other herbs and medications.
Interactions: If you are being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use astragalus without first talking to your health care provider:
- Antiviral medications – Astragalus may increase the effects of some antiviral medications such as acyclovir and interferon.
- Immune Suppressants – Astragalus may counteract the immune-suppressing effects of cyclophosphamide, a medication used to reduce the chances of rejection in transplant recipients, as well as corticosteroids.
- Diabetes medications – Astragalus may lower blood sugar, making the effects of diabetes drugs stronger.
- High blood pressure medication – Astragalus may lower blood pressure, making the effects of these drugs stronger.
- Diuretics – Astragalus is a diuretic and may make the effects of other diuretics stronger.
- Anti-coagulants – Astragalus may make the effects of these drugs stronger, increasing the risk of bleeding and stroke.
Astragalus may be given to children to support the immune system but should not be used if the child has a fever because, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, it may make the fever last longer or grow stronger. The dose should be determined by adjusting the recommended adult dose to account for the child’s weight. Most herbal dosages for adults are calculated on the basis of a 150 lb (70 kg) adult. Therefore, if the child weighs 50 lb (20-25 kg), the appropriate dose of astragalus would be 1/3 of the adult dosage. However, because strengths and concentrations will vary with different preparations, dosages should be determined on an individual basis. Any long-term dosage should be determined by your doctor.
Doses from 1-25 g per day are sometimes used. Higher doses may suppress the immune system. Doses, of powdered astragalus, up to 60 grams daily for up to 4 months have been used without reported adverse effects. This is a good herb to switch off with echinacea.
Recommended doses are as follows:
- Decoction (strong boiled tea): 3-6 g of dried root per 12 oz water, three times per day
- Fluid extract (1:1) in 25% ethanol: 2-4 mL three times a day
- Powdered root: 500-1,000 mg three or four times per day
- Powdered extract (solid): 100 to 150 mg of a product standardized to 0.5% 4-hydroxy-3-methoxy isoflavone. Note : this chemical is used only as a manufacturing marker, not as a guarantee of potency or effectiveness.
- Ointment: 10% astragalus applied to surface of wound. Do not apply to open wound without your doctor’s supervision.
- Tincture (1:5) in 30% ethanol: 3-5 mL three times a day. Ideal dose for an adult is 15-30 drops of extract at each administration.
This amazing root is limited to just medicinal applications. It also has a long tradition of imparting these properties through the simple act of eating. I’m not sure I would just grab some root slices and start chewing away, but I’ve heard that it is quite lovely in soup. Follow the links on the recipe cards for their full instructions.
Immune-Boosting Broth with Shiitake and Astragalus Recipe
from Mother Earth News
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large onions, peeled and diced
- 4 carrots, diced
- 4 celery stalks, ends removed and diced
- 8 cloves garlic, smashed and skins removed
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 quarts water
- 8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced, or 4 ounces dried and soaked in water to rehydrate.
- 12 slices dried astragalus root
- 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1⁄2 cup miso paste, divided
Astragalus Miso Immunity Soup
from Traditional Medicinals
- 4-5 slices of dried astragalus root
- 1 to 4 inch strip of kombu seaweed
- 5 shiitake mushrooms, fresh
- 2-3 Tablespoons red miso paste
- 4 Tablespoons of freshly chopped green onions
- ½ bundle of kale, chard or any other dark leafy green
- ¼ of one 14-oz package of firm tofu, chopped into squares
Astragalus Immune-Boosting Bone Broth
From Homones & Balance
- 4 pounds beef bones
- 2 cups roughly chopped celery
- 1 cup roughly chopped onions
- 2 cups roughly chopped carrots
- 5 large garlic cloves, sliced into halves
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro or parsley (or a mix of both)
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- ¼ cup dried astragalus root
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- Salt to taste
Deities: Gods and Goddesses of the Fae
- mental clarity
- psychic shielding
Astragalus is a Chi tonic. Chi is the vital force of the body in Chinese lore. Applied to Western traditions, it could be used to increase energy for a variety of applications.
Simple Spells and Household Uses
- Dried roots and leaves of Astragalus can be used in incense to purify and cleanse your home and workplace.
- Astragalus can be added to rituals to keep your emotions balanced and tranquil, releasing a soothing atmosphere for the mind and body.
- When performing a ritual, use Astragalus roots as an offer to the deities and invite guidance from the spiritual realm.
- Coating your candles with essential oils made from Astragalus restores and enhances normalcy and balance to the mind, body, and spirit.
- When harmful spirits hinder positive energies to prosper within you, Astragalus charms can be used to protect you against these unwanted energies.
- Sprinkling Astragalus around your home and office guarantees protection to your emotional and spiritual health.
- Place a dried herb in a sachet or put them in your dream pillows and spell bags to keep yourself from harm when you are unconscious and most vulnerable.
- Astragalus tea and sachets can be used to cure emotional, spiritual, and physical pain by clearing negative energies from harmful psychic attacks.
- Elixirs and blends will also break chains of hexes and spells to help you focus your energies on things that bring self-advancement to you and your family.
To purchase dried astragalus root, visit the APOTHECARY.
Increase your herbal education by Digging Deeper into other herbs and essential oils.
Disclaimer: Please note that I am a not medical professional and everything written here is a product of my own research. Don’t take any advice given here over that of a trained doctor. If you ingest any herbs, always make sure that you’re 100% sure that they’re safe. If you’re pregnant or giving to a child, always consult a doctor before ingesting herbs and plant you aren’t familiar with. Magickal instruction and spells are for personal entertainment purposes only. The desired result/outcome cannot be guaranteed as a result of using any magickal item, and should not be used as a replacement for medical/professional assistance.
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