When you work with substances that cause wellness, day in and day out, you develop an eye for a winner. Let us just say, not all wellness plants are created equally. Some are more powerful than others, and, Astragalus gets the Doctor Schar thumbs up. It is perfectly non-toxic and stimulates the whole body to improved health. It increases stamina in the tired, fires immunity in the sick, and can even be used to power up a work out.
Though the scientific world has a really hard time with the concept of that “life force” is the power behind health and well being, and an even harder time with the concept that there could be substances that increase this force, that would be, how you say, their problem. If you see a healthy person, they have an indescribable energy that a sick person lacks. You can see it. You may not know what it is, but, you know it is a thing. Much the same way, in my work, I have found substances that make people have more of that sparkly energy, than they had before they started using the remedy.
I like to call these substances Valerogens, health causers, and this is one of them.
Chapter from “Thirty Plants That Can Save Your Life”
Part Used: Root
Remember This: Immunity Booster
Reasonable Uses: Poor resistance to infectious disease, run down states, fatigue, debility, coughs, colds, flu, one cold following another, warts, herpes, chronic fatigue syndrome, post viral syndrome.
History and Traditional Uses
Two thousand years ago, astragalus was listed in the very ancient Chinese herbal Shen Nung’s Herbal as a tonic. Herbalists believed then, as they do today, that it increases the body’s disease resistance..
Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine often combine astragalus with other herbs because astragalus is believed to help boost their healing powers. One of the most popular traditional Chinese tonics, still used today, was created in the thirteenth century during the Yuan Dynasty and is largely comprised of astragalus. This tonic reportedly increases strength and endurance.
Scientific Back Up
Evidence indicates that astragalus stimulates the bone marrow to produce more white blood cells(immune cells) and encourages the white blood cells to produce antibodies and interferon, which enhance immune function.
Astragalus is high in polysaccharides, huge sugar molecules that are thought to be responsible for its immune enhancing activity. Scientists believe these polysaccharides have significant anticancer action through immune system stimulation.
Herbalists Use It To…
Curtail Constant Coughs, Colds, and Flu.
Some people seem to catch one bug after another. Sometimes this is a lifetime problem, sometimes this is brought on by stress. In either case, Herbalists recommend using astragalus to dry up the stream.
Hit the Breaks on a Cold
These days, when you think of stopping a cold or flu before it really takes hold, you think echinacea. Top experts say astragalus is another herb to add to the list of cold stoppers. Taken when the first symptoms appear, bad mood and aching bones, astragalus may help you avoid actually getting the cold. .
Insure Speedy Recoveries
Its important to assist the body recover from an illness. The body needs to heal itself and repair any damage the illness may have caused. Proper rest, good food, and regular doses of astragalus will speed the process. Remember, proper recovery reduces the risk of relapse! Herbalists find convalescing patients have more energy when using astragalus!
Slap Down a Virus
Astragalus helps boost interferon production, the body’s in built anti-viral mechanism. When one cell is attacked by a virus, it releases interferon, which tells the adjacent cells what kind of virus is attacking and how it should protect itself. It also tells disease-fighting white blood cells where the virus is hiding out. Astragalus enhances the bodies natural way of controlling viral infection. Herbalists recommend it in herpes, warts, chronic fatigue syndrome, and post-viral syndrome.
Astragalus is considered to be an endurance herb by Traditional Chinese Medicine and western herbal practitioners alike. It can be used to “keep you keeping on” the treadmill, the stair master, or the circuit trainer. Athletes rave at how it increases endurance. Try astragalus to power up an exercise program or stay on top of the grandchildren visiting for the weekend.
Chapter from “Thirty Plants That Can Save Your Life”
Though we have all heard about Chinese medicine, how it varies from Western medicine, massage versus surgery, acupuncture versus drugs, and so on. Our next plant, astragalus, is a Chinese medicinal plant and in the aim of understanding it, I thought we would take a crash course in the Chinese medical system. Because astragalus is grown almost exclusively in Asia , we need to understand the system so we can grasp the importance of this plant. As they say, when in Rome don’t run around speaking Greek.
Though we think Chinese medicine is something new, it is only new to us, it is anything but new. When Europeans were wearing bear skin and clubbing future dates over the head with clubs, the Chinese were scientifically studying plants and recording their findings. The Chinese medical system is incredibly old. If you want to pull rank, it is, in fact, thousands of years older than the Western system. They have had a long time to work the kinks out of the system, it is tried and true. I bother pointing this out as most Westerners look at Chinese medicine a bit askance, a look filled with doubt and debate. When you realize how old the system is, you may not doubt it quite as much.
The oldest medical document in China dates to somewhere between 200 and 100 b.c., its name, the “Yellow Emperors Inner Classic.” This book forms the foundation for Chinese medicine. In it the philosophy of Chinese medicine is found, the human being is an organism living in the natural world, disease being just one of many natural things existing in the world. The book espouses proper diet, physical fitness, and the use of herbs to stay well. It may have taken us 2100 years to figure this out, but at last Western culture is starting to see what the writers of the Yellow Emperors Inner Classic knew two centuries ago. Proper living leads to properly functioning body, or health.
In this very important piece of literature, the Emperor asks his doctors thirteen questions, to which they respond. The Emperor informs his doctors that in days gone by healing could be accomplished with prayers and asks why prayer is no longer sufficient. The doctors responded that people of the day (200 b.c.) were living hectic, unhealthy lives, and that prayer was just not enough anymore. Sound familiar? This is precisely where we are today. We don’t live healthy lives and a few prayers will not keep us well. The doctors insisted that in that “modern” world, people had to do little more than pray to say healthy.
In the Yellow Emperors Inner Classic, a philosophy is described, man is a part of nature, and subject to the rules that apply to all other parts of nature. Man and plant are similar, if you don’t water a plant it withers and dies, and if you don’t water a man, he withers and dies. The concept of yin and yang rises out of this document. Yin and yang are two pieces that work together to create balance. The doctors reported to the emperor that disease happens when the body gets out of balance. Phrases like, “she worked herself to death,” “He drove himself crazy,” are good examples of what Chinese medicine feels creates disease. We all know what it is like to work so hard on something for so long, and when it’s done, you come down with a whopper of a cold. Essentially the philosophy in this first medical book establishes the same thought, if you live out of balance, you are going to get sick.
As such, Chinese medicine is all about bringing the mind and the body back into balance, so that disease is never manifest, this is a whole picture notion, you can’t live out of balance and expect to be well, and no amount of herbs or acupuncture will make a person that chooses to live an unbalanced life, well. The important distinction between Chinese and Western medicine becomes clear at this point. Chinese medicine is about balancing the body so you never get sick. Western medicine is all about picking up the pieces once the system has broken down to the point it is obviously not working.
Whereas the Yellow Emperors Inner Classic is a statement of philosophy, one of the next significant works, The Divine Husbandman Classic of the Materia Medica, is the book of how to do, when to do it, and under what circumstances. Said to have been compiled in the first century and by a “Divine Husbandman” this book goes into the specifics of what plants to use to bring the body into balance. It includes 252 plants, 45 minerals, and 67 animal substances that can be used to balance the body and result in permanent health. Enter our next plant that could save your life, that body balancer extraordinare,
Astragalus. Astragalus gets a mention in The Divine Husbandman, listed at the start as a number one health keeping plant, and has been in continued use for the past 2000 years.
At this point I would like to point out a little something. Let’s start with a let’s pretend scenario. Put yourself in this situation. You have a headache, you go to the drugstore and buy a headache preparation, take it home, swallow it, and the headache does not go away. The preparation does not work. The next time you get a headache you do which of the following things, (a) go and buy more of the medication that didn’t work the first time. or (b) you try something new.
Do you think the Chinese would use plants like Astragalus for 2000 years if it didn’t work. If these herbs didn’t work, don’t you think at some point someone would have said, this stuff doesn’t work, I want something that works. People don’t use products over and over again, unless they work. Two thousand years of use indicates the stuff works.
I bother with this little chat as I think it is important to understand the power of the plants were are talking about. Little pills in bottles have been around for 100 years, astragalus has been around for 2000 years, I hate to pull rank, but the doubter out there should take the cotton out of his or her ears at this point and put it in his or her mouth.
Does Chinese medicine work? Of course it does.
The astragalus that makes its way into the Chinese pharmacy is actually the root of the astragalus plant. The plant itself is a member of the highly healthy helping legume family, other relations include clover and licorice. Its scientific name, astragalus membracuoous, or the astragalus with lots of membranes refers to the fact the root is filled with membranes that readily pull apart and shred into a million smaller pieces, rather like tissue paper. The roots used in medicine are mainly produced in Manchuria, Chihli, Shugantang, and in the Sechuan provinces of China , shipped from those points to the rest of the country and world.
In Chinese medicine different herbs are said to enter the body through different channels, and in the case of astragalus, this herb is said to enter the body through the lung channels and the spleen channels. As such it is thought to act as a tonic, or booster for the lungs and the spleen. The common symptoms of a body needing some astragalus are being chronically tired, lack of appetite, and the chronic diarrhea. These symptoms are said to be the body’s way of telling the patient his or her spleen isn’t working that well and needs a little help. Other ways the body indicates it needs some help are as follows:
high blood pressure
loss of blood
prolapsed uterus, stomach, anus
skin ulcers that wont heal
lack of stamina
uterine bleeding and weakness
Just for fun let’s check out some of these claims with the modern scientific community and see what they have found out about astragalus.
The extracts of astragalus have been found to be bacteriocidal, hypoglycemic, and hypotensive. This hypotensive activity is said to be due to the gamma-aminobutyric acid contained within the plant.
The hypoglycemic effect explains usefulness in treating diabetes.
Chemicals contained in the root inhibit cell RNA metabolism and prolong the life span of some human lung diploid cell strains. Astragalus is one of the classic Chinese plants used to strengthen the respiratory tract, especially in upper respiratory infections. The tonifying effect combined with the antibacterial effect explain why it is a good plant for someone with a lung infection.
When injected into animals they experience a drop in blood pressure, this effect appears to be due to direct vasodilation.
Lowering blood pressure would indeed treat someone with high blood pressure.
Remember, your kidneys are the organ that pumps the water out of your body, and what goes out with this water? toxins harmful to the body. It would seem that astragalus has a long acting diuretic effect on the humans, which substantiates the use in treating swelling and water retention, making a natural product to reduce water weight women pick up during menstruation. On top of getting the kidneys pumping, it also tones the organ itself.
In a rather bizarre experiment the Chinese found that little mice given astragalus enemas and douches had much increased stamina in swimming tests. The conclusion is that astragalus might give the human body increased stamina, which is exactly what it needs in this cooky modern world.
In yet another study, the Chinese found mice fed astragalus for nine days were able to protect themselves from absorbing a toxic chemical into their livers. This is as much to say that the body eliminated the toxin rather than absorbing it into the body, no small thing. The liver is one part of the body we should take care of. In the world of environmental and self pollution, our livers have to work overtime and a liver tonic is just what everybody needs.
In practical, day to day use, astragalus is used to increase the energy and to build resistance to weakness and disease. It acts as a tonic to the blood, lung, kidneys, and spleen. It is said to warm the blood and balance the energies in the internal organs. Remember, a balanced body is one that doesn’t get sick, and that’s our goal, staying well so we don’t use our personal days lying in front of the television.
Astragalus assists in getting medicines and nutrition into the body. Aside from being a tonic for the blood, lungs, kidneys, and spleen, it directs medicines into those parts of the body in a rather direct fashion. Astragalus is an assisting herb. if you are having problems with your lungs and are taking a lung herb, astragalus will shoot the medicine straight to the lung.
Have you ever worked yourself to death, worked yourself to the point that answering the phone requires more energy that you have to muster. I’m sad to say the modern world seems to present us all with this experience more often than we would like to admit. It is a modern reality that we have to deal with or it will deal with us.
In Chinese medicine astragalus is the plant used when you have used up all your vitality. It is not, of course, so powerful a plant that you can continually abuse your body and never pay the piper, but when these occasions of stress occur, it can help you make it through with minimal damage to your body. Remember it helped those little mice in their swimming tests, it may help you get through the holiday season. Somehow I suspect those swimming tests were not animal safe and some lab technicians incured some pretty serious karmic debt in the process of concluding that astragalus works.
Disclaimer: The author makes no guarantees as to the the curative effect of any herb or tonic on this website, and no visitor should attempt to use any of the information herein provided as treatment for any illness, weakness, or disease without first consulting a physician or health care provider. Pregnant women should always consult first with a health care professional before taking any treatment.