As history has taught us time and again, the ancients practicing healing long before the onset of modern medicine often held insights as valuable to maintaining good health as those prescribed by our own contemporary doctors. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is no exception to the rule – many of the herbs ancient Chinese healers prescribed their patients have been validated by modern medical research. Astragalus is one such of these famous Chinese herbs. Its roots have been dried and administered to patients for thousands of years, and continue to be to this day.
Astragalus is often called an “adaptogen”, meaning it is valued for helping to protect the human body from physical, mental or emotional stress. It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties as well. Astragalus is rich in antioxidants, the body’s key protector against cell damage caused by free radicals. So, astragalus is often given to cancer patients as complementary to chemotherapy. It also helps battle the harmful effects of chemo and radiation by preventing the depletion of white blood cells. Even today in China, astragalus is often given to those suffering from chronic hepatitis or heart disease.
Still, astragalus’s high antioxidant content makes it a valuable preventative medicine, and its “adaptogen” status also makes it very helpful in the case of everyday illnesses such as the common cold. Astragalus strengthens the immune system, preventing respiratory infections. Some studies have shown it can lower blood pressure and assuage the symptoms of diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels. Yet other Chinese healers have used astragalus to treat allergies, fever, asthma, chronic fatigue, anemia, stomach ulcers and digestive upsets.
For more information on how this herb works and the science behind it, check out Dr. Oz’s take. Thanks to its “de-stressing” properties due to its high antioxidant levels, astragalus is suspected to even have value as an anti-aging agent! Dr. Oz features the astragalus supplement in his anti-aging plan. As we age, our bodies’ cell replication process gradually slows down – but astragalus contains molecules that help maintain and even rejuvenate the our cells’ structural integrity – in other words, astragalus not only helps slow the clock of aging – it may even be able to reverse it!
Astragalus can also be administered through soups, teas, or other extracts. Looking for an alternative to the traditional chicken soup for this winter’s flu? Try astragalus “immune soup.” Or, instead of traditional teas, try an astragalus tea to help prevent or fight off your next cold: Teahaven.