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Astragalus: An Herb for Immunity

Updated: Aug 22, 2020

I'd like to share one of my favorite herbs for boosting immunity: Astragalus root astragalus membranaceus

This herb is called huang qi in pinyin and is considered a wonderful tonic for qi (energy) and especially beneficial for the lungs and immunity. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, astragalus augments the protective qi and tonifies the lungs. It is often used for frequent colds and flus, shortness of breath, and fatigue.

This herb has a mild flavor so can be incorporated easily into soups and porridges. It is also safe for children.

It can be taken as a decoction (simmer 1oz herb to 1 pint water for 15 minutes), tincture, or capsule and is traditionally paired with white atracylodes (bai zhu) and siler root (fang feng) to make the famous traditional Chinese formula Jade Screen for improving immunity and fending off acute illnesses.

I include this herb along with atracylodes, siler root, reishi, shiitake, and cordyceps in my Immunity Boost Tincture for clients to stock up on during the cold and flu season. I also suggest a diet that minimizes sugar and emphasizes cooked and warm foods with adequate protein in every meal. Think building winter foods like kitchari, soups, broths, and porridges. And let's not forget the subtle and amazing power of sleep for the immune system. Get to bed by 10pm and aim for 8 hours of sleep. Find times in the day and week to slow down and de-stress to allow your parasympathetic nervous system to shine.

Astragalus is best used as a daily tonic for when you are not sick but around sick people or wanting to boost immunity seasonally. Once a cold or flu has taken hold it's best to reach for other herbs to better address the acute illness. Reach out if you are unsure if this herb is right for you.

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