Derived from the root of a plant that belongs to the pea family, the herb Astragalus is also popularly known as milk vetch root or huang-qi. Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine relies very heavily on the balancing action of this herb. It contains medicinal compounds that stimulate the immune system and balances the digestive system and bodily functions.
Uses of Astragalus
Its most significant contribution is in the boost it gives to the immune system. By supplying essential polysaccharides and the trace element selenium it is often combined with other herbs in Chinese medicine to boost immunity. In China, Astragalus is even taken by cancer patients who have shown a two or three fold improvement in the strength of their immune response. Thus this greatly helps cancer patients who have just undergone radiation.
Astragalus Common Elements
Some of the most common elements found in Astragalus are:
– Amino acids
– Fourteen kinds of trace elements
Thus, it is naturally one of the most widely used herb supplements in traditional medicine. In addition to fending off diseases, Astragalus also has a substance that fights the ageing process of the body by prolonging the life span of cells by a third. By promoting the growth of antibodies and increasing the white blood cells in the body, it allows the body to fight off viruses. It is a natural diuretic and is useful in curing kidney diseases.
Since Astragalus belongs to the Leguminosae (pea) family, people who are allergic to this family should keep away from it. The gummy sap of the plant may induce asthma in some people. Individuals with disorders of the autoimmune system should consult a doctor before using this product.
Astragalus seeds are easily available in stores. They need to be scratched or scarified before they are grown. A slightly sandy soil mix is ideal. If you start the seed around February, the plant will grow big enough to produce small pea-like pods by late summer. The plant is sometimes grown for ornamental reasons, but is most widely used for medicinal purposes. This herb, when combined with Ginseng and Codonopsis, is a vital energy drink. It is also supposed to promote tissue regeneration and support growth of new cells.
How to Use Astragalus
Astragalus is an adaptogen; this means it has substances that help the body maintain its normal health. It also helps cure stomach ulcers by inhibiting stomach secretions and reducing gastric acids. It is also a remarkable cardiotonic and it may improve cardiac function, arrhythmias and phosphokinase levels. Some studies suggest that Astragalus also improves symptoms of viral myocarditis.
Astragalus encourages the discharge of pus and thus speeds up the healing process in case of wounds or infections. In the West, people make a tea out of the stem or roots and use this as a general health tonic to improve metabolism and digestion. Astragalus also decreases the level of sugar in the blood. Therefore, people suffering from diabetes can gain from the use of this herb as it lowers blood pressure.