Boosting immunity is the name of the game in recent months and astragalus root fits the bill perfectly. Not only is it a mild-tasting herb that’s easy to use in everyday cooking, but its seemingly gentle medicinal properties will also help guard against circulating germs and pack a serious punch if and when you are down for the count.
It’s one of my favorite medicinal herbs and one that I believe should be in every at-home medicine cabinet.
What is Astragalus Root and How Does it Boost Immunity?
Astragalus is an amazing root that comes from the Chinese pea plant Astragalus membranaceus. In herbal medicine, the long, thin roots are used either dried or fresh.
It is a sweet, tonic herb with slightly warming properties often used in nourishing soups, broths, teas, and other medicinal preparations like tinctures, glycerites, and syrups.
Astragalus has been used in traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for many hundreds of years and has quickly integrated itself into western herbalism because of its efficacy. In fact, astragalus is in the top 20 most used herbs among practicing western herbalists.
Astragalus root is a powerful adaptogen, which means that it helps return the body to a balanced state during times of stress. Astragalus also supports immune function by increasing the activity of white blood cells and helps protect the heart and liver.
It is considered by many herbalists to be both immunostimulant, meaning it stimulates the immune system into action, and immunomodulant, which means it encourages the immune system to either increase vigilance against pathogens or reduces immune activity based on what the body needs.
One of the most notable benefits of astragalus root is its ability to strengthen and protect the lungs against respiratory illness – which, right now, is a good thing to know about!
Additionally, astragalus root is highly beneficial for those who experience fatigue, sluggishness (low vitality), and recurrent infections.
It is most effective when used long-term on a consistent basis.
I personally use it as a way to help build up a natural resistance to the common cold. Astragalus root does this by increasing the body’s production of interferon, a group of signaling proteins made and released by host cells in response to the presence of viruses, which helps protect our cells against seasonal illness. Astragalus also helps the macrophages become faster and more efficient which in turn shortens the duration of colds.
There are over 2,000 species of astragalus root, some of which are considered to be very toxic. However, no other species are known to possess the medicinal qualities that Astragalus membranaceus does.
I personally love using astragalus root during the winter months (or just when known germs are circulating) to help build up my immune system while also supporting my body’s stress response before, during, and after illness.
Considerations for Using Astragalus Root
Astragalus root is often used in capsules, fluid extracts (aka tinctures), or as tea. It can be added to soups, broths, and other mostly liquid cooking preparations in order to infuse its medicinal qualities into your food.
Dosage for Adults
2-6 grams of dried root per day.
Fluid extract 4-12 milligrams per day.
Powdered root in capsule form (250-500 mg) taken as two capsules up to 3 times per day.
Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that astragalus root should not be used in those with a known autoimmune disorder, during acute infection, or during a cold or flu, especially if a fever is present. This is because astragalus may strengthen the chi (energy) of a virus. It should only be used as a preventative.
Additionally, astragalus is also known to thin the blood and should therefore not be used by those on blood thinners or before surgery.
How to Make Astragalus Root Tincture
Making astragalus extract is really easy, all you need is:
- 1 glass mason jar
- Dried astragalus root (I used cut and sifted astragalus root)
- 80 proof vodka
- A sticker label (so you know what’s in the jar!)
Loving Preparation – Astragalus Tincture Recipe
- Fill your mason jar ¼ of the way (if using sliced astragalus root) or 1/3 of the way (if using cut and sifted astragalus root)
- Next, fill the jar just shy of the top with 80 proof vodka (watch the tincture closely for a few days to see if you need to top it off with more vodka as the astragalus soaks up liquid – you want everything submerged at all times)
- Cap the jar closed and shake
- Write down the name of the herb you used and the date on the label and attach it to the jar
- Place the jar in a cool dark place
- Wait 4-6 weeks before straining. During this time, be sure to give the jar a shake every now and then
- Once 4-6 weeks have passed, strain the tincture through a fine-mesh strainer and funnel the finished tincture into your container of choice. I usually use various sized dropper bottles (1/2 oz or 1 oz sizes for taking to work or travel and a bigger 4 oz size for my medicine cabinet at home)
Don’t want to make your own? You can get ready-made astragalus tincture HERE.
You can also get it in capsule form HERE.
How to Use Astragalus Tincture
For adults, take 10-20 drops of tincture up to two times daily when others are sick around you to help protect yourself and boost immunity.
During illness, adults can take 40-80 drops of tincture up to three times daily when sick.
Astragalus is safe to use as directed for extended periods of time which is why I like using it all season long when germs abound.
Have you ever made astragalus tincture? What do you use it for? Please share in the comments below!
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