When you wander past the health food section during the cold season, Astragalus is usually one of the key things on display to help boost immunity. It’s an amazing plant ally that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine (it’s often prepared alongside dong quai, ginseng, licorice) for everything from cancer, fatigue, anorexia, and respiratory infections, to heart disease, and fibromyalgia. And because of its powerful adaptogenic properties, astragalus supports all of our immune functions. It’s a great addition to your daily routine during cold and flu season.
Why Astragalus is Astounding: Research has been coming out for a few years now describing why Astragalus is an astounding gift from the plant kingdom.
It shows potential to protect our DNA and increase longevity: Astragalus may protect the telomeres from degradation. Remember: Telomeres are attached to the ends of our chromosomes, such that during DNA replication, they keep the DNA together in the same way, and for the same reason why, you might cauterize a rope. See, each time DNA replicates, telomeres become slightly shorter; when that buffer is gone we see things like cancer or aging come into the picture. “Telomeres are specialized structures at the ends of chromosomes, with an essential role in protecting the chromosome ends from fusions and degradation”
It protects against heart disease: It has been shown to strengthen artery walls and preserve nerve functionality once blood returns to certain parts of the brain, regulates the functionality of the heart, and even protects the body from stroke. An important option for those suffering from chronic heart failure: “it can prevent the frequency of episodes in hearts that are already damaged,” like from chronic or major singular stress episodes or even stroke.
It Supports Neurological Regeneration: Targeting adult neurogenesis has become a novel and promising therapeutic strategy for brain repair and recovery of neurological functions. And TCM’s use of Astragalus brings with it thousands of case reports showing how herbal formulas treat stroke disability. As “Stroke is the second most common cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in human diseases worldwide,” finding regenerative connections along with stem cell biology approaches, astragalus is being regarded with great potential for post-stroke rehabilitations.
It helps prevent cancer New Research has revealed that it may be the saponins in astragalus, which work against the proliferation of cancer cells, specifically gastric cancer, by preventing their necessary oxygenation that allows the cancer cell to survive: “This is in the early stages of development, but this is extremely promising for other types of cancer as well.”
Fun Fact: There are more than 2,000 species of astragalus!
HOW TO TAKE: Whole herb capsules, tinctures or tea.
Word of Warning and Contraindication:
Do not take if you’re pregnant or if you’re working with complications due to autoimmunity, such as: lupus, HIV, MS, Hashimoto’s, etc., astragalus may actually exacerbate your symptoms depending on your individual immune expression. Please talk to a trained medical professional before experimenting with astragalus.