Latin: Astragalus membranaceus
Parts Used: Roots
Taste/Energetics: Sweet, moistening, slightly warming
Properties: Tonic, adaptogenic, immunomodulating, antimicrobial, diuretic, cardiotonic, anti-tumoral.
Actions: This is one of the gentlest tonic “adaptogens” available to us. Astragalus is traditionally commonly added to soups and congees as a way of encouraging greater nourishment and sustenance via the diet and is the main way I recommend taking it.
Astragalus has a special affinity for improving immune function and for those who appear short of breath with common lung complaints. It improves the “wei qi”, a term for the energy that protects pathogens from entering and causing illness. Astragalus also improves digestive functioning by moistening and strengthening absorption.
It is a deeply helpful herb for those who feel run down, exhausted, depressed from being overstressed and overtaxed. It improves kidney function by improving metabolism and encouraging diuresis. Also helpful for inhibiting tumor growth.
Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy warns against using this herb when the body is already being attacked pathogenically. But numerous Western herbalists I know as well as myself will offer this herb as part of bone broth and soups with good effect.
Dose: As I said, I primarily suggest taking this herb whole as a supplement to bone broths and soups. 5-15 grams a day. It is sold in compressed root form in a way that looks like tongue dispenser sticks. Quality varies greatly depending on the provenance and length of time astragalus was grown.
Tincture: 2-5 ml, 2 times a day
Tea/broths: I generally don’t use astragalus in teas (preferring them in soups and broths) but if I do I will generally add astragalus to a larger formula. So those astragalus “tongue depressors” can weigh anywhere from 1-5 grams. This is a gentle herb that is hard to overdo but generally take about 3-4 of these astragalus compressed roots and add them to a pint of water and decoct them for 30 minutes to an hour.
Powder: 1-2 teaspoons (3-6 grams) 3 times a day
Contraindications: Avoid when a cold or the flu is coming on. Avoid when taking immunomodulating drugs.
Astragalus monograph by Rosalee de la Foret
Astragalus monograph by Krystal Thompson, Herb Rally