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Herb of the Month: Astragalus

Used for over two thousand years in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Astragalus membranaceus (Astragalus) is a Super-hero in the world of Herbal Medicine! Its immune-regulating and antioxidant properties make it one of the most highly regarded and relied-upon herbs in cases of lowered immunity, convalescence, and protection against potential colds and flu’s. It is also used in Traditional Chinese medicine as a means of enhancing and strengthening Qi, which in a nutshell refers to one’s vital energy.

Astragalus is an incredibly complex herb, with a plethora of constituents including beta-sitosterol, and glycosides. But it is essentially its polysaccharides and saponins such as cycloastragenol, astragalosides, isoflavones and flavonoids that work in harmony to exert its well-researched effects of immunomodulation, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action.

Supporting and Strengthening Immunity

It has been shown that it is the active ingredients in the roots of the Astragalus plant that not only help strengthen immunity but help restore it! Increases in macrophages, neutrophils and lymphocytes have been shown to be elevated only 8-12 hours after Astragalus administration and an increase in the number of circulating platelets in only 4 hours, exhibiting a direct dose-dependent link to the immune system.

Being able to influence immune components in such an immediate and positive way, allows Astragalus to be used in a protective way. This includes reducing the risk of colds and flu’s by increasing infection resistance, as well as helping to decrease associated complaints of chronic sinusitis and hay fever.

Potent Antioxidant!

Oxidative stress plays a huge role in various disease states, but especially that of the modern age ie. Chronic conditions exacerbated by stress. Antioxidants are therefore required to combat this, helping to protect cells and tissues by scavenging free radicals that are the hallmark of oxidation.

The constituents in Astragalus, especially astragaloside, exhibits high levels of antioxidant activity by raising levels of superoxide dismutase, one of our major down-regulators of free radicals and reactive oxygen species.

Best Use Astragalus for Prevention!

Astragalus works a little differently to many herbs, it helps restore and build the immune system and is traditionally not used during a cold, flu or other type of infection – this is when other herbs can be used to address acute symptoms.

So use this amazing herb during the winter months, while travelling, when you are feeling run down and when you are recovering from a bout of the flu or convalescing.