By Jordan Douglas, HHC

Looking for a new herbal ally to add to your winter wellness regime? Meet astragalus. Astragalus is native to China and has a rich history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), where it is known as Huang Qi. In TCM, astragalus has been used for thousands of years to invigorate vital energy and strengthen Qi. Western medicine is no stranger to astragalus, but for quite a different use. The root has been used as a source of tragacanth, a gum used as an antidiarrheal agent and to thicken food.

A member of the Fabaceae (legume) family, the astragalus root is the part used as medicine. Astragalus is rich in terpenes, polysaccharides, flavonoids, isoflavones and plant sterols, all of which render it an ideal herb for immune support. Astragalus is a wonderful tonic herb to take throughout the cooler months to support immune and stress responses. Traditionally astragalus has been used both as an immunostimulant and as an immunomodulator, as well to support healthy cardiac function. It is also considered a secondary adaptogen and can help support a healthy response to stress. Astragalus is a building herb that helps fortify our tissues and build our interior.

Astragalus is a slow acting herb ideal for long term use. Astragalus can be enjoyed daily by many* during the fall and winter months. It is slightly warming and mildly sweet due to the high polysaccharide content of the root. It is best enjoyed as a tincture or decoction. To make a decoction of astragalus at home, add 6g of dried astragalus root to two cups of water in a saucepan. Cover, bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 20-30minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly then strain and sip. No time for decoctions? Check out Urban Moonshine’s Immune Tonic featuring astragalus and other immune supportive herbs for an easy, on the go winter wellness ally. I love adding dried slices of astragalus root to broth stocks, and the powder to creamy blended soups. No matter how you use it, astragalus is a lovely versatile plant ally to support your daily seasonal wellness regime.

*As always, check with your doctor or health care practitioner before adding any herb or dietary supplement to your wellness regimen.

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