Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)

Family: Fabaceae

Parts commonly used: Root.

Properties/energetics: Tonic, stimulant, diuretic/Warm; sweet.

Systems predominantly affected:  Digestive, immune, respiratory, urinary.

Uses: Employed to enhance the overall immune system complex, treat chronic weakness of the lung, and build general health. Astragalus strengthens digestion, sharpens metabolism by balancing the energy of the internal organs and increases energy, thereby buildsing deep overall resistance to disease. Astragalus is a reliable tonic for the lungs and kidneys. It acts directly to enhance the condition of the blood, being a specific for all wasting-away and exhausting diseases. It also promotes healing of wounds. Considering this herb is the current king of herbs that tonify the immune system, its actual mode of activity is not that well understood. It has been shown to increase interferon production, thereby preventing viral infection, but this does not go far enough to explain the often-remarkable effects that can be observed clinically. Practitioners of Western herbalism usually use this Chinese plant for two general purposes: to help relieve fatigue and increase levels of endurance in individuals who tire easily, and to help build the immune system in individuals with compromised immunity (for example, people who get frequent colds, have had radiation therapy or chemotherapy, or are HIV positive).

Combinations: Combines well with other herbs to enhance their effects. Astragalus has been used in combination with Ligustrum for raising the white blood cell count of people exposed to radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

Affects on specific body types: This herb is a gentle but profound tonic and can be useful for innately weak people. It builds without pushing and seems to work best when exhaustion accompanies immune deficiency. This energizing herb has its uses for all constitutional types, but as a strength-building, rejuvenating tonic is probably best suited to the Seer. Using it as a tonic, this individual is less likely to get sick, especially from respiratory infections, which will occur less often and less severely.

Precautions: Best not to use during acute infection or during acute allergic reactions. However, it is appropriate for cases when an acute ailment has lingered and the person is growing weak. Okay to use during pregnancy.
Preparations/dosage: Decoction: 2 to 3 long sticks or 2 to 5 tablespoons per day. Taken as a tonic beverage, also stewed as a food and decocted in water used for preparing rice, beans, soups, or stews. Tincture: 30 to 40 drops three to four times a day. Can be added to compounds to enhance the actions of the other herbs.

By James Green, Herbalist, copyright 2008

For more information please refer to James Green’s book, The Male Herbal, 2nd Edition