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Astragalus: Its Roots Go Deep

As far as herbaceous roots go, you could do a lot worse than astragalus. Over the years, this valuable Asian herb has been bestowed with several monikers including membranaceous, bei qi, milk vetch and others. However, let’s just stick with “astragalus” for the purpose of brevity.


Astragalus is widely considered to be one of the most important herbs in traditional Chinese medicine – the forgotten and amazingly reliable practice of preventing and treating health problems by properly utilizing, and interacting with, nature. More specifically, it is one of the main components in Fu Zhen (or Fu Zheng) Therapy. In fact, its Chinese name, “huang qi,” means “yellow leader” because the root (the section of the plant most extensively used for a myriad of medicinal applications) has a yellowish color to it.

According to Cathy Wong’s breakdown of astragalus on About.com, “Astragalus is usually made into a decoction – the roots are boiled in water then removed. It’s often combined with other herbs, such as ginseng. Astragalus can also be found in supplement form at some health food stores.”

In either form (decoction or herbal supplement), astragalus can be very helpful throughout the year for treating diarrhea and night sweats and increasing the amount of energy in the body – hence the word “qi” which some readers may recognize from a myriad of martial arts films both good and bad. It is also somewhat common knowledge that astragalus allows the immune system to function at an optimal level. Although many people in the popular health industry will say that more evidence is necessary, it is a safe bet to assume that astragalus is useful as an antiviral, as supplemental cold medication and as a means of warding off the exacerbation of heart conditions.

Still skeptical? Check it out for yourself. Of course, it’s a diverse world out there with a wide spectrum of health conditions, so consult your physician before taking a supplement with astragalus (or cooking up your own decoctions). However, chances are that the results will be positive and side effects will be slim to none.

The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.