Astragalus, also known as Huang Qi or “yellow leader,” is one of the premier herbs of the Orient for supporting and strengthening the immune system. Huang means “yellow” and qi means “leader,” signifying its status as one of the most important of the immune tonic herbs.

Its primary action is an immunomodulator, rather than as an immune stimulant, which makes it ideal for long-term use. It can be included in formulas where strengthening of the immune system is desired, especially when it involves the lungs.

According to researcher Steven Foster, “Pharmacological and clinical studies confirm its immunostimulant, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, adaptogenic, liver-protecting, and diuretic effects. It also improves stamina.”

Astragalus is helpful for night sweats arising from immune deficiency, and is used extensively in Traditional Chinese Medicine for chemotherapy support.

The dried root is sliced – they usually resemble throat depressor sticks – and can be added to soups and stews as they simmer, providing additional “food as medicine.”

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Paulina Nelega, MLT, RH

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