What is Astragalus? Herbal Remedy for Cancer and Immunity
The Astragalus Herb
What is Astragalus?
Very few people have heard of this herb, yet it is used widely in Chinese medicine because it is gentle but extremely effective at boosting the immune system without negative side effects. In China, astragalus is used regularly to combat the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation in cancer patients. These treatments are extremely hard on the immune system at a time when strong immunity is most needed. Astragalus not only boosts patients immunity, but has also been shown to increase energy and help combat the extreme fatigue that accompanies modern cancer treatments.
Astragalus is an inexpensive herbal remedy that is powerful and has a variety of applications. It is particularly beneficial during cold and flu season because it can be taken all season long to help prevent illness. Other popular herbs like Echinacea for example, lose their effectiveness when taken for more than a couple of weeks at a time. This is not true of Astragalus and it can be taken throughout the entire cold/flu season.
How Does Astragalus Work?
Studies have shown that the primary component of this herb, Astragalan B, attaches itself to the outer membranes of viruses. This weakens their defenses. At the same time, it works in the bone marrow to increase the number and strength of immune cells including macrophages, T lymphocytes and other natural “killer” cells. This is a double whammy, because not only is the immune system boosted, the invaders are also weakened at the same time. This is what has made it so effective as a complementary cancer treatment.
This also makes Astragalus a wonderful and useful herb for the prevention of cold and flu viruses and other ailments.
Astragalus for Asthma, Colds, Flu, & Upper Respiratory Infection
Astragalus has antiviral properties. Not only does it help make your body inhospitable to invading viruses, but should you contract a cold or flu virus, taking astragalus can help shorten the duration of the illness.
Astragalus has a warming effect on the body that is soothing. It provides an energy boost which can be especially helpful for fighting the fatigue that often accompanies viral illness.
Having asthma myself; I am always very diligent during cold/flu season because colds often morph into bronchitis or create more severe asthma symptoms. Flu is also a larger concern for those of us who have chronic conditions like Asthma, COPD, or chronic bronchitis as we are more likely to develop life-threatening complications like pneumonia.
Fortunately, Astragalus is also very good at relieving chest congestion, so I take it not only to avoid viruses, but to help keep myself breathing easier through the winter months. So far I am pleased with the results and have been recommending this herb to everyone I know who has sinus/asthma related issues in the winter.
My partner and I both have asthma, fortunately our children do not, but they love to share their germs with us, so we are always fighting off something. We have both started taking Astragalus religiously from October through the winter months and have found that we both not only breathe easier, but do not get sick nearly as often.
My husband used to get sinus infections routinely through the winter months – and this has not been the case since starting Astragalus. I did contract a cold, which I recovered from fully in 3 days while those around me had it for over a week. This herb, in my opinion has done a lot more for us than Echinacea ever did, mostly because we can take it for the entire season, not just when we feel something coming on.
How to Use Astragalus
Astragalus is a versatile herb and can be used as a tea, tincture, powder, etc. You can buy it in capsule form which is what we do, or you can grow it (not so easy) or even buy it in tea/powdered form as well.
One word of caution here, many products blend Astragalus with Echinacea. Echinacea loses its effectiveness when used long term, so look for products that are strictly Astragalus for longer term use.
Astragalus Side Effects
This herb has little to no side effects which is one of its best qualities. The one thing worth mentioning is that one should not overdose on Astragalus or it can backfire and deplete the immune system. Never take more than the recommended dose. Astragalus is very potent and powerful.
My big caution with any herbal remedy is that people tend to think that since it is natural it is “safe”, so therefore more is better. That is not the case with any medicine – herbal or otherwise. Always stay within suggested guidelines and do not overuse this or any other herbal product.
If you would like to learn more, there is an entire website dedicated Astragalus and its many uses. You can learn how to grow it, where to buy it, more about the studies that have been done on it, and why you should probably consider having it in your herbal medicine cabinet. Learn more at http://www.whatisastragalus.com
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© 2012 Christin Sander
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