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December 24

3 Benefits of ASTRAGALUS ROOT: Tonic Herb to Prevent Common Cold, Flu, Asthma, and MORE!

People have known the medicinal benefits of astragalus root for thousands of years.

It is known in traditional Korean medicine as 황기, which is translated as “Yellow astragalus root.” The herb energetically interacts with the lung and spleen. It has a sweet flavor and its thermal property is slightly warm. Thankfully, it has very low toxicity.

This leads to the next question: What’s the therapeutic effect of this herb in East Asian medicine’s perspective?

1. Astragalus root tonifies Qi

Qi (기) is a term for universal force that energizes all conscious beings. Particularly, proper flow and production of blood require an adequate supply of Qi. We discussed that the herb interacts with the spleen, correct? Well, astragalus root tonifies the spleen’s function, which is transformation and transportation of Qi (It carries blood, body fluids, and nutrients) throughout the body.

In addition, Spleen Qi controls the flow of blood and contains it in the vessels.

Deficiency of spleen Qi may cause easy bleeding/bruising. Because Qi and blood travel together in the vessels, when there is a sudden loss of blood, Qi collapses. Astragalus root would be an excellent choice for this situation. Its strong Qi-tonifying effect will generate blood and increase blood flow to the extremities. Thus, astragalus root promotes normal circulation of Qi to relieve skin and muscle numbness and pain. Also, the herb promotes the discharge of pus and encourage healing through generation of new flesh!

Here’s another possible symptom with spleen Qi deficiency: In this case, Qi is not spread throughout the body and most of this can be trapped in the muscle layers for a prolonged period of time. This can lead to irritability with low-grade fever or unremitting high fever with fatigue, spontaneous sweating, and frequently catching cold. Astragalus root treats this “deficiency heat” condition even though it is warm in nature.

2. Astragalus root regulates water circulation and reduces edema due to Qi deficiency

Do you recall that the Spleen Qi deficiency disables the spleen’s transportation function? This results in retention of water in the body, causing edema.

Astragalus root tonifies Qi, and in turn promotes normal circulation of water.

Thus, astragalus root is able to treat conditions such as facial edema, superficial edema, sensations of heaviness in the body, spontaneous sweating and intolerance of wind. When used individually, the diuretic effect of astragalus root is very mild and should be combined with diuretic herbs for stronger therapeutic results. However, this is the herb of choice when the patient presents deficiency along with water retention signs and symptoms. When using astragalus root as a diuretic only, the recommended dosage is low (approximately 9 grams).

3. Astragalus root protects our immune system

At the exterior of our body, there is a specialized form of Qi known as “protective _Qi_” (위기) that defends the body from the invasion of exterior pathogenic factors that cause common colds, influenza, and other infections. Protective Qi does its job by regulating skin pores.

At this point you may be wondering, ‘How does astragalus root interact with the lungs?’ According to the traditional medicine theory, lungs are the main organs responsible for generating fresh Protective Qi. Astragalus root’s energetics enter the lungs and strengthen the function of Protective Qi!

Deficiency of the exterior leads to leakage of body fluids, resulting in spontaneous perspiration. This often leads to a compromised immune system and frequent contraction of exterior pathogenic infections. Astragalus root tonifies the Protective Qi and prevents spontaneous sweating.

Clinically, this herb has shown to be effective in prevention of common colds and influenza, asthma, cough, upper respiratory/pulmonary tract infection, as well as for patients undergoing post-stroke treatments and chemotherapy.

CONTRAINDICATIONS

• Astragalus root is for preventing the invasion of pathogens from the exterior. Once the signs/symptoms of the pathogen invasion occur, the use of astragalus root is contraindicated

• Excess of Qi, which can happen while experiencing anger due to Liver Qi stagnation. Remember that astragalus root is a tonic herb and is used for weakness, or deficiency, of Qi!

• Internal heat or excess fire conditions

• Sores and lesions caused by heat in the blood

• Conditions with stagnation

• Pregnant women in the third trimester should use astragalus root carefully. Its diuretic effect and long-term use may decrease the quantity of amniotic fluid

FINAL THOUGHTS

Astragalus root is a wonderful tonic herb that is used in various herbal decoctions and powders to prevent seasonal cold, flu, and other respiratory conditions. I highly recommend that you consult with a licensed oriental medicine practitioner if you think this herb fits your needs.

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