Assuming you haven't been living under a rock for the last 20 years (or more), you've no doubt run headlong into the popular health phenoms of Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. These thousands-year-old systems of spiritual healing haven't been studied in depth or particularly effectively, but studies definitely show promising results in, for instance, Ayurveda's ability to counteract medical issues. Among other techniques, these systems rely heavily on adaptogens, of which astragalus is one.
What Is It?
Astragalus is a root that can come from one of many plants and shrubs in the astragalus genus. It may be taken orally, delivered intravenously, or rubbed on the skin to fight infection and disease as well as speed wound healing.
What Does It Do?
Astragalus is an adaptogen, a class of compounds that help the body normalize in reaction to physical and psychological stress. It is also anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial, helping your body in a number of ways. For instance, it provides benefits such as:
- Lowering stress
- Reducing the effects of kidney disease
- Supporting learning and memory
- Lowering blood pressure
- Potentially helping address heart infection and boosting heart health
- Reducing inflammation
- Boosting wellness when used as a general tonic
Perhaps most promisingly, astragalus may protect telomeres, which in turn protect the ends of DNA and prevent them from deteriorating or fusing with other chromosomes — a key factor in longevity and fighting mutations that lead to cancer.
What's the Nutritional Breakdown?
Astragalus is an herb and is naturally calorie-free and sugar-free. It contains a wide variety of trace minerals, including zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese, copper, calcium, potassium, cobalt, and more.
What Does It Taste Like?
Astragalus is slightly sweet in taste, making for a pleasant, mildly earthy flavor in soup and tea.
How Do I Take It?
You can either take astragalus supplements that have been premeasured by a Chinese or Ayurvedic practitioner, or you can make tea from the roots. Your health practitioner can advise on proper dosage for their specific products, but generally, you boil three to six grams of dried root in 12 ounces of water for a strong tea.
Are There Any Negative Side Effects?
As far as we know, astragalus is perfectly safe. The National Center For Complementary and Integrative Health does point out that it may lead to diarrhea and gastrointestinal issues, probably milder than a bad burrito at your favorite taco truck. Beware eating the plant on its own, not in supplement form, as some species can be toxic, and ask a doctor if you're taking medications for organ transplants or cancer.