Have you heard of Astragalus before? It has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years – read on to discover why and find a herbal broth recipe below!
What is Astragalus and why is it used?
Also known as Huang Qi, we use the dried root as a powerful energy tonic. It is native to the northern and eastern parts of China, also Korea and Mongolia. The root is the medicinal part of the plant and is usually collected from 4-year-old plants. It has been used for centuries as a warming (yang) tonic. It has adaptogenic, antioxidant and immunomodulating properties. It is also mildly diuretic, helping control excess body fluids like in night sweating, excessive sweating and body fluid retention/edema.
It has become more widely known to the western world because of its superior adaptogenic properties. It can support the body dealing with various stresses – including physical, mental and emotional. Through this, it can improve physical endurance by assisting the body adapt to taxing experiences. Researchers in the United States have found it to aid weakened immune systems helping people recover faster and live longer. A few other applications include anemia, colds, influenza, diabetes, fatigue or lack of appetite from chemotherapy, heart disease, seasonal allergies and kidney disease.
How to incorporate it?
Astragalus can be found powdered, in capsules or tincture form. It can also be made into a decoction. One of my favorite ways to incorporate it is in a nourishing vegetable broth! This recipe is to inspire, feel free to substitute kitchen scraps such as the ends of carrots, celery, beetroot, onion skins or any other vegetables you have on hand.
Huang Qi Healing Broth
- Turnip/beetroot/other root vegetables – about 1 cup chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3-4 carrots, chopped
- 4-6 celery stalks, chopped
- 3-5 cloves of garlic, depending on your preference
- 5-10 sticks of astragalus
- 1 bundle of fresh herbs (I enjoy rosemary, thyme, sage and parsley)
- Handful of nettles, dried or foraged fresh in springtime
Combine all ingredients in a large pot and cover with water; let simmer for 4 -12 hours. Alternatively, you can use your crockpot on low/medium heat. Once complete, strain then season with salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar or the juice of half a lemon. Can be used for the base of soups/stews/curries, to cook your rice in or to sip on as a warming broth.
As always, consult your TCM herbalist/practitioner before beginning any new herbs. It has a few contraindications and interactions. Therefore, it should be discussed to see if this herb can assist you on your journey!
Astragalus. Mount Sinai [cited 2022 April 21] https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/herb/astragalus
Astragalus membranaceus. Sarah Earm. The Naturopathic Herbalist. 2015. [cited 2022 April 21]. https://thenaturopathicherbalist.com/2015/09/08/astragalus-membranaceus/