Culinary + Fashion

Herban Love | Astragalus

by | May 22, 2018

Photo from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

How exciting this is to launch an ongoing series in partnership with our plant-loving compatriots, Goldthread Herbs, and its founder, William Siff. Monthly, we’ll be rolling out a red – or, rather, green – carpet for an herb, tonic, or plant of our collective choosing, imparting useful knowledge surrounding its properties and tools for utilization in our daily lives. This month, we kick off with a tonic herb fittingly at the beginning of the alphabet – Astragalus.

Astragalus has been used in herbal medicine for more than 2,000 years and is one of the most popular of all the Chinese tonic herbs worldwide today. In North America, the herb has gained a well-deserved reputation as an immune tonic and enhancer of overall energy and endurance. It is commonly used for respiratory infections, colds, allergies, fibromyalgia, high blood pressure and more ailments. Its earthy sweetness and warmth are deeply replenishing to the body. It is a time-honored addition to soups in China to help tone the deep immune system, readying it for the increasing exposure to pathogens in the environment that are more common in the colder months of the year. Its long roots can be cooked into soups and stews to create a rich medicinal broth.

What is a tonic? Since this is the first in our series, let’s scoot back a few steps. As Bill explains, most tonics are comprised of roots, and they aid us mimicking them – planting us in the earth, in our bodies. We become unshakeable and undivided as they course through us. If used with wisdom, tonics bestow us the strength to persevere in the midst of life’s trials and tribulations. They confer the stability of an oak tree and the resiliency to bend without breaking, like bamboo. William started Goldthread Herbs, his plant-based tonic company, because he unequivocally believes in, and knows deeply, the peak functioning that tonics encourage our vital organs to operate within.

Tonics fundamentally act in two ways. They are nature’s repository of deep elemental accumulations of stored energy, and they are natural vitamin pills – concentrations of super nutrition and accumulations of plant energy soaked up into the roots, sipping foundational nutrients from deep within the earth. Many contain nutrients we require in very small amounts. They fill in the gaps within our daily nutrition, adding vital and powerful elements that supercharge the body’s capacities. Their stabilizing and consolidating effects allow us to conserve inner resources and maximize the efficiency of how we transform them into usable energy. They tone. They’re like Hollywood’s hottest trainer without the price tag, and they’re all natural. They minimize leakage. They positively influence how we distribute our resources. The list goes on, and so shall we.

3 ways to incorporate Astragalus into your diet:

  • Root form: Astragalus root is great as the base of a medicinal, immune enhancing soup stock like this one
  • Capsule form: You can add powdered astragalus to smoothies, oatmeal, baked goods, energy balls etc.
  • Tea: There are various store-bought teas containing astragalus and you can even make a yummy chai recipe like this one
Photo from Traditional Medicinals
Photo from Learning Herbs

Astragalus is the star of the show in Goldthread’s Elderberry Defense tonic.

Potential side effects:
The most commonly reported side effects of Astragalus are diarrhea and other mild gastrointestinal effects. This root can affect blood sugar levels and blood pressure and be risky for people with certain health problems, such as blood disorders, diabetes, or hypertension. Astragalus may interact with medications that suppress the immune system by making the immune system more active. This could worsen the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. Avoid using Astragalus if you have any of these conditions.