The use of herbs and herbal medicine in general is a VERY complicated art and science. Western approaches have attempted to simply this by using this “Herb X is good for Problem Y” approach and it has met with varying degrees of success and problems. The reason is not the herb; it is improper use of the herb, improper use of the part of the herb or incorrect species that is often at the root of the problem. As mentioned, herbal medicine is a complex art and science and must be studied at length.
Never more is this message clear as with the herb Astragalus. Used correctly, Astragalus is an exceptional herb that has a number of powerful medicinal qualities. For example:
- It strengthens the spleen and is a powerful Qi (or energy) tonic. Very helpful for those who have little appetite.
- It has an uplifting effect on the energy; as such, prolapse of the uterus or stomach would benefit from this herb.
- Strengthens the quality of the blood
- It is used for edema due to its diuretic qualities
- Perhaps best known for its strong positive effect on the immune system IF USED CORRECTLY.
The immune issue comes with a huge caveat. If a person is healthy and wishes to maintain or even improve their level of health, Astragalus can be very useful. IF however, a person has a pathogen (such as a virus or parasite for example) in their system, Astragalus will drive the pathogen deeper and worsen the problem. It is said to “trap” the pathogen.
As one can see, use of this herb is a delicate matter and should be done with great caution.
When I see people recommending this herb haphazardly or its use in a formula without any notice of the above, 2 things jump to mind:
- The developer of the formula does not know herbal medicine. Even a novice herbalist would be careful with Astragalus.
- If the developer of the formula is careless with this herb, what else are they careless about?
Astragalus can be a fantastic herb and powerful immune and energy tonic, given the right circumstances. If you are using or considering the use of this herb, please do so under supervision.