Out of the thousands of herbs available in the Chinese medical system, one is turned to more than any other to increase the circulation of Qi in the body, to build strong blood that any vampire would be drooling over and to stimulate the circulatory aspect of our immune system into action (kind of like an immune system fluffer!)... and that herb is astragalus.
This SUPER powerful adaptogenic root is one of the absolute most potent tonic herbs in the world and was revered by ancient herbalists for its effects as an energizer of the entire living system of the body (think of those Energizer Bunny ads). You’ll notice some big differences however between this bad-ass herb and taking a modern synthetic energizer such as a modern “energy” drink, for example. The key difference is that astragalus doesn’t just give you energy, it also helps your body to cultivate the primary energy of your body and build circulatory power for an ongoing and consistent ability to create your own long-term, sustainable energy that will keep you going ALL day. Now that’s the kind of friend we want, right? The one that teaches us how to fish, doesn’t just give us a carcinogenic one (yes that’s right, my opinion is that modern energy drinks may create cell death and mutation in our beautiful bodies; way easier to just start taking astragalus ;)).
Astrag - 'The Great Protector'
The Daoists talk of a protective layer of energy that circulates just under the skin called Wei Qi and they were very impressed by astragalus’ ability to tone and fortify this energy. It is known that this energy is highly protective and, when strong, can be a powerful “first line of defense” to ensure minimal opportunistic organisms are passing into your body and making it a home. Now you may be asking, why the f%$# was I not educated about this intrinsic and very important part of my body and immune system at school rather than, oh I don’t know... algebra (still haven’t used it yet...)? Great question! I have no idea, but I am glad I am able to share this info with you now.
This layer of Wei Qi is so, so important as it is always way more difficult to eliminate disease- and weakness-causing pathogens once they are inside. I mean, instead of waiting until we get sick, let’s just set some (energetic) ground rules as to who and what cannot come into our body and rock out. Astragalus (along with breathwork and energy practices), can help you to cultivate it, which is like putting money in the bank (if 'money' is the capacity to live a long and joyful life filled with heaps of adventure, sex and laughter). For these benefits and more, astragalus became known as 'The Great Protector' in the Chinese tradition.
One thing that comes to mind when I think about what aging is, is someone whose organs are becoming weak and flabby (“Is your spleen getting a beer gut?”) We see this manifest physically as some aging folks find it harder to hold themselves upright...the ability to naturally hold themselves strong against the forces of gravity becomes too much and they begin to slow down, their skin sags, and they are more drawn down towards the earth. However it isn’t a tense muscle-based strength that holds us upright, it is subtle upright Qi that helps us balance the gravitational pull so we remain buoyant and our organs do not begin to lose structure and integrity, and therefore prolapse. Astragalus is a primary tonic herb that tones and builds this upright Qi and helps us to stay bouncy and light on our feet as we age.
As if all of this wasn’t enough to include astragalus in our herbal collection, this tonic is a beautiful contributor to our inner immunity. It enhances the ability of the body to release toxins via the skin and heal wounds. It’s adaptogenic and immune-boosting constituents of triterpene glycosides (saponins) and polysaccharides, provide immunomodulating effects in humans (and animals) that enhance macrophage activity, increase natural killer-cell efficiency and increases the capacity for intelligent immune response to “invaders” while reducing excessive immune function, as we see in auto-immune conditions.
All in all, this is one of my all time favorite herbs and a great ally in arming the body against foreign invaders while building a resistance to aging systemically. If you’re getting the call to invite astragalus into your life (and your body), be sure to source a traditionally harvested and dual-extracted herb to ensure you get the full force and benefits for your body and your Qi. Check out this beautiful extract we’ve sourced from China (see why we source from China), the homeland of astragalus, and feel the benefits for yourself, because after all, I don’t want you to take my word for it, I want you to feel the full-power effects for yourself.
Until next time SuperFeasters, stay enchanted, and enjoy dancing the dance with astragalus.