Astragalus has been used in Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine for at least two thousand years. As an acupuncture student, I was trained to use this dried, sliced root in herb formulas to treat the common cold, fatigue and exhaustion, eczema, as well as lung and kidney problems. I was also taught that it was common in China to add a few slices to chicken soup to strengthen the immune response in viral infections or those undergoing chemotherapy. It is my pleasure to share some astragalus with you to add to Dr. Sally’s Chicken Soup.
Over the past few decades, scientists have identified Astragalus’ main phytochemicals (isoflavonoids, saponins, polysaccharides, and amino acids) and their biological activity has been verified. A plethora of animal and cell studies is demonstrating that the phytochemicals in Astragalus do indeed have an anti-viral effect, support several key aspect of immune regulation, inhibit the growth and metastasis of a variety of cancer cells, reduce damage to tissues during chemotherapy and have an anti-inflammatory action. Researchers are working to synthesize its active components to bring to market as a chemotherapeutic agent.
While the research continues, I encourage you to slip a few slices into your next soup or stew: it barely influences the flavor and works beautifully with the other ingredients to enhance our immune response and help keep us healthy!