Most of us experience stress. A lot of stress. Often. We battle everything from illness to deadlines to rush hour to systemic injustice to the ever-growing demands of technology…the list could go on. We feel it in our bodies and see it reflected in our health. Stress makes us tired and it makes us sick. Luckily, there are shifts we can make in our lives to invite in wellness, including incorporating herbal remedies. I'm not just talking about herbs to help you calm down. I'm talking about herbs to help you build resiliency so stress won't affect you so much, so that you feel stronger and get sick less.
That's where astragalus root comes in. If you're not familiar with this herb, consider it your new ally for life in the modern era. It's what herbalists call an 'adaptogen', meaning it brings your body into balance by helping it adapt and better respond to whatever stressors are affecting it. Think of it like a best friend who just wants to build you up and support you no matter what.
Astragalus is specifically known for its ability to strengthen the immune system and energize the entire body. It can be used both preventatively as a tonic herb, or to treat long-term imbalances. It's great for restoring vitality, and is also nice to take after you've recovered from illness to help replenish your strength. The plant is native to China and you can find a long history of it being used in Tradition Chinese Medicine for these purposes, as well as in modern herbalism.
Astragalus is a very safe herb and, like all tonics, it will work best if you take it on a daily basis over a period of many months. You can take an herbal extract, but the dried root has a very subtle flavor, so it's also really easy to incorporate it into your diet. It is a root, so you'll want to make sure it gets simmered in order to get the proper medicinal effect. We especially like to add it to soup stocks- simply throw it in at the beginning of the process, and remove just before serving. You can also add it to rice at the start of cooking, or to oatmeal or tea.
If astragalus sounds like something you'd like to try, you can find it on our shop in many forms:
We offer an extract of the root, which is easy to keep nearby and take every day in a little bit of water or directly on the tongue.
We also sell the dried root slices to incorporate in cooking or tea.
Our Chai features astragalus, along with spices and other strengthening herbs that are especially nourishing in autumn and winter. (Remember, if you live in Portland, you can order a cup at Milk Glass Market!) It's also a key ingredient in our Harvest and Reflect blends.
(The photo of the astragalus leaf is by herbalist Gail Faith Edwards, who wrote a lovely article about it that you can read here.)