Welcome to cold and flu season everyone. By now, all of the neighborhood petri dishes have spent a few weeks back at elementary school rubbing their grubby little hands all over handrails and shared scissors and of course, they’ve brought all kinds of microbial goodness home to you!

 

One of the most powerful allies we have in the war on immune compromise is the herb Huang Qi. Huang Qi (Radix Astargali), more commonly known to Westerners as Astragalus, has immune boosting properties in addition to many more favorable attributes.

 

In Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology by famous herbalist John Chen, Chen outlines the studies done with Huang Qi.  Some of the highlights include:

 

  • Immunostimulant: Subcutaneous injection of Huang Qi increases white blood cells and multinuclear leukocytes in mice. In addition, administration of Huang Qi is associated with an enhanced production of IgM in mice.
  • Prevention of common colds and influenza: In one study, 540 patients with past histories of frequent common colds and influenza were divided into two groups and received preventative treatment with Huang Qi. One group received 5 grams of Huang Qi in pills three times daily, and the other group received 15 grams of Huang Qi in decoction every other day. All patients had two courses of 10 days treatment, with 5 days of rest in between courses. The study reported that patients in both groups had similar results. Both had 2.7 times lower risk of infection, and a shortened duration of infection.
  • Antibiotic: Huang Qi has been shown to inhibit the activity of Bacillus dysenteriae [dysentery], Bacillus anthracis [anthrax], β-hemolytic streptococcus [strep], Corynebacterium diphtheriae [diphtheria], Diplococcus pneumoniae [pneumonia], and Staphylococcus aureus [staph infections].

 

The ability to act as an immune stimulant, prevent colds and flu in addition to providing anti-biotic qualities is a powerful set of attributes for any healing substance. Astragalus is also prescribed to combat fatigue, eliminate excess water weight, enhance the strength of the lungs, and prevent daytime sweating.

 

The recommended dosage for personal intake of Astragalus is 10-15 grams in a serving with a maximum of 150 grams in one day.  Readily available in the raw form at any herb shop or in pill form at local health food stores or larger chains like Whole Foods.

 

When purchasing any herb, the raw, unprocessed form will always be your most potent and should be used with any acute situation. Astragalus comes in long vanilla colored pieces and can be decocted, or cooked into tea form, by itself or with other teas.

 

If your children have just gone off to school or the people in your office are beginning to cough and sniffle, this is the herb that will keep you healthy, happy and training hard.