If you have picked up any magazine or newspaper lately, you know what’s coming – the flu! Yes, it’s that time of the year again, but it does not mean you have to fall victim to this virus. There are many, easy things you can do to reduce your risk of catching a bug. The simplest of them are wash your hands frequently, refrain from touching your face, mouth and nose, get enough rest and load up on fruits and veggies.
If you want to go the extra mile and strengthen your immune system, herbs are definitely on your side. One of the best immune boosting herbals is Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceous). Native to north-east China it is one of the most valued medicinal herbs and frequently used in Chinese medicinal formulas. Research has shown that astragalus root makes infection-fighting white blood cells more active and stimulates the production of interferon, a protein which slows the multiplication of viruses.
Astragalus is a tonic herb, which means it can be safely taken over a long period of time. In fact, if you want to rev up your immune system by the time flu season is in full swing, now is the time to start taking astragalus daily.
Astragalus can be taken as a tear or a tincture.
For a decoction, take 2 teaspoons of dried root in 2 cups of boiling water. Turn down heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes. Strain and drink 1 cup three times a day.
To make your won tincture (standardized extract) use 1 part astragalus root and place in a glass container. Cover with 5 parts of clear grain alcohol (vodka works best). Close jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake. Let sit for 4-6 weeks, shaking it every day to prevent plant material from settling. After 6 weeks, strain into small tincture bottles. Take 2 dropper full 2 daily.’