Astragalus: Traditional recipes for the immune system

When it comes to staying healthy during the winter, astragalus is my favorite herb to strengthen the immune system. Astragalus is an immune modulating herb, meaning that it helps rev up or calm down the immune system based on what the body needs. I love this “wisdom” that some herbs offer us by cooperating with our bodies instead of forcing us in one direction like some medications do. Astragalus can be used long term, so it is a great choice to take all of cold and flu season. Astragalus also has some antiviral properties, and research shows that it may help to prevent upper respiratory tract infections.

Astragalus roots

Astragalus roots

In addition to its immune benefits, astragalus can help the body compensate for long-term stress. Stress has many negative effects on our bodies, particularly on our adrenal glands that help regulate our metabolism among other things. Our adrenal glands release cortisol in response to stress. Disrupted cortisol production can be associated with fatigue, insomnia, and even high blood sugar and blood pressure. By balancing adrenal output, astragalus can be a great part of the plan to help us recover from these types of issues. Because astragalus is high in antioxidants, it can also help protect the liver.

This winter I am enjoying my astragalus the traditional way by making astragalus soup and astragalus bone broth. I looked through several different recipes for astragalus soup, the traditional Chinese way of using this immune boosting herb. I was trying to decide how long the soup needed to simmer. Some recipes recommended adding astragalus root to any chicken soup and simmering for 10 minutes, but I didn’t think this was long enough. Then I found a traditional recipe. It called for 2/3 of an ounce of astragalus in 5 cups of liquid cooked over medium heat until only 2 cups of liquid was left. This was clearly a “real” recipe with its longer cooking time to extract the maximum benefits from the astragalus, so I decided to add astragalus root to my bone broth.

Here is my recipe for Astragalus Bone Broth:
Place chicken or other bones in a pot or crockpot
Cover the bones with water
Add about 2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar for every 8 cups of water
Add 1 ounce of dried astragalus root for every 8 cups of water or so
Cover with a tight fitting lid
Simmer very low on the stove or cook on low in the crockpot for 12-48 hours
Strain the broth and enjoy

I drink this broth as a hot beverage with a little bit of salt. The astragalus has a mild nearly smoky taste and the broth is quite delicious. If you want to try astragalus soup but aren’t ready to make a bone broth, try adding the astragalus roots to any soup you are making. Cook the soup with the astragalus roots for at least 20 minutes. Then remove the astragalus roots before you serve the soup just like you would with bay leaves. And of course, astragalus comes in capsules too so you can get these immune benefits no matter how busy your schedule is.

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8 responses to “Astragalus: Traditional recipes for the immune system

  1. Where do you buy your astragalus root? Thanks, Sally

    Sally Wimberly Reflexology, Rosen Movement, Rosen Bodywork (479)442-0002 http://www.sallywimberly.com

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  2. Total change of subject: I have an eight year old diabetic dog, that I adopted from an animal rescue, 18 months ago. Didn’t know he was diabetic at that time. Do you know what I can give him for dental hygiene chews? I’ve only found one that has no sugar of any kind, and they are very expensive. The prescription dogfood I have to buy for him is also quite costly. Are rawhide chews sugar-free? I know you specialize in human dietary health (came to hear you at an Olli class), but hoping you might have some information that will help us. Thank you, Lisa Mills

    • I am afraid I know more about cats than dogs, but I would imagine that the rawhide chews would be sugar free. I have also seen some chews made out of antler. The pet book I like by Dr. Pitcairn recommends giving certain raw bones to your dog, which you might be able to find at a meat market. And just an anecdote to pass on from one dog owner, she was able to substantially improve her dog’s diabetes by adding some maitake mushroom powder from capsules to her dog’s food.

  3. Thanks for the information about Astragalus Root, I am going to try this in my next bone broth!!

  4. Elisabeth Lingle

    Dr. Laurrell, I would like to take some herbal courses so that I can learn to grow my own herbs and make herbal tinctures and teas for my family. Do you have a recommendation? The choices seem a little overwhelming. Elisabeth Lingle

    Sent from my iPad

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