Three Easy Ways to Work With Astragalus
"WTF do I do with these?" This is a question I get asked a lot about our Astragalus root slices, and I get it.
I didn’t grow up with Astragalus root slices in our kitchen, and unfortunately it's not something you commonly see in the spice aisle at the grocery store, but now that I know how to extract that good good medicine from it, it's so simple to add it into my daily life.
First off, why even bother?
Astragalus (Astragalus membranes) has several important herbal actions, but the reason I am focusing on it today is for its effect on the immune system.
Astragalus is an immunomodulator, which is different than say, Echinacea that stimulates the immune system into action. Instead immunomodulators strengthen the immune system. This class of herb might be especially recommended if you are sensitive to echinacea or if you suffer from allergies. Sometimes encouraging an immune response can make those allergies worse.*
There's No Time Like The Present
Right now is the PERFECT time of year to start incorporating Astragalus Root into your daily consumption to get ahead of the cold and flu season. This plant likes to work slowly overtime, like your immune system is a muscle. It won’t grow big and strong after one workout, or in Astragalus’s case, after one dose. So, adding it in as often as you can, the better off you are at preventing illness.
Here are three super easy ways to work with this herb (that even your kids will love):
1. In Oatmeal (Even Instant!)
To effectively extract the polysaccharides (which is what is strengthening our immune system) from astragalus you have to make a decoction out of it.
A decoction is an herbal preparation for hard or woody plants and it just means to simmer in water. To make an astragalus decoction add one to two root slices per cup of water into a pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove or strain off the root slices. What's left is a beautifully nourishing herbal preparation.
Next, you will use this now astragalus-infused boiling water in lieu of the plain water or milk you would use to make oatmeal. This works for instant oatmeal too! It’s a super easy way to add some extra immune-system-supporting benefits first thing in the morning.
2. Thrown into Soups and Broths
In Traditional Chinese Medicine astragalus root is thrown into soups to simmer and then removed before serving. It has a very neutral, slightly starchy flavor that won't interrupt the flavors of your dish. This is one of the easiest ways to make it a part of your meals! (Plus, since you can freeze soups and broths, you can make big batches in advance.)
3. In Hot Chocolate
Just like replacing the water in your oatmeal, you can make a yummy Immunomodulating Hot Chocolate by using an Astragalus Decoction in any “just add water” hot chocolate mix. The kids will love it!
I hope you enjoy these options for working with Astragalus root, and if you try them out, please let me know what you thought!
Also, if you can’t find this root at your local herb shop, we have it available in two purchasing options. One is in an amber glass bottle, not only to protect it from UV light, but to fit in your spice cabinet for easy access while cooking.
You can also find it in a 1oz refill pack in our bio-degradeable and compostable packaging (just like our teas!)