I hope Santa has been good to you, and you’re not too frazzled and stressed.
It happens every year around this time… right after the holidays, I get quite a few patients who come to my Wellness Center who have gotten sick.
Stress can make an illness that you might have fought off with very few symptoms much worse.
I read a study from Carnegie Mellon University about this. They put subjects through a stress test, and then infected them with influenza. They found those who had the most stress actually got sicker, and had more intense symptoms.1
By simply boosting your immune system, you can protect yourself. And of course there are the usual immune boosters like vitamin C or echinacea…
But there is another nutrient that can help your immune system that you might not realize is a very powerful immunity booster.
If you had visited my wellness center years ago, you would have seen many jars of herb and plant mixtures and extracts in jars lining the shelves. Many of the plants I had discovered, researched and used in my practice just weren’t available like some are now. So I would compound them for my patients myself.
One of these was astragalus. It’s one of my favorite anti-viral and immune-boosting herbs.
Astragalus is a unique herb because it helps you face that double threat. A number of clinical studies give us evidence that it has the power to regulate immune response.2,3 But it also fights fatigue and helps you adapt to stress – whether it’s physical, mental or emotional.
It works by helping your body use oxygen more effectively, which can be a root cause of many modern diseases.4
The astragalus root contains astragalosides, which strengthen the body’s defenses and activate the immune system’s “killer” cells. The more we study astragalosides, the more hidden benefits we discover.
- Researchers in China found that astragaloside IV can keep viruses from spreading. 5
- In another study, it was found to promote wound healing and skin strength.6
- It can also prevent tumor cells from reproducing.7
And, after years of searching, a group of researchers isolated a molecule from a rare form of the Astragalus plant that only grows in the temperate northern climate of China.
Through a unique process, they’ve been able to separate this single molecule from among the plant’s 2,000 other compounds. Then they extract it and purify it.
The result is a nutritional supplement that is clinically proven to activate telomerase. This lengthens your telomeres, the tiny protectors at the ends of your DNA, and keeps your immune system young.
They tested this molecule’s effect on the immune system during a study that lasted for more than a year. For most of the people, telomerase activation therapy reduced the percentage of immune cells with short telomeres up to 50 percent! And the amount of immune cells that acted older decreased by 10-20 percent.
The authors were astounded, and wrote that it represented an “apparent age reversal of 5-20 years” for immune cells.8
So before all the stress of the holidays catches up with you, astragalus offers the assistance you need to overcome that run-down feeling.
I recommend two to three tablespoons of astragalus root powder daily (about 30-45 grams).
You can usually find it already dried and ground at many health-food stores. You can also add the powdered form to various foods and prepared dishes. It has a pleasant, mildly sweet taste.
You may also be able to find the entire astragalus root. You can add it to any dish you simmer for 30 minutes or more, like soups or stews. Before you’re ready to eat, just remove the root.
You can also cook the astragalus root several times because of its unusual density. After this, it softens, and you would customarily eat it with rice.
I like to drink astragalus in a tea. It’s very easy to make. For my special blend, you’ll need:
- A piece of ginger about an inch long
- Four tablespoons of lemon juice
- Four tablespoons of honey
- Two to three slices of astragalus root
To make the tea, first boil one quart of water. Scrape the ginger and astragalus root into a container, then add the remaining components. Pour the boiling water over it and cap the container. Let stand for approximately 20 to 25 minutes and strain the mixture one cup at a time.
You also can take astragalus as a supplement, and I’ll tell you more about that next week…
In the meantime, I hope this helps relieve your stress, and Merry Christmas from Me, Barbara, and my entire staff!
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD
1. Cohen S., Et al, “Psychological Stress, Cytokine production, and Severity of Upper Respiratory Illness.”, Psychosom Md. 1999; 175-80
2. Shao BM, Xu W, Dai H, et al, “A study on the immune receptors for polysaccharides from the roots of Astragalus membranaceus, a Chinese medicinal herb,” Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004;320(4):1103-1111
3. Clement-Kruzel S, et al, “Immune modulation of macrophage pro-inflammatory response by goldenseal and Astragalus extracts,” J Med Food. 2008 Sep;11(3):493-8.
4. Chen KT, Su CH, Hsin LH, et al, “Reducing fatigue of athletes following oral administration of huangqi jianzhong tang,” Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2002;23(8):757-761.
5. Shang L, et al, “Astragaloside IV inhibits adenovirus replication and apoptosis in A549 cells in vitro,” J Pharm Pharmacol. 2011 May;63(5):688-94.
6. Chen X, et al, “The healing and anti-scar effects of astragaloside IV on the wound repair in vitro and in vivo,” J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Feb 15;139(3):721-7.
7. Wong RN, et al, “Characterization of Mirabilis antiviral protein—a ribosome inactivating protein from Mirabilis jalapa L.” Biochem Int. 1992 Dec;28(4):585-93.
8. arley, C., Weimin, L., et al, “A Natural Product Telomerase Activator as Part of a Health Maintenance Program,” Rejuvenation Research 2010