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Monday, January 25, 2010


Astragalus is a wonderful herb for the immune system. David Hoffman's "Medical Herbalism" reports that "the herb has been employed to treat chronic leukopenia (low white blood cell count) related to treatment [using] steroids, anticancer drugs and other therapies." (p. 532).

We started using this herb regularly more than a decade ago. The Husband and I worked long hours, and we pulled night duty with our new baby. Coming down with a flu was something neither of us could afford. There was so much to do and promotions to earn and a child to bring up. So enter a weekly brew of astragalus soup.

In those days, herbal medicine was considered a quack remedy but there was no harm experimenting right? Anyway, I was glad I did because it was very effective in preventing unnecessary flus and coughs. I cannot help but feel a sense of smugness when The Husband comes home to say that his right and left hand men are both down with flu, and The Husband sails into office and sails out again with nary a sniffle.

I imagine that when he downs his weekly bowl of astragalus soup, a force shield springs up around him that zaps every single pathogen that comes into contact with it. Heh! Heh! (Rub hands and smile evil-ly). When the children were small, they didn't get any because I wasn't sure how it would affect them... but now that they're rather grown, everyone gets a dose.

I must admit though that I am far from consistent. I may forget for a few months and in those months, one or another of us invariably catches a flu or a sore throat. I berated myself thoroughly when The Daughter caught a flu and being too busy to rest, allowed it to develop into a lung infection. I've been a little more consistent since.

In the months when I am conscientious in brewing astragalus soup once a week, no one falls sick. But in months where I have been lazy, someone invariably does fall ill. Of course, I've a host of other "catch-'em-early" remedies to intervene at such times so that I don't have to nurse sick children and The Sick Husband whilst being myself sick. There's teatree oil swabs and goldenseal nose drips, but it's just better to have that force field in operation.

I say that, but before you know it, I would have forgotten to make that soup again because life is so full of other interesting things to do.


Malar said...

Where can i get this herbs? Any chinese name? I think i need to make this soup!

petunialee said...

Malar - The Chinese name is bei qi, in Mandarin... or puk kay, in Cantonese. Any Chinese Medical Hall will stock this herb.

Malar said...

Is there any quantity restriction in using this herbs? The one I bought is thin strips (2" x1"). I just add 3-4 stips and boil it 1-1/2hrs with chicken.
Err... Do you have any recipe for small kids dose?

petunialee said...

Malar - I grab a large fistful and throw it into the pot with 6 litres of water and 1 chicken. It feeds the whole family.