Astragalus plays a vital role in Chinese medicine. It has been used historically to treat the urinary and respiratory tracts, supports the immune system. This herb is oftentimes likened unto Echinacea, however, the difference between the two herbs is that Astragalus can also be used as a long-term preventative and restorative herb.
Astragalus is widely known traditionally to help strengthen both the vital parts of the immune system.
Origin(s): China (see our Quality Assurance Testing)
Latin Name(s): Astragalus membranaceus
Also known as: Membranous milkvetch, Huang qi
Plant Part Used: Root
Appearance: Cream, beige to tan.
Aroma: Smoky, hickory like, grass like scent.
Taste: Slightly bitter, mildly sweet, starchy, reminiscent of legumes.
Applications / Preparations: Can be put into capsules, herbal extract, added to soups, broths, stews, teas & hot beverages. For aromatic use can be added to potpourri & incense blends.
Storage: Store in a sealed container in a cool, dry place.
Shelf Life: It is very difficult to pin down an exact expiration date for most single herbs as they do not really expire, they lose potency or strength over time but will still have value. Unlike synthetic material or drugs, herbs can contain many constituents that contribute to their medicinal effects. Even if when we know what the active constituents are, there are often many of them in a single herb, each with different rates of degradation. Some herbs lose their effect more easily. Other herbs that possess more stable compounds such as alkaloids or steroids will last much longer.
A huge part of the degradation rate of herbs depends also on the storage conditions of the herb, & even on the quality of the herb before storage – how it was grown, harvested, dried & processed. If the product is left in hot places or open to sunlight then it will degrade much quicker than if it was stored in cool, dry place & sealed tightly.
A good rule of thumb is that herbs should be stored no longer than 2-3 years but many herbs will have great strength much longer than that. To determine if a an herb is still good you can check the appearance & aroma. Herbs that are no longer acceptable will have lost much of its vibrant color & will instead appear dull & faded. The bigger key though is to smell the raw materials to see if the potent aroma is still present.