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  • Jeff Matrician, Lic. Ac.

Tips for a Better Immune System: Understanding Herbal Medicine, Ginseng and Astragalus


For over 2000 years Ginseng and Astragalus have been used to increase vitality and prevent various illnesses including seasonal colds, and infections--but how to decide which one to take?


In order to answer this question we have to understand how Chinese Medicine works. In traditional medicine every herb has a specific profile. This profile determines what effects it will have on the body. Just as when cooking a cucumber and a chili pepper produce very opposite effects on the dish and our digestion, in Chinese medicine, each herb has its own characteristic effects.

Ginseng:

Ginseng is the king of the vitality herbs. Without any toxicity it increases the digestive, respiratory, and reproductive energy of the body. If you are emaciated, or have undergone a long illness, have low libido, weakness of the muscles, fatigue easily, or your digestion doesn’t extract energy from food, then Ginseng is the right herb for you. The Ginseng person is depleted in some profound way. Ginseng research tends to focus on diabetes, cancer and libido.

Astragalus:

Astragalus is considered a weaker tonic than Ginseng in the sense that it has a more specific job. Its job is to increase the energy that gets from the core to the “surface tissues” of the body. If you have issues with sweat regulation, water retention, allergies or frequent colds, you have a traditional Astragalus profile.

Historically Astragalus was given in a simple formula called Yu Ping Feng San to help the person who catches every passing cold.

My takeaway:

1. Use Astragalus for the prevention of upper respiratory infection.

2. Understand that “immune boosting” herbs have different roles in the body. And the art of Chinese Medicine is to find the correct corresponding herb or group of herbs for each person’s overall presentation.

3. Use Ginseng for a profound weakness.

4. Always respect the traditional profile of an herb.


If you would like to work with me to formulate a prescription that matches your profile, feel free to contact me by email or phone.  

Please contact me if you have any questions about any of my posts.

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