Botanical Name: Astragalus membranaceus | Family: Fabaceae

Common name(s): Chinese Astragalus, Huang Qi, Milk Vetch


  • Perennial; herbacious | Zones 4-11 | 3-4 feet | Pale yellow flowers (pea-flower shaped) from middle of the summer until frost
  • Sun to partial shade | Dry, sandy soil


Harvest roots in the fall after plant is at least 2 years old. (Best 3rd-5th year, depending on where you live and how roots grow). Deep taproots. Slice and dry the root.


Decoction: Bring 2 tsp dried root to boil in 12 ounces water and simmer 20-30 minutes. Steep another 1/2 hour. Take up to 3 cups/day.

Tincture: (1:5) 40-80 drops, 3x/day


Constituents: polysaccharides, glucuronic acid, astragalosides, flavones, isoflavones

Actions: Adaptogen (mild), antibacterial, antioxidant, antiperspirant, antiviral, diuretic, heart tonic, immune tonic, liver protector, vasodilator

Uses: Increases energy, builds resistance to disease, a tonic to the spleen, kidneys, lungs, and blood. Effective in fighting cancer – helps prevent immunosuppression caused by chemotherapy and inhibits tumors (work with a doctor). Used for anemia, relieving fluid retention, and reducing night sweats.

Combinations: Combine with Angelica sinensis for treating anemia

Cautions: Like any tonic herb, stop using when dealing with an acute infection, although its immune stimulation can help during a cold.


  • Sweet, slightly warm, moist


  • Homegrown Herbs, Tammi Hartung
  • Adaptogens, David Winston and Steven Maimes
  • Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Andrew Chevallier
  • The Way of Herbs, Michael Tierra
  • photo credit: Wikipedia

This will grow in my neck of the woods. Always excited to learn that about medicinal plants, especially tonic ones!

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