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Astragulus (Astragalus ...)
 

Common Names:

Rattle weed, Loco weed, Ground plume

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Details:

There are about 3000 species of Astragulus ranging from herbs to small shrubs. It is a member of the Legume family fabaceae and if you munch on the leaves flowers or pods they do have a flavor of peas which are a related plant. I've read many different things about Astragulus, some saying it is poisonous and some saying it is medicinal (which often mean the same thing, just different doses).

If you eat a few leaves or pods of the variety I have found in Utah it will not kill you nor make you sick, at least it did not for me nor the person with me trying it. The roots are the part used most for medicinal uses generally as a tea. It stimulates the immune system and helps create white blood cells.

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Edibility:

The pods on some astragalus are edible and the root can be used as food or for medicinal purposes. The Zuni tribe ate the pods boiled and considered it a treat. From the research I have gathered it seems the fat pods are the variety that were consumed. There are a few different Species like this in Utah and other western states. 

Astragulus is a member of the pea family as was evident when I munched on the leaves flowers and young pods. I've read many different things about Astragulus, some saying it is poisonous and some saying it is medicinal (which often mean the same thing). Not all who are aware of it see it as an edible plant but there are many reports of Native tribes using it as such. One thing is for certain, if you eat a few leaves it will not kill you nor make you sick, at least it did not for me nor the person with me trying it.


Medicinal:
Astragalus root is used in conjunction with Mallow root to help prevent allergies. It is also valuable for improving the immune system. This makes Astragalus a very valuable herb. Any herb that helps with the immune system is one to learn about. I like the details Katie shares over at WellnessMama.com and if you want to learn more about the details of what this plant can do I recommend checking out her page. The comments section also ads a lot of other resources that may be helpful and valuable when researching Astragalus root uses.

The roots are the part used most for medicinal uses generally as a tea, tincture or in capsules. It stimulates the immune system, protects DNA and helps create white blood cells.


My Experience
I have used Astragalus in capsule form for assisting my daughter with her breathing problems (Allergy induced asthma) and I have also used it in an infusion form along with mallow root, Mullein, Oregon grape root, Silver buffalo berry leaves and Mint. I use this or a similar group of herbs and steep it for 20-30 minutes (sometimes longer if I get busy) and then I add lemon juice, honey or agave and cool it. This way my picky kids will drink it without as much trouble.
 
I have also added Brigham tea to this mixture but if you are going to do that don't drink it before bed time. It kept my daughter up one night as well as my wife.
 
Variations:
I've seen Astragalus in many variations in Utah. I do not know for certain the differences of chemical makeup for the different plants but I assume the roots of all Astragalus are going to provide similar medicinal and herbal benefits. I have seen white flowers, yellow flowers, pink, red and purple Astragalus flowers. I've seen pods (white and yellow flowers) that are fairly smooth and I have seen other varieties (usually pink or violet flowers) that end up with hairy pods. I have not tried eating the hairy pods.

Additional info and resources

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Astragulus plant images