What's an Adaptogen Anyway?

Astragalus: A Powerhouse of Wellness; Astragalus Membranaceus



Adaptogens are a hot topic in the wellness movement right now. You’ve likely seen them pop up in health food stores and sometimes even touted as "cure-alls." While I may not agree with the notion that adaptogens alone can cure all-that-ails-you, there’s a pretty darn good reason why they’ve been getting so much attention within wellness communities.

Adaptogens are a class of herbs that have been known to help the body modulate stress. In the busy world that we live in, our bodies are constantly being exposed to a myriad of internal and external stressors. From traffic on the bridge, looming deadlines at work, and even interpersonal relationships, our modern lives are rewarding but can also be incredibly stressful. Adaptogens are the perfect class of herbs to bring relief in these situations, and to help bring balance to the body. [1]



While there are many adaptogens available to us, Astragalus is one of my personal favorites. An herb that transcends cultures, this sweet plant is used by both Western Herbalists and by practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Known as an immune tonic and an adaptogen, this versatile herb is a staple in my apothecary.

I use Astragalus to boost vitality, strengthen the immune system, and as a mild adaptogen.[2] When someone is depleted or has a weakened immune system, I always give Astragalus a try.

As with many adaptogens, however, Astragalus is not a quick fix for a depleted system. It’s not the type of plant you grab when you need a quick immune boost or are experiencing acute stress - it’s the type of plant you take for a few months in order to notice the effects. Using an adaptogen like Astragalus, alongside mindfulness, relaxation, ample sleep, and exercise can have a profoundly centering effect on a person’s well-being and reaction to stress.


Astragalus - Food as Medicine

One of my favorite times to use this complex and nourishing adaptogen is during the cold season. Astragalus shines during the long winter months when our immune systems are under constant stress. As with most herbs, whenever I can, I try to incorporate them into my diet - I am a firm believer that food can, and should be medicine.

My favorite way to incorporate Astragalus into my diet is by adding her to all of my winter vegetable and bone broths. By simply adding a few tablespoons of the dried root to your stockpot while it simmers away, you are incorporating the medicinal properties of Astragalus into your winter stock. Drink the broth on its own or add it to soups and stews to create a nourishing, adaptogenic, and immune strengthening medicinal and culinary creation.

Interested in trying Astragalus and wondering where to start? You can find Astragalus in Sunwïnk’s Immune-Boost {Berry} herbal tonic. I love this warm and hearty drink and enjoy it slightly warm on a cold, crisp eve. 


[1] Chen, Tung-Sheng, et al. “Antioxidant Evaluation of Three Adaptogen Extracts.” Antioxidant Evaluation of Three Adaptogen Extracts, 1 Jan. 2016, www.worldscientific.com/doi/pdf/10.1142/S0192415X08006533.

[2] Winston, David, and Steven Maimes. Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief. Healing Arts Press, 2007.


By Anna Beauchemin

Anna is a Clinical Western Herbalist. She works and studies at the Ohlone Herbal Center in Berkeley, California. She also has a Bachelor of Science in Conservation and Resource Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and has worked as a biologist doing research on native pollinators. 


These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.