OK, Here it is, ABC Wednesday time again. This is the day to join in the ABC Wednesday Challenge, and share a little bit of our world with friends all over the world, and learn about them as well, one letter at a time. You can participate too, in either the sharing, or the learning, or both, by visiting ABC Wednesday,Where this week, the letter is
I have been ABSENT for this blog for a really long time, as I ALLOWED other things in life to take priority.
I'm going to see if I can give my blog some ATTENTION, now that the market season and the holidays are over.
In keeping with the herbal theme, which seems to be the primary focus of my life, today's A word is ASTRAGALUS.
I have been hearing a lot about this herb just recently. It seems like it is the new Buzzword for new age coffees and teas that are being sold at craft shows.
I have my own theories about this which I will cover in a moment, but for the record, here is a basic summary of ASTRAGALUS (Astragalus mollissimus).
A perennial plant, about 16 - 36 inches tall, that is native to the northern and eastern parts of China as well as Mongolia and Korea Astragalus mollissimus is characterized by hairy flower stems; numerous, hairy, small, light green leaflets, usually arching; and long and narrow pink-purple flowers that have a pronounced backward flare at the upper tip of the rather small banner. It blooms profusely in the early spring and where you find one plant you will usually find many. The root is the medicinal part, and is usually harvested from 4-year-old plants.Now, as to the fancy high dollar coffees?
Astragalus has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It was often combined with other herbs to strengthen the body against disease. Astragalus is called an adaptogen, meaning it is thought to help protect the body against various stresses, including physical, mental, or emotional stress. It is believed to specifically promote immunity in the lungs.
Commonly known as: Goatsthorn, locoweed, bei qi, huang qi, ogi, hwanggi, or milk vetch, among other names.
There doesn't seem to be a lot of culinary use for this herb, it appears to be primarily a medicinal herb and is used both internally and externally. It is high in antioxidants.
I have seen these coffees selling for $1-$3 for a packet of instant coffee, which has some herb in it. The packet comes with a free cup of hot water so you can mix it up and drink it. By selling it that way, the vendor does not have to have a food license, and avoids a lot of paperwork.
They generally contain Astragalus and Ganoderma, a type of mushroom purported to have amazing health benefits.
Why use herbs and botanicals that few of us are familiar with and fewer of us can spell, or even pronounce?
Well, would you buy a cup of coffee that claimed it had garlic in it? Garlic has some incredible health benefits, but we have preconceived notions about it's taste and smell. Whether justified or not, these notions affect our decision to try a new product.
But by using unfamiliar products, the manufacturer avoids any preconceived notions about the herbs and supplements added.
If I tell you I have a glass of sugary lemonade, it sounds mundane. But if I tell you I have some water, infused with the essence of citrus fruit, and gently sweetened with crystals made from the sap of an all natural sustainable cane product grown in Florida, it sounds like I have some exotic new drink that you simply must have!
Well, it works the same way with most products, and especially well with things that sound exotic.
So, next time you hear about a cup of coffee, enriched with powdered mushrooms, and ground roots that are the secrets of ancient Chinese medicine, by all means go ahead and try it. But just remember that the value of any herb does not automatically increase in direct proportion to our inability to pronounce the name.
Herbs are good, they have a lot of health benefits and are part of an effective health regime, when combined with a good diet, active lifestyle and healthy habits.
But there is no "wonder herb" that will magically cure your ills, reverse aging, and make you more attractive all in one capsule.
They just don't work that way.
However, Astragalus certainly seems to be an interesting herb that those serious about herbalism may want to explore more fully.