Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Making Astragalus Tincture

I used to raise medicinal and culinary herbs from my farm in Cedar County, sell them at the Iowa City Farmers Market, and give workshops about how to make them into medicines. Just recently a friend of Prairie Hill gave us a valuable gift: a bucket-full of astragalus roots. Astragalus is an important herb, and takes years to grow to harvest time. The most common form of medicine made from astragalus roots is a tincture. And so Jeanette, Val and I made a gallon of astragalus tincture one Sunday afternoon. This will be enough to keep everyone at Prairie Hill healthy for years to come!

First the roots were scrubbed clean, then dried enough so there was no surface water. Then we cut them into small pieces and/or peeled off the bark in strips, whatever we could do to expose the greatest amount of root to the other ingredient, 151 proof Everclear. This is the strongest, most potent alcohol sold here in Iowa City.

Once we cut up the roots, we filled a gallon glass jar to the top with the roots. The few that were left looked like they had some potential to start new plants, so I planted them in my front yard. The ones in the jar were then covered with the Everclear. The three large bottles of the alcohol were exactly enough to get to the top of the jar. That seemed a good sign somehow, and we smiled.

Now the tincture sits on a shelf in our common house pantry, waiting for at least three months for the medicinal part of the roots to leach into the Everclear. Sometime in the spring, we'll decant the tincture, and then anyone who wants some can have a little dropper-bottle of it to put in their medicine cabinet. Since you use only a few drops at a time, this huge quantity should last well into the 2020's.

Here are some of the benefits of astragalus:

  • Immune system booster
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Slows or prevents growth of tumors
  • Protects cardiovascular system
  • Relieves insulin resistance related to diabetes
  • Slows the progress of kidney disease.
As with most medicinal herbs, astragalus tends to nourish and support the body in a wider way than the targeted and dramatic action of drugs. So it's effects are gradual. And since you take only a few drops at a time, it is a safe addition to the preventive helpers we all call on.

Nan Fawcett

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