Many people as they age notice their memory isn’t as good as it once was. Because this tends to happen as we get older we naturally tend to point the blame on “aging”. But could it be that as the years roll by the colony of microbes in your gut is slowly deteriorating, causing a lowering in your mental acuity? The more we understand about the gut microbiome the more we understand that, though “normal aging” may be the norm for our culture, age related diseases are not just a function of birthdays. Gut bacteria are in large part responsible for the health of our immune system, create important nutrients and enzymes for our health, and now, appear to have a direct relationship to our cognition and mental acuity. The gut microbiome is like a garden in your gut. Like any garden, this ecosystem needs a particular type of care and feeding for the system to remain in balance and flourish? Many people believe that by simply taking a probiotic or eating yogurt they are doing all they can to maintain their gut health. But this falls woefully short of the attention needed to create a happy microbiome. In fact, the notion that yogurt is good for you leads some people to eat copious amounts of yogurt every day, which can actually create an adverse terrain in the gut, causing the microbial flora to be out of balance. Instead of putting emphasis on getting in “good bacteria” you want to shift your attention to supplying the existing bacteria, some of which you can’t supplement anyway, with the type of food they want to eat. What do bacteria like to eat, you ask? Soluble fiber (not sawdust), which comes from eating vegetables and fruits (note the order of importance). So once again we are back to the fundamental truth, that you (and your microbiome) are what you eat, and that tending your garden properly can make all the difference in how you function and experience life as you age.
Archives for April 2020
You may never have heard of the Chinese herb “huang qi”, but it’s name translates as “yellow leader” and its root is considered one of the most important botanicals in Chinese medicine. In the West this plant is known by its Latin name, Astragalus membranaceus (or just astragalus) and is now being included in many supplements marketed as “immune support”. Could astragalus help you? What are the potential benefits of this “yellow leader” for modern populations ?
One of the most common uses for astragalus is to improve immune function. Your immune system is responsible for protecting your body from harmful viruses, bacteria, and other dangerous invaders. There is some evidence that this root may increase the production of white blood cells, your body’s warriors that kill harmful invaders. In China the yellow root has long been used to both ward off and treat infections, particularly the viral type!
Astragalus has also demonstrated clinical use in reducing the side effects of chemotherapy. Studies indicate that astragalus can reduce nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and diarrhea associated with chemotherapy treatments. It is also very effective in treating chemo related fatigue and brain fog.
Other potential benefits of astragalus are improved blood flow to the kidneys, reduction in seasonal allergies, and improved blood sugar control. More research is needed to confirm these other benefits and the impact of this plant-based medicine on other drugs and supplements.
Do some of these potential benefits appeal to you?
Astragalus supplements are found in many different forms including capsules, liquid extracts, and powder for brewing a cup of tea. Most people tolerate astragalus well but the herb should be used under the care of a doctor of oriental medicine. Some reported side effects are rashes, diarrhea, irregular heartbeats, and complications for patients with autoimmune disorders.
Here at Integrative Health Partners Dr. Hendry is certified in “Chinese Herbal Medicine” and thus well qualified to help you determine whether astragalus would be an appropriate addition to your supplement plan. More importantly he can help you to design a supplement plan that is tailored to your needs. Come in and learn more about this important herb and many other herbal remedies!