Q: I get colds through the winter and wonder if taking the Chinese herb astragalus might help. Also can you please recommend a good liquid multivitamin supplement?
A: According to herbalist and acupuncturist Michael McIntyre, astragalus membranaceus has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine to boost the immune systems of people who are run-down, or preventatively as you suggest. The US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports that there is preliminary evidence from Western research that astragalus may benefit the immune system.
To help your immune system ward off cold and flu viruses, McIntyre (michael-mcintyre.com) recommends a daily dose of 5ml astragalus tincture in a glass of water, with a few drops of ginger tincture. Or simmer two slices of fresh ginger in water, then add the astragalus. Try Nature’s Answer Astragalus Root alcohol-free tincture (£8.49).
Alternatively, make a tea with 10g dried astragalus and four mugs of water for two days’ supply; boil this for 20 minutes, then add two or three slices of fresh ginger. Heat and drink a cup morning and evening. (G Baldwin & Co supplies dried astragalus, from £2.79, baldwins.co.uk.)
Pharmacist Shabir Daya also recommends Solgar Vitamins Astragalus Root Extract (£19.45).
The herb echinacea can be taken at the first sign of a cold. McIntyre suggests a dose of half a teaspoon tincture, three or four times daily, until the symptoms have gone. Try A Vogel Echinaforce Tincture (£9.15).
If you want a multivitamin, Shabir Daya recommends Nature’s Plus Ultra Source of Life Liquid (£12.45), which contains a blend of vitamins, minerals, green foods, plant nutrients and whole-food concentrates.
If you are on medication, check with your doctor before taking herbal medicines.
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