Astragalus Part 2: A Western Look

How do you do just nothing?
— Winnie the Pooh
Well, when grown ups ask, “what are you going to do?” and you say “nothing,” and then you go and do it.
— Christopher Robin
Some mudra

Some mudra

If you haven’t read Astragalus Part 1:  A Western Look at an Eastern Perspective, please do so.  It will give a more broad perspective, and allow you to read what I think has been learned about the plant in the past few thousand years.  Here you can read what’s been learned in the past hundred years.

Flavonoids are what give astragalus its yellow color.  What’s another yellow food with flavonoids?  Quinoa, brah!  Astragalin, the prominent flavonoid in astragalus is a relative of kaempferol, a potent flavonoid in quinoa.  It’s actually patented as a supercooling agent.  They also contribute to the anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and immune boosting effects of the plant.

Astragalus contains a group of saponins known as astragalosides.  The most well studied is astragaloside iv.  Some of you may have heard of TA-65.  It’s a supplement that is designed to lengthen your telomeres.  Telomeres are repeating DNA sequences capping the ends of chromosomes.  They provide a buffer from coding DNA and also help keep different chromosomes from joining together.  Every time a chromosome goes through mitosis, producing daughter cells, telomeres are lost.  Eventually, the chromosomes will reach a point where there is too little telomere for the cell to reproduce, at which point it will die (apoptosis).  Telomere length is often used as an indicator of a persons biological age.  I have a BS in Psychology with a focus in neurochemistry from the University of Massachusetts Boston, and we were taught that there’s nothing that can be done about shortening telomeres.  They only move in one direction, the shorter direction.  This is not true.  There were many things we were told that weren’t true, but I though this one was particularly annoying.  How can they say there’s an enzyme that increases the length, but say it’s never present?  

Let me get back on track.  TA-65 has been shown to repair telomeres through the activation of telomerase.  TA-65 is very powerful, and very expensive.  I looked at trying it out once.  It was over $600 a bottle and had to be purchased through a specialist.  I did not try it.  But why am I telling you about this?  Because TA-65 is concentrated astragalus!  More specifically, astragaloside iv.  

I just want to throw in something I think is worth mentioning, before you decide to hop on the telomerase bandwagon, malignant tumors often have elevated telomerase.  I think you can understand why a cancer would want a plentiful supply of telomeres.  I think astragalus, as the whole food, is the better option.  We may want long telomeres, but only on the right chromosomes.  Astragalus root has not only astragaloside iv, but also several other immune boosting factors that could direct where the action will take place.

It also contains a heft quantity of polysaccharides referred to as APS.  Much of the research around them has been directed towards muscle growth.  This shouldn’t be a surprise, because one of Chinese Medicine’s argued benefits of astragalus is it’s ability to help grow flesh.  As a lung tonic, I think this would specifically correlate to the skin.  They also have anti-inflammatory properties, with studies showing it surpassed NF-kB.

In general, polysaccharides are immunomodulators.  These long chain sugars, to me, are more like hormones than macronutrients.  They press buttons.  They’re an active component in many tonic foods.  I came across this study that used the polysaccharides from astragalus as a food source for beneficial gut bacteria!  What an idea!  The goal was to see whether they could enhance the human benefits of the bacteria.  

Interestingly enough, I think that cows like astragalus.  Thinking about bacteria eating astragalus got me wondering.  Mmmm I’m thinking of an astragalus fed raw 5 year aged cheddar.  Don’t bother, I already patented it.   Astragalus isn’t that uncommon can be a hardy plant.  It’s native to China and Mongolia, but grows in the United States as well.  Some farmers plant it to test the quality of the soil.  However, some varieties contain swainsonine and are toxic to livestock.  Those varieties are called “locoweed.”  Guess why.

Thank you for reading!

Astragalus Part 1: A Western look at an Eastern Perspective

Every birth is a condensation and every death is a dispersion. Birth is not a gain, death is not a loss. When condensed, the energy becomes a living being and when dispersed it is the substratum of mutations.
— Chang Cai

Astragalus is another one of my favorite herbs.  It’s actually a legume.  I’ll stop playing favorites when I finish my top 5.  Maybe I can do a break down, astragalus is my favorite qi tonic.  It’s slowly receiving more recognition.  Many people use it in conjunction with other herbs to help treat the effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

It originates in Northern China.  Its Chinese name, Huang qi, translates to “Yellow Superior.”  I could see that, it is yellow, and works on the spleen which is also yellow (kind of).  It has a slightly sweet, warming taste.

Astragalus is a well known lung tonic.  It helps clear out pus, and was traditionally used in a blend to treat tuberculosis.  The lungs rule wei qi, which is protective qi.  It’s like your personal forcefield.  It hovers around your body, protecting you from the 6 exogenous evils.  Right now for me, that means dry summer California heat.  Cucumber aloe juice anyone?

A side note:  I’ve come across several sources that say astragalus is great for treating upper respiratory and chest infections, however, I’m under the impression that when illness sets in, tonic herbs should not be taken.

It may not immediately seem obvious, but excessive sweating can be a sign of wei qi deficiency, and in turn, a lung deficiency.  Spontaneous and excessive sweating is a form of “leaking.”  Leaking happens when excessive energy or fluids are lost, that could otherwise be stored.  

Not only does astragalus help regulate the flow of qi, but also of water.  In fact, both are directed together.  You can’t have good water regulation without good qi.  Blood flow is also regulated by qi.  Let’s make this simple, anything that flows in your body is an indicator of how your Qi is moving.

Astragalus stimulates the middle burner (above belly button, below diaphragm).  That’s the spleen and stomach.  As a spleen tonic, it helps move qi upward.  When qi is not circulating optimally, things can fall out of place.  Your organs can sag.  Prolapse can manifest.  It also helps digestion through the same mechanism of moving qi up.  When your qi is moving upward, you’ll have better, more regular bowel movements.

Posture can also be an indicator of how well, or not, qi is flowing.  Try this: sit comfortably, and do a breathing exercise for 2 minutes.  Any exercise.  Watch how your posture changes.  

I’ve heard that some people attribute some of the calming effect of cigarettes to the rhythmic breathing usually used in smoking.  I’m not sure if that’s the best way to induce good breathing techniques though, but it's an interesting thought.

This is my own understanding of the eastern understanding of some of the ways in which astragalus works.  I don’t know anything about eastern medicine, so anyone please feel free to correct me.  The next installment will be my western understanding of astragalus’ benefits.  Thank you for reading, and please comment below if I was unclear or miss-spoke(typed).

The Dopamine Bean

I don’t do drugs. I am drugs.
— Salvador Dalí

    I take Mucuna Pruriens on a pretty regular basis even though tolerance is acquired quickly.  The silver lining is that tolerance dissipates just as fast.  M. pruriens an amazing herb.  Commonly known as Velvet Bean, M. pruriens is native to Asia, but is also found in Africa and South America.  It has a long history of use in traditional medicine all over the world.  On top of being a great herb for human consumption, as a legume, it’s a powerful nitrogen fixer.  

    M. pruriens is interesting to me because it contains many powerful neuro-factors, most abundantly and famously, L-DOPA.  In addition, there are also trace amounts of serotonin, 5-HTP (serotonin precursor), nicotine, DMT, and norharmine.  That’s such a dynamic mix!  It contains serotonin and dopamine and both of their precursors.  It contains nicotine and DMT, which are both psychoactive.  To top it off, norharmine is an MAOI, which helps protect the aforementioned substances.  Granted, these are very small percentages and if the effects were noticeable, the plant would be “illegal.”  But it is interesting to me that all of those are found in the same plant.  And even though the dosage is small, the energetics are still there.  Since L-DOPA is found most abundantly, that’s all I’m going to cover for now.



    Levodopa is the precursor to dopamine, adrenaline and noradrenaline.  The L indicates the chirality of the molecule.  A molecule is chiral if it is asymmetrical; if the mirror image is not the same.  The enantiomer (mirror image) of levodopa is D-DOPA, or dextrodopa.  As far as I know, D-DOPA is not biologically active in humans.  L-DOPA is also a precursor to melanin.

    Dopamine is one of the most abundant hormones in the human body and has its arms and legs in all different kinds of functions.  I prefer to take precursors, as in most cases it’s harder to overdose.  The upside of L-DOPA is that it can cross the blood brain barrier. Once in the central nervous system, it is then decarboxylated (off-carbon) to dopamine.  Inside the brain, dopamine is associated with motor control, motivation and arousal.  The Substantia Nigra contains a large amount of motor related dopaminergic neurons.  Damage here results in Parkinson’s.  “Substantia Nigra” translates (from Latin) to “dark substance,” and is known as such because of the dark pigment of the neurons.  If you’re David Wolfe, you probably already knew this.  I think one of the most interesting uses of dopamine is in the eye.  It’s released in the retina from cells that have no axons.  This only happens in daylight, and enhances visual perception.  The cones become more active, with an increased sensitivity to color and light.

    If you aren’t yet convinced that M. pruriens is a Jing herb, you will be now.  Dopamine is involved in regulating the immune system, including stimulating bone marrow and helping fight cancer through DNA protection and more efficient apoptosis.  Here’s the kicker, there are dopamine receptors inside the kidneys!  The kidneys actually produce dopamine!  Most of dopamine’s actions in the kidneys are related to sodium regulation and blood flow.

    I have been using Sun Potion’s Mucuna Pruriens Extract for a while now and am very satisfied.  Their extract is on average 15% L-DOPA.  The plant material is organically grown in India and cold processed.  To me, there’s not much in it for flavor.  A little smokey perhaps.  It goes really well with He Shou Wu, a potent MAOI-B, or Rhodiola.  Not surprisingly enough, it’s commonly paired with cacao.  Combine the neurotransmitter boosting effects of M. pruriens with theobromine, anandamide, PEA and cacao’s own MAOIs, and you're in for a real party!



Ultimate Party Tonic

400mL of liquid of choice (warm but NOT HOT gynostemma, gotu kola or other favorite tea)

1 Tbsp Cacao

1/2 Tbsp fat (coconut oil/ghee/tocos)

1/2 Tbsp Honey

1/2 tsp Mucuna Pruriens Extract

1/2 tsp He Shou Wu Estract

1/2 tsp Rhodiola Extract

1/8 tsp Sea Salt


Mix/Blend and enjoy!

Not All Water Is Created Equal

The majority believes that everything hard to comprehend must be very profound. This is incorrect. What is hard to understand is what is immature, unclear and often false. The highest wisdom is simple and passes through the brain directly into the heart.
— Viktor Schauberger

    I’m a water snob.  I don’t drink just anything. If Ben Franklin had access to a pristine spring, and didn’t have to make beer to get a potable liquid, he probably would’ve said, “Spring water is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy.” But he was working with what he had, which led to beer. Luckily, we’re past that and with a couple clicks of the mouse and keyboard, you can find a spring close to you, see pictures and read reviews, all in your pajamas.  Or you could distill your own water.  I used to be all about spring water, but right now I’m on distilled water and am really enjoying it.  I’m going to mention some reasons why one might want spring water, and then I’ll cover why I like distilled and what I think the best method for conditioning is.

    Why spring water? Because traditionally, it’s the best, most of the time, unless it’s raining.  Rain was essentially distilled water, pre-industrial revolution. There’s a reason so many bottled water companies market their water as “spring water.” However, it’s important to note that “spring water” is a very loosely defined term, at least in the bottled water industry.  Most bottled waters are from a municipal supply anyway. Most of these, like Poland Springs, are in plastic, so even if it were true spring water, it would still be best to avoid it.  If I'm drinking bottled water, it's got to be true spring water in glass.  My favorite is Castle Rock.

    I’m trying to be a “glass half full (of spring water)” kind of guy, so I’m going to avoid writing about hydrofluorosilicic acid, chlorine, trihalomethanes, pharmaceuticals, barium, nitrates, nitrites, perchlorates, haloacetic acids and the multitude of other contaminants in tap water.  I’d like to cover a few very basic points, that could inspire you do continue your own research.

The upholder of the cycles which sustain all Life is water. In every drop of water dwells a deity whom indeed we all serve.
— Viktor Schauberger

    A crystal is defined as a substance having a naturally geometric form with symmetrically arranged plane faces. A snowflake fits that description. Dr. Masaru Emoto shows that intentions can alter the crystalline structure of water, made visible when frozen. Positive, loving intentions result in more intricate and pleasing shapes while negative thoughts result in incoherent, asymmetrical structures. Different frequency vibrations (from a hum to a thought) also create different shapes and patterns. Placing sand on a plate, and introducing a specific sound results in a specific pattern. That visual pattern is a representation of information. Personally, I want my water to have positive, beneficial information. Growing up we had a well, and my dad always told me it was important to drink water where you live. He never gave a solid answer other than, “it just makes sense.” He was lucky enough to grow up with spring water flowing through the pipes of his house. I now understand why drinking your own local water is important. Water carries information about your immediate environment. It picks up the local vibes and delivers them to you!

    Water is a very unique substance, in that it’s present on Earth in 3 forms: solid, liquid and gas. It’s also very special because it gets denser, until it hits 39.2°F, at which point it expands.  It's at this point that is harnesses the most energy.  It is the product of hydrogen from our Sun meeting oxygen from our Earth.

    So let’s get one thing straight right off the bat. Water is living. The majority of your body is water. As we age, we dehydrate. An infants body is ~75% water, while an adult averages 50-60% water. From there it can be extrapolated that water is a youthening agent. Dr. Batmanghelidj, in his book, Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, argues that thirst is not the only sign of dehydration, but many common ailments are actually the result of dehydration. Dehydration can be caused by a few different factors: poor quality water, insufficient water or excessive water (ie. inadequate salt intake). The water you drink becomes your blood.

    A good friend of mine once said “all water is created equal.” I replied, “that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” On second thought, she might be right. The water is merely a medium that responds to the environment. If we pollute the environment, we get less than ideal water. That doesn’t mean a million years from now fungus won’t use the water and remove radioactive particles, the water molecules could seep back down through the ground and then get pulled back up through a spring. I don’t know if I can conclusively say that water doesn’t make decisions, but follows (flows with) patterns of nature.  It’s the ultimate intuitive, I guess.

    In California at least, the best water I see people drinking isn’t water, but pressed juice.  Juice is water with lots of other stuff in it. Water is foundational, vital. Plants use and store water. This gives it a specific, organized structure, just like a plant is deliberate and organized. Think hologram. The plant is organized on a macro level, ergo it’s organized on a micro level. Fruit and vegetable water contains within it countless compounds beneficial to us, including water!

You’re not sick; You’re thirsty.
— Dr. F. Batmanghelidj

    Distilled water is immature water.  It’s pure H2O, and it pulls to it whatever is around.  It hasn’t been run through silt, tumbled through rocks (crystals and polycrystals), or vortexed (or dynamized, what a great word!).  That is by no means a bad thing, but something to keep in mind.  Distilled water is a blank canvas.  Are you trying to pull stuff out of your body, or are you trying to push stuff in?  I started by pulling.  Straight distilled water.  Loved it, I could feel myself opening up, calcification leaving my body.  Within a month I had already noticed my flexibility improving.  Now I alternate between drinking immature and conditioned water.  That makes sense to me, because in the wild I would probably alternate between spring and rain water, depending on availability.  Below I will spell out how I condition my water.  The point of this is to try mimic as close to clean spring water as possible.  I use the Waterwise 7000 Automatic Distiller.  It works great.  Auto-fills, auto-shuts off. It's very easy to clean, the chamber just pops right off.


  • Chill - Yourself and the water.  You don’t want to prep the best water when you’re pissy.  The water will hold information better when it’s densest.  The denser the water is, the more energy it contains.  Weird right?  Because it’s cold!
  • Mineralize - I add sea salt.  At times I add Omica ActiveIonic Concentrated Fulvic & Ocean Minerals. 
  • Vortex - Spin it by moving the container or stirring with a wooden spoon.  I don’t use metal with distilled water, or plastic.  
  • Structure - Anything you add to the water will structure it, so be selective.  Salt and Crystal Energy will do this, as will vortexing.  Those aren’t the only ways though, put some intent in your water!  Crystal Energy will give structure to the water.  It also lowers the surface tension of the water, making it more permeable, and sudsy.  Salt does the same thing on a smaller scale.  Haven’t you ever notice how foamy the ocean is?  Because it has a low surface tension and can break easily and trap air.
More energy is encapsulated in every drop of good spring water than an average-sized powerstation is presently able to produce.
— Viktor Schauberger

Drink up!  I hope you enjoyed reading this!