|Astragalus membranaceus--黃耆/北耆 (Photo credit: jennyhsu47)|
It was about 3 years ago that I gave up Chinese herbs. I found they weren't helpful. I tried all kinds of Chinese herbs include these two (astragalus and red dates), together with many others, some by my own researches, some by Chinese doctors' suggestion, but never felt any discernible effects. What made this time so different? I have been wondering. Honestly I do not know for sure, but these are what I could think of right now: first, my condition back then was extremely bad, herbs alone might not be enough. I was probably right by focusing on diet and rest, because those are so essential to all our physical function. Secondly, I believe how I took those herbs back then was not "right". What I did mostly was putting them in soup, so basically I only had them when I ate my meals, thus the amount might not enough. Also herbs could be over cooked with soup. In case I was prescribed Chinese doctors, there were always many different kinds, and I drank only two or three times a day. I never really focused on these two herbs alone.
The way I take these herbs this time is super simple: just put them in a big thermo bottle, pour in boiling water and wait for about 10 minutes, then pour half the tea out of thermo into a cup (ready to drink), and refill thermo with hot water (This is how Chinese people drink tea). During morning I would drink about 3 cups of it, afternoon, another 2 or 3 cups. As I keep refilling water, the herb tea gets thinner and thinner toward the end of day, so I pretty much finish my "ritual" around dinner time.
I also put some other type of herbs in the tea, such as lycium (枸杞) and ginseng. For red dates, I like to eat them separately more than with tea because they really taste good. All these additions, I did it based on some researches and my "hunch". Not sure if they worked the way they should, but I was sure astragalus root and red dates worked.
My taking action on Chinese herbs this time, caused by a conversation I had with a Chinese friend who knows Chinese medicine in good deal. I told her how I gave up with herbs and only believed in diet. She disagreed and insisted that herbs were nutrition, not "medicine". And she insisted astragalus root should be good for me. After thinking of my condition, reckoning about the fact that I had been focusing on diet for almost 2 years, still nothing fundamental occurred, so I decided to open my mind again, trying something I didn't believe. And I am glad I did!
What astragalus (or together with red dates) does to me is enhancing my immune system. At least this how I feel like. It this sounds abstract, let me put it this way: astragalus obviously stopped my hunger problem. For all these years, if I didn't eat right or enough, I would feel extremely weak. And when I felt hungry, I felt I was dying (heart function would be messed up, shortness of breathe would occur, and dizziness), instead of just hungry. Now, after drink this herb tea, I do not feel I need eat much. As matter of fact, I started eating very little, and still feeling energetic. This change was so drastic and so "concrete" that I could not deny the fact by assuming it was my mental illusion (needless to mention that I did not believe it before I tried). Astragalus also "accidentally" cured my UTI - the symptom that brought me to ER, because two or three days after I took herb tea my UTI symptom was gone completely (antibiotics worsened my heart and breath problems so I had to quit it). By the English documents I read online, astragalus can be poisoning and has some side effects, but some Chinese documents suggest the side effects of astragalus are very little (probably it has the least side effects among all known herbs, or not any more poisoning than some foods or daily drinks, such as coffee and tea!). For these 30 days, my experience told me that I did not feel any side effects (I take ~30 g each day).
Red dates, by Chinese medcine, is good for people who have anemia. Though I was never diagnosed of anemia by modern medicine, I was always "diagnosed" of anemia by Chinese medicine. Regardless the conflicted interpretation about anemia, eating lots of red dates indeed made me feel different. Overall, these two herbs together seems to be the best for women who have general energy problems, as traditional Chinese medicine believes.
I really feel my energy rushed back to me during the past month. I have reason to believe, had I tried these herbs by this way (tea) 2 years ago, my past 2 years would be different. Of course, other than taking herb tea, I believe lots of other things I did also worked: low carb diet, getting rid of coffee, tea, and spicy foods, lots of water (of course I had to reduce water intake after I started drinking herb tea). However, the drastic energy change took place precisely on the day I started this herb tea!
I would not say I am recovered totally. No, far away from it. But good thing is I can exercise daily now, and I know by doing this, my heart condition - the root problem of all problems - would eventually be solved! I will reduce the amount of astragalus root (from ~ 30g to ~20g each day) for this month, and see what would happen this month.