to traditional Chinese medicine, defense (wei) qi is
located at the exterior surface of the body and offers initial
protection against foreign or pathogenic factors. When wei
qi is strong, pathogenic factors cannot penetrate the
body. When it is weak, a variety of infections can occur.
of infections relies on normal function of wei qi. From
the Western perspective, many herbs that tonify qi enhance
the immune system. Herbs that perform such functions include
astragalus (huang qi), ganoderma (ling zhi) and
cordyceps (dong chong xia cao).
(huang qi) is one of the most frequently used Chinese
herbs and has historically been used to tonify wei qi.
It fortifies the lungs, strengthens the wei qi and indirectly
protects against external pathogenic factors.
terms of Western medicine, modern research has confirmed
repeatedly that astragalus increases both specific and
non-specific immunity.1,2,3 In a clinical trial of
115 leucopenic patients, astragalus was found to be associated
with an "obvious rise of the white blood cell (WBC)
count" with a dose-dependent relationship.4 In
addition, astragalus works well with concurrent drug therapy
in enhancing the overall effectiveness of the treatment. It
also potentiates the anti-tumor effect of chemotherapy drugs5
while reversing drug-induced immune suppression.6
Lastly, astragalus demonstrates anti-cancer activity by
increasing the content of camp and inhibiting the growth of