Astragalus is a large genus of 3000 different species belonging to a legume family called Fabaceae. This herb typically grows in the temperate regions of the Northern hemisphere.
Popular by the names of milk vetch, locoweed, and goat’s thorn, Astragalus offers great health benefits. People use its root to make medicine and commonly use it in combination with other beneficial herbs.
Astragalus root has profound importance in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), where people call it ‘Huang Qi’. It has been hundreds of years since people started harvesting its root from 4-year old plants to use for medicinal purposes.
While certain species of Astragalus contain a toxin called swainsonine that potentially leads to livestock poisonings, the dietary supplements of humans are free of such toxic species. Most Astragalus supplements contain Astragalus Membranaceus and serve as life-prolonging medicinal extracts for humans.
Astragalus comes in a variety of forms, most of which people extract from the roots. The different forms of Astragalus include powder, capsules, herbal decoctions, and ointments.
People often ingest these supplement forms to help the body fight against harmful viruses and infections. The dosage of the supplement, however, varies depending on its form. So, if you want to use Astragalus to treat any medical condition, it is crucial that you talk to a medical health professional first to get appropriate dosage guidelines. Below is a general dosage recommendation of the different forms of Astragalus.
- For herbal decoction – 3 to 6 grams dried root in 12 ounces of water, taking thrice a day
- For capsules – 2 to 3 capsules (500 milligrams) per day
- For root powder – 250 to 500 milligrams, taking 3 to 4 times a day
- For root extract (liquid) or tincture – 2 to 4 milliliters, taking thrice a day
You may also use Astragalus as an ointment on wounds to prevent infections and promote healing. While using an ointment, make sure there is only 10 percent Astragalus – and always apply it on the skin’s surface. We would recommend you not to apply Astragalus ointment directly on open wounds or at least consult a doctor before doing so.
- It promotes vascular and liver health.
- Traditionally it has been used to promote vitality.
- It improves immunity by promoting the white blood cells in the body.
People use Astragalus for a variety of different reasons.
People commonly take Astragalus orally to fight seasonal allergies, common cold, upper respiratory infections, swine flu, anemia, HIV/ AIDS, fibromyalgia, and to strengthen and promote the function of the immune system and several other conditions. This magical herb also works wonders for chronic fatigue syndrome, kidney disease, high blood pressure, angina, asthma, beta-thalassemia, irregular menstruation, menopausal symptoms, and for promoting athletic performance and weight loss.
Many people use Astragalus as a general tonic to combat the dangerous bacteria and viruses and to protect the liver. Some users even benefit from it when it comes to treating hepatitis B and preventing and reducing the severity of side effects associated with cancer treatment.
In addition to this, when applied to the wound area, Astragalus helps increase the blood flow in the area to speed up the process of recovery and wound healing.
Some people inject Astragalus into the vein to relieve chest pain and to help with heart failure, heart attacks, heart infections, diabetes, kidney failure, hearing loss, lupus, and a specific heart complication called tetralogy of Fallot.
Furthermore, in combination with a medicinal herb such as Ligustrum lucidum, Astragalus can help treat lung cancer, breast cancer, and cervical cancer.
Astragalus is potentially safe for adults when administered orally according to the doctor’s prescription or when given intravenously under the supervision of a medical health professional.
However, some possible side effects of Astragalus may arise if the user does not follow the dosage guidelines and overdoses, regardless of the supplement form and method of administration.
Side Effects of Astragalus
For oral administration of Astragalus, the following side effects may be experienced.
- A rash
- Skin itchiness
- Stomach discomfort
- Nasal symptoms
For people who take Astragalus by IV, it may cause:
- Irregular heartbeat
The risk of these side effects only arises if you do not follow the dosage your doctor recommends. These side effects are not only mild but also temporary. They typically go away on their own within a few days but in case they persist, we would recommend you immediately consult your doctor to ensure your health safety.
The heart benefits of Astragalus root are unbelievable! There is a wealth of clinical evidence supporting the beneficial effects of this herb for the heart.
According to a clinical study, in patients with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), the intravenous injection of Astragalus improved the total effective heart function rate by as much as 74.2%.
In another study, the CHF patients experienced a significant reduction in their symptoms of chest distress and dyspnea upon an intravenous administration of Astragalus. They also experienced improvement in their end-systolic volume, end-diastolic volume, and left heart activity.
Moreover, another study found that when ischemic heart patients took Astragalus, they experienced a significant relief from angina and an improvement in the Electrocardiogram (EKG) rate by 82.6%.
In addition to this, one study discovered that the heart output of angina patients increased significantly after they took Astragalus for two weeks.
Following are some scientifically proved health benefits of Astragalus.
1. Boosts the enzyme telomerase
Upon purification of Astragalus root, we obtain a natural telomerase activator called TA-65.
One animal study showed that the use of this natural element reduced the percent senescent cytotoxic T-cells and natural killer cells.
If there is no telomerase, telomeres shorten with time and stress, resulting in aging and disease development.
According to a study, Astragalus-extracted isomers slow down the shortening rate of telomerase, prevent DNA damage, and improve the reparability of DNA – all of which contribute to delaying the aging process.
2. Helps protect the heart
In patients with Congestive Heart Failure, intravenous injection of Astragalus improves the heart function rate and alleviates chest distress and shortness of breath.
A study conducted on ischemic heart patients revealed that taking Astragalus relieves angina and improve the overall heart output.
3. Activates the immune cells
One study found that healthy volunteers experienced an increase in their interferon-inducing ability of blood cells upon oral administration of Astragalus. Another study discovered that after using Astragalus extract, the blood IgM, IgE, and cAMP of healthy adults increased significantly.
Moreover, in human subjects, the use of an herbal tincture of Astragalus resulted in the stimulation of CD4 and CD8 T-cells, and the production of CD69.
4. Reduces the side effects of chemotherapy
In one study, treatment with Astragalus extracts led to a decrease in the immunosuppression in the lymphocytes of cancer patients.
The herbal medicine in combination with platinum-based chemotherapy helps increase the chances of survival, tumor response, and performance status, and reduces the toxicity of chemotherapy in cancer patients.
Furthermore, Astragalus polysaccharide (APS) improves the immune function and promotes the production and maturation of plasmacytoid dendritic cells in patients suffering from chronic leukemia.
5. May help prevent cancer
One study suggests that an Astragalus injection may help prevent or suppress the death of mesothelial cells. Moreover, Astragalus saponins promote the death of human colon cancer cells, inhibit the growth of human stomach cancer cells as well as weaken the invasion ability and promote the death of gastric cancer cells.
6. Helps prevent infections
Astragalus serves as an amazing immune stimulant in treating and preventing colds and other respiratory infections. In children, this herb may help treat recurrent tonsillitis.
An herbal mixture of Astragalus taken in combination with interferon reduces the incidence and duration of upper respiratory tract infections in adults with chronic bronchitis.
In addition to this, Astragalus polysaccharide has an inhibitory effect on the growth and replication of hepatitis B virus.
7. Speeds up the wound healing process
One study found that topical application of Astragalus can promote skin wound contraction and healing in rats.
This herb enhances the migration and proliferation of skin cells by decreasing Catenin beta-1 protein. It has amazing anti-scar and healing properties for wound treatment.
8. May reduce stress
An animal study found that Astragalus might help relive immobilized stress-induced anxiety and inflammation in mice.
Another study found that an intravenous administration of Astragalus and cycloastragenol help suppress endoplasmic reticulum stress associated with ROS.
9. Helps prevent respiratory problems
Astragalus fights against respiratory problems by increasing the production of T-bet and Th1 cytokines, such as IFN-y.
In children with asthma, Astragalus combines with the hormones to play a crucial role in avoiding the recurrence of asthma.
Moreover, Astragalus granules may help prevent upper respiratory tract infections in children with nephrotic syndrome.
10. Helps prevent diabetes
Studies suggest that Astragalus can potentially control blood glucose, decrease the free radicals, and enhance the anti-oxidative activity in pregnant women who have gestational diabetes.
An animal study found that Astragalus polysaccharide could significantly reduce insulin resistance and high glucose-induced endoplasmic reticulum stress in animals.
11. Prevents memory loss
Astragalus can help promote functional recovery in patients with intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke.
Studies suggest that Astragalus injection may serve as an effective treatment option for elderly patients with chronic primary insomnia. This herb may also be used for treating Parkinson’s disease, as it decreases the dopamine levels in neuron cells.
One animal study found that Astragalus extract improves energy metabolism and preventing the death of brain tissue after ischemia in mice, improving their nerve injury.
12. Improves kidney function
According to a clinical study, an Astragalus injection when combined with cyclophosphamide reduces infection rate and urine protein, enhancing immune function in patients with kidney inflammation.
Another study suggests that this herbal injection improves kidney tubule function in IgA nephropathic patients.
13. May improve male fertility
According to clinical studies, Astragalus has stimulatory properties that may help improve the motility of human sperms.
In male mice, this herb seems to improve relative testes weight, cAMP-responsive element modulator, and sperm parameters. In addition to this, it prevents the death of spermatogenic cells, reduces the fat peroxidation level, and protects glutathione activity in the testis of rats.
14. Helps protect the intestine
Astragalus improves the movement and muscle function in the intestine. High dose of this herb seems to protect the hemorrhagic shock-reperfusion injury of the intestinal mucosa.
15. Improves muscle function and enhances exercise endurance capacity
Astragalus polysaccharide (APS) improves muscle atrophy. In one study, APS inhibited injury in the muscle cells. It reduces the production of blood lactate and blood urea nitrogen after exercise.
In mice, Astragalus supplementation can help prolong their swimming times, enhancing the exercise endurance capacity.
16. Improves bone function
In rats, Astragalus improves bone mineral density, biochemical density, and ash weight of femur and tibia.
Women with post-menopausal calcium deficiency may benefit from this herb by combining it with calcium supplements.
17. Reduces fatigue
Astragalus increases the oxygen uptake and systemic utility of oxygen to reduce fatigue in athletes.
In rats with food intake restriction, this herb reduced chronic fatigue syndrome when they were forced to swim.
18. Helps treat anemia and other blood disorders
Patients with severe aplastic anemia experienced a reduction in severity upon taking Astragalus. This herb also works for those suffering from leucopenia – a reduction in the number of WBCs in blood.
19. Reduces iron overload
A study shows that APS may increase hepcidin and reduce iron overload in mice.
This herb plays a therapeutic role in reducing iron overload in thalassemia patients.
20. Has anti-oxidant properties
One study found that in patients with acute heart attack, Astragalus helped reduce free radicals, blood fat peroxidation, and increase the levels of superoxide dismutase.
At proper dosages, this herb is perfectly safe for use by adults. However, pregnant and breastfeeding women should be cautious and not use the supplement.
In addition to this, patients suffering from an autoimmune disease, such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus should avoid its use, as it activates the immune system and can potentially worsen the symptoms of autoimmune diseases.
- Astragalus membranaceus: A Review of its Protection Against Inflammation and Gastrointestinal Cancers.
- Anti-Aging Implications of Astragalus Membranaceus (Huangqi): A Well-Known Chinese Tonic
- Are the Therapeutic Effects of Huangqi (Astragalus membranaceus) on Diabetic Nephropathy Correlated with Its Regulation of Macrophage iNOS Activity?
- Study of the Effects of Total Flavonoids of Astragalus on Atherosclerosis Formation and Potential Mechanisms
- Astragalus (a traditional Chinese medicine) for treating chronic kidney disease
- The Antioxidant Effects of Radix Astragali (Astragalus membranaceus and Related Species) in Protecting Tissues from Injury and Disease.
- basic information about astragalus
- Recent Advances in Astragalus membranaceus Anti-Diabetic Research: Pharmacological Effects of Its Phytochemical Constituents
- Characterization of the Physiological Response following In VivoAdministration of Astragalus membranaceus
- Wound healing effect of an Astragalus membranaceus polysaccharide and its mechanism