by Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CN
August 02, 2018
Information sent by MJGdeA
Do you know about astragalus?
If not, you should,
astragalus root is one of the most powerful immune-building
plants on the planet. This
adaptogen herb helps beat
stress while fighting disease at the same time.
How effective can it be?
Turns out, plenty...
In addition to pumping up your immune system, studies show it's
vital for cardiovascular health and can even fight off tumors and
alleviate symptoms of chemotherapy!
Believe it or not, that's not all, either...
There are more astragalus
benefits that are simply unbelievable, which is why it's one of the
essential herbs to add to your wellness regimen.
What Is Astragalus?
Astragalus is a plant within the
Leguminosae (beans or legumes)
family, with a very long history as an immune system booster and
Its roots are in
Traditional Chinese Medicine, in which it's been used as an
adaptogen for thousands of years - meaning it helps the body fight
off stress and disease.
medicinal healing and treatment uses span many different illnesses
The perennial flowering plant, also called
milkvetch root and Huang-qi,
grows from 16 to 36 inches tall and is native to the north and
eastern regions of China.
It's also been traced back to Mongolia and
are harvested from 4-year-old plants and are the only part of the
plant that's used medicinally.
Only two of the over 2,000 species of astragalus,
astragalus membranaceus and astragalus
mongholicus, are used medicinally. (1)
three components that allow the plant to have such a positive impact
on human health:
flavonoids and polysaccharides,
...which are all active compounds
contained in certain plants, including some fruits and
are known for their ability to lower cholesterol, improve
the immune system and prevent cancer. (3)
also found in astragalus, provide health benefits through
cell signaling. They show antioxidative qualities, control
and scavenge of free radicals, and can help prevent heart
disease, cancer and immunodeficiency viruses. (4)
Polysaccharides are known to have antimicrobial,
antiviral and anti-inflammatory capabilities, among other
health benefits. (5)
Traditional Chinese Medicine,
the herb was hailed as a protector against stresses, both mental and
provides health benefits to a number of body systems and
studies in humans are needed to solidify its effectiveness, success
in rats, mice and other animals have prompted progressive research
on the herb.
Because of the
tremendous success of so many research studies and trials, new
information about astragalus is coming to light all the time.
In general, its
greatest strength is preventing and protecting cells against cell
death and other harmful elements, such as free radicals and
continuing research, astragalus health benefits include:
as an Anti-Inflammatory
is at the root of most diseases.
to heart disease, it's often the culprit of the damage.
show that thanks to its saponins and polysaccharides, astragalus
can reduce inflammatory response in connection to a number of
illnesses and conditions, from helping to heal wounds and
lesions to reducing inflammation in diabetic kidney disease. (6)
the Immune System
In terms of
the immune system is astragalus' claim to
fame. It's been used in this capacity for thousands of years.
A study out of
Beijing displayed its ability to control t-helper cells 1 and 2,
essentially regulating the body's immune responses. (7)
Slows or Prevents the Growth of Tumors
screenings have shown the success of astragalus saponins,
flavonoids and polysaccharides in decreasing or eliminating
In instances of
chemoresistance treating liver cancer, astragalus has shown
potential in reversing multidrug resistance and as an addition
to conventional chemotherapy, according to a study published in
the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. (8)
Protects the Cardiovascular System
present in astragalus are antioxidants that help prevent plaque
buildup in arteries and narrowing of vessel walls by protecting
the inner wall of the vessel.
In addition, a
2014 study published in the Chinese Journal of Integrative
Medicine suggests injection of astragalus, combined with
conventional treatment for viral
myocarditis (inflammation of the middle layer of the heart
wall), makes treatment more successful in heart conditions. (9)
have shown its ability to
reduce blood pressure
and level of
High levels of
triglycerides put individuals at risk for many forms of heart
disease, such as stroke, heart attack and hardening of artery
During a heart
attack, heart muscle damage occurs when there is a lack of blood
supply and oxygen. At that time, calcium overload creates
prevent additional heart muscle damage by regulating calcium
homeostasis in the heart.
Regulates and Prevents Diabetes and Illnesses Related to
Astragalus has been studied
progressively as an antidiabetic. Studies show its ability to
relieve insulin resistance and
treat diabetes naturally.
collection of saponins, flavonoids and polysaccharides all are
effective in treating and regulating type 1 and 2 diabetes.
They're able to
increase insulin sensitivity, protect pancreatic beta cells (the
cells in the pancreas that produce and release insulin) and also
act as anti-inflammatories in areas related to diabetes
in diabetics is also a common problem, and astragalus has been
used to treat kidney illness for many years. More recent studies
in humans and animals have shown astragalus can slow the
progress of kidney problems in diabetics and protect the renal
system. (12, 13)
Contains Antioxidative and Anti-Aging Capabilities
to free radical damage is the main component in disease and
aging, and many elements found in astragalus
fight free radical damage and
prevent of oxidative stress.
polysaccharides have positive effects on the immune system and
improvement of the function of the brain, both of which could
lengthen life span. (14)
in Wound Healing and Minimizes Scarring
Because of its
anti-inflammatory qualities, astragalus has a long history of
another name for the dried root of astragalus, has been used in
Traditional Chinese Medicine for the repair and regeneration of
injured organs and tissues.
In a 2012 study
by the Institute of Pharmaceutics at Zhejiang University, wounds
treated with astragaloside IV (the active ingredient in dried
astragalus root) showed recovery rates increase two-
to threefold over 48–96 hours.
concluded that astragalus is a promising natural product for
anti-scarring and healing in wounds. (15)
Alleviates Symptoms of Chemotherapy
been shown to help patients receiving chemotherapy to recover
more quickly and extend their life spans.
In cases of
severe chemotherapy symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and
bone marrow suppression, astragalus has been given intravenously
and in combination with other Chinese herbal mixtures.
suggests its ability to reduce these symptoms and increase the
efficacy of the chemotherapy treatments. (16)
9. Treats Colds and Flu
astragalus' antiviral capabilities, it has long been used to
treat common colds and the flu. It's commonly combined with
other herbs like ginseng, angelica and
As with many
remedies, it seems to work better when used when
healthy individuals use the supplement regularly in order to
prevent the illness before it happens.
A regimen of
astragalus before the colder months of winter may help to
prevent or decrease the number of colds and upper respiratory
illnesses individuals will have throughout the season. (6)
Provides Supplemental Therapy for Chronic Asthma
been used to treat chronic asthma and determined to be a
successful supplemental therapy and
asthma natural remedy.
treated, hypersensitivity in airways decreased substantially and
mucus production and inflammation were reduced in studies.
or reducing asthma attacks, individuals could be relieved of
chronic asthma issues. (17)
There is also
evidence to suggest astragalus can successfully:
collagen degradation (18)
lung tissue affected by bronchopulmonary dysplasia in
herpes simplex virus 1 (20)
replication of viruses like Coxsackie B-3, a virus that
triggers illnesses ranging from mild stomach issues to major
heart complications (21)
inflammation in allergic
(an allergic reaction of the skin) (22)
hepatitis by inhibiting
virus cells in the liver (23)
by protecting t-helper cells fight the virus for much longer
be used as
a mild diuretic (6)
Uses and Recipes
There are a number
of ways to use astragalus root medicinally.
currently used as an addition to conventional treatments and should
not be used as a replacement for medications unless suggested by a
According to the
University of Maryland Medical Center, astragalus is available at
most Chinese markets or health food stores in these forms: (6)
There is not a
standardized dosage for astragalus, but you can work with a doctor
or specialist to determine how much you should take and how often.
differences in doses depending on age, health and medical history.
Wondering how to
antiviral herb into your diet?
Here are a few
recipes to try:
Risk and Side Effects
generally safe to use with no serious side effects.
There are possible
interactions with other herbal supplements, so start with smaller
doses to prevent side effects.
Women who are
pregnant and who are nursing should not use astragalus, as some
animal research indicates it may not be safe for pregnant moms.
autoimmune diseases should speak with their doctors before starting
astragalus because of its ability to stimulate the immune system.
diseases like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and other
immune system conditions could be especially sensitive to astragalus.
suggest only using a specific adaptogen for a few months and then
move on to another.
The following drug
interactions can occur with astragalus:
is used to suppress the immune system. Using astragalus will
decrease the effectiveness of this drug.
can affect how the body reduces lithium levels because of
its diuretic qualities. Taking astragalus with lithium can
lead to unsafe levels of lithium in the body.
a medical professional before combining astragalus with
lithium, as a dosage change might be required.
suppress the immune system are commonly used to help prevent
rejection in transplant patients and accept the new organ or
astragalus' immune system boosting capabilities, it
decreases the effectiveness of these drugs.
these drugs include:
azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect),
cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax),
muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept),
tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune),
prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), corticosteroids (glucocorticoids)
root is an adaptogen used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a
remedy for a large number of conditions.
extensively researched benefits of astragalus are:
Acts as an
prevents the growth of tumors
the cardiovascular system
and prevents diabetes and illnesses related to diabetes
antioxidative and anti-aging capabilities
wound healing and minimizes scarring
symptoms of chemotherapy
colds and flu
supplemental therapy for chronic asthma
There are several
ways to use it, from teas to supplements to topical creams.
You can also
incorporate it into various recipes...