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Top 17 Scientific Benefits of Astragalus [New Research]

Top 17 Scientific Benefits of Astragalus

Astragalus is a Chinese herb called milk-vetch root, or Huang qi. Astragalus botanical name is Astragalus membranaceus or Astragalus membranaceus var. mongholicus. It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 2,000 years.

Astragalus Uses

In traditional Chinese medicine, Astragalus is used to tonify the energy (Qi ) and nutrition (Blood) for postpartum fever and recovery from severe blood loss.

It also tonifies the Spleen, increases the Yang Qi of the Spleen and Stomach which is beneficial for organ prolapsed, uterine bleeding, promotes urination, tissue healing and the discharge of pus.

Traditional Uses for Astragalus:

  • cold and flu
  • wound healing
  • chronic fatigue
  • cancer
  • persistent infection
  • palpitation with shortness of breath
  • night sweats
  • multiple allergies
  • glandular fever
  • fatigue or lack of appetite in chemotherapy patients
  • cardiovascular disease
  • stomach ulcers
  • uterine bleeding
  • prolapsed uterus
  • anaemia
  • postpartum fever and recovery from severe loss of blood
  • to raise vitality,
  • prostration
  • chronic diarrhea

Clinical Uses for Astragalus

Astragalus is clinically used for:

  • the prevention and treatment of diarrhea, gas, and bloating
  • chronic phlegm production
  • leucopenia
  • adjunct in cancer therapy
  • viral infections including the common cold
  • herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection
  • viral myocarditis
  • allergic rhinitis
  • fatigue
  • heart conditions

Astragalus Benefits

#1. Lower Blood Pressure

Chinese research has shown that astragalus promotes diuresis, lowers blood pressure, and increases endurance [1].

#2. Support Heart Function and Congestive Heart Failure

In one study in China, 43 patients with acute myocardial infarction were observed for 4 weeks; those who were treated with astragalus showed strengthened left ventricular function [2].

In another study involving 92 patients with ischaemic heart disease that was also conducted in China, astragalus significantly relieved symptoms of angina pectoris [3].

Chinese researchers have used the astragaloside component to treat heart disease in 19 patients with congestive heart failure [13]. After 2 weeks of treatment with astragaloside injections, the results suggested that this component relieved symptoms of chest distress and increased exercise capabilities. Astragaloside may exert a positive inotropic effect with the ability to improve both left ventricular function and cardiac output in patients with congestive heart failure.

A 2004 Cochrane review in a randomised trial found that astragalus significantly improved cardiac function, arrhythmia, and creatinine kinase levels [14].

#3. Protect Chronic Liver Damage

Some studies have shown that astragalus in combination might protect against hepatic fibrosis associated with chronic liver damage. Oral doses of astragalus and paeonia (80mg and 160mg/kd/day) reduced liver damage and fibrosis in rats with carbon tetrachloride-induced liver injury and decreased the elevation of tumour growth factor (TGF)-beta 1 [4].

#4. Increase Sperm Motility

In vitro study, the results showed that percent viability, the number of progressive motile spermatozoa, curvilinear velocity, average path velocity and amplitude of lateral head displacement were significantly increased after taking astragalus [5].

#5. Reduce Kidney Damage

A 2012 systematic review evaluated the effect of Astragalus injection for patients with renal damage caused by hypertension. Five randomised trials involved 429 patients and the results showed that astragalus injection was more effective in lowering β-2- microglobulin, microalbuminuria, compared with placebo and it was also superior to prostaglandin in lowering blood urea nitrogen, creatinine clearance rate [6].

#6. Reduce Chemotherapy Side Effects

A Cochrane review has assessed the effect of Chinese herbs for chemotherapy side-effects in patients with colorectal cancer. Adjunctive treatment with a decoction of astragalus was compared to chemotherapy alone in 3 trials, and in another 2 Chinese herbs in the fourth trial. The patients treated with astragalus had a significant reduction in nausea, vomiting, leucopenia and an increase in T cells. The researchers concluded that astragalus may stimulate immunocompetent cells and decrease side-effects in patients treated with chemotherapy. Astragalus saponins, injection and extract have all shown growth inhibitory activity against a variety of tumour cell lines in vitro [7].

#7. Reduce Tumour

An animal model study using astragalus saponins orally (100 and 200mg/kg/day) for 20 days, reduced tumour volume in a mice xenograft model of colon cancer, demonstrating activity comparable to 5-fluorouracil [8].

A meta-analysis of 34 randomised clinical trials involving patients with non-small-cell lung cancer treated with platinum-based chemotherapy and astragalus-based Chinese herbs observed a benefit from the combination. Twelve trials reported significantly lower mortality rates after 12 months when Astragalus was combined with chemotherapy [9].

The polysaccharide component in astragalus has exhibited antitumour properties and induces interferon to promote antiviral activity. Animal studies have revealed that the polysaccharide may also impart protective antioxidant benefits [11].

#8. Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)

A randomised clinical control study involving 106 patients with herpes simplex keratitis, found that Astragalus treatment exhibited significant improvement in the rebalancing of Th1/Th2 cytokines[12].

A Chinese study on the anti-herpes simplex virus activity of the suppository or Astragalus membranaceus ointment combined with interferon alpha 2b (IFN) showed that Astragalus and IFN suppository is effective in cervicitis treatment and Astragalus ointment in HSV skin treatment [13]

#9. Wound healing and Scar Reduction

The Institute of Pharmaceutics study showed that astragalus increased the recovery rates in wound healing and scar reduction 2 – 3 times over 2 – 4 days [15].

#10. Reduce Allergic dermatitis (Atopic dermatitis)

Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology published a study in 2013 showed that topically, astragalus significantly improved allergic dermatitis skin lesions. It also restored nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) expression, reduced IgE and TNF-α levels [16].

#11. Boost the Immune System

A Chinese study found that astragalus controls T-helper cells 1 and 2 and boosts the immune system [17]. 

#12. Reduce Hepatitis B Virus (HBV)

A study of 116 patients with chronic viral hepatitis showed that astragalus may promote recovery from viral hepatitis and inhibit HBV replication after 2 months of treatment [18].

#13. Prevent Asthma Recurrence

A small study published in the Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine concluded that astragalus prevents the recurrence and regulatory effects on Th1/Th2 cytokines in 90 asthmatic children during the remission stage [19].

#14. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

A clinical study conducted in Japan treated patients with progressive chronic kidney disease (CKD) stage 4 with astragalus for more than three months. Participants were treated with 5g a day of dried astragalus root powder mixed in water and they continued to take their conventional treatments. The results suggest that astragalus can maintain stable levels of estimated glomerular filtration (eGFR) rate and delay the initiation of dialysis in patients with progressive chronic kidney disease (CKD) stage 4 [20].

#15. Prevent Diabetes

A meta-analysis of in vivo studies on rats found that astragalus significantly lowers fasting blood glucose levels. The review followed the results of experimental studies that suggest astragalus has an inhibitory effect on the oxidative stress that characterizes early diabetic nephropathy, a leading cause of end-stage renal disease [21].

#16. Support Digestive System

In animal studies, Astragalus strengthens the movement and muscle tone of the small intestine especially the jejunum [22].

#17. Prevent and Treat Colds and Flu

Research in China has shown that astragalus may be effective for both the prevention and treatment of the common cold. By stimulating the immune system, astragalus can reduce the symptoms and duration of a cold. This immune-enhancing ability has also been shown to raise white blood cell counts in cases of chronic leukopenia [23].

Astragalus Benefits for Skin

  • Heal the Wounds and reduce scars
  • Reduce Allergic dermatitis (Atopic dermatitis)

What are the side effects of Astragalus?

Astragalus side effects are unknown. According to the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), Astragalus has a class 1 safety rating, which means Astragalus is safe when it is used appropriately.

Can you take Astragalus everyday?

Yes. Astragalus can be used safely in chronic therapy for debilitated individuals who may not tolerate many supplements.

However, it’s recommended to avoid taking Astragalus:

  • during an acute stage of an infection
  • if the child has a fever
  • while taking immune-suppressing drugs
  • during pregnant or breastfeeding
  • If you have autoimmune disease including multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis

Astragalus is an adaptogen and is usually used in conjunction with other herbs such as ginseng and echinacea.

As with any herbal supplement, it is always necessary to check with an appropriate health care provider before taking the astragalus root.

Astragalus Dosage

Children (weighs between 20 – 15 kg): 1/3 of the adult dosage. Taken once daily for up to one month.

Adult:

  • 10 – 30 g/day of the dried astragalus root
  • 3 – 5ml three times a day of astragalus tincture 1:5
  • 4 – 8ml a day of astragalus extract
  • Ointment: 10% astragalus applied on wound surface

Astragalus Interactions

Astragalus may reduce the effects of Acyclovir and Cyclophosphamide.

What is the best Astragalus supplement?

Oriental Botanicals Astragalus 8 30t

Nature's Sunshine Astragalus 450mg 100c

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