By Sarena-Rae Santos, contributing writer
What is Astragalus
Astragalus is also known as goat’s horn, green dragon, locoweed, Chinese milkvetch, huáng qí, or its scientific name Astragalus membranaceus (1). Astragalus plants are 16 to 36-inch tall perennials with hairy stems and leaves made up of 12 to 18 pairs of leaflets native to the northern and eastern parts of China, Mongolia, and Korea (2).
Health Benefits of Astragalus
Astragalus is known for its use in traditional Chinese medicine. The root of the astragalus plant harbors medicinal properties like:
May Support the Immune System
The immune system protects the body from outside invaders, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other toxins (3). When you support your immune system, you potentially support your body’s ability to fight off sickness. One study found that astragalus may increase your body’s production of white blood cells, which are responsible for preventing illness (4).
In animal studies, astragalus root has been shown to have antiviral and antibacterial properties in mice with infections (5,6). In other studies, astragalus had success fighting hepatitis B (7,8).
May Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Active compounds in astragalus root have anti-diabetic properties like polysaccharides, saponins, and flavonoids fractions, which can lower high blood glucose levels (9). In animal and test-tube studies, astragalus has improved insulin sensitivity and even led to weight loss (10,11). Interestingly, astragalus is China’s most frequently prescribed herb in China to help manage diabetes (12,13).
May Improve Allergy Symptoms
Allergy symptoms occur when your body’s immune system responds to foreign objects by releasing histamines, causing inflammation and attracting white blood cells to isolate the culprit and fight it off (14). Since allergies involve an overreaction of the immune system and inflammation, astragalus’ ability to support the immune system and calm inflammation should help relieve allergies. Although studies are limited, one study found that two doses of 160 mg of astragalus taken daily may reduce symptoms of seasonal allergies like sneezing and runny nose (15).
May Support Heart Health
Unfortunately, heart disease is the world’s number 1 cause of death (16). Due to the incredibly complex determinants of heart disease and various possible contributions, it’s hard to pinpoint an exact way to prevent it. Still, you can at least take steps to lower your overall risk. Astragalus is thought to widen your blood vessels and increase the amount of blood pumped from your heart (17).
In one study, patients were given 2.25 grams of astragalus twice daily for two weeks alongside conventional treatment. The study concluded that patients who received astragalus experienced greater heart function improvements than those receiving standalone conventional treatment (18). Similar results occurred in a similar study in patients with heart failure, receiving 60 grams of astragalus per day. Patients who received astragalus alongside conventional treatment experienced significant improvements compared to those who received standalone conventional treatment (19).
Additionally, it’s noteworthy that although studies are receiving mixed results, some suggest that astragalus may reduce symptoms of myocarditis (20).
May Support Kidney Health
The kidneys are most known for their responsibility to remove waste products and excess fluid from the body through urination to maintain a stable balance of its natural chemicals. This function is needed due to the importance of regulating the body’s salt, potassium and acid content, all performed by the two kidneys (21). Thankfully, astragalus may support kidney health by improving blood flow and laboratory markers of kidney function.
In studies, astragalus has been shown to improve proteinuria in individuals with kidney disease and help prevent infections in individuals with reduced kidney function (22,23). Another study discovered taking 7.5 to 15 grams of astragalus daily for three to six months reduced the risk of infection by 38% in people with nephrotic syndrome, a kidney disorder (24).
May Alleviate Symptoms of Chemotherapy
Everyone knows the harsh side effects of chemotherapy, especially nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea; thankfully, astragalus can help ease those symptoms. One study discovered people undergoing chemotherapy who were given IV astragalus experienced reduced nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (25). Another study found astragalus eased nausea and vomiting in colon cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy (26). Additionally, a study showed taking 500 mg of astragalus three times a week improved extreme tiredness associated with chemotherapy for the first week of treatment (27).
Several studies have been conducted in test tubes regarding the potential anticancer properties of astragalus. These studies have discovered astragalus promotes apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in various cancer cells, including breast and colon cancer (28,29).
Mainstream sources claim there isn’t enough reliable information to know if astragalus is safe to use when pregnant or breastfeeding cautioning to stay on the safe side and avoid use. They also claim those with auto-immune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other immune system conditions should avoid this herb as it might make the immune system more active. They claim astragalus could worsen the symptoms of auto-immune diseases and caution against using astragalus if you have any of these conditions (30).
As per trusted herbalist Richard Whelan, astragalus is an extremely safe herb that can be taken in high doses without fear of adverse reactions. This herb is suitable for young and old as well as in pregnancy or breastfeeding (31).
How to Use Astragalus
You can find astragalus in dried bulk, capsules, powders, extracts, oils, or tinctures. Tinctures always contain the most concentrated amount of herbs. Teas and soups are also options, especially when following ayurvedic medicine recipes. If you’re someone who loves to cook, some great recipes with astragalus are:
Follow the recommendations of any supplement; some of my recommendations include:
- Earthley’s Elderberry Elixir (Original Formula) is a liquid supplement that combines elderberries and other immune-supporting herbs for everyday wellness. It’s an elderberry tincture (not syrup) that’s a potent cold and flu fighter, shelf-stable for up to 2 years, and super concentrated, which makes it the most cost-effective option.
- Earthley’s Elderberry Syrup DIY Kit (Immune Support) makes it easier than ever! No need to overbuy herbs or spend time researching for the best recipe. Simply boil in water and add honey, syrup, or a sweetener of your choice.
- Earthley’s Feel Better Fast
- Earthley’s Immune-Biotic is the perfect go-to herbal remedy for when you are feeling under the weather and need something fast. This tincture uses the natural power of immune-supporting herbs to give your body a jump start to fight off a cold. Take for three to seven days and kick sickness to the curb.
- Earthley’s Immunity Soup Blend helps support your immune system while enjoying a yummy soup, stock, or whatever meal you’d like! Simply simmer, strain, and add to your recipe for added flavor and nutrients.
- Earthley’s Vaccine Detox is an herbal tincture that helps to restore wellness post-vaccination by supporting gut health. Six herbs combine to help heal leaky gut, support liver health, and boost the immune system, while chlorella powder removes heavy metals from the body. Whether you have taken a vaccine recently or in the past, had a vaccine injury, or are simply looking to detox from the toxins around you, this tincture is for you!
Disclaimer: This post is not intended as medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and nothing in this post is intended to diagnose, treat, or cure anything. If you have questions, please do your own research or seek advice from a health professional.
If you have astragalus in your natural medicine cabinet, how do you use it?