Traditional Chinese medicine has used astragalus for a remedy for weakness, edema, respiratory infections, diabetes, night sweats, diarrhea, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Medical journals suggest the herb may stimulate the immune system and the body's ability to resist and combat various diseases. Astragalus may also inhibit the spread and growth of cancer cells.
While there are may thousands of varieties of astragalus the Chinese version of the herb has been the most extensively tested, both chemically and pharmacologically. Astragalus contains a variety of compounds, including flavonoids, polysaccharides, triterpene glycosides (e.g., astragalosides I-VII), amino acids, and trace minerals.
Research in China indicates that astragalus may offer antioxidant benefits in people with severe forms of heart disease, relieving symptoms and improving heart function. Other studies suggest that astragalus can benefit immune function and improve survival in some people with cancer. However, not all studies support these claims.
In the United States, astragalus has been the subject of much study in recent years. Studies at the University of Houston have shown that astragalus may help improve immunity function in cancer patients by increasing T-cell counts. Other testing, including research by the National Cancer Institute, continues to explore further possible medical benefits of astragalus, including the treatment of AIDS.
Because astragalus has many potential applications and few, if any, side effects, it holds promise as an alternative treatment option.
Astragalus has been used in connection with the following conditions:
- Cardiac Arrest
- Cold/sore throat
- Immune function
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
Astragalus has no known harmful side-effects.
Astragalus is an exciting and potentially promising herb. Further research may prove astragalus to be invaluable in the medical treatment of a variety of conditions and illnesses.Supporting LiteratureLeung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 50-53.Shu HY. Oriental Materia Medica: A Concise Guide. Palos Verdes, CA: Oriental Healing Arts Press, 1986, 520-523.Klepser T, Nisly N. Astragalus as an adjunctive therapy in immunocompromised patients. Alt Med Alert 1999;Nov:125-128.