Astragalus

Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects & More

Dried Chinese herbs
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What is Astragalus?

Astragalus is a plant native to Asia. The Chinese name of the herb, huang qi, means "yellow leader", because the root is yellow and it is considered to be one of the most important herbs in traditional Chinese medicine. The part of the plant used medicinally is the root.

In traditional Chinese medicine, astragalus is usually made into a decoction - the roots are boiled in water then removed.

It's often combined with other herbs, such as ginseng. Astragalus can also be found in supplement form at some health food stores.

Other names: Astragalus membranaceous, Huang Qi, Bei Qi, Hwanggi, Milk Vetch

Uses for Astragalus

Astragalus is used in traditional Chinese medicine for night sweats, diarrhea and for energy tonics that are taken daily at certain times of the year. So far, scientific support for the potential benefits of astragalus is lacking.

1) Immune Function

One of the key uses for astragalus, in alternative medicine, is to improve immune function. Although evidence is needed, one of the ways astragalus is said to work is by increasing the production of immune cells. It may also have mild antiviral activity and help with the prevention of colds. There's little evidence from human studies, however, on the effectiveness of astragalus as an antiviral.

See 11 Natural Cold Remedies and Natural Flu Remedies.

Heart Disease

Astragalus is also used for various heart conditions. It may have a diuretic effect which would lower blood pressure and it may cause blood vessels to relax. It hasn't been explored in human studies, so it shouldn't be used as a replacement for conventional care.

Natural Remedies for Heart Disease Prevention.

Caveats

People with autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes or systemic lupus erythematosus shouldn't use astragalus unless recommended by a qualified healthcare practitioner. People who have had transplant surgery should not use astragalus.

Astragalus may interfere with the effectiveness of corticosteroid medications and drugs that suppress the immune system.

Theoretically, astragalus can increase the effectiveness of antiviral medications such as acyclovir and amantadine.

Astragalus supplements haven't been tested for safety and due to the fact that dietary supplements are largely unregulated, the content of some products may differ from what is specified on the product label. Also keep in mind that the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. You can get tips on using supplements here, but if you're considering the use of astragalus, talk with your primary care provider first.

 

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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