(Last edited: Saturday, 17 September 2016, 10:36 PM)
Also Known As: Astragali Membranaceus.
Scientific Name:Astragalus membranaceus.
Family: Fabaceae/Leguminosae or Papilionaceae.
People Use This For: Astragalus is used for common cold, upper
respiratory infections, allergic rhinitis, swine ‘flu, to
strengthen and regulate the immune system, fibromyalgia, anemia,
and HIV/AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, as an antibacterial,
antiviral, tonic, liver protectant, anti-inflammatory,
antioxidant, as a diuretic, vasodilator, and as a hypotensive
agent. Topically, astragalus is used as a vasodilator and to
Safety: No concerns regarding safety.
Pregnancy and Breast Feeding: Refer to a Medical Herbalist.
Effectiveness: Not enough scientific information available to
Allergic rhinitis: Preliminary clinical research shows
that a specific astragalus root extract standardized to contain
34% polysaccharides twice daily for 3 to 6 weeks significantly
improves symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, and itching
compared to placebo.1
Breast cancer: There is preliminary evidence that adjunctive use
of astragalus in combination with glossy privet (Ligustrum
lucidum) might increase survival rates in patients being treated
conventionally for breast cancer.2
Common cold: There is preliminary evidence that long-term
ingestion of astragalus might reduce the risk of catching the
Hepatitis: There is preliminary evidence that intravenous use of
astragalus might be beneficial for patients with chronic
Mechanism of Action: The part used is the root. Astragalus
contains a variety of active constituents including more than 34
saponins such as astragaloside, several flavonoids including
isoflavones, pterocarpans, and isoflavans, polysaccharides,
multiple trace minerals, amino acids, and coumarins.2,3
Astragalus has antioxidant effects. It inhibits free radical
production, increases superoxide dismutase, and decreases lipid
peroxidation.2,4 Astragalus is often promoted for its effects on
the immune system, liver, and cardiovascular system. Astragalus
seems to improve the immune response. In vitro, the
polysaccharide constituents appear to bind and activate B cells
and macrophages, but not T cells.5 Astragalus potentiates the
effects of interferon, increases antibody levels of
immunoglobulins in nasal secretions, and increases interleukin-2
levels.2,6,7 It also seems to improve the response of mononuclear
cells and stimulate lymphocyte production.8 Additionally, there
is preliminary evidence that astragalus extracts can restore
or improve immune function in cases of immune
deficiency.9,10 Astragalus seems to restore in vitro T-cell
function which is suppressed in cancer patients.9,11 Astragalus
also seems to have broad-spectrum in vitro antibiotic activity.2
There is interest in astragalus for increasing fertility. In
vitro, astragalus appears to increase sperm motility.12 In
individuals with chronic hepatitis, astragalus seems to improve
liver function as demonstrated by improvement in serum glutamate
pyruvate transaminase levels.2 Astragalus is also thought to
cause vasodilation and increase cardiac output which might be
beneficial in angina, congestive heart failure, and
post-myocardial infarction.2 In animal models of heart failure,
astragalus appears to increase myocardial and renal function,
possibly due to diuretic and natriuretic effects.13 In animal
models of coxsackie viral myocarditis, astragalus appears to
reduce myocardial lesion size and viral titers.14 A
pharmacokinetic evaluation in vitro and in a healthy human
volunteer, suggests that astragalus flavonoids can be
absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. The major metabolites of
the flavonoid constituents are glucuronides.15 These help with
excretion of toxic substances.
Adverse Reactions: Astragalus root is well-tolerated.
Interactions with Herbs & Supplements: None known.
Interactions with Drugs: Cyclophosphamide, Immunosuppressants,
Interactions with Foods: None known.
Interactions with Lab Tests: None known.
Interactions with Diseases or Conditions: Autoimmune Diseases:
Refer to Medical Herbalist
Dosage/Administration: Dr Clare’s Blends: 3ml of 1:3 tincture/day
= 1gm per day.
Oral: For allergic rhinitis, a specific astragalus root extract
standardized to contain 34% polysaccharides (Lectranal) 160 mg
twice daily has been used.1 For prevention of the common cold,
4-7 grams per day is commonly used.2 Traditionally, astragalus
powder 1-30 grams per day is used.16,2 In some cases, people have
used astragalus powder 30-54 grams per day.2 However, this should
be avoided because some research suggests that doses greater than
28 grams per day offers no additional benefit and might even
cause immune suppression.3 Astragalus decoction 0.5-1 L per day
(maximum of 120 grams of whole root per liter of water) has been
used.2 As a soup, mix 30 grams in 3.5 L of soup and simmer with
other food ingredients.2
Topical: No typical dosage.
Specific References: ASTRAGALUS
Matkovic Z, Zivkovic V, Korica M, et al. Efficacy and safety of
Astragalus membranaceus in
1. the treatment of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis.
Phytother Res 2010;18:175-81.
2. Upton R, ed. Astragalus Root: Analytical, quality control, and
therapeutic monograph. Santa Cruz, CA: American Herbal
3. McCulloch M, See C, Shu XJ, et al. Astragalus-based Chinese
herbs and platinum-based chemotherapy for advanced non-small-cell
lung cancer: meta-analysis of randomized trials. J Clin Oncol
2006;18:419-30. Hong CY, Lo YC, Tan FC, et al. Astragalus
membranaceus and Polygonum multiflorum
4. protect rat heart mitochondria against lipid peroxidation. Am
J Chin Med 1994;22:57-70.
5. Shao BM, Xu W, Dai H, et al. A study on the immune receptors
for polysaccharides from the roots of Astragalus membranaceus, a
Chinese medicinal herb. Biochem Biophys Res Commun
6. Qun L, Luo Q, Zhang ZY, et al. Effects of astragalus on
IL-2/IL-2R system in patients with maintained hemodialysis. Clin
7. Hou YD, Ma GL, Wu SH, et al. Effect of Radix Astragali seu
Hedysari on the interferon system. Chin Med J (Engl)
1981;94:29-34. Sun Y, Hersh EM, Lee SL, et al. Preliminary
observations on the effects of the Chinese
8. medicinal herbs Astragalus membranaceus and Ligustrum lucidum
on lymphocyte blastogenic responses. J Biol Response Mod
1983;2:227-31. Sun Y, Hersh EM, Talpaz M, et al. Immune
restoration and/or augmentation of local graft
9. versus host reaction by traditional Chinese medicinal herbs.
10. Chu DT, Wong WL, Mavligit GM. Immunotherapy with Chinese
medicinal herbs. II. Reversal of cyclophosphamide-induced immune
suppression by administration of fractionated Astragalus
membranaceus in vivo. J Clin Lab Immunol 1988;19:125-9.
11. Chu DT, Wong WL, Mavligit GM. Immunotherapy with Chinese
medicinal herbs. I. Immune restoration of local xenogeneic
graft-versus-host reaction in cancer patients by fractionated
Astragalus membranaceus in vitro. J Clin Lab Immunol
12. Hong CY, Ku J, Wu P. Astragalus membranaceus stimulates human
sperm motility in vitro. Am J Chin Med 1992;20:289-94.
13. Ma J, Peng A, Lin S. Mechanisms of the therapeutic effect of
astragalus membranaceus on sodium and water retention in
experimental heart failure. Chin Med J (Engl) 1998;111:17-17.
14. Yang YZ, Jin PY, Guo Q, et al. Treatment of experimental
Coxsackie B-3 viral myocarditis with Astragalus membranaceus in
mice. Chin Med J (Engl) 1990;103:14-8.
15. Xu F, Zhang Y, Xiao S, et al. Absorption and metabolism of
Astragali radix decoction: in silico, in vitro, and a case study
in vivo. Drug Metab Dispos 2006;28:913-18.
16. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural
Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics. 2nd ed. New York,
NY: John Wiley & Sons, 1996.