Everyone likes the thought of using natural herbs for medicinal uses. As long as you have the correct mix of potent herbs, you could potentially increase your overall health and maybe even improve your lifespan. If you're looking for another herb to add to your collection, you may want to consider Astragalus. In this article we address the top 9 astragalus benefits backed by science. Enjoy.
What Is Astragalus Root?
Nine Astragalus Benefits
Astragalus Side Effects, Safety and Interactions
- Astragalus Boosts Your Immune System
- Astragalus Acts as an Anti-Inflammatory
- Astragalus Protects the Cardiovascular System
- Astragalus Has Anti-Aging Properties
- Astragalus Prevents Tumour Growth
- Astragalus Helps Heal Wounds and Minimises Scarring
- Astragalus Improves Respiratory Problems
- Astragalus Prevents and Controls Diabetes
- Astragalus Protects Your Brain and Prevents Memory Loss
What Is Astragalus Root?
has use as a powerful medicinal herb, and it's particularly popular in Chinese medicine. There are over 2,000 different species of Astragalus available, and it's most popular use is a dietary supplement that is thought to treat a variety of health conditions, both physical and mental.
More recently, the Western world has started taking notice of the numerous health benefits that are associated with this potent herb, and it's been gaining popularity. You can use it in teas, soups, capsules and extracts to get the numerous health benefits. We're going to go over the nine top Astragalus benefits so you can decide if this is something you may want to add to your diet.
Nine Astragalus Benefits
1. Astragalus Boosts Your Immune System
Your immune system's
main purpose is to limit your chances of infections or illnesses or prevent them altogether. It has the ability to tell the difference between healthy cells and infected or unhealthy cells by measuring the cell's danger-associated molecular patterns. If you're routinely getting sick, you may want to consider giving your immune system a boost with Astragalus.
Boosting your immune system is vital, and one study
showed that Astragalus extract can potentially enhance the ratio of T3, T4 or T4/T3 cells in your body. These cells are what prompts an increased immune response to potential infections. Additionally, a tincture of this root
can work to activate your immune cells, and this can strengthen your entire immune response when it's presented with infectious agents.
A research study involving rats
took rats with Hepatitis B and gave them an injection of Astragalus. They found that the rats who got the injection showed an increased immune response on a humoral and cellular level. This is a promising find for people who have Hepatitis B or who were potentially exposed to the Hepatitis B virus. This herb can mobilise your immune system's killer cells and get them to go to the source of the infection quickly before the infection can spread throughout your body.
2. Astragalus Acts as an Anti-Inflammatory
When someone has inflammation,
it can be both internal or external, and you can have acute inflammation as well as chronic inflammation. Additionally, you can have system-wide inflammation as well. One well-known inflammatory condition is arthritis, which is inflammation of the joints. When your tissue turns red, is tender to the touch and swells, this is usually a sign that there is an infection starting to take hold. Inflammation is your body's way of fighting bacteria, germs or viruses.
An animal study
involving rats took groups of rats who had inflammation in their intestinal lining and in their colon and gave one group oral Astragalus and the other group a placebo. They tested the inflammation levels before, during and after they were administered the Astragalus. Scientists found promising results that showed that the group of rats who got the Astragalus supplement had significantly decreased inflammation levels over the control group.
A second study
took another two groups of rats and gave one group an oral supplement of Astragalus mixed with water and alcohol. The group of rats that got the Astragalus mixture had significantly reduced inflammation levels both internally and externally over the control group of rats. Currently, there has to be more human research performed to have concrete evidence of Astragalus's anti-inflammatory properties, but the beginning research is promising.
3. Astragalus Protects the Cardiovascular System
Astragalus comes packed with flavonoids
that are antioxidants. They go to work and provide an additional layer of protection for your cardiovascular system. This is extremely important because your cardiovascular system's
role is to deliver oxygen to all of your cells, and it also cycles blood through your body. Over time, you can develop issues with plaque or clogged arteries that can significantly increase your risk for cardiovascular problems, and this is why taking Astragalus is so important, especially for people with a history of heart issues.
A 2014 Chinese study
took people with inflammation of their heart wall's middle layer (viral myocarditis) and gave them an injection of Astragalus. When they combined this injection with traditional treatment methods, they found that this injection could potentially help increase the traditional treatment's effectiveness. In turn, this could reduce heart issues.
Another study showed
that one large Astragalus benefit was that it could reduce blood pressure and reduce your triglyceride levels. When you have high triglyceride levels, you're at a greater risk of suffering a cardiovascular event like a stroke, hardening of your artery walls or a heart attack. Finally, the study also showed that Astragalus could help mitigate any damage to your circulatory system due to a cardiovascular event.
4. Astragalus Has Anti-Aging Properties
As we age, our cells start to break down and this can cause you to lose collagen
. Collagen is what keeps your skin looking firm and young. Having a high amount of stress in your life can cause oxidative stress and free radical damage
to your cells, which in turn causes them to break down. Also, telomeres
hold your DNA together, and telomeres help to give your skin that firm look. During cell division, these telomeres get shorter and send a signal to your other cells that tells them to stop growth on a cellular level, and this can lead to an aged look.
However, a study took
individuals who were aging prematurely and gave them a supplement containing Astragalus extract. They found that this extract could stop the telomeres from shortening, and this promotes a longer and healthier cell growth. This can make your skin look firmer and more youthful, and it can also decrease the appearance of wrinkles.
Another way Astragalus shows anti-aging properties is by protecting the cell's mitochondria
. It helps to eliminate or significantly reduce any free radical damage your cells may experience, and this can help to make your skin look younger. A study showed that participants who had a moisturiser with Astragalus extract
blended in reported healthier and younger-looking skin at the end of the study.
5. Astragalus Prevents Tumour Growth
If you have a tumour, you have an abnormal growth of tissues. Tumours develop when your cells divide and multiply at a much quicker pace than they should, and these same cells don't die when they should. You can have cancerous tumours (malignant) or non-cancerous tumours (benign). Another name for tumours are neoplasms. This is great news for people who have a family history of benign tumours or different types of cancer. Additionally, there are both human and animal studies to back up these claims.
The Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology
published a promising study in 2014
involving human tumour cells. This study showed that Astragalus could potentially reverse your liver's resistance to cancer-fighting drugs including chemotherapy drugs, and this makes them more effective. In turn, this can help to shrink any tumours, decrease tumour cells and help them respond to treatments better.
A second study involving rats
took rats with active liver cancer tumours and injected them with Astragalus extract. They found that Astragalus could promote liver cell cancer death and anti-tumour activities. This helps to control the cancer and eventually shrink the cancer tumours in both human and animal cells. A third study
showed that Astragalus could also help to kill gastric cancer cells and inhibit any new tumour growth when researchers combined this extract with traditional chemotherapy drugs.
6. Astragalus Helps Heal Wounds and Minimises Scarring
Because Astragalus has such powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, it's a powerful and natural way to help heal your wounds and prevent or minimise scarring
from the wounds. Scarring can be significant or it can be very light depending on the severity of the original wound and any complications the person who had the wound may have experienced during the healing process.
In 2012, the Institute of Pharmaceutics at Zhejiang University performed a study
involving dried Astragalus root. They took people with significant wounds and treated these wounds with a paste made out of the dried root. They then monitored the wounds over a period of 48 and 96 hours. They found that the wounds that got the dried Astragalus root had a two or three-fold improvement over the wounds that received traditional treatment methods.
also tested Astragalus root's healing ability on rats. They treated the rat's wounds with Astragalus and found that the wounds that got the Astragalus root contracted at the edges and started healing at a rapid pace. Another mouse study
showed positive results for applying a mixture of Astragalus and water to wounds to accelerate their healing.
7. Astragalus Improves Respiratory Problems
Respiratory issues can be acute or chronic, and millions of people worldwide have some type of respiratory issue or disease. These things can include asthma, COPD, pneumonia, bronchitis and more. These conditions can also flare and cause you to feel like you can't get enough air in when you breathe in and out. Along with your traditional medications, you may want to consider adding Astragalus to your treatment routine because there is promising research showing that it can help improve your respiratory problems.
used Astragalus to help treat and control chronic asthma in children and adults. They found that it is a viable natural supplement that helps to reduce any symptoms and hold off an asthma attack. They found that participants who received the Astragalus had reduced airway inflammation, mucus production and airway hypersensitivity. This could potentially help to treat chronic asthma
Along with chronic respiratory conditions, Astragalus also has potential to help treat infections of the upper respiratory tract. One study involving children
with nephrotic syndrome proved that an extract of this root could help to heal the infection and prevent it from coming back. Yet another study
showed that Astragalus can help to heal damaged lung tissue due to chronic respiratory issues in newborns.
8. Astragalus Prevents and Controls Diabetes
Diabetes is a medical condition where you have trouble regulating the sugar levels in your blood (blood glucose). It can fluctuate depending on the food you eat, and it typically tends to be too high. Your pancreas makes insulin to help control and absorb the sugar in your blood. However, if your pancreas can't keep up with the level of sugar in your blood, or if the insulin doesn't absorb as much of the glucose as it should, you end up with too much sugar in your blood. This is diabetes, and it can cause several severe health problems if you don't treat it.
A recent study
showed that Astragalus is effective at reducing your cell's resistance to insulin. This means that it could potentially be a natural way to treat and control your diabetes instead of using traditional medications. It does this by increasing your body's insulin sensitivity levels and protecting your pancreas's insulin-producing cells.
Scientists also studied diabetic mice
and found that regular injections of Astragalus could increase the amount and mass of pancreatic beta cells. This means that they'll be able to produce more insulin to keep up with the higher levels of blood glucose.
9. Astragalus Protects Your Brain and Prevents Memory Loss
As you age, you may notice that it's more difficult to remember things
, of you may notice that you have difficulty learning new information. To a certain extent, this is normal. However, things like a stroke can severely impair your ability to process information, learn new things or recall your memories. Additionally, diseases like Parkinson's can also have negative consequences for your brain and memory function.
However, there has been promising research
that shows Astragalus can work to protect your brain and memory in the event of a stroke or an inter-cerebral hemorrhage. It acts as a barrier that prevents further damage from happening, and it could also potentially kick-start the healing process
A second study
showed that Astragalus could help to reduce the effects of or even cure, Parkinson's Disease. Once people with Parkinson's got the Astragalus treatment, researchers noted that there were decreased levels of dopamines in 6-hydroxydopamine found in the person's neuron cells.
Astragalus Side Effects, Safety and Interactions
Although this is a natural supplement and it is generally considered to be safe to take, you should know about the possible side effects, interactions and any safety precautions before you add it to your diet.
Although this is considered safe for most healthy adults to take, people have reported a few side effects
. These side effects were generally considered to be very mild for most people, but everyone is different. The most common reported side effects include diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, cramping and constipation.
It's extremely important that you know what Astragalus species you're using because some species can be toxic for humans. The United States has several Astragalus species that contain levels of swainsonine, and this chemical has been toxic for any animals that ingest it. Other species contain toxic amounts of selenium. You also want to avoid taking this supplement if you're pregnant, breastfeeding or if you're trying to become pregnant.
As we mentioned above, you want to avoid taking Astragalus if you have hypertension or diabetes. It may also be best to avoid it if you're a recent organ transplant recipient, or if you're undergoing cancer treatment and you're on immune-suppressing drugs because Astragalus boosts your immune system.
Certain drugs may have negative interactions
with Astragalus. People who take Cyclophosphamideto decrease their immune system may want to avoid Astragalus because it can decrease the effectiveness of the Cyclophosphamide.
Also, people who are on Lithium want to avoid this root as well because it acts like a diuretic and it can interfere with how well your body is able to flush the Lithium from your system. Finally, people who take immunosuppressant drugs do not want to take Astragalus because it increases your immune system's response.
The Astragalus benefits are too good for many people to pass up. This natural remedy can help you in different areas of your life, and all you have to do is add it to your diet through a supplement.
As always, you do want to talk to your primary care physician before you start taking Astragalus because they'll be able to double check any current medications you may be on and warn you of any possible interactions or side effects. Most side effects are mild, but it's better to get a medical professional's opinion to ensure that you stay safe, happy and healthy.