Astragalus Extract health benefit, dosage
Safety, side effects, supplement research studies, immunity, common cold
Which medical conditions is this herb beneficial for?
February 22 2017
Astragalus herb is used by Chinese doctors to stimulate the immune system and to improve cardiovascular health. This plant is native to Northern China and Mongolia and inhabits mostly pine forests and sandy soils. Chinese doctors have used astragalus herb to fight the common cold and the flu.
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Only a few human studies have been published with astragalus extract.
Benefits of Astragalus extract
Clinical study on effect of Astragalus Injection and its immuno-regulation action in treating chronic aplastic anemia.
Chin J Integr Med. 2007. TCM Hospital of Langfang City, Chinese Hemopathic Therapeutic Center of TCM, Hebei, China.
Sixty patients with aplastic anemia were randomly assigned to two groups equally, both were treated with Stanozolol three times a day, 2 mg each time through oral intake, but astagalus was given additionally to the patients in the treated group once a day via intravenous dripping. All were treated for 15 days as one therapeutic course and the whole medication lasted for more than 4 months totally, with follow-up adopted. Astragalus injection promoted the recovery of function of blood cells.
Int J Mol Med. 2013. Astragalus polysaccharide induces anti-inflammatory effects dependent on AMPK activity in palmitate-treated cells. School of Basic Medical Sciences, Wuhan University, Wuhan, P.R. China.
Blood sugar, diabetes
Hypoglycemic effect of polysaccharide enriched extract of Astragalus membranaceus in diet induced insulin resistant C57BL/6J mice and its potential mechanism.
Phytomedicine. 2009. Department of Pathophysiology, Medical College of Wuhan University, Hubei Provincial Key Laboratory of Allergy and Immune-Related Diseases, Wuhan, China.
Astragalus polysaccharide exerts insulin-sensitizing and blood sugar lowering activities in type 2 diabetic rats. The present study was designed to confirm the blood sugar lowering effect of Astragalus polysaccharide and to investigate its possible mechanism underlying the improvement of insulin resistance. We found Astragalus polysaccharide alleviated insulin resistance induced by high glucose. The hyperglycemia, hypolipemia, and hyperinsulinemia status were controlled with Astragalus polysaccharide therapy. Insulin action in the liver of insulin resistant mice was restored significantly with administration. The anti-obesity effect and blood lipid lowering effects of Astragalus polysaccharide were probably due partly to decreasing the leptin resistance of mice, which would positively couple with the normalization of plasma insulin levels.
Brain cell protection
Chin Med J. Protective effects of astragalus extract against intermittent hypoxia-induced hippocampal neurons impairment in rats. School of Pharmaceutical Science and Technology, Tianjin University, Tianjin, China; Tianjin Institute of Geriatrics, Tianjin Medical University General Hospital, Tianjin, China.
Cancer and use with chemotherapy drugs
Astragalus membranaceus has been used to ameliorate the side effects of anti-neoplastic drugs.
Astragalus membranaceus prevents daunorubicin-induced apoptosis of cultured neonatal cardiomyocytes: role of free radical effect of Astragalus membranaceus on daunorubicin cardiotoxicity.
Phytother Res. 2009. Shanghai Institute of Hematology, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China.
Anthracyclines are antitumor antibiotics with significant activity against solid and hematologic malignancies. One problem preventing more widespread use has been the development of toxicity to heart tissue. To determine whether antioxidant agents can reduce the cardiotoxicity of anthracyclines, Astragalus membranaceus was introduced. Pre-treatment with Astragalus membranaceus significantly attenuated the daunorubicin-induced increases of reactive oxygen species, apoptosis and the secretions of LDH in cultured neonatal cardiomyocytes. Compared with Astragalus membranaceus, N-Acetyl-l-cysteine had similar effects on daunorubicin-induced cell injury. Our results suggested that Astragalus membranaceus is potentially protective against daunorubicin toxicity to the heart by decreasing free radical release and apoptosis in cultured neonatal cardiomyocytes.
I would like to use astragalus herb together with graviola herb for cancer treatment, are there any studies that have combined the two products?
A. We are not aware of studies that have combined Graviola herb along with this immune herb.
Astragalus membranaceus flavonoids ameliorate chronic fatigue syndrome induced by food intake restriction plus forced swimming.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2009; National Research Institute of Chinese Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC.
Alteration of immune function may be associated with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and this study reveals the immune effect of Astragalus flavonoids. Rats were induced by food intake restriction plus forced swimming for 6 weeks. An atrophied spleen associated with a significantly decreased spleen/body weight ratio and a reduced spleen cells proliferation was found in these rats when compared with home cage controls. Astragalus flavonoids given orally at 20, 50 and 100mg/kg body weight once a day consecutively for 6 weeks recovered the reduced cell proliferation. A switch to Th1-dominated immune regulation was observed in these rats as the cultured splenocytes produced more interleukin-2 (IL-2) but less IL-4 when compared with controls. Supplementation with Astragalus membranaceus flavonoids counteracted the aberrant cytokine production and rats receiving Astragalus flavonoids exhibited higher endurance capacity to swim when compared with those without the herb. Alterations of immune function may be associated with CFS and the tonic effects of Astragalus membranaceus flavonoids against CF may be attributable to balance the abnormal cytokine level by isoflavones.
Astragalus has protective effect on heart tissue and may be helpful in congestive heart failure.
Study on effect of Astragalus injection in treating congestive heart failure.
Zhou ZL, Yu P. Third People’s Hospital, Hangzhou.
To observe the clinical efficacy and side-effects of Astragalus Injection in treating congestive heart failure (CHF). Eighty-three CHF patients with heart function of II-IV grade assessed by New York Heart Association classification were randomly divided into 2 groups. The 42 patients in the treated group were treated with astragalus 40 ml (equivalent to 80 g crude drug), once a day and the 41 patients in the control group were treated by nitrolingual injection. The clinical heart function improvement rate and the total effective rate in the astragalus treated group after 1 month treatment were 26% and 78%, and after 6 months were 34% and 81% respectively, which were superior to those in the control group significantly. The levels of left ventricular ejection fraction, fractional shortening of left ventricular short axis, stroke volume, cardiac output and the cardiac index were all improved in both groups, but better improvement was shown in the astragalus group. Follow-up study showed that the incidence of cardiac event was lower in the astragalus group than that in the control group. Astragalus can be viewed as one of the important auxiliary drugs for treatment of CHF especially in severe cases.
Astragalus improves certain parts of the immune system, and may have some anti-HIV activity. It’s not clear whether astragalus would have anti-HIV activity when ingested as a supplement.
Astragalus may be helpful in diabetic nephropathy. This herb may also act as a diuretic.
Protective effects of Astragalus saponin I on early stage of diabetic nephropathy in rats.
J Pharmacol Sci. 2004. Diabetic nephropathy (DN) has become the leading cause of end stage failure, but no renoprotective treatment has been very available. Astragalus saponin I, a component extracted from Astragalus membranaceus, was studied in experimental DN. The early DN rats were treated with 3 doses of astragalus for 8 weeks to analyze its efficacy with different parameters. By comparison with vehicle-treated DN rats, the renal hypertrophy, the oxidative stress intensity, and the blood glucose level of DN rats were ameliorated by astragalus. Also, the microalbuminuria level, advanced glycated end-products either in serum or in kidney cortex, and the aldose reductase activity were significantly reduced. The results suggest that astragalus has therapeutic effects on several pharmacological targets in the progress of DN and is a potential drug for prevention of early stage DN.
Aqueous extract of Astragali Radix induces human natriuresis through enhancement of renal response to atrial natriuretic peptide.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2008.
The diuretic effect of astragalus root in humans was described in ancient books, but its mechanism has not been identified. To evaluate its diuretic / natriuretic effect, we conducted a double-blind, randomized, crossover study in 12 healthy men. They were randomized to receive either placebo or a single oral dosage of 0.3g/kg body weight of aqueous extract of astragalus root. Compared with placebo, astragalus root treatment markedly increased urinary sodium excretion, fractional sodium excretion, and urinary excretion of chloride during the first 4h. We show here that astragalus root induces a marked natriuresis in healthy men, which is attributed to enhanced renal responses to endogenous A-type Natriuretic Peptide.
Effect of Astragalus membranaceus and Angelica sinensis combined with Enalapril in rats with obstructive uropathy.
Phytother Res. 2009. Wojcikowski K. Molecular and Cellular Pathology, School of Medicine, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
ACE inhibitors (ACEi) reduce renal tubulointerstitial fibrosis but are not completely effective. Combined extract of Astragalus membranaceus and Angelica sinensis (A&A) is a traditional antifibrotic agent in China. The combination of the two drugs was significantly more effective than Enalapril alone in reducing tumor necrosis factor-alpha, collagen accumulation, activation of fibroblasts, and tubular cell apoptosis. In conclusion, Enalapril with A&A significantly decreased tubulointerstitial fibrosis to a greater extent than treatment with Enalapril alone.
Skin and melanin
Inhibitory effects of calycosin isolated from the root of Astragalus membranaceus on melanin biosynthesis.
Biol Pharm Bull. 2009; Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Daejeon, Korea.
Tyrosinase is a key enzyme for melanin biosynthesis, and hyperpigmentation disorders are associated with abnormal accumulation of melanin pigments, which can be reduced by treatment with depigmenting agents. A methanol extract of Astragalus membranaceus showed inhibitory activity against mushroom tyrosinase. The active compound was purified from the methanol extract of Astragalus membranaceus and was identified as calycosin. Results suggest that calycosin may be an effective skin-lightening agent that regulates the expression of melanogenic enzymes.
Astragalus root supplement side effects and safety
No major side effect have been reported in humans as of 2017.
Astragalus root has polysaccharides that have a role in influencing the immune system. Astragalus root also contains saponins called astragalosides and astramembranosides, along with flavonoids and triterpenes. Three major flavonoids are ononin, along with formononetin, and demethylhomopterocarpin.
Zhong Yao Cai. 2013. Pharmacognostical study on seven species from Astragalus genus in Yunnan]. For the identification and utilization of the Astragalus plants from Yunnan, Pharmacognostical studies were systematically performed for seven Astragalus plants which were selected from four subgenera of Astragalus genus. Standard pharmacognosy methods and HPLC method were adopted, and microscopic characteristics and major chemical constituents of the test plant samples were compared. There were differences in root transverse section, powder and chemical constituents of the seven Astragalus plants.
Products on the market, in health food stores and online
There are dozens of astragalus products available without a prescription.
Astragalus (root) 300 mg per capsule
Astragalus membranaceus root 470 mg
Astragalus membranaceus root 500 mg
Astragalus membranaceus (Huang Ch’i) – Certified organic grain alcohol (42-46%), distilled water and extractives.