What Is Astragalus?
Astragalus, also known as huáng qí or milkvetch, is most commonly known for its use in traditional Chinese medicine
Though there are over 2,000 species of astragalus, only two are primarily used in supplements — Astragalus membranaceus and Astragalus mongholicus .
Specifically, the root of the plant is made into many different forms of supplements, including liquid extracts, capsules, powders and teas.
Astragalus is sometimes also given as an injection or by IV in a hospital setting.
The root contains many active plant compounds, which are believed to be responsible for its potential benefits .For example, its active compounds may help strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation
- May Boost Your Immune System
Astragalus contains beneficial plant compounds that may enhance your immune system.
- May Improve Heart Function
Astragalus may help improve heart function in those with certain heart conditions.
It’s thought to widen your blood vessels and increase the amount of blood pumped from your heart
- May Alleviate Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy has many negative side effects. According to some studies, astragalus may help alleviate some of them.
For example, one clinical study in people undergoing chemotherapy found that astragalus given by IV reduced nausea by 36%, vomiting by 50% and diarrhea by 59%
- May Help Control Blood Sugar Levels
The active compounds in astragalus root may help lower blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes.
In fact, it has been identified as the most frequently prescribed herb to help with diabetes management in China
- May Improve Kidney Function
Astragalus may support kidney health by improving blood flow and laboratory markers of kidney function, such as measures of protein in the urine.
Proteinuria is a condition in which abnormal amounts of protein are found in urine, which is a sign that the kidneys may be damaged or not functioning normally
- Other Potential Health Benefits
There are many preliminary studies on astragalus that indicate the herb may have other potential benefits, including:
- Improved symptoms of chronic fatigue: Some evidence shows astragalus may help improve tiredness in people with chronic fatigue syndrome when combined with other herbal supplements
- Anticancer effects: In test-tube studies, astragalus has promoted apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in various types of cancer cells .
- Improved seasonal allergy symptoms: Though studies are limited, one clinical study found that 160 mg of astragalus twice daily may reduce sneezing and runny nose in individuals with seasonal allergies