In the realm of herbal medicines, not all are the same. Many provide health benefits, but there are a select few that are deemed legendary by both current scientists and ancient cultures—a particular group of herbs that have truly remarkable health-boosting qualities which make them a must for those attempting more comprehensive wellness, joy, longetivity and healing. Astragalus (Astragalus propinquus) is often considered to be one of those plants—a prized herbal remedy in many cultures and one that continues to be verified as scientists study the medicinal composites that are present within the plant.
Health Benefits of Astragalus
For over 2,000 years, Astragalus has been one of the top 50 Chinese tonic herbs that are most commonly employed in Traditional Chinese Medicine, due to its extraordinary ability to renew health in practically every way—psychologically, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. It is one of the rare herbs discussed in varied ancient Chinese medical texts as a premier herbal medicine for reestablishing health and reinvigorating the body and mind at the most profound levels. But just what precisely makes it such a remarkable tonic that has been sought after by rulers and medicine men alike for centuries? Let’s examine…Astragalus has been said to:
1. Increases Longevity, Shift Aging and Intensifiy DNA Repair
Several interesting studies on human cells have revealed that individual composites in Astragalus root have measurable telomerase-activating and enhancing effects, which have been associated with extended longevity, anti-aging and DNA restoration. Telomerase is a unique kind of protein that restores damaged DNA sequences.
2. Boost Immunity and Fight Bacteria, Viruses, and Other Agents that Weaken Immunity
Another advantage of Astragalus is its efficacious immune-boosting attributes. It has become a staple for people who favor natural therapies that are dealing with chronic fatigue syndrome and other weakening immune system diseases. Nonetheless, it works just as well for those who are simply looking to strengthen their immune system during flu season, or long term as a preventative and health-boosting action. Human investigations have revealed that routine use of Astragalus root leads to an improvement in disease-fighting immune system antibodies, enhancement of T-cells and an improvement in levels of the anti-viral composite interferon.
3. Decrease Stress and Boost Vitality
Astragalus belongs to a specific class of herbs identified as adaptogens, which have unique influences that fight to bring the body and mind into balance, depending on what is demanded. For instance, if someone is stressed and worried, they will probably find Astragalus benefits to be centering and calming, whereas if they are drained and fatigued, the plant will serve to have more uplifting, reinvigorating and stimulating properties. As such, Astragalus has been determined to help the body cope with stress more efficiently and has been employed for this reason for centuries..
4. Strengthen Heart Health, Lungs and Blood
In the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) system, Astragalus is said to shield lung Qi or lung energy, and modern research into the plant has also observed it to have a shielding and healing influence on the lungs. Astragalus is one of the few herbs that has advantageous effects on problems linked to breathing, such as asthma, allergies, and respiratory illnesses. Over time it may help clear congestion and enhance deeper breathing.
Astragalus has been noted, in several studies, to help reduce hardening of arteries and the accumulation of plaque, decrease blood pressure, and promote overall heart function. In the TCM literature, Astragalus root is also stated to be an excellent blood tonic, signifying that it has advantageous results on the hematological systems. TCM specialists often use it to support circulation and blood flow, heal cuts and ulcers. Interestingly, Astragalus extract is believed to be high in bioavailable iron, which is a broadly recognized blood-building indispensable mineral.
5. Lessen Inflammation and Repair Skin Elasticity
Many people notice that Astragalus, when used routinely, restores a vigorous glow to the skin and diminishes wrinkles, discoloration, and other manifestations of aging, which may be due to its telomerase-stimulating influences as well. The natural herb powder can be employed as a component in face masks and serums for a more permeating result.
Nevertheless, Astragalus’s skin effects are also partly correlated to its ability to decrease inflammation within the body. Several studies have confirmed that it reduces the inflammatory consequences that histamines have in the body by modulating inflammatory markers.
I really like to encourage the use of plants that are native to our own climates – but this is one of. A few herbs I wholeheartedly encourage you to consider. Since I’m in the frozen tundra climate of Green Bay, Wisconsin, this isn’t an herb I can grow in my garden. But, I have found that it grows beautifully in a pot on my deck, and I can overwinter it indoors. I don’t harvest roots for 3 years after planting, but I’m enjoying getting to know this beautiful plant that looks a bit like hairy vetch (Vicia villosa) only with pale yellow flowers.
Unadulterated, organic or wild-harvested Astragalus root – either in slices or cut/sifted – is used. As a native herb to Asia and China, much of the world’s stock comes from these countries, so it is essential to look for quality suppliers. We source from companies that provide organic certified astragalus. I recommend ingesting Astragalus in powder or tea form so that you can alter the dosage to fit your necessities. Astragalus has a mild, nutty flavor, so many people enjoy it in tea form. Anyone who has soup at my house has had a dose of astragalus – 1-2 slices of this root goes into every broth or soup I make (use it like Bay Leaf – put it in at the beginning and only remove it before eating the soup). You can also throw a slice of the root into anything you cook with liquid – rice, pasta, barley – you name it! It has antimicrobial and antiviral properties, and no one except the cook need know that there is “healthy stuff” in the soup!
The information provided here is educational in nature. These statements have not been evaluated by the US FDA. Any product referred to in this information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
1. Hector F. Valenzuela, Thomas Fuller, Jim Edwards, Danielle Finger, Brenda Molgora. Cycloastragenol extends T cell proliferation by increasing telomerase activity. The Journal of Immunology April 1, 2009, 182 (1 Supplement) 90.30;
2. Bernardes de jesus B, Schneeberger K, Vera E, Tejera A, Harley CB, Blasco MA. The telomerase activator TA-65 elongates short telomeres and increases health span of adult/old mice without increasing cancer incidence. Aging Cell. 2011;10(4):604-21.
3. Molgora B, Bateman R, Sweeney G, et al. Functional assessment of pharmacological telomerase activators in human T cells. Cells. 2013;2(1):57-66.
4. Harley CB, Liu W, Blasco M, et al. A Natural Product Telomerase Activator As Part of a Health Maintenance Program. Rejuvenation Research. 2011;14(1):45-56. doi:10.1089/rej.2010.1085.
5. Ren S, Zhang H, Mu Y, Sun M, Liu P. Pharmacological effects of Astragaloside IV: a literature review. J Tradit Chin Med. 2013;33(3):413-6.
6. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Li Ching-Yuen. Accessed August 4, 2017.
7. Chang HM, But PPH, eds. Pharmacology and applications of Chinese material medica, Vol. 2. Singapore, World Scientific Publishing, 1987.**
8. Hou YD et al. Effect of Radix Astragali seu hedysari on the interferon system. Chinese medical journal, 1981, 94:35-40. **
9. Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, The Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences. Immunity parameters and blood cAMP changes in normal persons after ingestion of Radix Astragali. Chung hua I hsueh t’sa chih, 1979, 59:31-34. **
10. Finter NB. Interferons and interferon-inducers. Amsterdam, North Holland, 1973:363. **
11. Yuan X, Sun S, Wang S, Sun Y. Effects of astragaloside IV on IFN-gamma level and prolonged airway dysfunction in a murine model of chronic asthma. Planta Med. 2011;77(4):328-33.
12. Ren S, Zhang H, Mu Y, Sun M, Liu P. Pharmacological effects of Astragaloside IV: a literature review. J Tradit Chin Med. 2013;33(3):413-6.
13. Al-Snafi, A. E. (2015). Chemical constituents and pharmacological effects of Astragalus hamosus and Astragalus tribuloides grown in Iraq. Asian J of Pharm Sci & Tech, 5(4), 321-328.
14. Ko JK, Chik CW. The protective action of radix Astragalus membranaceus against hapten-induced colitis through modulation of cytokines. Cytokine. 2009;47(2):85-90.
15. Lu J, Chen X, Zhang Y, et al. Astragalus polysaccharide induces anti-inflammatory effects dependent on AMPK activity in palmitate-treated RAW264.7 cells. Int J Mol Med. 2013;31(6):1463-70.
16. Astragalus. (n.d.). University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved August 04, 2017, from http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/astragalus