Astragalus

(astragalus membranaceus)

Astragalus is native to northern China and the elevated regions of the Chinese provinces, Yunnan and Sichuan. The portion of the plant used medicinally is the four- to seven-year-old dried root, collected in the spring.

In the classical treatise Shen Nung Pen Tsao Ching (circa A.D. 100) astragalus is classified as a superior herb. The Chinese name huang qi translates as “yellow leader,” referring to the yellow colour of the root and its status as one of the most important tonic herbs. Traditional Chinese Medicine used this herb for night sweats, deficiency of chi (e.g., fatigue, weakness, and loss of appetite), and diarrhoea.

What it does

Astragalus contains many different active compounds including amino acids and minerals. It has both a boosting and balancing effect on the immune system. Astragalus has also been shown to increase interferon production and secretion and increase white blood cell activity.

Potential Uses

Immune support Cardiovascular health Stress
Water retention Fatigue Chronic fatigue syndrome
Tired all the time Colds

Other information

Astragalus is often used as an alternative or as a supportive immune boosting herb to echinacea. It can be used for general immune support, recurrent infections and as a general tonic. It may be useful for auto-immune problems where the immune system needs rebalancing.

Astragalus has a vasodilatory action and has been shown to significantly lower blood pressure. The cardiotonic effect provides an increase in heart muscle contraction, which is particularly useful in cases of fatigue, exhaustion and convalescence.

Studies show astragalus to be a gentle diuretic and is particularly beneficial in conditions such as nephritis or inflammation of the kidneys.

Cautions

Astragalus is best avoided in pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding.

At the time of writing there were no well known negative drug interactions with astragalus.

Generally, there are no side effects or contra-indications from using astragalus.

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