You may have heard of the purported health benefits of astragalus from a recent article or from your acupuncturist, who often use Chinese medicine in their practice due to its many medicinal and therapeutic applications. But you may not know what astragalus really is and how it can help your overall health. We’ll discuss the many health benefits of Astragalus and how this traditional Chinese herb can improve your health.
Astragalus, also known as Astragalus membranaceus, is one of the most commonly used herbs in Chinese medicine. Astragalus contains powerful bioactive compounds that have been shown to be antioxidant, immune-boosting, anti-aging, and anti-inflammatory.
There are more than 2,000 species of astragalus, and the main type used in supplements is astragalus. Many bioactive compounds are found in Astragalus that contribute to its potential therapeutic benefits, such as flavonoids, saponins, and alkaloids.
One of the most well-known benefits of astragalus is its immune-boosting effects. The study explored the role of the main compound in Astragalus, astragalus polysaccharide (APS), which regulates immune function through various mechanisms, enhances immune organ index, promotes immune cell proliferation, stimulates cytokine release, and affects the secretion of cytokines. Immunoglobulin ( Ig) and the conduction of immune signals (R).
The main role of the immune system is to protect you from invading pathogens, bacteria and viruses that can cause disease.
Studies have shown that ASP affects immune cells by increasing the proliferation of dendritic cells and lymphocytes. Under normal circumstances, ASP can promote the production of cytokines and enhance immunity. However, as the inflammatory response leads to an increase in cytokines, APS can reduce inflammatory response factors and protect cells or the body (R).
In a small study of elite rowers, researchers looked at the effects of astragalus on the immune system after exercise. Study found that taking 500 mg daily improved exercise recovery during a 6-week intensive training camp (R).
Astragalus contains flavonoid polyphenols, as well as saponins and alkaloids, which have powerful antioxidant effects.
Antioxidants help protect your body from harmful environmental factors called free radicals, which can cause cellular damage. Researchers believe that polyphenols may have benefits for cardiovascular health, primarily due to their antioxidant properties, which can reduce inflammation.
One of the main benefits of polyphenols is balancing blood sugar levels, which can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that polyphenols may inhibit alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase, thereby inhibiting the intestinal absorption of glucose and preventing the breakdown of starch into simple sugars.
Studies have shown that the active ingredients in Astragalus have positive effects on regulating the mechanism of glucose and lipid metabolism and improving insulin function.
APS has many direct mechanisms that greatly affect and maintain blood glucose and insulin levels. APS improves glucose transport and reduces its accumulation in skeletal muscle and fat. APS increase Adiponectinadipo-R1 and adenosine monophosphate protein kinase (AMPK), which are involved in glucose and lipid metabolism in liver, muscle and adipocytes (R).
These are just some of the mechanisms by which astragalus has shown positive benefits for type 2 diabetes.
Astragalus has also shown positive benefits for type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that causes chronically high blood sugar levels due to decreased insulin activity and destruction of beta cells. Studies have shown that APS protects pancreatic β cells from autoimmune-associated cell death through anti-oxidative, immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic mechanisms (R).
Research suggests that astragalus may have a positive effect on people with chronic kidney disease (CKD). A review of 550 CKD patients who took 1.5 grams of astragalus per day showed an 80% improvement in survival over a 12-year follow-up period (R).
Research shows that astragalus supports kidney health by improving blood flow and laboratory markers of kidney function.
Finding large amounts of protein in the kidneys, called proteinuria, is often considered a sign of kidney health.
In several studies involving patients with kidney disease, astragalus has been shown to improve proteinuria, especially in conditions related to diabetes.
While more research is needed to provide official dosages for astragalus, many studies have shown positive effects at the following dosages for specific conditions. The recommended daily dose in China is between 9-30g, and it is generally recognized as safe when used properly (R).
- Heart disease: 2-7.5 grams twice a day
- Blood sugar maintenance: 40-60g decoction up to 4 months
Administration Form, Dosage and Method Astragalus.
Dosage and Administration
root, Astragalus as Chinese medicine
Oral: 9–30 grams per day
Capsules, tablets, teas, tinctures, dried roots, Chinese herbal extracts
Oral: 250-500 mg capsule/tablet 4 times daily
dried root medicinal soup
Oral: 1000 to 2000 mg/day
dried root decoction
Oral: 10–30 g/day
Liquid extracts in tablets or capsules or equivalent doses of dry extracts as traditional remedies
Oral: 4-8 ml/day 1:2 liquid extract
dry root extract, Astragalus as Chinese medicine
Oral: 0.57 g/kg body weight per day
Dried root as traditional Chinese medicine
Oral: 9–30 g dry root per day
Dry powder and decoction are traditional Chinese medicine
Oral: 2–4.8 g dried root per day.Dried root soup with medicinal drink: stand in water for 60 minutes, boil for 20-25 minutes, remove and drink or dry root boil for 10-15 minutes, remove and drink
Astragalus is a powerful adaptogen that has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine for its many health benefits. Studies have shown that due to the powerful bioactive compounds. Astragalus may benefit immune health, heart health, diabetic kidney disease, and controlling blood sugar levels. More evidence is needed to find conclusive evidence supporting these findings and replicating them in human clinical trials.