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  • Herbs and plants have been part of many Asian cultures, with different tribes and civilizations harvesting them for medicinal uses. Although it was not as popular in Western countries before, astragalus, particularly in oil form, is slowly gaining ground as one of the herbs with multiple health benefits.
  • A member of the pea family, astragalus was coined “Huang Qi” which means “yellow leader” because of its yellow root.
 

Astragalus Oil: The Life-Sustaining Oil

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What Is Astragalus Oil?

Astragalus oil comes from the root of a plant known as Astragalus membranaceus, which has various names like Huang Qi, Bei Qi, and Hwanqqi.1 It is native to northern China and the elevated regions of the Chinese provinces like Yunnan and Sichuan.2

A member of the pea family, astragalus was coined “Huang Qi,” which means “yellow leader” because of its yellow root. The plant also has a sweet-smelling yellow blossom and a hairy stem, and grows best in sandy, well-drained soil, under the sun.

The plant, and its uses, was discovered by a Chinese herbalist named Shen Nong nearly 5,000 years ago. He made a detailed record called "Shen Nong Pen Tsao Ching" (circa A.D. 100), which listed around 300 plants he discovered and served as a log of his research.3

Other varieties of astragalus can be found in Northern hemisphere countries with temperate climate like Mongolia,4 North Korea,5 and Japan.6

Uses of Astragalus Oil

Chinese medical history attributes the use of astragalus to strengthen and replenish "qi", the body’s life force and protective energy, or more commonly known as the immune system.7

There have been no studies reported about the cosmetic use of astragalus oil, so for now, it’s best to use it for massages. Aside from oil, astragalus, particularly the root, can be made into other products like liquid extracts, tinctures, teas, and creams (for topical use).8 Products that contain traces of the plant were proven useful in helping treat:

Chronic weakness Fatigue Weak digestion
Shortness of breath Bloating Ulcers
Low immunity Heart failure HIV/AIDS
Night sweats Nephritis Low adrenal energy
Urinary tract infections Chronic colds, allergies, or flu prevention

For other astragalus products, consider the recommended dosage amounts:

  • Tea/herbal decoction: Use 3 to 6 grams dried root per 12 ounces of water, thrice a day
  • Powdered root: Take 250 to 500 milligrams, 3 to 4 times per day
  • Capsules: Take 2 to 3 capsules (500 milligrams) per day9
  • Tincture and liquid extract: Take 2 to 4 milliliters, thrice a day
  • Ointment: 10 percent astragalus applied to the surface of the wound only (do not apply on open wounds without the advice of a health care practitioner)

Composition of Astragalus Oil

The astragalus plant contains the following components:

Polysaccharides Saponins Flavonoids
Amino acids Trace elements Essential oils
Organic compounds like choline, betaine, and gluconic acid Minerals like zinc, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, calcium, potassium, selenium, and sodium Dietary and crude fiber
Bitter compounds that increase the flow of urine Mucilaginous compounds that enhance immune response10

However, in a study conducted by members of the academe of the Tabriz University of Medical Sciences in Iran on another member of the astragalus family — astragalus maximus — they found a mixture of non-terpenoids, such as:

Myristicin Phytol Benzaldehyde
3-methyl 1-dodecanol Acetophenone
Pentadecanone 6,10,14-trimethyl


Benefits of Astragalus Oil

Should you use any astragalus product, such as astragalus essential oil, here are some of its potential benefits:

Bolsters immune function Increases white blood cell count Helps stimulate production of antibodies
Improves digestive health Improves overall function of the heart and cardiovascular system Promotes metabolic function
Helps manage diabetes Promotes normal cholesterol levels Enhances liver and kidney function
Assists in increasing bodily resistance to virus and bacteria
Helps cure stomach ulcers through the inhibition of gastric secretions and reduction of gastric acid

How to Make Astragalus Oil

If you want to make an astragalus oil infusion at home, follow this simple method:

Materials:

  • Astragalus roots
  • Carrier oil (serves as your base; popular choices include sweet almond, coconut, and olive oil)
  • Spoon for mixing
  • Unbleached cheesecloth, muslin or fine gauze
  • Double boiler or a crockpot
  • Glass jar for storage

Procedure:

  1. Combine the herbs and the oil in the double boiler. The ideal ratio would be 1 cup of carrier oil to every ¼ ounce of astragalus.
  2. Heat slowly over low heat (140 degrees Fahrenheit) for six to eight hours.
  3. When done, strain the mixture and transfer it to a glass jar (or any container of your choice).12

Store your finished product for about six months in a jar at a cool, dark, and dry spot to ensure that the oil retains its aromatic and medicinal properties. Do not heat the oil in a microwave. This is not recommended for oral use.13

How Does Astragalus Oil Work?

Astragalus products like teas and capsules are usually taken internally, while the oil is best used topically. This is what the plant can potentially do for your body:

  • Causes blood vessels to relax
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Balances cholesterol level by helping prevent fats from being absorbed into the intestine
  • Helps stop fatty plague deposits from clogging the arteries, so blood can move more freely
  • Enhances body energy (astragalus is an adaptogen)
  • Aids in decreasing acidity level in the stomach
  • Reduces blood sugar levels while helping prevent pathological alterations to the retina 

Is Astragalus Oil Safe?

Although there are no major reports about the negative effects of astragalus, it is best to avoid consuming the plant or the oil if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, underwent transplant surgery or any surgery, or suffering from the following illnesses:

It is recommended that you consult a physician before using the plant orally, especially for children.

While there have been no major reports about irritation from handling this plant, I advise that you take a skin patch test to determine any potential allergies.

Side Effects of Astragalus Oil

Even if there are no recorded incidents of the ill effects of astragalus, make sure to take note of the following potential side effects:

  • Increased visibility of pimples and blemishes for people with acne, ruddy complexion, or blood impurities
  • Increased effects of some antiviral medications such as acyclovir and interferon
  • Interference with actions of diuretics, phenobarbital, beta-blockers, and anticoagulants
  • Rise in growth hormone levels
  • Allergic reactions (especially if you are allergic to members of the Leguminosae or pea family)
  • Counteracting of the immune-suppressing effects of cyclophosphamide, a medication used to reduce the chances of rejection in transplant recipients
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