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All About Astragalus: the Many Benefits of This Oriental Oil

March 09, 2017

Story at-a-glance

  • 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

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 were 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 Korea5 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


Weak digestion

Shortness of breath



Low immunity

Heart failure


Night sweats


Low adrenal energy

Urinary tract infections

Chronic colds, allergies or flu prevention

For other astragalus products, consider the recommended dosage amounts:

Composition of Astragalus Oil

The astragalus plant contains the following components:




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:









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 Infused Astragalus Oil

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


  • 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


  1. Combine the herbs and the oil in the double boiler. The ideal ratio would be 1 cup of carrier oil to every 1/4 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).11

Store your finished product for about six months in a jar in 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.12

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:

Help blood vessels to relax

Lower blood pressure

Helps stop fatty plaque deposits from clogging arteries so blood can move more freely

Enhances body energy (astragalus is an adaptogen)

Aids in decreasing acidity level in the stomach

Reduce blood sugar levels

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 have undergone transplant surgery or any surgery, or suffering from the following illnesses:

Autoimmune diseases

Multiple sclerosis


Rheumatoid arthritis

Type 1 diabetes

Systemic lupus erythematosus

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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Sources and References

  • 1 E Vitamins, February 9, 2012
  • 2 Asian Health Secrets, February 23, 2015
  • 3 Natural Remedies
  • 4 The Right Tea
  • 5 Mountain Rose Herbs
  • 6
  • 7 MD Idea
  • 8 University of Maryland Medical Center
  • 9 The Herbal Supplement Resource
  • 10 The Oil Shoppe
  • 11 Love to Know
  • 12 Healthy New Age
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