Astragalus, or Astragalus membranaceus, is an herb that has been utilized in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries prior to its introduction to the Western world. The astragalus plant originated from China and is native to the northern provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan.1
In China, the herb can have different names, including Huang Qi and Hwanqqi, depending on the region where it is normally harvested. It is also called the "Yellow Leader," a direct translation of its Chinese names.2 The herb earned this title because of the distinct yellow color of its root, the most important part of the plant.
With all of astragalus' benefits and uses, it's not surprising as to why it's called a "leader" in traditional medicine.
Discover Astragalus Root's Many Health Benefits
Astragalus is an adaptogen that has the ability to help the body deal with physical, emotional or mental stress. It is also famous for aiding the body in curbing infections and other diseases. In one study conducted, it was found out that the astragalus plant contains both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.3
Here are other astragalus root benefits you should be aware of:
✓ Helps in dealing with anemia. Astragalus helps strengthen the blood vessels and improve poor blood circulation.4
✓ Helps prevent colds and flu. Taking astragalus before you get sick will help boost your immune system function and prevent colds. It stimulates the immune system and also provides antioxidants that help the body fight free radical damage.5
✓ Helps promote cardiovascular health. Studies suggest that astragalus helps in improving the symptoms of ischemic heart disease. It was also observed to help relieve angina pain, increase sodium pump activity and prevent coronary artery clogging, mainly because of the saponins found in astragalus root extract.6
✓ May help manage diabetes. Astragalus has the ability to lower blood sugar levels and improve your insulin sensitivity. This is good news for people who have become insulin resistant because of the constant ingestion of sugar.
Polysaccharide extracts from astragalus also have the ability to decrease glucose toxicity by activating AMP-activated protein kinase, which influences fat breakdown and the production of insulin.7
✓ Improves skin health. Astragalus may benefit skin health by promoting blood flow and speeding up wound healing. This is due to astragalus’ APS2-1 component, which has a direct effect on cell cycle, repair factor secretion and inflammation alleviation.8
✓ Alleviates the side effects of chemotherapy. Studies show that this herb has the ability to help relieve the side effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea, vomiting and fatigue.9 The demand for this herb also skyrocketed because of the immune support benefits it can help provide for people who are undergoing chemotherapy.10
Studies also suggest that the astragalus root may have anti-tumor properties, helping in the prevention of melanomas and leukemia.11
What Is Astragalus Used For?
Astragalus comes in different forms, most of which is extracted from the root. These forms include astragalus powder, herbal decoctions, capsules and ointments. These astragalus products are usually ingested to help the body deal with viruses and infections. The dosages, however, differ depending on the form.
Here is a list of the recommended doses for the aforementioned astragalus products. Always consult your physician before taking any of these, especially if you're dealing with a medical condition:
✓ Tea/Herbal Decoction
✓ 3 to 6 grams dried root per 12 ounces of water, thrice a day
✓ Astragalus Root Powder
✓ 250 to 500 milligrams, 3 to 4 times a day
✓ 2 to 3 capsules (500 milligrams) per day
✓ Astragalus Root Extract (Liquid) or Tincture
✓ 2 to 4 milliliters, thrice a day
As an ointment, astragalus extract can also be used on wounds to promote healing and to avoid infections. The ointment should only be composed of 10 percent astragalus and should be applied on the skin's surface. However, it should not be applied to open wounds without consulting a health practitioner first.
Astragalus Recipes You Can Make at Home
If you're curious as to how you can incorporate astragalus into your diet, here are some recipes you can try:
Astragalus Root Tea
When you feel a cold or the flu coming in, this astragalus tea recipe will help your immune system counter the viruses that are currently at work.12
- 10 g dried astragalus root slices or astragalus powder
- 1 g red tea leaves or 1 red tea bag
- 500 ml water
- Add the slices or powder to water and bring to a boil in a small saucepan. Let it boil for about 5 minutes.
- Remove the slices from the water or strain the water.
- Place the tea bag in a cup and pour the astragalus water into the cup.
- Steep the tea bag for a couple of minutes.
- Pour the astragalus tea in a thermal flask and sip it slowly throughout the day.
Astragalus Chicken Soup
Chicken soup has always been attributed to helping restore the body's healthy state whenever you're sick. By incorporating the astragalus herb into this recipe,13 you're actually ensuring that your body has the means to help fight the cause of your symptoms.
- 1 free-range organic chicken thigh
- 4 slices of astragalus
- 8 red dates
- 1 tbsp. goji berries
- 500 ml water
Procedure (for double-boiling jar):
- Wash and clean the chicken thigh. Trim away excess fat and skin.
- Parboil the chicken thigh.
- Soak the Chinese herbs (astragalus, red dates and goji berries) for a short while.
- Cut the red dates into halves and remove the seeds.
- Place all the ingredients into the double-boiling jar.
- Pour cold water into the jar, enough to cover the ingredients.
- Place the jar into a deep pot and fill the pot with water until the jar is half submerged.
- Bring the pot of water to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 1 hour.
- Add salt to taste before serving.
Astragalus Herbal Oil Also Gives Immense Benefits
The astragalus root is also where astragalus oil is extracted. Some of the notable components of astragalus oil include polysaccharides, saponins, flavonoids, amino acids, organic compounds, dietary fibers and minerals (zinc, copper, magnesium and calcium). These components contribute to the overall function of the astragalus oil.
Astragalus oil has both cosmetic and therapeutic uses. The ingestion of astragalus oil is said to help bolster your immune system, promote normal cholesterol levels and assist in the production of antibodies. It also helps in maintaining the overall health of the digestive system by promoting metabolic function. It also alleviates ulcers by promoting the healthy balance of gastric juices and gastric acid in the stomach.
If you're planning on extracting your own astragalus oil, here is a step-by-step guide to help you:
How to Make Astragalus Oil
- Astragalus root
- 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
- 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.
- Heat slowly over low heat (140 degrees Fahrenheit) for six to eight hours.
- When done, strain the mixture and transfer it to a glass jar (or any container of your choice).
Contraindications for the Use of Astragalus
While the astragalus plant offers a wide variety of health benefits, there are certain contraindications for some people. Astragalus is famous for its ability to boost your immune system. While this may be beneficial for people with weak immune systems, it's bad news for those who have an overactive immune system. Unless approved by a physician, people with multiple sclerosis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis should steer clear from this herb because it may cause detrimental effects.14
People who have undergone organ transplants should also avoid the intake of this herb because it counteracts with the drug (cyclophosphamide), which is responsible for minimizing the risk of organ rejection.15 It should also be taken in moderation if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as it may have adverse effects on both you and your child.
While this herb is not an entirely popular choice in modern medicine, the mere fact that this herb can provide you with a wide array of health benefits is enough reason for you not to ignore it. The astragalus herb has been used for numerous years in traditional medicine – it's high time for you to incorporate it to your diets and your health regime to maintain or improve your overall health.