Astragalus (Astragalus Membranaceus) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects

Astragalus (Astragalus Membranaceus) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects

Astragalus (Astragalus Membranaceus) Overview

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Astragalus (Astragalus Membranaceus) flowers

Astragalus (Astragalus Membranaceus) other names: Astragale, Astragale à Feuilles de Réglisse, Astragale Queue-de-Renard, Astragale Réglissier, Astragali, Astragalo, Astragalus Membranaceus, Astragalus mongholicus, Astragli Membranceus, Beg Kei, Bei Qi, Buck Qi, Chinese Astragalus, Huang Qi, Huang Se, Hwanggi, Membranous Milk Vetch, Milk Vetch, Mongolian Milk, Ogi, Phaca membranacea, Radix Astragali, Radix Astragalus, Réglisse Bâtarde, Réglisse Sauvage.

Astragalus is an herb. The root is used to make medicine.

The beneficial herb known as the astragalus is a twining leguminous perennial plant, which can reach 11 and a half to 39 inches high when fully grown. This plant has a multi branching stem, which slants slightly upward and which is also slightly hairy in appearance. 

The herb possesses pinnate leaves which grow alternately and each has 9 to 21 leaflets, which are elliptical in shape, each being about a quarter to three fourths of an inch long and about one thirds of an inch wide across. The racemes on the plant are axillary in position and the peduncle of the plant is very slender, bearing anything from three to nine flowers, which arise at the very top of the plant. The plant also possesses a spindle shaped pod, which is slightly inflated, is a little over an inch long and is beaked at the tip. The astragalus herb produces about twenty to thirty seeds.

All the medicinal properties of the astragalus lie in its root-which is highly valued by herbalist. The root of the astragalus is long and flexible, it can be as large as the human forefinger, and is covered by a tough and wrinkled, yellowish to brown colored skin, this skin on the root often tends to break out into many woolly fibers which can become very noticeable during close observation. The body of the root possesses a woody interior, which is yellowish to white in color. The root pulp has a faint and slightly sweet taste, which often reminds one of the herbal licorice roots.

The grassy hills and the thickets along hillsides in areas such as the northwestern region of China, the province of Manchuria and the country of Mongolia are places where astragalus grows in the wild. If cultivated, the astragalus herb is grown by sowing the seeds during the spring or in the autumn. This herb thrives well in sandy and well-drained soil, which is exposed to plenty of sunlight throughout the year. Autumn is the usual time when the roots of four year old plants are harvested.

Astragalus (Astragalus Membranaceus) Health Benefits

The astragalus root stands out as a unique remedy in the treatment of physical exhaustion, and the Oriental medicine considers the astragalus root to be an extremely useful remedy for physical weaknesses. Chinese herbalist have constantly applied remedies made from the astragalus root for centuries-they used this remedy to treat "every sort of wasting or exhausting disease", and to this day, the Chinese medical system still makes use of this remedy. The remedy made from the roots of the astragalus seems to work best, when they are used together with the Korean ginseng root remedy.

The main use of the astragalus is in the form of a classic energy tonic. Some even consider it superior to the ginseng for use with younger patients. The resistance of the immune system is also raised by the astragalus and the herbal remedy is also acknowledged for its ability to improve the physical endurance of all users.

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Astragalus (Astragalus Membranaceus) root

While its property as a vasodilator - a substance which encourages blood to flow to the skin surface - is acknowledged, the herbal remedies made from the astragalus is also used to rectify cases of excessive sweating, including disorders like sudden night sweats in many individuals. Persistent thirst is also reduced by remedies made from the astragalus and the herbal remedy is also very helpful in bringing relief from fluid retention disorders affecting different individuals. The correcting functioning of the human system is also encouraged by the holistic nature of herbal remedies based on the astragalus herb.

The herbal remedy is not meant for the treatment of acute illnesses, though the astragalus is believed to be very useful as a herbal medicine in treating viral infections, including those that cause the common cold and flu.

Early research suggests that giving astragalus intravenously (by IV) or using Chinese herbal mixtures containing astragalus might reduce nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and bone marrow suppression (a decrease in the cells that provide immunity) that is associated with chemotherapy treatments.

Astragalus is used for the common cold, upper respiratory infections, allergies, fibromyalgia, anemia, HIV/AIDS, and to strengthen and regulate the immune system. Astragalus is also used for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), kidney disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Some people use astragalus as a general tonic, to protect the liver, and to fight bacteria and viruses.

Astragalus is commonly used in combination with other herbs. For example, in combination with Ligustrum lucidum (glossy privet), astragalus is used orally for treating breast cancer, cervical cancer, and lung cancer.

Astragalus is sometimes applied to the skin to increase blood flow to the area and to speed wound healing.

Astragalus (Astragalus Membranaceus) Side effects

Astragalus is used for many conditions, but so far, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to determine whether or not astragalus is effective for any of them.

Astragalus is possibly safe for most adults when taken appropriately by mouth or intravenously (by IV). The side effects of astragalus are not known. 

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the safety of astragalus in humans during pregnancy and breast-feeding. However, some research in animals suggests that astragalus can be toxic to the mother and fetus. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Astragalus (Astragalus Membranaceus) image

“Auto-immune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other immune system conditions: Astragalus might make the immune system more active. This could worsen the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. Avoid using astragalus if you have any of these conditions.

There are several different species of astragalus. Some species contain a toxin called swainsonine and have been linked to livestock poisonings. Some of these species include Astragalus lentiginosus, Astragalus mollissimus, and others. However, these species of astragalus are usually not found in dietary supplements used by humans. Most astragalus supplements contain Astragalus membranaceus.