What Are the Benefits, Uses, & Side Effects of Astragalus
Astragalus root is a plant native to Asia that has been used for hundreds of years for a variety of health benefits. Learn more about astragalus root and how it can help you.
What is Astragalus? | Astragalus Uses & Benefits | How Much Astragalus Do I Need? | Side Effects of Astragalus | Is Astragalus Right For You?
This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD
What is Astragalus?
Astragalus is a plant that consists of over 3,000 varieties of small shrubs and herbs. Also known as milkvetch, locoweed, and goat’s-thorn, it is a natural dietary supplement used to treat many common health issues. It was first discovered centuries ago and used in ancient Chinese medicine. Astragalus root is made into an extract that can be taken in capsule form but is often added to soups and teas as well.
Astragalus Uses & Benefits
Astragalus is believed to have many health benefits and uses. It has been used to boost the immune system, as an anti-aging treatment and to fight inflammation. In addition, it is thought to have antifungal and antiviral properties.
Heart Health. Astragalus is believed to improve heart health by widening blood vessels. It may have diuretic properties, which may help lower blood pressure. Widening the blood vessels can increase the amount of blood flow from the heart to various areas in the body. A reduction of blood flow in the arteries can increase the risk of serious health issues such as heart attack and stroke.
Boosts Immunity. Astragalus may help stimulate the production of white blood cells. Also known as leucocytes and leukocytes, white blood cells protect the body from infection, disease, and foreign invaders. The herb is also used to treat viral infections such as those of the liver and the common cold. Individuals with weak immune systems tend to have infections more frequently and other health issues that last longer or are more difficult to treat.
Improves Liver & Kidney function. Astragalus may help improve kidney function in several ways. One potential benefit is to help lower unhealthy levels of protein in the urine. (In some instances, protein in the urine could be a sign of kidney damage or kidneys not functioning properly). Another benefit of the herb is to improve blood flow in the kidneys and decrease the risk of infections.
The liver is the largest internal organ in the body and has many important functions, which include producing bile, detoxifying the body, producing cholesterol and certain proteins. Astragalus may help strengthen the liver, allowing it to work more efficiently as well.
Stress Reduction. The consumption of astragalus is believed to decrease the amount of stress hormones produced by the body. Another potential benefit is to help eliminate feelings of depression, panic attacks, nervous disorders, and mood swings. Stress can manifest in many ways. Top signs of physical stress are headaches, chest pain, aches, pains, nausea, frequent colds and heart palpitations. Other potential signs include feeling agitated, worrying, insomnia, restlessness, and fatigue. If left unchecked, chronic stress could weaken the immune system, increasing the body susceptibility to various health issues.
Anti-aging properties. The antioxidants in astragalus are believed to help reduce signs of aging. This is accomplished due to the belief it can stimulate the regrowth of tissue, diminish or eliminate chronic disease symptoms and eliminate free radicals. These anti-aging properties are believed to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, age spots, wrinkles and blemishes.
Regulates Diabetes. Astragalus is one of the most frequently used herbs in China to assist with managing diabetes and blood sugar. Research is still ongoing, but astragalus has been shown to decrease blood sugar levels and improve sugar metabolism in small studies. Common symptoms of diabetes are blurry vision, increased thirst and hunger, high levels of fatigue and increased urination. Complications from diabetes can lead to dangerous health issues that affect the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, teeth, and blood vessels.
Chemotherapy. Astragalus may help improve a chemotherapy patient’s quality of life. This is accomplished by alleviating symptoms of fatigue caused by cancer. The herb may also assist in reducing side effects of chemotherapy such as vomiting, nausea,
How Much Astragalus Do I Need?
Even though traditional medicine doesn’t recognize astragalus as a valid treatment option, it is often used to maintain good health and treat various ailments. The amount of astragalus a person takes can vary, often depending on why they are taking it:
- Blood sugar regulation: 40-60 grams daily for up to 16 weeks
- Seasonal allergies: Two 80 mg capsules daily for 6 weeks
- Chronic fatigue: 30 grams consumed with other herbs as needed
- Kidney health: 7.5-15 grams twice a day for up to 6 months
- Heart failure: 2-7.5 grams two times per day for 30 days
Astragalus comes in powder, capsule, or liquid form. General serving suggestions for each are as follows:
- Powdered root: 250-500 milligrams, 3 to 4 times per day
- Capsules: 500 milligrams each, 2 to 3 per day
- Herbal tea: 3 to 6 grams per 12 ounces of water, 3 servings per day
- Liquid extract: take ½ teaspoon to ¾ teaspoon (2 to 4 milliliters) three times a day.
Currently, no studies are indicating adverse reactions from taking higher amounts of astragalus. However, consult with a physician prior to taking and if using other medications.
Side Effects of Astragalus
Astragalus is generally considered safe, but some may experience minor side effects, such as itching, runny nose, nausea, diarrhea, or rashes. While the herb is believed to help with many ailments, the following individuals should avoid consuming astragalus:
- Those with autoimmune diseases. Astragalus can stimulate increased activity of the immune system. This may prove problematic for autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and Celiac disease.
- Pregnant Women. There are no studies on astragalus and its effect on pregnant women. To err on the side of caution, the herb should be avoided when pregnant or lactating.
- Those who are taking immunosuppressant drugs. Astragalus can increase the immune system’s activity, which in turn could diminish the effects of immunosuppressants.
Other potential reactions to astragalus:
- Allergic reactions for those allergic to peas and other members of the Leguminosae family
- Potential interference of beta-blockers, anticoagulants, and diuretics
- Increased activity of antiviral medications
- Potential elevation of growth hormones
- An increased amount of acne or blemishes among those with acne
Contact a physician if any of the symptoms persist or worsen with use.
Is Astragalus Right For You
Astragalus has been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of health issues. Even though studies are inconclusive, heart conditions, elevated blood sugar, seasonal allergies, chronic fatigue, and other ailments have all been treated with the herb. Dosages of up to 60 grams per day are considered safe for most people, coordinating with your doctor.
Medical Disclaimer: This article is based upon the opinions of Revelation Health. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Revelation Health and associates. This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD for accuracy of the information provided, but Revelation Health encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.