Astragalus has a long history of medicinal use for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It is considered a potent adaptogen, meaning it can help the human body adapt to various physical, mental, and emotional stress conditions. With its antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory actions, astragalus exerts diverse health benefits.
Here we’ll explore some of the most popular astragalus benefits that researchers have found for many years. But before getting into the health benefits of astragalus, it’s worth knowing exactly what astragalus is. So, let’s dig a little deeper.
Table of contents
- What is astragalus?
- Benefits of astragalus
- How to use astragalus
- Precautions and side effects
- Final words
What is astragalus?
Astragalus, botanically known as Astragalus membranaceus or Astragalus propinquus, is a flowering perennial plant endemic to Mongolia, China, and Korea. It grows generally 16 to 36 inches tall and the root is widely used for medicinal purposes usually after four years of age. Other names of astragalus include Huang qi and Mongolian milk vetch.
Benefits of astragalus
Astragalus is considered a miracle herb in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). As a potent herbal adaptogen, it helps the human body modify and adjust its functions depending on the specific needs in certain situations, which is why astragalus shows beneficial effects in a wide variety of health conditions.
Studies suggest astragalus possesses numerous therapeutic properties such as anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, antiviral, immunomodulating, and diuretic to name a few. For this reason, astragalus has traditionally been used, alone or in combination with other herbs, to treat and prevent various health issues for centuries.
Though the most prevalent astragalus benefits include boosting energy levels and immune response, it exerts positive effects on a variety of health conditions such as common cold, asthma, arthritis, diabetes, kidney issues, and so on.
Some of the most popular astragalus benefits are as follows:
Reduces stress levels
Astragalus has a miraculous power to reduce both physical as well as mental stress. Therefore, it helps improve calmness and relaxation and may help protect the human body from many different stress-related issues such as anxiety, mood swings, nervous tension, and depression.
Boosts immune response
Research indicates that astragalus has strong immunomodulating properties. This ancient herb can stimulate the immune cells, also known as macrophages, and enhance the process of invading foreign substances that may cause disease.
Moreover, astragalus contains various antioxidant compounds that can help restrict free radicals causing oxidative damage and thus, helps improve the overall immune response in the body. Free radicals are oxygen-bearing unstable molecules with an unpaired electron that may cause large chain reactions and harm body cells.
Helps prevent respiratory infections
Studies suggest astragalus has potent antiviral and antibacterial actions that can inhibit the growth and functionality of several viruses including influenza virus, pneumococcus, and staphylococcus aureus that cause infections in the human respiratory tract.
This herb increases the production of antibodies and accelerates the engulfing process, making it beneficial for getting rid of various viral and bacterial infections.
Supports heart health
Astragalus supports heart health through several pathways. It helps reduce cholesterol levels and prevents plaque build-ups inside the arteries. It helps widen arteries and increase the supply of oxygenated blood as well as nutrients to the heart and prevents heart tissues from immature death.
In addition, astragalus helps maintain a healthy blood pressure which is crucial for heart health. Therefore, astragalus supplements can be used as a potent therapeutic agent to promote heart health and in the treatment and prevention of various heart and blood diseases.
Supports the male reproductive system
Astragalus and the flavonoids it contains have been found to have beneficial effects on the male reproductive system. It may help stimulate sperm motility and improve fertility in males. It can also increase the production of healthy sperm and enhance sperm counts in males as well.
Acts as anti-aging
The antioxidant actions of astragalus are highly beneficial for reducing signs and symptoms of aging. This miracle herb has the ability to reduce age spots, wrinkles, and fine lines on the skin. It helps repair damaged skin cells and helps regenerate new cells.
Helps keep blood sugar levels in check
The root extract of astragalus has been found to be helpful in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. This herb has historically been used in China to treat a wide variety of symptoms related to diabetes.
Studies have found astragalus may help lower blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity and reducing insulin resistance in the body. Astragalus can help treat and prevent various diabetes-related chronic complications such as diabetic cardiomyopathy (DCM) and diabetic nephropathy (DN). Hence, taking astragalus as a dietary supplement may help people with diabetes in many ways.
How to use astragalus
The dosages of astragalus widely vary depending on the specific conditions and aim of taking astragalus supplements. The most common oral doses of astragalus supplement range from 6 grams to 30 grams per day depending on the condition.
Precautions and side effects
Astragalus has been found safe in most people when taken orally and appropriately. No adverse effects have been reported on doses up to 60 grams a day for up to four months. However, some uncommon possible side effects may include nasal symptoms, stomach discomfort, rash, and itching. Besides, this herb may interact with other prescription drugs especially those that suppress the immune responses.
No sufficient data is available about the safety profile of astragalus on pregnant and breastfeeding women. Therefore, like with all herbal medicines and supplements, always check with your nutritionist or naturopathic practitioner before using astragalus supplements especially if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications for any underlying health issues.
Astragalus has historically been used in traditional Chinese medicine particularly in traditional Mongolian medicine for thousands of years. Modern scientific research has focused on the benefits of astragalus for several years and substantiated many health benefits of its traditional uses.
The most prevalent benefits may include reducing stress levels, boosting immune response, supporting heart health, reducing blood sugars, and reducing symptoms of aging among a lot more others.
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