What is Astragalus?
Chinese name: 黄芪 (huánɡ qí);
Pharmaceutical name: Astragali Radix;
English name: astragalus root.
Standard species (classification), Astragalus membranaceus (FISCH) BGE. Var. mongholicus (BGE.) and Hsiao Astragalus membranaceus (FISCH.) BGE.
Explanation of name: huánɡ “yellow” and qí” the top one”.
Astragalus is among the most popular used herbal medicine in TCM and has been used in China for thousands of years. It was often combined with other herbs to strengthen the body against disease. That’s why Astragalus is sometimes called an adaptogen, meaning it helps protect the body against various diseased conditions,including physical or mental illness and emotional stress.
According to the Chinese Materia Medica, Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) raises the yang qi, tonifies the spleen and lung qi, stops sweating, facilitates urination, promotes the discharge of pus, and generates flesh. It is indicated for a wide range of medical conditions including qi deficiency with lack of strength, anorexia and loose stools, edema caused by qi deficiency, and albuminuria in chronic nephritis and diabetes.
Several classes of organic compounds, namely Astragalus polysaccharides, saponins, flavonoids, isoflavonoids, sterols, amino acids, and volatile oils, have been isolated from Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus). The polysaccharides, saponins, and flavonoids are the major chemical constituents demonstrating pharmacological activity of Astragalus.
Because of its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, Astragalus has been used in the treatment or prevention of cold and upper respiratory infection.
Astragalus may help protect the body from diseases, such as cancer and diabetes, and can stimulate immune system function. Physicians have looked at Astragalus as an alternative treatment for cancerous patients whose immune functions have been weakened by chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Some studies have shown that the supplement supports a quick recovery and longer life. Astragalus has also been used in treatment for diabetes because of its blood sugar lowering and renal cell protection activities.
Astragalus contains antioxidants, which protect cells against damage. Astragalus also has the ability to lower blood pressure, decrease blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and protecting cardiac cells from ischemic injury. Ithas been used in treatments of cardiovascular diseases, such as coronary artery disease, cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure.
Because Astragalus can stimulate drugs that suppress the immune system, it may interfere. If you have an autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, or take cyclophosphamide (a medication used to diminish the chances of rejection in transplant recipients) or corticosteroids, ask your doctor before taking Astragalus.
There is not enough evidence showing astragalus is safe for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or nursing. Talk to your doctor before taking Astragalus.
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