Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Astragalus Root
Astragalus (also known as Huáng Qí or Milkvetch) is considered to be one of the most important adaptogenic herbs on the planet, most commonly used to strengthen the body’s immune system. It has a long history of use in herbal medicine and has undergone significant study within modern scientific medical research.
The Astragalus that’s used for medicinal properties comes from the root of a legume. Out of the 2000 individual species of Astragalus there are on the planet, only two of them have any real health benefits — Astragalus membranaceus and Astragalus mongholicus.
The many active plant compounds in these two types of Astragalus work by increasing the production of white blood cells to stimulate the immune system. This makes the immune system better equipped to protect your body from bacteria, germs and viruses so it can prevent illness.
What is Astragalus used for?
Astragalus root is used to treat many health conditions. In Chinese medicine, it was mainly used as a tonic for restoring deficiency, wasting and exhaustion. A lot of the recent scientific literature on Astragalus has focused on its ability to boost the immune system (which can help a huge number of conditions and problems) and how it strengthens the cardiovascular system (to benefit cardiovascular diseases).
A research paper published in 2014 stated that Astragalus extracts have shown “anti-inflammatory, immunostimulant, anti-oxidative, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, cardioprotective, hepatoprotective and antiviral activities.”* There’s also evidence to suggest that Astragalus is good for the heart and can be used to treat congestive heart failure.
One of the most helpful uses for Astragalus is to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. A 2016 study revealed that patients undergoing chemotherapy experienced reduced levels of nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and bone marrow suppression when taking Astragalus.
If you’re not experiencing any severe medical conditions, you might be wondering why you should take Astragalus. As well as treating the above mentioned problems, the tonic herb also helps to:
- Lower blood sugar levels;
- Lower blood pressure;
- Treat osteoarthritis;
- Treat upper respiratory infections;
- Battle seasonal allergies;
- Even ease the symptoms of the common cold.
Being able to treat such a broad spectrum of medical conditions really does make Astragalus the superhero herbal tonic that can benefit almost everyone.
What are the side effects of Astragalus?
When used as indicated, there are very few negative side effects of Astragalus. Because this adaptogenic herb can increase the activity of the immune system and interfere with some types of medication (i.e. those containing cyclophosphamide, lithium and immunosuppressants) there are some people who should avoid taking it. These include:
- Anyone with an autoimmune condition (such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc);
- Pregnant or nursing women (there isn’t enough research on taking Astragalus when pregnant or nursing for us to confidently recommend it).
But for your average person, Astragalus is safe to take. Doses of up to 60 grams taken by mouth daily for four months have been recorded without any negative impact. In rare cases, taking Astragalus by mouth can cause rashes, itchy skin, nasal problems or stomach discomfort. But these symptoms aren’t normal or common at all.
As with any herbal supplement, always confirm with your health care provider if it’s okay to begin taking Astragalus.
Astragalus uses in Chinese medicine
The written history of the use of Astragalus in Chinese medicine dates back over 2000 years to the writing of Shennong Ben Cao Jing (Divine Husbandman's Materia Medica). At that time, Astragalus was prized for its use as a tonic, particularly for the immune system (immunomodulation).*
In the Shennong Ben Cao Jing, Astragalus was rated as a “class one herb”, meaning you could consume it without doing your body any harm. In Chinese medicine, it’s thought that many medicinal herbs have the potential to do the body harm when taken on their own. Often, several herbs are combined to counteract any harmful effects. To be clear, in Chinese medicine, “harm” could be defined as increasing the heat or dampness to the body. This is very different from the definition of “harm” we’re familiar with today.
Huang qi, as Astragalus is known in Chinese medicine, translates as “The Yellow Senior”. This name was given to the plant because the raw root is yellow and because Astragalus is thought to be the leader of tonics.
Today, the Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica states the following about Astragalus:
- Properties: Sweet, slightly warm;
- Channels entered: spleen, lung;
- Tonifies the spleen and benefits the Qi;
- Raises the Yang Qi of the spleen and stomach;
- Stabilizes the exterior and stops sweating;
- Promotes urination and removes edema;
- Promotes the discharge of pus and healing;
- Tonifies Qi and blood;
- Used for wasting and thirsting syndrome.
Health benefits of Astragalus and diabetes
Researchers are considering Astragalus extract to be a therapeutic agent for type 1 and type 2 diabetes. So far the results are promising. Historically, Astragalus has been used in Chinese herbal medicine for the treatment of both types of diabetes, where it’s "used to reinforce Qi in order to induce urination, consolidate the exterior, express toxins outward, and make new tissues grow."*
In a review of the available literature on Astragalus and diabetes, a team of researchers led by Kojo Agyemang found that the crude extracts of Astragalus have been reported in several ethnopharmacological studies as a potential prospect for further anti-diabetic studies.
Recent studies have analyzed the phytochemical components to explain the pharmacological significance of Astragalus to diabetes. The polysaccharides, saponins and flavonoids fractions and several isolated compounds have been studied. They all exhibited differential potentials of correcting the characteristic defects of inadequate insulin production, secretion and action on target cells.
Reducing blood sugar levels
The active compounds in Astragalus root have also been shown to lower blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes. These results are not really surprising, since Astragalus root has been the most commonly prescribed herb to help patients manage diabetes in China for years.
In various studies, Astragalus has improved sugar metabolism and reduced blood sugar levels. In one animal study, taking Astragalus also led to weight loss. Although more research is needed before anything can be said for sure, studies in humans so far point to similar results. One example of this is a study which showed taking 40-60 grams of Astragalus daily helped improve blood sugar levels in humans with type 2 diabetes after fasting and after meals when taken for up to four months.
Health benefits of Astragalus and the immune system
In the journal Integrative Cancer Therapy, researchers Block and Mead reviewed scientific literature regarding the use of Astragalus as an immune system tonic. The researchers conducting the review stated, “[Astragalus] increases the production of white blood cells, notably T cells and macrophages, and that it enhances both adrenal and cardiovascular functioning.”
Health benefits of Astragalus and testosterone
In a study to determine whether or not Astragalus extract can improve testosterone levels, researchers tested its effects upon Leydig cells in rats. These are the cells that produce the majority of testosterone in males. Researchers found that with Astragalus extract, the number of Leydig cells both increased in number and that treatment with Astragalus extract increased the level of testosterone produced by the cells. Researchers also found increased levels of superoxide dismutase (an important antioxidant) in the Leydig cells.
To conclude their paper, the researchers stated that, “The results suggested that AM injection has a favorable effect on the function of Leydig cells.”
In another study, researchers tested the effects of 18 major Chinese herbs for their ability to increase sperm levels (a signal of endocrine health) In Vitro. Of all the herbs, only Astragalus showed a stimulatory effect upon sperm levels in healthy donors.
Health benefits of Astragalus and heart function
Research suggests Astragalus may help improve heart function for people with certain heart conditions. The tonic herb is believed to widen blood vessels, increasing blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body.
In a medical study, heart failure patients received 2.25 grams of Astragalus root each day for two weeks, in addition to their usual treatment. These patients experienced much better improvements in heart function, compared to those who received the standard treatment without any Astragalus.
There’s also a study that suggests Astragalus may reduce symptoms of myocarditis, an inflammatory condition of the heart.
Which form of Astragalus is best?
At RAW Forest Foods, we believe a powder extract to be the best form of Astragalus when taken as a single ingredient. Our personal favorite is Seven Springs Trail Astragalus Extract (with Astragaloside IV).
After countless days, weeks and months spent searching for a superior quality Astragalus extract, we came up empty handed. If we wanted a fantastic product we’d be happy to use and recommend to our customers, we’d have to make it ourselves — which is exactly what we did. A clean, organic broad spectrum extract with isolated Astragaloside IV, our Seven Springs Trail Astragalus Extract is a truly unique product we developed just for our customers.
When combined with other medicinal herbs and tonics, you can also take Astragalus as a tincture (as in our Pine Pollen Alchemy Tincture: The Endocrine Formula) or in capsules (as in our Pine Pollen Alchemy Capsules: The Endocrine Formula). But because the Astragalus powder is so quick and easy to take — just stir ½ teaspoon into a mug of hot water and you’re good to go — it’s absolutely our favourite.
Seven Springs Trail Astragalus Extract (with Astragaloside IV)
Seven Springs Trail Astragalus Extract begins with highly-concentrated organic Astragalus extract standardized to contain 70% of the active polysaccharides within the plant. To create a truly unique health supplement for our customers, we then fortify the original extract with one of the polysaccharides in Astragalus — isolated astragaloside IV (5%) extract.
Astragaloside IV is a highly-researched compound present in very small quantities within the unextracted root. It has demonstrated huge promise for repairing and lengthening telomeres (the ends of chromosomes which shorten with age and stress) by increasing levels of the enzyme telomerase.*
We’re confident that with Seven Springs Trail Astragalus Extract, we can offer our customers the strongest, highest quality Astragalus extract possible.
Inside the package
Each pouch of Seven Springs Trail Astragalus Extract contains 65 grams of our blend of certified organic, standardized Astragalus extract. This equates to approximately 43 servings which, if taken twice daily, is enough supply for three weeks.
At a 2:1 ratio, each package contains the following blend:
- Astragalus extract (standardized to 70% polysaccharides) — 1000 mg;
- Astragalus extract (standardized to 5% Astragaloside IV) — 500 mg.
There are no other ingredients and the product is entirely vegan/vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free.
The result is elevated Astragalus: a combination of potent Astragalus extracts with unparalleled strength. A modern, science-based approach to a classic, time-honored tonic and adaptogenic herb.*
All our packaging is food grade and the outside and inside pouches of this product are resealable. The opaque color of the outside pouch helps to block UV light and prevents product degradation.
The artwork on this pouch was produced specifically for, and inspired by, our Seven Springs Trail Astragalus Extract Blend. We package this item (as we do all our items), in a certified organic, FDA cGMP facility right here in the US.
How to store Astragalus
Store Astragalus root extract powder, and all our RAW Forest Food products, in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and moisture. Use in a timely manner after first opening the package.
"I have been taking Raw Forest Foods Astragalus Extract since two months ago, and have seen a wonderful effect. I have more energy, better mental clarity, and improved skin tone." — Reza
“I purchased this RAW Forest Foods product after searching for years for a holistic alternative to TA-65. Just like TA-65 this product contains astragaloside IV, but much higher quality and combined with an organic Astragalus extract. I am very pleased with this product and highly recommend it to others. A+” — John
When and how to take Astragalus
You should take 1.5 grams (approximately ½ teaspoon) of Seven Springs Trail Astragalus Extract twice daily. At RAW Forest Foods, we like to take our powdered extracts in 4-6 ounces of warm water on an empty stomach. We recommend taking your first dose in the morning and the second in the evening.
Before starting any new medicinal herbs or nutritional supplements (from our company or otherwise), customers should consult with their qualified health care practitioner. This not because we question the safety of our products, but because we believe in the strength of our products and that plants have medicinal, therapeutic potential.
Astragalus has been shown to inhibit the enzyme CYP3A4, an enzyme involved in the metabolism of many prescriptions and pharmaceutical drugs. In addition to always speaking with a qualified health care practitioner prior to the use of any medicinal herbs, supplements and other alternative therapies, consult your prescribing doctor prior to using this (and any of) our products.
We don’t recommend you take Astragalus when pregnant or nursing. Furthermore, it’s is not for use by anyone under the age of 18, anyone with an autoimmune disease or anyone allergic/adverse to any of the ingredients contained within.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please view our full Terms and Conditions<.