Astragalus contains antioxidants that protect the cells against damage. It has both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, including antiviral properties and also functions to stimulate the immune system.
Several studies are looking at the astragalus as a possible treatment for people whose immune systems have been weakened by chemotherapy or radiation. In these studies, the people tend to recover faster and live longer just by simply taking the astragalus supplements.
Astragalus, scientific name Astragalus membranaceus, has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. It was often combined with other herbs to strengthen the body against disease.
Recent research in China suggests that, because astragalus is an antioxidant, it may help people with severe forms of heart disease, relieving symptoms, lowering cholesterol levels, and improving heart function.
Astragalus may also be a mild diuretic, meaning it helps rid the body of excess fluid. Astragalus is called an adaptogen, meaning it helps protect the body against various stresses, including physical, mental, or emotional stress.
At low-to-moderate doses, astragalus has few side effects. It does interact with a number of other herbs and prescription medications.
The astragalus health benefits were found by continuing studies
- Acts as an anti-inflammatory. Many studies show that the saponins and polysaccharides can reduce inflammatory response in connection to a number of illnesses and conditions. This includes wound healing, lesions, and reducing inflammation in a diabetic kidney disease.
- Boosts the immune system. It has the ability to control the t-helper cells 1 and 2, which is essential in regulating the body’s immune responses.
- Slows or prevents tumor growth. Several studies found that the saponins, flavonoids, and the polysaccharides in the astragalus can successfully decrease or even eliminate tumors. A study published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology has shown the potential of the astragalus in reversing multidrug resistance in instances of chemoresistance when treating liver cancer.
- Protects the cardiovascular system. The flavonoids protect the inner wall of the vessel, thus prevent a plaque buildup in the arteries, which includes prevention in the narrowing of vessel walls.
- Regulates and prevents diabetes. This definitely includes any illnesses related to diabetes. The astragalus has been studied progressively as an antidiabetic. Several studies have shown the ability of the astragalus to relieve insulin resistance and to treat diabetes naturally. The herb’s collection of saponins, flavonoids, and polysaccharides are effective in treating and regulating the type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The astragalus has been used to treat kidney illness for many years. Kidney disease is a common problem among diabetics.
- Contains antioxidative and anti aging capabilities. It can fight free radical damage and prevent oxidative stress. The herb’s polysaccharides have positive effects on the immune system and the improvement of the function of the brain, both of which could lengthen the life span.
- Heals wounds. It has a long history of treating wounds. It has been used in the Traditional Chinese Medicine for the repair and regeneration of injured organs and tissues. It is a promising natural product for anti-scarring and healing of wounds.
- Helps chemotherapy recovery. It has been shown to help patients recover more quickly. With the combination of other Chinese herbal mixtures, it has shown to increase the efficacy of the chemotherapy treatments.
- Treats colds and flu.
- Provides supplemental therapy for chronic asthma.
- Prevent collagen degradation.
- Inhibit herpes simplex virus
- Prevents the replication of some virus
- Treat inflammation in eczema
- Treat hepatitis by inhibiting hepatitis B virus cells in the liver
- Treat HIV by protecting t-helper cells fight the virus for much longer
- Used as a mild diuretic
The alternative names of astragalus are milk-vetch root and Huang-qi. It is the safest and most effective immune system enhancer. It can
- Increase antibodies
- Enhance immune function
- Increase the production of interferon
- Stimulate natural killer cells
Immune health depends on eating right, getting enough sleep and exercise, and avoiding environmental toxins and stress. Proper immune function relies on good nutrition, physical activity, and emotional health. The astragalus root has a long track record of doing just that and is considered by some to be the most powerful immunity boosting herb.
How does it work?
- The astragalus root enhances the immune function by increasing the activity of certain white blood cells, which increases the production of antibodies.
- It increases the production of interferon, which is an anti-viral and anti-tumor agent naturally produced by the body.
- Stimulates the natural killer cells.
The world’s leading authority on healing herbs declared that astragalus increases white blood cell production of the body’s own anti-viral compounds alpha and gamma interferon, which generally protect against viral invasion.
Some scientists discovered in their course of study that astragalus has compounds in it that can turn on telomerase, which is an enzyme that maintains telomere length.
Telomeres are the caps on the ends of each strand of your DNA. They get shorter each time your cells divide, and the shorter your telomeres get, the older your cells act.
Telomerase is the enzyme your body uses to repair and maintain your telomeres. Telomeres production is turned off most of the time.
Recently, researchers isolated a molecule from a rare form of the astragalus plant that turns telomerase production on, causing your cells to act younger.
You need to know that you just can’t get this effect merely taking astragalus. You need the unique molecule extracted from among the plant’s over 2,000 other compounds.
- Respiratory Problems
- Viral Infections/Flu/Common Cold
- High Blood Pressure
- Kidney Disease
- Skin Lesions/Sores
- Spleen Ailments
- Vision/Hearing Deficiencies
- Internal Bleeding
What you can do is strengthen your body’s natural defenses with astragalus. It contains polysaccharides called astragalans that stimulate the creation of new white blood cells, T-cells, killer cells and antibodies.
Then these new cells work to activate and restore your immune system. Astragalus also helps your internal organs heal themselves after being damaged from toxins in the environment or disease.
How you can use the astragalus?
You can usually find it already dried and ground at many health food stores. You can also add the powdered form to various foods and prepared dishes. 2 to 3 tablespoons of astragalus root powder daily, which is about 30 to 45 grams, can greatly help build up your immune system.
An astragalus tea can be made by having 2 to 3 slices of astragalus and a piece of ginger about an inch long.
You can also simmer for 30 minutes or more, like soups or stews. Just remove the root when you are ready to eat.
You can also add the powdered form to various foods and prepared dishes. It has a pleasant, mildly sweet taste.
You can also take astragalus as a supplement.
Astragalus root has been used for centuries as a restorative tonic. It is used either alone or with other herbs to help with aging, improve energy, and stimulate the immune system during conditions such as the common cold, blood disorders, cancer, and HIV/AIDS.
It is an adaptogen that increases the general resistance to stress and disease. It helps normalize disturbances in your body’s ability to balance itself. The root is sold as a supplement in tablets of different dosages.
There’s actually a special chemical in the astragalus that slows down the aging process right where it happens, which is inside the cells.
Test tube and laboratory experiments have shown that the astragalus can help fight bacteria and viruses by enhancing the various aspects of the body’s normal immune response system, such as the immune system cells, T cells, lymphocytes, and neutrophils.
The scientific evidence for the ability of the astragalus to enhance the immune system and improve the cardiovascular disease and cancer comes from human, animal, and in vitro studies. The astragalus root is the part that contains the important saponin and polysaccharide constituents.
Most of the scientific data comes from the Chinese clinical evidences, where the astragalus appears to stimulate the immune system among patients carrying infections.
One clinical trial in the United States has shown the astragalus to boost the T-cell levels close to normal in some cancer patients. This suggests the possibility of a synergistic effect of astragalus with chemotherapy.
In animal studies, it has shown effective in preventing infection from the influenza virus, thus the possibility that it can increase the phagocytotic activity of the white blood cells of the immune system.
The astragalus stimulates the immune system white blood cell activity to help destroy invading microorganisms. Damaged immune system cells taken from cancer patients have been restored to full function in tests with an astragalus extract.
Astragalus is especially useful in the rebuilding and the maintaining stages of a cleanse to increase disease resistance against repeated infections. Its vasolidating properties help significantly lower blood pressure, reduce excess fluid retention, and improve circulation.
The Chinese experts used the astragalus as a valuable anticlotting agent in preventing coronary heart disease and to strengthen the heartbeat.
When used as recommended, the astragalus has no known side effects, but gastrointestinal distress and diarrhea that may occur at high intakes.
Astragalus also contains GABA, which is an amino acid that is important in modulating stress and anxiety.
Pharmacology and studies
Current studies about astragalus indicate that it is an immune modulator, antioxidant, and antiviral agent. Immune modulators, or biological response modifiers, affect the immune system in some way to make it more active.
The immune stimulating effects have been documented in various laboratory studies. The addition of astragalus to a dish of white blood cells and tumor cells had stimulated the white blood cells to attack the tumor cells.
Astragalus is thought to increase the production of white blood cells in the bone marrow and the lymph tissue. Finally, the saponins and the betaine present in the astragalus have been reported to improve liver function and heal liver injury.
Modern studies indicate that astragalus can increase the red blood cell production by stimulating erythroid differentiation. In a mouse model, the study found that in can increase the production of red blood cells and platelets by promoting the growth of the megakaryocytes and stromal cells in the bone marrow.
In another study of rats with cyclophosphamide-induced anemia, a similar formula enhanced blood cell count by increasing erythropoietin mRNA expression, which suggests that astragalus may play a role in reversing cyclophosphamide-induced anemia.
Early studies showed that the astragalus root increased the blood count of anemic patients, especially those who have aplastic anemia. Though more research is needed in regards to anemia, initial results are promising.
Note: Research suggests that the body may develop a tolerance to immune stimulating herbs such as astragalus if it is taken for long periods. Some experts recommend alternating astragalus with other immune system enhancing herbs such as the echinacea. Astragalus is sometimes also referred to as astragalus interchangeably.
Thoughts from the author:
Shirley Chio has been undertaking much research about the immune system and the production of red and white blood cells. She was surprised the astragalus may answer everything. Of course, everything has to be cleared with the doctor first. Her mom is sick now of aplastic anemia. Her son is sick of vitiligo. Her brothers are sick of diabetes. Read the research she had done, could this be the answer to her prayers? Every infection is always connected to the health of your immune system and she is trying very hard to give them a logical explanation of how to do it right – nutrition, diet, exercise, and supplements! Astragalus is a source of fascination for her and her immune system research. If you want to stay young and beautiful, specifically look healthy with a glow, try to take care of your immune system.
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