Western science is catching up to the efficacious modalities of Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM), whose plant-based remedies may boost the immune system and provide a host of health benefits. Astragalus is one of those promising TCM remedies.
But what is astragalus good for?
Astragalus, whose extract comes from the root of a flowering plant in the Leguminosae family, is used in TCM to improve vitality, strengthen Qi and treat a number of ailments. Recently, it’s become a popular supplement for overall health. Clinical studies are currently evaluating its effect on the heart, immune system and more.
If you’re considering making this potent root a part of your lifestyle, read on. This guide will help you better understand astragalus root extract and how to integrate it into your daily routine.
#1 Immune Boosting
Astragalus has long been used in TCM to strengthen immunity. In particular, this herbal remedy is now in clinical trials to evaluate its safety and effectiveness for improving immunocompromised patients’ immune system response.
Past studies have already shown encouraging results:
- A number of studies have investigated astragalus' potential aid to patients undergoing chemotherapy. In a 2006 meta-analysis of existing research, Michael McColloch and his colleagues found that astragalus improves survival rates, and seems to enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy in cancer patients.
- A 2007 study showed that, when combined with chemotherapy, astragalus root can inhibit the growth of invader cells. In addition, it lowered cancer patients’ chemotherapy side effects, such as weight loss and chronic fatigue.
- In 2017, researchers in Taiwan published the results of a longitudinal study that monitored close to 500 patients with leukemia between 1997 and 2010. They found that TCM herbs including astragalus significantly improved survival rates.
While these studies focus on immunocompromised patients, their results indicate that astragalus root benefits may include immune-boosting effects in healthy individuals, too. Astragalus root can help the immune system function for people with varying levels of health and for different reasons.
As you read on, you’ll find even more evidence that this herbal supplement can powerfully aid the immune system through specific cellular actions. For more natural ways to boost your immune system, check out our guide on how to support your immune system.
#2 Fighting Viruses
Astragalus root extract may also be able to help fight a viral infection. Initial research demonstrates promising results.
- In a 2009 study on hepatitis B, researchers found that astragalus suppressed the spread of the viral infection.
- Another study on avian influenza found that astragalus promoted anti-viral response. It may even play a future role in immunization of this highly contagious disease.
As we learn more about this plant, we may begin to understand the specific chemical pathways that enable antiviral activity and boost immune response.
#3 Reducing Inflammation
Inflammation is your body’s healthy response to threats. If your body senses viruses, bacteria or even stress, inflammation may kick into high gear. While bouts of inflammation to target specific ailments is normal, chronic inflammation can result in fatigue, physical discomfort, difficulty sleeping, weight gain and a number of other challenging symptoms.
If you’re seeking to improve your overall health and feel better each day, you may already be aware of powerful anti-inflammatory supplements, like CBD tinctures and antioxidant-rich food. Astragalus extract could be another helpful addition to your regimen.
A number of studies suggest the root’s anti-inflammatory effects:
- One study measured astragalus' impact on inflammation by monitoring levels of nitric oxide and cytokines (inflammatory proteins). Yue Wang and her colleagues found decreased levels of both indicators, demonstrating a clear reduction in inflammation.
- A 2017 discussion of astragalus focuses on the specific way that carbohydrate strands called polysaccharides influence cell-signaling to combat inflammation.
While inflammation comes in many forms, from surface-level rashes to internal cellular responses that you may feel more than you can see, early results suggest this herbal remedy can reduce inflammation and its negative long-term effects.
#4 Elevating Your Energy
Since fatigue is one of inflammation’s negative long-term effects, it’s only natural that the benefits of astragalus may include reduced sleepiness and more energy.
Recent studies have focused on astragalus' ability to boost energy in patients struggling with chronic fatigue and athletes alike:
- In a 2019 study on over 1,000 patients, researchers found that astragalus helped individuals with post-stroke fatigue maintain more energy and achieve a better quality of life.
- Likewise, a study on athletes found that astragalus allowed them to train harder and recover faster while experiencing less fatigue.
Whether you’re chronically sleepy, or you’re looking for a way to boost your energy and have more endurance for your workouts or daily tasks, astragalus may be a helpful supplement.
#5 Improving Allergies
Allergies can be a particularly frustrating experience. Whether it’s your roommate’s cat or seasonal dust, pollen and mold, there is little that most allergy-sufferers can do besides taking antihistamines to improve their symptoms.
Astragalus is a TCM aid for allergy sufferers. To test its efficacy, researchers studied its effect. They measured the root’s influence on:
- Allergy symptoms
- White blood cells in nasal fluid
- Inflammatory cells
They found a decrease in all three measures, indicating overall improvements to an allergic response.
If you’re struggling with allergies, astragalus is a nontoxic, widely tolerated herbal supplement that may improve your symptoms. While more human studies are needed to fully understand its pathways, you can try it out now. If you’re unsure whether it might help, you can always consult with your doctor.
#6 Strengthening Heart Function
In TCM, astragalus is thought to strengthen Qi, our vital life force. Perhaps, then, it’s no surprise that the herb may also have a positive effect on heart function.
Past studies have focused on astragalus' efficacy when the heart suffers from hypoxia or anoxia—limited or absent oxygen flow. While these conditions can lead to heart failure or heart disease, recent studies have shown:
- Astragalus helped to protect the heart from the damaging effects of hypoxia, through specific cell-signaling pathways.
- Astragalus also seemed to protect vascular endothelial cells, which line the circulatory system. This helped reduce hypertrophy, or heart enlargement.
If you’re hoping to improve your circulation, and with it, your energy levels, astragalus may be a helpful supplement.
#7 Maintaining Healthy Blood Sugar
We’ve already reviewed astragalus' effects on the immune system, heart and more. In addition to working on these bodily systems, astragalus may also have an effect on the endocrine and digestive systems through its regulation of blood sugar.
- A 2014 review of the root’s chemical properties notes that astragalus has confirmed antihyperglycemic activity. In other words, it has been shown to reduce high blood sugar.
- A 2016 human study found that people with diabetes were less likely to suffer from DKA, the dangerous breakdown of liver fat, when taking TCM herbs including astragalus.
When combined with a low-sugar diet, astragalus may help you to metabolize sugar and maintain healthy glucose levels. In turn, this can lower cholesterol, improve digestion and otherwise improve overall health.
#8 Soothing Nerves
As more studies are conducted, scientists will gain further understanding of the specific chemical pathways involved in some of astragalus' traditional uses.
While Western science has not conducted significant research on astragalus’ effect on mental and emotional stress, the extract is traditionally used for soothing nerves. This may be related to its anti-inflammatory effects and overall beneficial effects on the body, which influence how you experience stress.
Other Beneficial Uses
When you improve your immune response, you may begin to experience other changes in your overall wellness. Astragalus has long been used for the above purposes, and may also have the following benefits:
- Improving sleep
- Soothing digestive distress
- Reducing signs of aging
- Aiding sore muscles
- Speeding up recovery from ailments and illness
Try it out for yourself and let us know what other effects you observe.
Where to Find Astragalus
Are you interested in making astragalus root a part of your daily routine?
You can experience astragalus benefits as a supplement in powder, liquid and capsule form. Just be sure to source your supplement from a reliable provider, as not all supplements contain what they advertise.
Plant People Advanced Immune Power
Plant People’s new Advanced Immune Power capsules are made from organic, sustainably sourced ingredients that can boost immunity, including:
- Astragalus root
- Reishi mushroom
- Shiitake mushroom
- Maitake mushroom
- Chaga mushroom
- Turkey tail mushroom
- Vitamin C
Formulated in a vegan capsule, it’s easy to take this mushroom immune supplement in the morning and evening. That way, you can enjoy the benefits of astragalus root along with the benefits of Vitamin C and other immune boosting mushrooms on a regular basis. To discover more about the magic of a mushroom immune supplement, check out these 10 incredible mushroom supplements benefits.
Plant People: Combining Ancient and Modern Wisdom
At Plant People, we’re committed to providing the best in plant and fungi-based medicine. Our hemp and herbal supplements are specifically formulated to help you reduce stress, get a better night’s sleep and feel more balanced everyday.
We’ve created the Advanced Immune Power blend to deliver the best of immune-boosting ingredients—those lauded in traditional medicine and supported by modern science.
Using organic, U.S. farmed ingredients, our blends deliver plants’ and fungi’s full range of healing abilities.
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