Botanical Name : Astragalus
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe:     Galegeae
Subtribe: Astragalinae
Genus:     Astragalus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Fabales

Common names: Milkvetch (most species), locoweed (in North America, some species) and goat’s-thorn (A. gummifer, A. tragacanthus)

Habitat : The genus is native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere

Astragalus (As-trá-ga-lus) is a large genus of about 2,000 species of herbs and small shrubs, belonging to the legume family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. The genus is native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Common names include milk-vetch (most species) and goat’s-thorn (A. gummifera, A. tragacanthus). Some pale-flowered vetches are similar in appearance, but vetches are more vine-like.


It is a beautiful plant from the pea family, and native to northern China, has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries, with is first recorded use transcribed over 2000 years ago. This powerful tonic root, has been traditionally used to invigorate vital energy, and an immuno-stimulant.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Astragalus should be implemented into a persons daily diet while the individual is healthy, and not only in time of sickness. This is said to build and strengthen the immune response, and carry the body through normal routines of healthy response.

Astragalus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the following case-bearers of the genus Coleophora: C. astragalella (feeds exclusively on A. glycyphyllos), C. cartilaginella (feeds exclusively on Astragalus), C. colutella, C. euryaula (feeds exclusively on Astragalus), C. gallipennella (feeds exclusively on A. glycyphyllos), C. hippodromica (feeds exclusively on A. gombo), C. onobrychiella (feeds exclusively on Astragalus), C. polonicella (feeds exclusively on A. arenarius) and C. vicinella.

More than 40 Saponins such as Astragaloside, several Flavonoids, Polysaccharides, multiple trace minerals, Amino Acids, and Coumarins

Parts used
The root in whole, shredded or sliced form.

Typical preparations
Astragalus can be used in a number of ways. The root can be dried, powdered and encapsulated. It can be made into a liquid herbal extract. The root can be sliced into soups, and it can be chewed on like licorice root!

Medicinal use
Astragalus membranaceus, or huángqí (黄芪, literally “yellow leader”; also called bÄ›iqí, 北芪, literally “northern leader”) is a tonic herb originally used in Chinese medicine. It is believed to be a galactagogue, and recent studies show that it may strengthen the human immune system.

The natural gum tragacanth, which is used in pharmaceuticals and textiles, is obtained from Astragalus tragacanthus. It is claimed to help the immune system, and to increase the body’s resistance to common viruses.

In western herbal medicine, Astragalus is primarily considered a tonic for enhancing metabolism and digestion and is consumed as a tea made from the roots of the plant. It is also traditionally used to strengthen the immune system and in the healing of wounds and injuries.

Astragalus is an extremely versatile herb that has been used for centuries. Many published reports have found that it is quite useful for individuals undergoing chemo or radiation therapy, helps to support kidney function, protects the liver and promotes tissue regeneration. Many of the studies on Astragalus are preliminary, but they are promising.
In some other studies, primarily performed in the US, Astragalus appears to be a promising botanical for atherosclerosis, hyperthyroidism, hypertension and insomnia, as well as diabetes, hepatitis, herpes, AIDS, and the side effects of chemotherapy. These studies are recent, undeveloped and further research is needed.

The biotech company Geron Corporation has determined that a molecule from this plant called TA-65 is a telomerase activator. According to PRNewswire, TA Sciences, has a license from Geron to sell TA-65 and is now selling it as a neutraceutical anti-aging product at their TA Sciences Center in New York City.

Benefits of astragalus:

Can be used as an antibacterial

Used with the ginsengs

Helpful for young adults for energy production and respiratory endurance

Generates warming energy

Helpful in the treatment of hypoglycemia and used for “outer energy” as ginseng is used for “inner energy”

Used to bolster the white blood cell count

Strengthens the body’s resistance

Used to reduce debilitating conditions

Helps to promote the effects of other herbs and helps to improve digestion

Astragalus is of the most popular herbs used in the Orient; the Chinese name for astragalus is Huang Ch’i. This is a tonic producing warm energy and specifically tonifying for the lungs, spleen, and triple warmer via meridians.

In studies performed at the National Cancer Institute and 5 other leading American Cancer Institutes over the past 10 years, it has been positively shown that astragalus strengthens a patient’s immune system. On the basis of cell studies researchers believed that astragalus augments the white blood cells that fight disease and removes some of those which make the body more vulnerable to it. There is clinical evidence that cancer patients given astragalus during chemotherapy and radiation, both of which reduce the body’s natural immunity while attacking the cancer, recover significantly faster and live longer. It is evident that astragalus does not directly attack cancers themselves, but instead strengthens the body’s immune system. In these same studies, both in the laboratory and with 572 patients, it also has been found that astragalus promotes adrenal cortical function, which also is critically diminished in cancer patients.

Scientists have isolated a number of active ingredients contained in astragalus, including bioflavanoids, choline, and a polysaccharide called astragalan B. Animal studies have shown that astragalan B is effective at stimulating the immune system and protecting the body against a number of toxins.

Astragalus is well known for strengthening the immune system. Historical uses include oriental tonic and promoter of health, supports natural defenses and supports peripheral circulation.

Astragalan B seems to work by binding to cholesterol on the outer membranes of viruses, destabilizing their defenses and allowing the body’s immune system to attack the weakened invader. Astragalus shows support for peripheral vascular diseases and peripheral circulation.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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