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Astragalus - Uses and Benefits

Alternate Names: Huang Qi, Bei Qi, Hwanggi, Membranous Milk Vetch

Astragalus has been used in Chinese Medicine for more than 2,000 years. It is a popular immune boosting herb that is not well understood by most of the patients. It is probably the herb of choice for anyone needing to restore T-cell counts, it is a herb which is almost as important to cancer patients as to those suffering with AIDS. It does not seem to have any direct effect on malignancy, meaning it is not cytotoxic, but it strengthens the immune system in such a way as to make the battle with cancer somewhat less taxing on the patient.

Astragalus Plant Description

Astragalus is a sprawling perennial legume, with pea like flowers. It is a beautiful, yet short-lived plant that has long been coveted by Asian cultures for its medicinal qualities.

Astragalus is a perennial plant, approximately 16 inches tall, that is native to the northern and eastern parts of China as well as Mongolia. It has hairy stems with leaves made up of 12 to 18 pairs of leaflets. The root is usually harvested from 4-year-old plants.

Uses and Benefits of Astragalus

Astragalus is taken by mouth primarily because it is thought to improve immune function in a number of different ways. Multiple case reports and results from various studies of laboratory media, animals, and humans show that astragalus may improve the activity of existing immune cells and also may increase the production of new immune cells. Astragalus may also prompt the body to make other substances, such as interferon, which help to fight infections.

Astragalus is a herb that has many possible benefits. Some of the great uses of Astragalus are:

  • Astragalus helps in disease resistance and also helps in fighting infection against bacterial and viral infections.
  • It may also help to normalize blood pressure.
  • May help improve symptoms of Alzheimer's patients.
  • May help in the treatment of respiratory infections.
  • Astragalus helps to strengthens immune system and also increases endurance.
  • It deters aging process and facilitates longevity. It delays the natural aging process of diploid blastocyte, prolonging by one third the life span of the cells.
  • Astragalus also helps in enhancing body's energy.
  • It inhibits gastric secretions, reduces gastric acid, and thus helps cure stomach ulcers.
  • It is cardiotonic. It has even more remarkable effects on heart failure due to poisoning or exhaustion.
  • It protects the liver and alleviates liver injury caused by stilbenemidine.
  • It also helps in prevention of colds and flu.

How to Prepare

Astragalus is available in may forms - capsule, tablet, and fluid extract form, and as dried root and prepared tea.
    To make your own tea, boil 1 ounce of Astragalus root in 1 cup of water for 15 to 20 minutes.
    In Chinese medicine, Astragalus is prepared by combining 1 part honey, 4 parts dried root, and a small amount of water in a wok or skillet, then simmering the mixture until the water evaporates and the herbs are slightly brown.

Dosage for Astragalus

Adult of Approximately 70 Kg Weight:

Recommended dosage (according to different forms of astragalus) for an healthy adult is as follows:

Capsules and Tablets: Two or three 500-milligram pills 3 times a day.
Fluid Extract: 4 to 12 milliliters (about one-half to 2-1/2 teaspoonfuls) daily.
Dried Root: 3 to 6 grams daily.

Children: Childrens are usually given a one-third of the dosage given to an adult.

Astragalus may be used on occassionally to support a child's immune system and should only be taken once daily for up to one month. This dose is usually determined by adjusting the recommended adult dose to account for the child's weight. Most herbal dosages for adults are calculated on the basis of a 150 lb (70 kg) adult. Therefore, if the child weighs 50 lb (20 to 25 kg), the appropriate dose of astragalus for this child would one-third of the above dose.

Adverse Side Effects of Astragalus

Herbalists regard astragalus as very safe based on its reputation as a valued traditional medication. It is unlikely that astragalus has any serious toxicity, although there is a lack of reliable clinical data. Astragalus has no known harmful side-effects.

Astragalus is an exciting and potentially promising herb. Further research may prove astragalus to be invaluable in the medical treatment of a variety of conditions and illnesses.

Interactions:

There are no recognized drug interactions.

Cautions:

Astragalus can be obtained in combination mixtures, in which other agents may have a potential for toxicity.

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