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Aston Science Park,
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Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)


The dried root of the astragalus plant is a common component of traditional Chinese herbal formulas (1). Traditionally, it has been used to prevent illnesses in healthy individuals. Studies show that astragalus extracts can strengthen the Immune System.


Traditionally, astragalus has been used to prevent illnesses due to its immunostimulant properties. According to Chinese healing tradition, astragalus should be used by healthy individuals and not in the early stages of an Infection.


Part of the plant used: ROOT.

Standardized extract, 1 g daily.

Boiled tea, 9-30 g dried root daily.


Immune Stimulant:
Astragalus has been shown to stimulate parts of the Immune System in humans. In one study, it increased the survival time of mice affected with various diseases (2-3).

Preliminary research suggests astragalus may be effective for treating the following:
Atherosclerosis, hyperthyroidism, Hypertension, Insomnia, diabetes, chronic active Hepatitis, and the side effects of cancer chemotherapy (4-9).


Astragalus seems to be non-toxic. No significant side effects were observed when taken long-term or in high doses (10). Rare side effects are generally limited to mild gastrointestinal distress or allergic reactions.

As mentioned above, Chinese healing tradition cautions against using astragalus in cases of acute Infections. It is recommended that astragalus be used under the supervision of a qualified Chinese herbalist.

Young children, pregnant or nursing women, and patients with liver or kidney disease should take caution when using astragalus, since safety for these groups have not been established.


Astragalus may potentiate hyperglycemic and hyperuremic (excessive blood levels of uric acid) effects of glucose elevating agents.

dosage adjustments of antidiabetic drugs may be required, therefore diabetics should consult with their doctor before taking the herb.

Alkaloids, colchicine, sparteine and anorectic drugs (fenfluramine) may potentiate the activity of astragalus.

The herb may interact with dopamine receptor agonists, such as bromocriptine mesylate, and the analgesics nalbuphine HCl and propoxyphene HCl.

Caution should be exercised when used with CNS depressants or stimulants. Avoid use with procarbazine antineoplastic agents.

Sedatives and beta-adrenergic blocking agents may interfere with the herb?s anti-inflammatory activity.


1. Benksy D and Gamble A. Chinese herbal medicine: Materia medica. Seattle, WA: Eastland Press, 1986: 457-459.
2. Hou Y, et al. Effect of Radix Astragali Seu Hedysari on the interferon system. Chin Med J 94: 35-40, 1981.
3. Sun Y, et al. Immune restoration and/or augmentation of local graft versus host reaction by traditional Chinese medicinal herbs. Cancer 52: 70-73, 1983.
4. Benksy D and Gamble A. Chinese herbal medicine: Materia medica. Seattle, WA: Eastland Press, 1986: 457-459.
5. Liang R, et al. Clinical study on braincalming tablets in treating 450 cases of atherosclerosis. J North Chin Med 1: 63-65, 1985.
6. Xiao S, et al. Hyperthyroidism treated with yiqiyangyin decoction. J Trad Chin Med 6(2): 79-82, 1986.
7. Zhang ND, et al. Effects on blood pressure and inflammation of astragalus saponin 1, a principle isolated from Astragalus membranaceus Bge. Acta Pharm Suec 19(5): 333-337, 1984.
8. Zhang H, et al. Treatment of adult diabetes with jiangtangjia tablets. J Trad Chin Med 7(4): 37-39, 1986.
9. Zhou MX, et al. Therapeutic effect of astragalus in treating chronic active hepatitis and the changes in immune function. J Chin People's Liberation Army 7(4): 242-244, 1982.
10. Benksy D and Gamble A. Chinese herbal medicine: Materia medica. Seattle, WA: Eastland Press, 1986: 457-459.


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