Astragalus 101: The Science Behind The Herb, Top 12 Astragalus Benefits, and More

Astragalus is one of the most popular herbal ingredients in many Eastern medicines. Astragalus has been used for thousands of years to treat a wide range of conditions. Today, many people turn to astragalus to boost their immune system, fight the common cold, to promote blood flow, and to provide relief for sore muscles and joints.

Astragalus is used for many other purposes as well. We’re going to detail other applications for this important Eastern herb shortly. Owing to its potentially potent properties, astragalus has been the subject of intense study as well. As we go over potential applications for astragalus, we are also going to outline the scientific research behind the claims.

[Astragalus is believed to help with inflammation, which in turn may alleviate muscle and joint pain. The Jadience Extra Strength Muscle & Joint Therapeutic Cream contains astragalus and other beneficial herbs and natural compounds.]

Understanding Why Astragalus May Provide So Many Benefits

Astragalus contains many components that may have beneficial effects on the body. Perhaps the most well-researched and known of these compounds is astragaloside IV, an antioxidant. An antioxidant is a particular type of compound that prevents damage by “free radicals”, or oxidants.

Our bodies naturally create antioxidants. Unfortunately, we may be exposed to so many damaging oxidants that our bodies end up being overwhelmed. Fortunately, antioxidants are found in a wide range of plants, including astragalus, grapes, kale, and other plants. These antioxidants can be used to supplement our bodies and their natural defenses.

Astragalus plants. Credit NIH

Astragalus plants. Credit NIH

Like all plants, astragalus contains a wide range of flavonoids, which are phytonutrients. These flavonoids help gives plants their color, texture, and flavor. Some flavonoids are also believed to carry positive benefits for the body, and many act as antioxidants as well. Flavonoids can be broken into many subgroups, and astragalus itself is also a flavanoid.

Researchers are still trying to understand the full impact and potential of the flavonoids found in astragalus. While the scientific jury is still out regarding astragalus, early scientific research has found many potential benefits.

Let’s go over some of the potential benefits of astragalus, while also examining (and linking!) some of the scientific research that supports the claims.

Top Twelve Potential Benefits of Astragalus

Astragalus Has Many Potential Benefits For Cancer

Free radicals (aka oxidants) are believed to damage cells. Damaged cells are at a much greater risk of turning cancerous. As such, it should come as no surprise that antioxidants, including astragalus, are believed to help reduce the risk of cancer. However, it must be noted that research has not thus far been conclusive regarding the anti-cancer properties of antioxidants.

Astragalus is Believed to Help Slow Down The Effects of Aging

Aging is a fact of life. However, you don’t have to accept the detrimental effects of aging while laying down. Astragalus is believed to carry many properties that will slow down the aging process. Many people are reporting anti-aging benefits after having used astragalus and many researchers are examining potential anti-aging properties.

First and foremost, certain chemicals found in some species of astragalus are believed to spur telomere growth. Telomeres are basically the end caps of DNA. As our DNA divides and is replicated, these end caps are slowly trimmed. Eventually, the telomeres themselves disappear and our DNA itself is “trimmed”. Depleted telomeres are one of the primary reasons we age, but astragalus is believed to protect telomeres.

photoaging aging relief

Check out Jadience Herbal Formulas’ anti-aging skin care products here. Or, here are some other anti-aging skin care products we found that use the benefits of astragalus.  

 

Astragalus May Boost the Immune System

Astragalus has been used for thousands of years to boost the immune system. Indeed, boosting the immune system is essentially astragalus’s “bread and butter”, having been used in Chinese medicine for its immune-boosting properties since ancient times.

Research has backed up the notion that astragalus has immune boosting properties. Specifically, Astragaloside IV, which is derived from astragalus, has been found to help regulate the body’s t-helper cells, which play a vital role in immune system functions.

t cell

Astragalus is believed to encourage healthy t cells, like the one pictured above.

All-Natural Anti-Inflammatory Response

Inflammation has been implicated in a wide range of diseases and conditions. Sore muscles and joints are often caused by inflamed muscles and joints. In fact, many muscle and pain relief creams target inflammation as well as providing pain relief. Astragalus is believed to provide inflammatory relief and may even be able to reduce inflammatory responses.

To be clear, inflammation is a useful and beneficial bodily function. However, too much of a good thing can be detrimental. When it comes to inflammation, this is certainly true. By reducing inflammation to more manageable levels, astragalus may be able to relieve pains and other inflammation-linked conditions, such as inflamed kidneys caused by diabetes (the further benefits of astragalus and diabetes are examined below.)

Astragalus May Promote a Healthy Immune System

Astragalus contains many antioxidants which may have beneficial properties for your cardiovascular system. Unfortunately, cardiovascular diseases are among the leading causes of death. However, the flavonoids found in astragalus are believed to reduce plaque build up. Further, these antioxidants may also protect the inner wall of blood vessels, which in turn could prevent such vessels from narrowing.

Astragalus May Alleviate Fatigue

Fatigue can lower productivity at work and keep people from getting the most out of their workouts. One of the biggest issues with fatigue is that the body simply can’t get enough oxygen to where it’s needed. One study found that astragalus can lead to increased oxygen uptake, which can help reduce fatigue. This can lead to more productive workouts and help athletes perform better.

Astragalus Can Help With Muscle Function

Another important area where astragalus can boost workout and athletic performance is muscle endurance. Astragalus polysaccharide (APS) has been found to reduce muscle atrophy. As one study argues “APS inhibited dexamethasone-induced atrophy by restoring phosphorylation of Akt, m-TOR, P70s6k, rpS6 and FoxO3A/FoxO1.” In other words, APS can help with the management of muscle wasting.

Astragalus May Protect Your Liver and Intestines

The digestive tract is vital for health. If your liver or intestines are damaged, it can spell serious trouble. Fortunately, studies have found that astragalus may protect the liver and intestines, among other organs.

One study found that astragalus can improve the intestines muscle movement and also the muscle tonus in the intestine, which refers to the continuous and partial contraction of muscles. The digestive tract is like an assembly line, food must move through many various stages to be digested.

Other studies have found that astragalus may also protect the liver from damage caused by stilbenemidine. The liver is vital for detoxification, and also for the synthesis of proteins and producing biochemicals. Obviously, a healthy liver can go a long way towards building a healthy digestive tract.

Astragalus May Guard Against Diabetes

According to the Center for Disease Control, a shocking 100 million people have prediabetes or diabetes. Nearly 10% of the American population suffers from diabetes, some 30.3 million people. Over 84 million more suffer from prediabetes. If these individuals don’t take charge of their health soon, they will be at risk of falling into the former camp.

Diabetes is a crippling disease, affecting your diet and ability to live a fruitful, active life. Many people have lost life and limbs to the disease, and insulin treatment can get expensive. Astragalus has been found to both alleviate diabetes conditions and to potentially even prevent it from advancing. To be clear, the science behind these claims is not 100% conclusive, but the early results are promising.

A study published by the National Institutes of Health has found that found various components found in astragalus may be effective in treating diabetes and diabetes-related complications. These compounds include saponins, polysaccharides, and flavonoids fractions and several other isolated compounds. Importantly, some of the compounds have been found to protect pancreatic beta cells, which are vital for producing and regulating insulin.

Got Astragalus? Herb May Boost Bone Strength

When you think of healthy bones, you often think of milk and calcium. Certainly, calcium can help build stronger bones. Astragalus (A.membranaceus) may also boost bone strength and may prevent calcium loss in bones. This is very important because even people with calcium-rich diets may fail to absorb calcium and to keep it in their bones.

One study found that “A. membranaceus extract significantly improved bone mineral density, biomechanical strength, and ash weight of the femur and tibia in OVX rats.” In combination with calcium, the study suggests that bones are better able to retain calcium when A. membranaceus extracts are taken.

Protect Against Iron Overloads

Astragalus polysaccharide (APS) has been found to help with iron overload. Some genetic diseases, such as Thalassemia, leave people more vulnerable to iron overloads, which can damage organs and increase mortality. Astragalus polysaccharide (APS) has been found to reduce iron levels in serum, spleen, heart, and liver.

Astragalus May Aid in Healing

Astragalus has long been used for healing wounds. The dried roots of astragalus, in particular, have been used in traditional Eastern medicine to aid with repair and regeneration. In fact, a study conducted at Zhejiang University found that recovery rates increased by as much as 2 to 3 times within the first 48 to 96 hours. The researchers ultimately concluded that astragalus is promising both for increasing healing and also for anti-scarring treatment.

Conclusion: Astragalus is a promising herbal treatment

While researchers are still working to determine the effectiveness of astragalus, research does suggest that this ancient Chinese herb produces many anti-aging benefits.

The National Institutes of Health has also noted that “preliminary evidence” suggesting that Astragalus is useful for treating various conditions, including lowering the risk of infections in children suffering from nephrotic syndrome and helping improve kidney function in those who suffer from diabetic nephropathy.

It should be noted that the NIH has called for further studies, and has claimed that some of the current research was of “poor quality.” Regardless, the NIH also acknowledges that astragalus is “considered safe” for adult consumption.

More than 2,000 plants make up the Astragalus genus, and certainly, not all species are created equal. Some species are believed to carry more health benefits than others. Worse yet, some species are also considered poisonous for animals and people.

Keep in mind that only a small number of species carry toxins, however, it is important to buy your astragalus herbs from a reputable company. Doing so will all but eliminate the risk of being accidentally exposed to astragalus-related toxins.

Check out Jadience Herbal Formulas’ astragalus products here. Or, here are some other supplements we found that use the benefits of astragalus.  

 

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