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Nutritional Supplement

Astragalus

  • Immune System Support

    Common Cold and Sore Throat

    Adaptogens such as astragalus are thought to help keep various body systems—including the immune system—functioning optimally.
    Common Cold and Sore Throat
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    Herbal supplements can help strengthen the immune system and fight infections. Adaptogens, which include eleuthero, Asian ginseng, astragalus, and schisandra, are thought to help keep various body systems—including the immune system—functioning optimally. They have not been systematically evaluated as cold remedies. However, one double-blind trial found that people who were given 100 mg of Asian ginseng extract in combination with a flu vaccine experienced a lower frequency of colds and flu compared with people who received only the flu vaccine.7

    Immune Function

    Complex polysaccharides in astragalus affect the immune system. One study showed that astragalus elevate antibody levels in healthy people.
    Immune Function
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    Complex polysaccharides present in astragalus and in maitake and coriolus mushrooms appear to act as “immunomodulators” and, as such, are being researched for their potential role in AIDS and cancer. Presently, the only human studies on astragalus indicate that it can prevent white blood cell numbers from falling in people given chemotherapy and radiotherapy and can elevate antibody levels in healthy people.8 Maitake has only been studied in animals as a way to increase immune function.9 The primary immuno-activating polysaccharide found in these mushrooms, beta-D-glucan, is well absorbed when taken orally10 and is currently under investigation as a supportive tool for HIV infection. Results from future research will improve the understanding of the possible benefits of these mushrooms and their constituents.

    Infection

    Astragalus supports the immune system and protects against microbes.
    Infection
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    Herbs that support a person’s immune system in the fight against microbes include the following: American ginseng, andrographis, Asian ginseng, astragalus, coriolus, eleuthero, ligustrum, maitake, picrorhiza, reishi, schisandra, and shiitake.11

    Lupus

    Though a safe amount has not been established, one preliminary trial found that this herb could decrease overactive immune function in people with this disease.
    Lupus
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    One Chinese preliminary trial also found that astragalus could decrease overactive immune function in people with systemic lupus erythematosus.12 However, much more research is needed to know whether astragalus is safe in lupus or any other autoimmune disease.

  • Heart and Circulatory Health

    Heart Attack

    Preliminary clinical trials in China suggest that astragalus may be beneficial for people after they have suffered a heart attack.
    Heart Attack
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    Preliminary clinical trials in China suggest that astragalus may be of benefit in people after they have suffered a heart attack.13,14 These studies did not attempt to show any survival or symptom reduction benefit. Therefore, further research is needed to determine whether astragaslus would be of benefit to people with heart attacks or angina.
What Are Star Ratings?
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Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

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Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

Shen Nung, the founder of Chinese herbal medicine, classified astragalus as a superior herb in his classical treatise Shen Nung Pen Tsao Ching (circa A.D. 100). The Chinese name huang qi translates as “yellow leader,” referring to the yellow color of the root and its status as one of the most important tonic herbs. Traditional Chinese Medicine used this herb for night sweats, deficiency of chi (e.g., fatigue, weakness, and loss of appetite), and diarrhea.15

References

1. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 50-3.

2. Shu HY. Oriental Materia Medica: A Concise Guide. Palos Verdes, CA: Oriental Healing Arts Press, 1986, 521-3.

3. Klepser T, Nisly N. Astragalus as an adjunctive therapy in immunocompromised patients. Alt Med Alert 1999;Nov:125-8 [review].

4. Qun L, Luo Q, Zhang ZY, et al. Effects of astragalus on IL-2/IL-2R system in patients with maintained hemodialysis. Clin Nephrol 1999;52:333-4 [letter].

5. Tang W, Eisenbrand G. Chinese Drugs of Plant Origin. Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1992, 1056.

6. Li SQ, Yuan RX, Gao H. Clinical observation on the treatment of ischemic heart disease with Astragalus membranaceus. Chung Kuo Chung His I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih 1995;15:77-80 [in Chinese].

7. Scaglione F, Cattaneo G, Alessandria M, Cogo R. Efficacy and safety of the standardized ginseng extract G 115 for potentiating vaccination against common cold and/or influenza syndrome. Drugs Exp Clin Res 1996;22:65-72.

8. Bone K, Morgan M. Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs. Warwick, Queensland, Australia: Phytotherapy Press, 1996, 13-20.

9. Nanba H. Antitumor activity of orally administered ‘D-fraction' from maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa). J Naturopathic Med 1993;4:10-5.

10. Pengelly A. Medicinal fungi of the world. Modern Phytotherapist 1996;2:1, 3-8 [review].

11. Murray MT. The Healing Power of Herbs. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1995.

12. Klepser T, Nisly N. Astragalus as an adjunctive therapy in immunocompromised patients. Alt Med Alert 1999;Nov:125-8 [review].

13. Chen LX, Liao JZ, Guo WQ. Effects of Astragalus membranaceus on left ventricular function and oxygen free radical in acute myocardial infarction patients and mechanism of its cardiotonic action. Chung Kuo Chung His I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih 1995;15:141-3 [in Chinese].

14. Shi HM, Dai RH, Wang SY. Primary research on the clinical significance of ventricular late potentials (VLPs), and the impact of mexiletine, lidocaine and Astragalus membranaceus on VLPs. Chung His I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih 1991;11:259, 265-7 [in Chinese].

15. Foster S, Yue CX. Herbal Emissaries: Bringing Chinese Herbs to the West. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1992, 27-33.

16. Foster S. Herbs for Your Health. Loveland, CO: Interweave Press, 1996, 6-7.

17. Tong X, Xiao D, Yao F, Huang T. Astragalus membranaceus as a cause of increased CA19-9 and liver and kidney cysts: a case report. J Clin Pharm Ther 2014;39:561–3.

Copyright © 2020 TraceGains, Inc. All rights reserved.

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The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.

Copyright © 2020 TraceGains, Inc. All rights reserved.

The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.