Astragalus (Astragalus spp.)

For centuries, Astragalus root has been used to strengthen the blood and spleen and – over time – help maintain the strength of the immune system, building resistance to illness and disease.

While clinical research on Astragalus is in the early stages, researchers are currently examining how it may help prevent the common cold and also be useful as a complementary treatment during chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immune deficiency syndromes. Meanwhile, laboratory studies and a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine and botanical medicine indicate how Astragalus may help fortify the immune system:

  • Astragalus contains polysaccharides, which enhance the ability of white blood cells (instrumental in immune function) to eliminate foreign substances from the body.
  • Saponins found in Astragalus are known to protect the liver and stimulate the release of cytokines, chemical messengers in the immune system.
  • With its antioxidant properties, Astragalus facilitates the breakdown of free radicals, thus reducing free radical damage in the blood system.
  • Astragalus supports the liver, which plays an important role in detoxification.

Also known as milk vetch, Astragalus is native to the temperate areas of the Northern hemisphere. It takes a full two years of growth before the plant develops roots sufficient for harvesting their medicinal properties. Supplements are available in capsule, liquid, tincture, injectable, and extract. This herb is commonly used in combination with other botanicals. It may also interact with other medicines, including herbal medicines. Your holistic health practitioner can determine the best way to take Astragalus to support your health and wellbeing.



  • Herb “Astragalus”
  • University of Maryland Medical Center CAM Database online. “Astragalus”
  • Zhao, KS, Mancini, C., Doria, G., “Enhancement of the immune response in mice by Astragalus membranaceus extracts.” Immunopharmacology (1990 Nov-Dec) 20:3, 225-33.
  • Zhou, Lijing et al. “Astragalus Polysaccharides Exerts Immunomodulatory Effects via TLR4-Mediated MyD88-Dependent Signaling Pathway in Vitro and in Vivo.” Scientific Reports 7 (2017): 44822. PMC. Web. 1 May 2017.
  • Tian, Qing-E et al. “Astragalus Polysaccharides Can Regulate Cytokine and P-Glycoprotein Expression in H22 Tumor-Bearing Mice.” World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG 18.47 (2012): 7079–7086. PMC. Web. 1 May 2017.
  • Qi FH, Li AY, Inagaki Y., et al., “Chinese herbal medicines as adjuvant treatment during chemo- or radio-therapy for cancer.” BioScience Trends. (2010) 4:6, 297-307.
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