The Astragalus Root belongs to the plant genus of about 3,000 species of herbs and small shrubs. It belongs to the family of Fabaceae commonly known as legume, pea or bean family. It grows in moderate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
The astragalus root is known by many names but most commonly known as Milkvetch, Huang Qi, Locoweed, and Goat Thron. Though there are various species of Astragalus (as mentioned above), most Astragalus supplements contain Astragalus membranaceus. The Astragalus root is quite famous in China and Asia due to its rich usage, and it is also found in Mongolia and North Korea. Its legendary history shows, as it has been used in China for more than 5000 years.
Astragalus is a herbaceous perennial, meaning it grows between 25 and 40 cm in height, usually in a grassy area and near mountain ridges. This herb requires an ample amount of sunlight to cultivate, and it is traditionally harvested after 4 to 5 years after the roots are collected during spring or autumn. The roots of Astragalus are sun dried and then slashed for distribution. The color of these roots ranges from yellow to orange and has a sweet, damp taste and fibrous texture.
Researchers are examining this herb as they believe it contains a Telomerase Activator (an enzyme which adds DNA to the lining of a cell.). This belief is based on research results which showed that, in combination with other supplements, Astragalus can combat HIV as well as some of the chronic syndromes or aging. However, the National Institute of Health states that, “there are limitations to the usage of Astragalus.” The main limitation is that recent evidence suggests the Astragalus herb may actually worsen certain ailments and conditions of the heart, liver and immune system. However, this evidence has yet to be subjected to rigorous academic testing.
Traditional Use of the Astragalus Root
In ancient times, civilizations in the Middle east used Astragalus as a natural gum, called Tragacanth, which was prepared by fusing many species of the plant together. Fused species included A. Adscendens, and A. Gummifer. In ancient China, Astragalus was consumed as a herbal medicine and in fact to this day it remains one of the most popular traditional Chinese medicines. Finally, Astralagus &Ginkgo Biloba has become extremely popular as a “fountain of youth” supplement for it’s perceived ability to reverse the effects of aging.
Modern Medicinal Uses
The following is a list of syndromes and the ways in which they are treated by the ingestion of the Astragalus root.
• Fatigue – It provides energy and vitality.
• Adaptogen – It strengthens the immune system..
• Cold and Influenza – It has been a successful in treating symptoms.
• Seasonal Allergies – Seasonal allergies such as rhinitis and hay fever are curable.
• Diabetes – Succesful in treating symptoms and providing secondary support to the immune system.
• Breast cancer – Some studies show that it lessoned symptoms, but other studies show that it actually worsened them.
• Anemia – It was claimed to increase white bloodcell count but the research was never corroborated by any legitimate scientific sources.
The Maryland Medical Center has a recommended the following dosage per person for Astragalus in various forms:
Powdered root: 500 – 1,000 mg, 3 to 4x per day
Tincture (1:5) in 30% ethanol: 3 – 5 ml, 3x a day
Tea: 3 – 6 g of dried root per 12 Oz water, 3x a day
Fluid extract: (1:1) in 25% ethanol: 2 – 4 ml, 3x a day
Ointment: 10% Astragalus applied to surface of the wound. (Do not apply to an open wound without a doctor’s approval).
Standardized extract: 250 – 500 mg, three to four times a day standardized to 0.4% 4-hydroxy-3-methoxy isoflavone 7-Aug.
There is no serious risks with an overdose, but it can cause minor bloating, dehydration, and diarrhea. Regardless, it is recommended that pregnant women or mothers who are breastfeeding not ingest Astragulas. Additionally, patients who are suffering from MS, Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, or any autoimmune disease,should consult their doctors before taking Astragulas, as certain common ailments associated with this condition can actually be worsened by the herb.
Clearly, this is one traditional Chinese medicine that should be considered vital to the repoitoire of a fitness or health enthusiast. The fact that Astragulas root can provide relief to such a large number of people is actually quite encouraging. However, as with any dietary supplement it is always good to seek out a doctors advice before consuming Astragulas or Inositol, as this will help to ensure your health and safety.