Astragalus membranaceus, A. echidnaeformis, A. gossypinus, A. microcephalus, A. parrowianus. Family: Fabaceae
Huang Qi, milk-vetch root, locoweed, green dragon, goat's horn
Astragalus is a low shrub with gray branches that grows in the Middle East. It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries and is now being evaluated scientifically to establish its effectiveness in treating the ailments for which it was historically used.
Current research strongly suggests that astragalus acts as a cardiotonic agent (it enhances heart muscle tone). It may also interfere with platelet adhesion and increase fibrinolysis (prevent abnormal blood clots from growing). All of these functions are beneficial to the cardiovascular system.
Astragalus root contains cycloartane saponins and a variety of polysaccharides, which stimulate factors of the immune system (lymphocytes and phagocytes) and may help treat a damaged immune system.
Medically Valid Uses:
There are no clearly defined valid medical uses for astragalus.
Please note that this section reports on claims that have NOT yet been substantiated through scientific studies.
Astragalus may have a beneficial effect on cardiac function. It may help prevent heart failure and angina and aid in recovery from a heart attack.
Astragalus may also help with digestion and adrenal gland function, increase metabolism, provide energy to help reduce fatigue and increase stamina. Astragalus may assist the immune system in lessening the severity of colds and flu. Unproven claims suggest that astragalus may be helpful in fighting immune deficiency-related conditions such as AIDS, as well as cancer and chronic lung weakness.
Astragalus is generally provided in capsules or tablets. Follow packaging instructions for correct dosage.
Side Effects, Toxicity and Interactions:
Some reported side effects include abdominal bloating, low blood pressure, dehydration, and loose stools. However, it is generally considered safe.
Do not use astragalus if you have a fever.
Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should consult a physician before taking any herbal medicines.
There are no known significant food or drug interactions. In theory, astragalus affects the stickiness of platelets in the same way aspirin does; therefore, if you are taking anticoagulant medications, avoid both astragalus and aspirin. One should ALWAYS consult a physician before beginning any kind of herbal therapy.
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