Astragalus For Your Life Force
History of Astragalus
Astragalus, is a perennial plant which is a member of the legume family. Astragalus grows in northern China and Mongolia and has been used for thousands of years. There are over 2000 species of astragalus, of which only two species are used medicinally. Four to seven year old roots are used to make the different kinds of preparations that are used. Astragalus, known as “huang qi” in Chinese, is used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as one of the base herbs in many formulas, and is especially used to tonify what the Chinese call, the “Qi”. Qi, or what is also called, “chi”, is considered to be “the life force”. Only recently, has astragalus become popular with alternative medical treatment in the West. There are many people worldwide that consider astragalus to be an extremely potent medicinal herb
The nutritional constituents of astragalus are the biologically active polysaccharides, formononetin, calysosin, and astragaside IV., saponins, flavonoids, and the triterpene glycosides referred to as astragalosides
In general, astragalus has a broad spectrum of health benefits. The immunogenic and immune boosting, immune modulating properties of astragalus have profound systemic benefits. Combined with the metabolic modulating aspects of astragalus, this herb is therefore used to treat and prevent many pathological conditions.
Lets begin by investigating the benefits of astragalus at the cellular level. Astragalus has cellular antioxidant properties which protect against anoxia, and hypoxia, which in turn allows for more oxygen availability at the cellular level. Astragalus protects the cells mitochondria in a number of ways, including, scavenging mitochondrial free radicals, and protects against isoproterenol medication-induced injury to mitochondria. Astragalus also protects cell membranes from lipid peroxidation where free radicals attack lipids to form peroxide. Astragalus especially protects endothelial and epithelial cells. Furthermore, astragalus enhances DNA and RNA synthesis and also helps the body to produce more telomeres. Telomeres are part of the DNA that protects chromosome degradation, which helps to prevent apoptosis.
Immune System Benefits
Astragalus’s Immune enhancing anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antioxidant, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties help to increase the body’s resistance to bacteria and viruses. Astragalus also helps to stimulate and initiate the production and activity of the antibodies, white blood cells including; macrophages, T-cells, and natural killer cells, stimulates immune system’s NK cells without stimulating B-cells which help to protect against free radical scavengers. Other immune system benefits include, interferon production, helps promote stem cell development into immune cells, reduces inflammation by reducing the amount of nitric oxide released for cells, enhances chemotherapy, and reduces the side effects of chemotherapy
Cardiovascular benefits of astragalus help to improve the hemopoietic function (the formation of blood cells), increasing WBC count and stimulate the activity of white blood cells.
Astragalus protects blood vessels to improve blood flow, inhibit platelet aggregation, help to break down blood clots, and lower cholesterol and blood sugar. Astragalus also helps to remove fats and prevent arterial plaque buildup.
Astragalus is cardioprotective, strengthening the heart and improves cardiac function, and helps prevent myocardial injury including protecting against diabetes-induced myocardial hypertrophy. Astragalus also helps protect against congestive heart failure.
Other Health Benefits
Other health benefits that are associated with astragalus include; helping to prevent colds and flue, help treat upper respiratory track infection, protect against diabetes, enhance liver function and protect liver from hepatotoxins, lowers acidity in stomach, promotes elimination, helps to prevent colitis, increases sperm mobility, and protects the retina of the eye. Astragalus strengthens and enhances kidney function and preserves the kidneys, is a diuretic, and increases sodium excretion. Metabolically, astragalus, enhances energy and strength, increases, regulates and helps metabolize nutrients.
Used To Treat
This list of some of the pathological conditions that astragalus is known to treat is long, yet not an all inclusive list. Astragalus is Used To Treat: chronic illness, stomach ulcers, acid indigestion, hypertension (high blood pressure) ,arrhythmia, herpes simplex virus, chronic nephritis, renal failure, diabetes, insulin resistance, atopic dermatitis, chronic ulcerations, reduce hemorrhaging, uterine bleeding, chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune diseases, HIV and AIDS., immune deficiency, lupus, chemotherapy side effects, inhibit tumor development, hepatitis, anemia, diarrhea, weakness, decreased, vitality, low stamina, shortness of breath, numbness, paralysis, male infertility, and cold and flu.
Side effects from the use of astragalus are rare and few in healthy adults. The side effects of using astragalus may include the following; increases the effects of some antiviral medication, increase the effects of some hypoglycemic agents, increase the effects of some immune system suppressants, increase the effects of some anticoagulant medications (Coumadin), extremely high doses may suppress the immune system, may interact negatively with other drugs and/or herbal preparations. Avoid taking astragalus if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Do not give astragalus to children with a fever, because astragalus may prolong a fever in children. if unsure, consult physician, naturopathic doctor, or Chinese TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) practitioner
Astragalus is available as, tinctures (liquid alcohol extracts), dried root for decoction, capsules, powdered form, teas. ointments (for external use), and used in formulas with other herbs.