Astragalus membranaceus, Fisch. (Leguminosae), commonly called Astragalus.
This plant grows mainly in China. Remedies are made from the roots.
Roots of this plant have been used in traditional China for more than a thousand years. Astragalus root is the main ingredient in a supplement called "huang-qui" used to "replenish vital energy," reduce night sweats, and support kidney problems. Astragalus is also included in another traditional formula called "Toki-shakuyaku-san" along with peony root, atractylodes lancea rhizome, alisma rhizome, hoelen, and cinidium rhizome. The mixture can be used to help support menstrual irregularities and vaginal infections.
Traditional Support Uses
Astragalus can be used as a tonic and diaphoretic (something used to cause perspiration).
Commission E Recommendations
Astragalus is not on the Commission's list of approved herbs.
During the 1980s there was some interest in using astragalus as a "hepatoprotective agent." In the laboratory, at least, extracts of the roots have the ability to protect liver cells from the damage that occurs after exposure to certain specific toxins. Extracts of this plant are potent lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase (LOX and COX) inhibitors, which means they may have use as anti-inflammatory products. They also contain a flavonoid called astragalin (also found in many other members of the Leguminosae family), which may be a useful antioxidant. In one of the few clinical trials ever done, Chinese researchers found that using "Toki-shakuyaku-san" normalized irregular menstrual cycles, healed cervical pseudo-erosions, and helped clear up vaginal discharges.
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Stir 1/4 of a teaspoon into a glass of water and consume 3 times daily, with meals.
Astragalus is not recommended for use during acute, feverish conditions.
Marketing surveys indicate that astragalus is one of the better selling herbal products in the United States, but very little has been written about the effects it produces - either good or bad. With so many individuals using this herb, and the total absence of toxicity case reports, it is reasonable to assume that astragalus is probably not very toxic.
It seems unlikely that any of the components of astragalus would interfere with standard workplace urine drug screening tests.
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