10 Incredible Uses of Astragalus
Astragali Radix is a dried root and one of the most widely utilized herb in traditional Chinese medicine. It may also be referred to as “Huang Qi”. Let’s dive into 10 impressive functions of the herb!
1) Decreases Tumor Growth
A systemic review in 2016 evaluated 92 studies exploring Astragali Radix’s anticancer effects. The studies included were in vitro studies, in vivo studies, clinical studies, and studies analyzing the complete or individual components of the herb.
The researchers found tumor growth suppression effects as well as inhibition of angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is formation of new blood vessels to a tumor, and when inhibited, helps to starve cancer and limit its spread.
2) Increases Effectiveness of Chemo
A meta-analysis in 2006 included randomized clinical trials with 2,815 patients where Astragalus-based Chinese herbs were combined with platinum-based chemotherapy.
Patients in these studies had non-small-cell lung cancer. This type of cancer is less responsive to chemotherapy.
The analysis found participants who were given Astragalus to have improved survival, increased tumor response, and reduced chemotherapy toxicity in comparison to the participants who only received chemotherapy. In twelve of these studies, the reduced risk of death after 12 months had a risk ratio of 0.67.
3) Heals Skeletal Muscle Injury
A randomized controlled trial in 2018 explored Astragali Radix role in skeletal muscle injuries. The study injected Astragalus and Salvia miltiorrhiza into skeletal muscles of aerobic athletes. 600 participants were randomized to either receive this combination injection or a control, which included local massage and rehabilitation training.
To measure the skeletal injury, the scientists collected serum measurements of serum SOD, creatine kinase, and myoglobin. The study found the herbal injection to improve skeletal muscle injury compared to the control. This study shows that Astragalus radix can help improve overall treatment efficiency in aerobic athletes!
4) Fights Chronic Fatigue
A randomized double-blind controlled study in 2009 investigated Astragali Radix for chronic fatigue. Chronic fatigue is a disorder of extreme fatigue for at least six months. The study divided 36 participants into a control group, a low-dose group, and a high-dose group.
The groups that received the Astragali Radix also received Salviae Radix. Participants rated their severity before and after 4 weeks of the study. The study found the low-dose herbal formula to significantly decrease the fatigue severity score in comparison with the control.
5) Supports the Thyroid
A randomized controlled trial in 2011 looked at the effects of Astragali Radix on the function of the thyroid gland in patients with Graves disease. Graves disease is an autoimmune condition involving the excess production of thyroid hormones.
Eighty participants were randomly assigned to either receive Methimaxole or Methimazole with Astragali Radix. Methiamazole is a pharmaceutical drug prescribed to treat excess thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism). The researchers assessed clinical symptoms and thyroid functions after one-month of the therapies.
The improvements of the thyroid gland function were similar between the two groups. However, serum levels of IL-beta, TNF-alpha, and CD54 decreased more significantly in the group that received the addition of the herb. These serum changes suggest that Astragali Radix can improve thyroid function.
6) Aids the Kidney
A review in 2014 searched through randomized controlled trials analyzing Astragalus Radix given to patients with chronic kidney disease. The studies compared the herb against a placebo or conventional treatments. In total, the researchers compiled 22 studies with 1,323 participants.
Astragalus Radix significantly increased creatine clearance and significantly decreased 24 hour proteinuria and serum albumin. These measurements suggest Astragali Radix to be a promising therapy for supporting the kidney in patients with chronic kidney disease.
7) Promotes Sleep
In 2018, researchers created a tea that included Astragali Radix to help improve sleep. The tea included Astragali Radix, Angelicae gingantis Radix, and Zizyphi Fructus. This pilot study randomly allocated 40 participants to either consume the tea twice a day or participate in a control group with no tea.
All of these participants were experiencing chronic fatigue and likely in need of improved sleep! The participants rated their fatigue severity and sleep quality before the study, after the 4 weeks of the study, and during 4- and 8-week follow-ups.
The researchers found the tea formula to both reduce fatigue severity and improve sleep quality in participants.
8) Protects Endothelial Function in Type-2 Diabetes
Someone with type-2 Diabetes (T2DM) is at risk of developing atherosclerosis. The endothelium is the membrane that lines the inside of blood vessels that can become damaged in atherosclerosis. A clinical trial in 2016 explored whether Astragali Radix can protect the endothelium in type-2 diabetic patients.
One way to protect the endothelium is through increased high-density lipoproteins (HDL). The study administered a solution with Astragali Radix to 69 patients with T2DM and measured HDLs prior and after the study intervention. The herbal solution additionally contained Angelicae sinensis, Radix Paeoniae Rubra, and Ligusticum wallichii.
The HDLs were isolated to evaluate proliferation, migration, angiogenesis, and anti-apoptosis. The HDLs were then applied to human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) to measure their ability to protect against atherosclerosis.
The HUVECs treated with HDLs isolated from participants following the herbal therapy exhibited beneficial effects, thus supporting Astragali Radix’s protective effect.
9) Reduces Foot Ulcers
Foot ulcers are most certainly not comfortable and to help reduce these sores, researchers in 2014 conducted a randomized double-blind controlled trial. The study created a two-herb recipe for foot ulcers in patients with diabetes. The two herbs included Astragali Radix and Radix Rehmanniae.
The researchers randomized diabetic patients to receive the placebo or the herb combination for 6 months. To measure the status of the foot ulcers, the researchers measured the reduction in ulcer area and sensory neuropathy.
The daily rate of reduction in ulcer area was 3.55% in the herb group compared to 1.52% in the placebo group. More notably, the percentage of patients with sensory neuropathy in the affected foot decreased 20% in the herbal group compared with only 2% in the control group.
10) Reduces Inflammation Post-Mastectomy
After breast cancer surgery, patients may experience inflammation and exudat. Researchers in 2018 conducted a prospective clinical trial to measure a Chinese herbal formula on wound inflammatory response after mastectomy. This liquid formula included Astragali Radix, Radix et rhizome rhei, and Rhizoma curcuma longa.
The study randomized 30 patients with breast cancer to either receive the herbal formula or a control twice daily for 1 day before surgery and 7 days post-surgery. All participants had a mastectomy.
The total amount of drainage fluid over seven days was significantly lower in the treatment group than in the control group. This decrease in exudate signifies a lower amount of inflammation. The lower amount of inflammation was also supported by lower levels of inflammatory markers (TNF-alpha, IL-6, IL-8, and CRP).