The popularity of herbs has skyrocketed due to the variety of health benefits they provide and their immune enhancing properties.
Many people are now looking for all-natural herbs and supplements as a means to cure ailments, take along side, or use instead of pharmaceutical medicine.
One such herb and supplement is the Astragalus root.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
What is Astragalus?
Astragalus can be found in the Northern Hemisphere. It comes from a type of bean or legume though there are multiple species of this shrub.
Astagalus has been called huang qi, milk vetch or goats thorn. Or AR for short.
AR has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for centuries and it is the root that is used to make herbal tonics.
The key component in astragalus supplements is Astragalus membranaceu and the root of the Astragalus herb contains polysaccharides, which seem to be the components that offer the immune support.
The benefits of Astragalus root
There are numerous astragalus benefits. The Astragalus root is often used during the cold and flu season as a preventative measure and it is sometimes combined with Echinacea, which is used for a similar purpose.
AR is also used as an “adaptogen.”
Adaptogens can assist individuals in coping with daily stress.
Ginseng and Ashwagandha can be combined with AR for additional stress relieving benefits. Some studies have found AR may help with glucose control for those with Type 2 diabetes.
Research has found that several of the beneficial compounds in AR can boost T-cell levels to close to normal in cancer patients. Therefore, it is sometimes used as an adjunct treatment to chemotherapy.
It may also help with the side effects of chemo. Other studies have shown AR to have broad antioxidant properties.
No known side effects are seen when AR is used as recommended.
At large doses however, the Astragalus root has been known to cause gastrointestinal distress and diarrhea are possible.
As a supplement
As well as apparently having antioxidant, common cold-curing and de-stressing properties, extracts of Astragalus have also been promoted for having life-prolonging effects on humans.
Research has shown that the Astragalus root may be able to protect DNA and prevent the death of cells in the body.
However, more conclusive research is needed on Astragalus before we all rush to use it as a magic cure for the aging process.
How to use Astragalus
When used as a single herb, doses of 500mg per day are recommended but when combined with other herbs, lower doses are typically used (100-200mg per day).
Dividing the 500mg dose to two 250mg doses per day is preferred.
Caution should be used for those individuals with autoimmune disease due to the immune stimulating properties of the herb. Due to the increased risk of bleeding with AR, it is best to discontinue the herb prior to surgery. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding also should not use Astragalus root.
You should always consult a health care specialist before taking Astragalus or any other supplement!
Connect with Expert Angela Moore
References: WebMD; The Health Professionals Guide to Dietary Supplements.