The most notable polysaccharides in astragalus include astragaloside IV, calycosin, and formononetin, which help reduce inflammation and improve immunity. By nature, astragalus has a warming effect and it is sweet tasting.
The following are a few of the best health benefits of astragalus root extract:
1. Immune support
Most notably, the astragaloside IV, calycosin, and formononetin help activate pathways and other genes, which help with immune cell activity. Studies have shown that astragalus root can stimulate the immune system in several ways by improving T cell activity, enhancing the phagocytic activity of macrophages and monocytes, increasing natural killer cell activity, and increasing the potency of the herb’s other antiviral properties.
2. Upper respiratory infections
Astragalus root is considered an effective treatment for acute and chronic bronchitis by strengthening weakened lungs and preventing upper respiratory infections that trigger asthma. The astragaloside, saponins, and flavonoids found in astragalus are thought to be involved to treat and prevent upper respiratory infections such as asthma, bronchitis, tracheitis, laryngitis, sore throats, and the common cold.
3. Chronic hepatitis
Chronic hepatitis is liver inflammation that lasts a minimum of six months; it is commonly caused by hepatitis B or C viruses, as well as certain drugs. A study published in the Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine in 2000 found that a supplementation with astragalus root could effectively treat liver fibrosis of chronic hepatitis B patients. Another study published in the Chinese Journal of Hepatology in 2005 found that injecting an astragalus solution could inhibit experimental hepatic fibrogenesis possibly due to its antioxidant activity.
Astragalus root is considered an effective remedy for diabetics since it exhibits improved blood sugar control. The polysaccharides in astragalus are thought to benefit those with diabetes. In particular, the active polysaccharide component of astragalus root extract is called astragalus polysaccharide (APS).
In an eight-week rat study published in the journal Acta Pharmacologica Sinica, researchers found that APS extract reduced blood glucose levels and improved insulin sensitivity by activating the enzyme AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK).
Although there are many astragalus health benefits, there are a few side effects or warnings linked with the herb. The following are some side effects or warnings linked with astragalus root:
- Astragalus should not be used if you have a fever.
- Caution should be implemented as astragalus may increase the risk of bleeding in those with bleeding disorders.
- Caution should also be used in people with high blood pressure, neurological disorders, skin conditions, musculoskeletal disorders, and gastrointestinal conditions.
- Some holistic health practitioners avoid recommending the long-term use of a single adaptogenic herb. Astragalus should be taken in rotation with other adaptogens.
- It is also possible that the side effects associated with astragalus root are not well understood since it is often used in combination with other herbs.