Astragalus is a large group of herbs and small shrubs with about 3,000 species. It belongs to the legume family. These plants thrive in the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Astragalus is often referred to by a variety of common or slang names. These names include milkvetch, locoweed, huang qi, and goat’s thorn. This herb has a long history of being used in traditional Chinese medicine. Recently, Astragalus extracts have been marketed as herbs that may prolong the human lifespan. These extracts are concocted using part of the dried roots.
What has it been used for?
In traditional Chinese medicine, astragalus has been used either on its own or in conjunction with other herbs to help treat a variety of conditions. A few of the reasons why this herb was traditionally used include:
- To ease the effects of the natural aging
- To improve energy levels
- To stimulate the immune system to better fight off diseases
- To ease the symptoms of the common cold
- To help the immune system correct blood disorders such as anemia
- To fight cancer
- To help increase general resistance to disease and stress (drugs and/or herbs that do this are called adaptogens)
- To normalize any disturbances in your body so that it may better balance itself
Warnings: Like all other natural herbs, there might be a few side effects reported from the use of astragalus. This herb might interact with medications meant to suppress the immune system. It has also been shown to affect blood sugar and blood pressure levels in some people. You should not use this herb while pregnant and/or nursing unless directed to do so by a trained health professional.
5 Amazing Health Benefits of Astragalus
Now that you know what Astragalus is, what it’s used for and what you may need to know before using it, let’s take a look at five amazing health benefits this herb has.
1. Improves Immune Function
Studies have been done which prove that astragalus can improve the way your immune system functions. One theory suggests that this herb increases the production of immune cells, while another theory suggests astragalus may contain antiviral properties. Whatever the reason, it has been scientifically proven that astragalus does increase white blood count. White blood cells are a type of antibody the body naturally makes, but some diseases may cause these cells to decrease in size and/or number. These cells help you to naturally fight off viruses and bacteria, thus an increase in people who do not naturally produce enough may help them stave off the next flu, or infection.
To Use: It is recommended that if you wish to consume astragalus for immune-boosting properties, your best bet is to drink tea made from its root. You can buy ready-made teas in most health food or holistic health stores. It is not recommended that you make your tea, as there are some species of astragalus which are toxic.
5 Tips To Make This Work Better
Besides consuming Astragalus tea, the following 5 tips can also help to naturally boost your immune system’s function:
- Stay properly hydrated. Lack of water leads to dehydration, which can lower your immune system.
- Find healthy ways to deal with your stress, such as a creative outlet.
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
- Consume a daily multivitamin if you are not able to get all of the necessary nutrients from your everyday diet.
- Get an adequate amount of exercise outside. The mix of exercise and fresh air has been proven to help bolster immune functioning.
2. Prevents Heart Disease
Astragalus is known to help protect you against a variety of heart-related issues. This herb has a diuretic effect—it causes the blood vessels to relax. This helps bring down your blood pressure. In so doing, it also lowers your risk of hypertension, arrhythmia, and other cardiovascular conditions. An arrhythmia is a condition in which the rhythm of your heart is abnormal. In addition to preventing or lowering the issues associated with these conditions, astragalus may also generally improve your cardiovascular function.
To Use: It is suggested that to help prevent heart disease, you take a 200 mg supplement of astragalus extract twice a day—once in the morning and once at night.
5 Tips To Make This Work Better
- Avoid foods high in fat or bad cholesterol.
- Get plenty of rest. Eight hours is enough for most healthy adults.
- Exercise. You should do moderate exercise three times each week to improve the functioning of your heart.
- Don’t eat for at least two hours before you go to bed. This is very important because studies show that people who eat directly before going to sleep are more prone to heart attacks than those who don’t. This is because your heart must continue pumping to digest your food, and as such, you do not get much restorative sleep as you might have otherwise.
- Avoid caffeine. If you must have your morning coffee, limit your intake to three cups or less each day.
3. Anti-Aging properties
It is well known in China since the old times that the daily consumption of astralagus can reverse the aging process and contribute to your longevity.
More research is still needed in this field but according to the findings, a large dose of a quality extract of astralagus is needed to have the desired effect.
Apart from this longevity, the anti-aging properties help with the elasticity of the skin. Taken consistently will repair the look of the skin, give your glow back and reduce the wrinkles. This is believed to be in part due to the telomerase effect. Being considered an adaptogen, it helps restore the overall health of the body.
How to use: For the surface of the skin, you can apply raw powder of this herb to create different face masks and lotions.
The anti-aging effect has also contributed to the inner health. Taking some astragalus tea will help reduce body inflammation and maintain your health longer by slowing the aging process at the cellular level.
4. Improves and prevents diabetes
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the ones that astragalus has been proven to have a good effect on.
These herbs contain saponins, flavonoids, and polysaccharides and also has anti-inflammatory properties as far as these types of diabetes concern.
The astragalus root works by improving the blood sugar levels and thus regulating the insulin in the body. A certain study showed that it restored high blood sugar to normal levels and raised blood sugar levels when it was too low.
Inflammations stay at the root of most diseases. Astragalus has great anti-inflammatory properties. This is why it is used in different problems when the repair or regeneration of organs and tissues is needed.
Moreover, it is a very good product for scars and wounds. It can also be used in treating the inflammation in allergic dermatitis.
While it is a plant that has been used for 2000 years in treating various health conditions, one should be careful in using it. Talk to a doctor first and ask for advice before starting to treat yourself.