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Astragalus is an herb that is native to northern and eastern China, Mongolia, and Korea. It is a perennial plant that stands from 16 to 36 inches tall. Plants are generally allowed to grow for four years before the root is harvested for medicinal use. Other names for astragalus include bei qui, huang qi, ogi, hwanggi, and milk-vetch root. There are over 2,000 species of astragalus, but only two are generally used for medicinal purposes: astragalus membranaceus and astragalus mongholicus.
Why astragalus is used
Astragalus has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It is usually combined with other herbs to help strengthen and support the immune system. It is also used as a treatment for colds and respiratory infections as well as heart disease. In China, it is still used as a treatment for chronic hepatitis and as a supportive therapy to treat cancer.
Astragalus contains antioxidants that can protect the cells of the body from free agents that can damage cell walls, change DNA, and even result in death. It is also considered to be an adaptogen which means it helps protect the body from physical, mental, and emotional stress. Astragalus also works to fight bacteria and to reduce inflammation. It is believed to have antiviral properties and the ability to stimulate the immune system which can help prevent the common cold.
Some studies in the United States show that astragalus can help restore the immune system in people who have taken chemotherapy or radiation treatments for cancer. However, there have not been enough clinical trials using people as the subjects to make definite claims about the effectiveness of this herb. Early testing suggests astralagus, in combination with other herbs, may offer benefits for the immune system, heart, and liver, and may support cancer treatments.
How astragalus is used
The root of the astragalus plant is used to make a variety of products including soups, teas, liquid extracts, and capsules. Astragalus is most often used in combination with other herbs including ginseng, angelica, and licorice.
Cautions for astragalus