PACIFIC NORTHWEST GROWN. Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceous), Shredded, Certified Organic
Common names: Astragalus, Bei Qi, Huang Qi, Ogi, Hwanggi, Milk Vetch
Family: Fabacae (Legumes; Pea family)
Astragalus Root helps with boosting your immune system, slows tumor growth, helps relieve side effects from chemotherapy, preserves collagen, helps alleviate asthma symptoms, and can be used as an antiviral. Can be used as a tea, tincture, or as a topical. Astragalus Root (Astragalus membranaceous) in a cut and sifted, shredded root form. This is a great option for including in teas and is commonly used as a tea or tincture. Astragalus has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as an immune system tonic for long term, chronic immune boosting. It is known as Huang Qi, meaning “yellow leader” and is a prominently used herb as an energy tonic. This herb may be a great choice for helping prevent colds and flu in the colder fall and winter seasons. It is considered Chi building. It has a mild to slightly sweet taste and is often used in combination with herbs like Licorice Root or Reishi Mushroom for optimal effect.
Astragalus membranaceus looks like a shrub, and generally grows 16 to 30 inches tall. It boasts 12–18 pairs of sub leaves. Its yellow flowers are sweet smelling, and grow out of hairy stems. The plant matures after 4 to 5 years, and can be harvested both in spring and fall. The root is long and thin. It can be white, yellow, or cream colored.
While Astragalus membranaceus is originally native to China, Mongolia, and Korea, it has been cultivated across the United States since being introduced here in 1925.(1) Astragalus membranaceus is found naturally growing in grassy areas and on mountainsides. In general, it does well in sandy, well-drained soil with access to full sun.
Parts used: Root
Astragalus membranaceus root is processed in a few different ways. It can be dried and shredded, or sliced and processed with honey. It is often ground into a fine powder as well. Any of these forms are fantastic for making tea or soup. Generally, when Astragalus membranaceus is being prepared for shipment worldwide, it is first made into capsules, concentrates, injections, ointments, tinctures, or supplements.
Astragalus membranaceus is a generally helpful tool in any herbalist’s cupboard, and it has a wide variety of uses. Typically it is used to support the following:
Diarrhea, fatigue, anorexia, upper respiratory infections, heart disease, hepatitis, fibromyalgia, and as an adjunctive therapy for cancer. TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) typically uses this herb in combination with ginseng, dong quai, and licorice and other botanical medicines.
Like many herbs, Astragalus membranaceus has not been studied well enough to validate every traditional use. However, recent studies have proven areas where it is effective. Here are a few!
- Reducing insulin resistance (2)
Astragalus membranaceus can help reduce insulin resistance, which helps to prevent the progression of type 2 diabetes. A very typical TCM medicine is formula called Refined-JQ (JQ-R), which decreases insulin resistance and other metabolic diseases by:
– Alleviating oxidative stress-induced symptoms and Inflammation
This formula is made up of Coptis chinensis (Ranunculacae), Astragalus membranaceus (Leguminosae), and Lonicera japonica (Caprifoliacaea.)
- Preventing damage from UV radiation (3)
Recently, a combination of Astragalus membranaceus and Althea officinalis (marshmallow) were tested together for their ability to protect skin cells from UV radiation.
Inspired by the worldwide rise in UV radiation exposure, the the European Centre for Environment and Human Health decided to test how well Althea officinalis (marshmallow) and Astragalus membranaceus (Astragalus) protect human tissue against UV radiation damage. They used whole root extracts, testing both plants that were grown in a variety of ways (outdoors, in greenhouses, and hydroponically.)
As with most scientific studies, the conclusions were limited but promising. In this case, the experimenters were looking only for genotoxic damage, not whether it was mutagenic or carcinogenic. Additionally, the test cells were lysed (broken down) before the root extracts had a chance to show whether they could repair UV damage that has already happened. With that said, the experiments concluded that there are compounds in both Astragalus and Marshmallow that do prevent UV radiation damage – and the most potent for this purpose were plants grown in greenhouses, in soil.
- Promoting wound healing (4)
As an antibacterial, Astragalus membranaceus promotes wound healing. It has been used for thousands of years in herbal medicine in order to reduce swelling, drain fluid from pustules, as well as eradicating toxins.
Recently, the Astragalus polysaccharides (APS2-1) were isolated from Astragalus membranaceus in order to test how well they promote wound healing. Diabetic mice were given either APS2-1, nothing, or another substance for comparison. Those who received APS2-1 were nearly healed 21 days later, while the other mice lagged behind.
- Preventing the onset of severe asthma (5)
Astragalus membranaceus can be used to help preventing the onset of severe asthma. Specifically, the isolated component astragalus polysaccharide helps to modulate both immune system response and inflammation – two things that bring on ER (endoplasmic reticulum) stress. Decreased ER stress prevents the activation of protein folding response, which in turn prevents the onset of severe asthma. Additionally, Astragalus membranaceus prevents inflammation of the airway.
- Anti-viral (6)
Recently, researchers in Tempe, AZ decided to test the anti-viral properties of Astragalus membranaceus. These properties were written about in Shen Nong’s “Classic of Materia Medica” over 2,000 years ago. The researchers gave injections of Astragalus membranaceus to healthy individuals and monitored their symptoms and blood counts. The test subjects experienced an increase in platelets and decrease in blood pressure.
Astragalus membranaceus has been shown to have vasodilatory effects (widening of blood vessels). This is most likely why it helps ischemic heart disease, heart failure, myocardial infarctions, and relieves anginal pain. Additionally, it has been shown to improve endothelial cell function, blood glucose control, and cardiovascular function.
(1) – “In 1925, Astragalus membranaceus plant was introduced to North America through USDA’s Plant Introduction Office, arriving from the Botanical Garden in St. Petersburg.”
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult a qualified, licensed, health care provider when considering adding to or changing your health care regimen.