CHINA. Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceous) Root, Cut Pieces, Certified Organic
Common names: Astragalus, Bei Qi, Huang Qi, Ogi, Hwanggi, Milk Vetch
Family: Fabacae (Legumes; Pea family)
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 four to five years, and can be harvested both in spring and fall. The white, yellow, or cream colored root is long and thin. While Astragalus is originally native to China, Mongolia, and Korea, it has been cultivated across the United States since being introduced in 1925. Astragalus grows naturally in grassy areas and on mountainsides, thriving in sandy, well-drained soil with full sun.
Astragalus membranaceus root can be dried and shredded, sliced and processed with honey, or ground into a fine powder. Any of these forms are fantastic for making tea or soup. Generally, when Astragalus is being prepared for shipment worldwide, it is first made into capsules, concentrates, injections, ointments, tinctures, or supplements. It can be used as a tea, tincture, or in topical products.
Astragalus Root boosts the immune system, slows tumor growth, helps relieve side effects from chemotherapy, preserves collagen, helps alleviate asthma symptoms, and can be used as an antiviral. Astragalus is a generally helpful tool in any herbalist’s cupboard, with a wide variety of uses. Typically it is used to treat diarrhea, fatigue, anorexia, upper respiratory infections, heart disease, hepatitis, fibromyalgia, and as an adjunctive therapy for cancer. This herb may be a great choice for helping prevent colds and flu in the colder fall and winter seasons.
Astragalus has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as an immune system tonic for long term, chronic immune boosting, often combined with other herbs such as Ginseng, Dong Quai, Reishi, or Licorice. It is known as Huang Qi, meaning "Yellow Leader" and is prominently used as an energy tonic in formulas. It is considered Chi building, with a mild to slightly sweet taste.
Astragalus membranaceus can help reduce insulin resistance, which helps to prevent the progression of type 2 diabetes. A typical TCM medicine formula, Refined-JQ (JQ-R), decreases insulin resistance and other metabolic diseases by alleviating oxidative stress-induced symptoms and inflammation. This formula is made up of Coptis chinensis, Astragalus membranaceus, and Lonicera japonica.
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 roots protect human tissue against UV radiation damage. The experiments concluded that there are compounds in both Astragalus and Marshmallow that do prevent UV radiation damage—and the most potent roots for this purpose were from plants grown in greenhouses, in soil.
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 to eradicate toxins. Recently, Astragalus polysaccharides (APS2-1) were isolated from Astragalus root to test their effects on 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.
Astragalus membranaceus can be used to help preventing the onset of severe asthma. Astragalus polysaccharide helps to modulate both immune system response and inflammation—two things that bring on ER (endoplasmic reticulum) stress. Decreased ER stress prevents activation of the protein folding response, which in turn prevents the onset of severe asthma. Additionally, Astragalus prevents inflammation of the airway.
Researchers in Tempe, AZ decided to test the anti-viral properties of Astragalus membranaceus. These properties were described in Shen Nong’s Classic of Materia Medica over 2,000 years ago. The researchers gave injections of Astragalus to healthy individuals and monitored their symptoms and blood counts. The test subjects showed multiple changes in both symptoms and blood work indicating significant mobilization of immune responses.
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 angina pain. Additionally, it has been shown to improve endothelial cell function, blood glucose control, and cardiovascular function.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.