Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)
Astragalus is a Chinese herb native to Mongolia and Northern China that has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 2000 years. The root of the plant is harvested in its 3rd to 5th year of growth in full sun and sandy moist soil. It is commonly found as powdered capsules, extracts, or in teas. It is the main ingredient in Chinese Green Jade powder and used to prevent frequent upper respiratory or cold infections, help balance digestion, and as a diuretic.
The astragaloside components have been extensively researched in China and found to stimulate the immune system's macrophages and boost interferon to rid itself of viruses.
An injectable form, Astragaloside IV was developed in China and has been found to promote the effects of lidocaine in reducing arrhythmias during heart attacks and protect the heart tissue from re-profusion damage during surgery or after heart attack. In addition it reduces blood pressure; helps heal viral myocarditis, and can restore 20% of lost function in congestive heart failure
Because it modulates its effects such as inducing a therapeutic sweat or reducing a debilitating one it is used as a tonic to balance respiratory, digestive, and immune systems.
Astragalus compounds have been shown to help balance the over-responsive immune system of asthma patients. Astragaloside studies have demonstrated modulation of Th1/Th2 helper and suppressor ratios in animal asthma models.
Astragalus can improve the immunosuppression caused by chemotherapy and radiation of certain cancers promoting faster recovery.
Astragulus tinctures or tea can be used in children 18 months and up during cold and flu season to help reduce frequent infections for up to 6 weeks as a time. Use 1/3-1/2 the adult dose daily for maintenance and bump to three times a day when heavily exposed or run down. Choose a reputable organic and tested brand. Astragulus should not be taken with beta-blockers (common blood pressure medications) or with anti-coagulants such as Coumadin.
Yours in herbs,
Danielle Rose, MD