What Does Scientific Evidence Say About The Benefits Of Astragalus Root?

Medically reviewed by Lauren Smith, MS, RD, LDN Lauren Smith Lauren SmithMS, RD, LDN facebook_icon
Written by , BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Ravi Teja Tadimalla BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Experience: 8 years

Astragalus root is one of the most potent immune-boosting plants on the planet. In addition to that, research speaks volumes about its cardiovascular, anti-tumor, and anti-inflammatory benefits. Well, there are more benefits of astragalus root that make it an important addition to your diet. Keep scrollin’!

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What Is Astragalus Root? What Is It Good For?

Belonging the legume family (that includes beans too), astragalus has a long history as a potent immunity booster. It has been used as an adaptogen (a type of herb that stabilizes physiological processes) for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine.

The perennial flowering plant is native to the north and eastern regions of China and has also been traced back to parts of Korea and Mongolia.

Talking about the root’s goodness, we need to focus on the flavonoids, saponins, and polysaccharides – three compounds that offer varied benefits. While the flavonoids portray antioxidant qualities and fight free radicals, the saponins boost immunity and prevent cancer and high cholesterol levels. And the polysaccharides possess antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

And it doesn’t end here. There is more to come.

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What Are The Benefits Of Astragalus Root?

1. Astragalus Root Boosts Immunity

This is one benefit of astragalus that has been put to use for thousands of years. Studies have shown how the root can control and enhance T-helper cells 1 and 2, which are types of T cells that play an important role in the immune system (1).

A few preclinical trials have shown some intriguing immune activity of astragalus root (2). There are several other reports that show how astragalus activates the immune cells.

2. Fights Inflammation

Astragalus has been found to fight various forms of inflammation and is especially effective in treating gastric inflammation (3).

The root has the ability to increase blood flow, and this helps flush toxins out of the body that can otherwise cause inflammation. Even the water and alcoholic extracts of astragalus produced significant anti-inflammatory effects, as per some studies (4).

3. Helps Prevent Cancer

The three compounds of astragalus, namely saponins, flavonoids, and polysaccharides, are effective in reducing tumors. In other studies, astragalus was found to fight liver cancer cells and assist the treatment process as well (5).

The saponins in astragalus have been found to prevent the proliferation and invasion of gastric cancer cells (6).

Some sources say the root can also prevent breast cancer and even alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy.

4. Improve Heart Health 

In patients with congestive heart failure, astragalus injections had improved the heart rate by as much as 74% (7). And in yet another study, 92 patients with ischemic heart disease, who were treated with astragalus, saw improvement in their condition.

Research also shows that astragalus can lower the levels of bad cholesterol, and this, in turn, can boost heart health. Astragalus was also found to complement the treatment for viral myocarditis (inflammation of the middle layer of the heart wall) (8). However, we need more research before we can reach a conclusion.

Also, there are other reports that state that it can lower blood pressure levels and protect the heart.

5. Aids Diabetes Treatment

Benefits Of Astragalus Root - Aids Diabetes Treatment
Image: IStock

The polysaccharides in astragalus were found to improve the symptoms in the cases of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes (9). Other studies also show its ability to improve insulin sensitivity and support diabetes treatment.

More importantly, astragalus seems to prevent kidney disease as well, which is a common problem in diabetics. Recent studies showed that this root could slow down the progress of kidney disease in diabetes patients (10).

6. Enhances Respiratory Health

Studies have shown how a formula predominantly containing astragalus was able to improve respiratory issues in patients (11). Also, because of the root’s antiviral properties, it has long been used to treat cold and flu.

The root has also been used as supplemental therapy for chronic asthma. Asthma patients, after being treated with asparagus, experienced relief – the hypersensitivity in their airways decreased substantially, and the mucus production and inflammation had reduced. This simply shows the potential of astragalus in relieving chronic asthma issues (12).

7. Astragalus Root Assists Wound Healing

Thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties of the root, it can be used to heal wounds and reduce scarring. One 2012 study supported the promising wound-healing and anti-scarring effects of astragalus (13).

8. Can Delay The Signs Of Aging 

The molecules in astragalus have been found to contribute to telomere growth. One research report states that substances in the astragalus root can slow down the aging process by activating the production of telomerase, an enzyme responsible for the production of telomere that improves skin health and fights aging (14).

And the antioxidants in astragalus fight the free radicals, which are responsible for premature aging. Also, the polysaccharides in the root can enhance your lifespan (15).

9. Can Improve Brain Health

Benefits Of Astragalus Root - Can Improve Brain Health
Image: IStock

Some research exists that states that the polysaccharides in astragalus can improve memory impairment, especially in the case of diabetes (16).

However, please consult your doctor before using astragalus for this purpose.

10. Can Treat Viral Infections

The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of astragalus can help stave off any viral infections. This includes some severe infections like HPV, or human papillomavirus (an infection that causes warts in various parts of the body).

More interestingly, astragalus root might also replace HIV drugs in the near future. A natural substance in astragalus, called TAT2, might help enhance immunity and aid HIV treatment – in ways better than previously imagined (17).

Those are the benefits. But how do you avail them? How do you take astragalus?

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How To Take Astragalus

Though there are a number of ways you can use astragalus, it is to be used only as an addition to conventional treatments and not as a replacement. Unless your doctor suggests otherwise.

Astragalus is available in most health food stores in the following forms:

  • Tincture (in the form of liquid alcohol extract)
  • As tea (you can boil the root)
  • Injectible forms (for use in hospitals)
  • Capsules and tablets

And talking about dosage, if it is a standardized extract, the dosage is 250 – 500 mg, three to four times a day. In case you are making tea, boil three to six grams of the dried root in 12 ounces of water, and drink thrice a day.

You can also buy astragalus root online at Amazon or Mountain Rose Herbs.

But wait, there are a few things to be kept in mind.

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Any Considerations? Any Drug Interactions?

Pregnant or breastfeeding women must not consume astragalus root. And individuals with immune system diseases like multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or any other autoimmune disease must not use the root.

Do check with your doctor before using the root in the first place.

Following are the drugs the root can interact with. Avoid consuming astragalus if you are taking any of these:

  • Cyclophosphamide: This drug is used to suppress the immune system, and using astragalus root can decrease its effectiveness.
  • Lithium: Astragalus has diuretic properties, and this can lead to unsafe levels of lithium in the body.
  • Immunosuppressants: Astragalus can reduce the effectiveness of these drugs, which are used to prevent rejection in transplant patients.

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We can say the root’s immune-boosting properties are to be matched. Which pretty much sums up why it has to go into your diet.

Tell us how this post has helped you. Just leave a comment in the box below. Cheers!


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Lauren Smith

Lauren SmithMS, RD, LDN

Lauren Smith is a registered dietitian based in Jacksonville, Florida with Dietitians of Palm Valley. She received her Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Florida State University and earned her Master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition from Boston University. Lauren has 11 years of experience and specializes in helping her clients understand why so many mainstream diet programs have consistently never...read full bio

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