Dr. Natural Healing Herb: Astragalus

Commonly Known about this Natural Healing Herb

Astragalus has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine in combination with other herbs, such as ginseng, dong quai, and licorice.

There are more than 2,000 species of astragalus.

Astragalus has been used as a dietary supplement for many conditions, including for diarrhea, fatigue, anorexia, upper respiratory infections, heart disease, hepatitis, fibromyalgia, and as an adjunctive therapy for cancer.

The root of the astragalus plant is put in soups, teas, extracts, or capsules.

Do We Have a lot Studies about This Natural Healing Herb?

There are no high-quality studies in people of astragalus for any health conditions.

What Have We Learned about This Natural Healing Herb?

Patients with nephrotic syndrome (health problems related to kidney damage) are susceptible to infections. A 2012 research review found that taking astragalus granules may be associated with a lower risk of infections in children with nephrotic syndrome. However, the review concluded that the studies were poor quality.

People with diabetic nephropathy (a type of kidney disease) who received an intravenous drip of astragalus over a period of 2 to 6 weeks did better on some measures of kidney function, compared to people who didn’t get astragalus, according to a 2011 analysis of 25 studies. However, most of the trials involved were poor quality.

There’s weak evidence that astragalus may help heart function in some patients with viral myocarditis (an infection of the heart), a 2013 research review showed.

Because of limitations in the studies, a 2013 research review on the effects of astragalus on fatty liver disease, which causes fat to build up in liver cells, couldn’t determine whether astragalus helps.

Do We Know the Safety of This Natural Healing Herb?

Astragalus is considered safe for many adults. The most commonly reported side effects are diarrhea and other mild gastrointestinal effects. However, it may affect blood sugar levels and blood pressure and be risky for people with certain health problems, such as blood disorders, diabetes, or hypertension.

Astragalus may interact with medications that suppress the immune system, such as drugs taken by organ transplant recipients and some cancer patients.

Some astragalus species, usually not found in dietary supplements, can be toxic. Several species that grow in the United States contain the neurotoxin swainsonine and have caused “locoweed” poisoning in animals. Other species contain potentially toxic levels of selenium.

Kind Suggestion from Dr. Natural Healing

Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help them to choose the natural healing option for you, such as acupuncture, acupressure, massage, vacuum cupping, herb-patch; vacuum cupping; bloodletting detoxification therapy, Chinese herb, or Chinese formulation with herbs.