The Surprising Health Benefits of Astragalus

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Astragalus refers to a whole genus of herbs and small shrubs that belong to the legume family Fabaceae. The genus, which is native to the Northern Hemisphere, is often used in Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM. Studies show that the herb may help alleviate a number of diseases. In TCM, Astragalus is also used as a pre-emptive measure to certain illnesses. In today’s post, we are listing down the amazing health benefits of this herb:

Ease Seasonal Allergy Symptoms

Got hay fever? Astragalus may help ease the hallmarks of seasonal allergies. In fact, a whole supplements industry is dedicated to astragalus in Croatia. A team of Croatian scientists found that astragalus is an effective treatment against seasonal allergic rhinitis. The study involved 48 patients with moderate to severe seasonal allergy. They were divided into two groups. The first group was given astragalus and the other, a placebo. They found that after six weeks, those who were given astragalus supplements saw a remarkable improvement in their condition. The patients reportedly experienced less runny nose and itchy eyes.

Reduces Post-Stroke Brain Damage

Regardless if it’s a mild or massive stroke, the brain tissue is affected by either condition. A stroke will deprive the brain of oxygen. During a stroke, blood circulation in certain parts of the brain stops momentarily. The part of the brain where circulation is cut off will sustain damaged tissues.

Research shows that Astragalus may help rejuvenate damaged brain tissues. The study, which was conducted by doctors at the Hunan University of Chinese Medicine, used lab mice to determine the efficacy of the herb. They found that blood flow to the brain tissue improved among lab mice with brain damage because of an induced stroke.

A separate study mirrors the same results. In the 2012 issue of Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin, researchers found that astragalus improves the survival of nerve cells in induced stroke.

Reduces Post-Heart Failure Damage

A group of Chinese researchers evaluated the effects of astragalus in healing damages caused by chronic heart failure. The study involved 90 patients split into two groups, then split again into three sub-groups. One of the groups was given daily doses of astragalus supplements in varying strengths. Those given medium and high doses of astragalus supplements felt a significant improvement in their quality of life. On the other hand, those given a low dose of the supplement saw very little improvement in their condition.

In a separate study published on the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine journal, researchers found that patients treated with medium doses of astragalus supplements saw optimal improvement in post-heart failure heart contraction.

Cuts the Risk of Cancer

Astragalus may cut the risk of certain cancers. The herb contains powerful compounds that stop malignant cells from multiplying. A study by Hong Kong Baptist University’s School of Chinese Medicine found that the herb contains saponins. Saponins are compounds that lather up when shaken with water. The compound prevented gastric cancer cells from spreading throughout the body.

In another study published on the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, researchers found that astragalus saponins work the same way as some chemotherapy drugs. The compound could be an effective treatment for advanced and metastatic gastric cancer.

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