Astragalus benefits, astragalus side effects
December 06, 2011
Astragalus membranaceus has strong protective effects on free radical-mediated renal tubular damage induced by high-
energy shock waves in a rabbit study.  Probably, because of its strong anti-oxidative activities, astragalus may carry
many health benefits. Further, swainsonine Golgi α-mannosidase II activity in the N-glycan biosynthesis pathway. As a
result, swainsonine inhibits the production of complex β1,6-branched N-linked glycans, which are related to the
malignant phenotype of tumor cells. [A1]
Ninety asthmatic children during the remission stage were assigned to the astragalus treatment group (Group A), the
hormone treatment group (Group B), and the combined group of astragalus and hormone treatment (Group C), 30 in
each. Thirty healthy children were set up as the control group. The total effective rate was higher in Group B (73.3%)
than in Group A (66.7%), but with no statistical difference between the two groups. It was highest in Group C (96.7%),
showing significant difference from the other two groups. Thus, astragalus played a role in preventing the recurrence of
asthma, astragalus may benefit people at risk of asthma. [A7]
Roots of Astragalus species are used to treat leukemia and for wound healing in Turkish folk medicine, and astragalus
root is believed to benefit people at risk of various cancers. IL-2 inducing activity of the triterpene saponins might be the
mechanism involved for its immunomodulatory and anticancer effects.  Astragalus saponins exert promising anti-
tumorigenic effects by suppressing the growth of HT-29 human colon cancer cells and tumor xenograft. Astragalus
saponins also showed that it could modulate the invasiveness and angiogenesis of human gastric adenocarcinoma cells
besides its pro-apoptotic and anti-proliferative activities. [A9]
The effect of astragalus polysaccharide (dosage: 0.25g/kg/d) on plasma and liver lipids, fecal bile acids and neutral
sterol, cholesterol absorption and synthesis, HMG-CoA reductase activity, and gene and protein expressions in the liver
and small intestine was investigated in twenty-four hypercholesterolemia hamsters. Treatment periods lasted for three
months. Astragalus polysaccharide significantly lowered plasma total cholesterol by 45.8%, triglycerides by 30%, and
low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol by 47.4%, comparable to simvastatin. Further examinations revealed that astragalus
polysaccharide reduced total cholesterol and triglycerides in the liver, increased fecal bile acid and neutral sterol
excretion, inhibited cholesterol absorption, and by contrast, increased hepatic cholesterol synthesis and HMG-CoA
reductase activity. Plasma total cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol levels were significantly correlated with
cholesterol absorption rates. Astragalus polysaccharide up-regulated cholesterol-7α-hydroxylase and LDL-receptor
gene expressions. [A5]
In a study, ten-week-old fat-fed streptozotocin-treated rats, an animal model of type II diabetes mellitus, were treated
with Astragalus polysaccharide (dosage 400 mg/kg p.o.) for 5 weeks. The diabetic rats responded to astragalus
polysaccharide with a significant decrease in body weight, plasma glucose, and improved insulin sensitivity. 
Astragalus has demonstrated a wide range of immunopotentiating effects and has proven efficacious as an adjunct
cancer therapy.  Astragalus polysaccharides can activate IL-12-producing CD11c(high)CD45RB(low) dendritic cell,
and further induce the activation of immune function of T lymphocyte with shifting of Th2 to Th1 in vitro. APS can
enhance the immune response via promoting the phenotypic and functional maturation of CD11c(high)CD45RB(low)
DC. [A2] Astragalus polysaccharides markedly increased the titer of foot-and-mouth disease virus-specific antibody in a
dose-dependent manner, and up-regulated mRNA expression of IFN-γ and IL-6. [A3]
Astragalus verus Olivier, Fabaceae has been used against ringworm in Kurdish ethnomedicine throughout millennia.
Intestinal Mucosa Injury
Previous studies have shown that Astragalus membranaceus could attenuate intestinal ischemia-reperfusion injury
induced by hemorrhagic shock in rats. Using a hemorrhagic shock rat model to examine the effect of astragalus
membranaceus on intestinal mucosa injury induced by ischemia-reperfusion, researchers found that astragalus
membranaceus could partly attenuate intestinal mucosa ischemia-reperfusion injury. [A8]
Astragalus membranaceus is a popular traditional Chinese medicine, commonly used to treat liver disease. Injection of
astragalus solution decreased fibrosis and in expression of laminin in a study of rat hepatic stellate cells.  In a study,
rats were randomly divided into a normal control group, a liver fibrosis model group and an root extract of Paeonia
lactiflora and Astragalus membranaceus (dosage 40, 80, 160 mg•kg-1) treated group. After a 16-week treatment,
Paeonia lactiflora and Astragalus membranaceus-treated rats showed significantly reduced liver damage and symptoms
of liver fibrosis upon pathological examination. Administration of Paeonia lactiflora and Astragalus membranaceus root
extracts significantly decreased serum HA, PC III levels, and content of hydroxyproline in the liver tissue of fibrotic rats. It
also restored the decrease in SOD and GSH-Px activities. [A6] Thus, astragulus root may benefit people at risk of liver
Astragaloside IV, a major active constituent of Astragalus membranaceus (Fisch) Bge., is able to prevent the
development of hypertension and endothelial dysfunction in fructose-fed rats, by affecting the lipid metabolism,
endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation and the nitric oxide-cGMP-related pathway. [A4]
Alzheimer's disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder marked by a progressive loss of memory and cognitive
function. Stress-level glucocorticoids are correlated with dementia progression in patients with Alzheimer's disease. In a
study, 12-month male mice were chronically treated with stress-level dexamethasone (dosage 5 mg/kg) and extract of
Astragalus (dosage, 10, 20, and 40 mg/kg) or Ginsenoside Rg1 (Rg1, dosage 6.5 mg/kg) for 21 days. It was found that
that dexamethasone can induce learning and memory impairments and neuronal cell apoptosis.Treatment groups with
astragalus extract (dosage 20 and 40 mg/kg) or Rg1 (dosage 6.5 mg/kg) significantly improve learning and memory.
Thus, astragalus extract may benefit people at risk of certain neuronal disorders. [A11]
NOTE DEFINITELY, ASTRAGULUS MAY HAVE MANY HEALTH BENEFITS, BUT MOST STUDIES WERE DONE IN
ANIMALS. CLINICAL STUDIES ARE NEEDED TO PROVE ITS BENEFITS IN HUMAN.
Astragalus side effects
Astragalus is probably SAFE for most healthy adults. The astragalus side effects are not known. Although astragalus
side effects have not been reported, high doses might affect the immune system and cause hypoglycemia.
 The herbalist by David Hoffman, (c)1993 David Hoffman, Hopkins Technology.
 Sinclair S. Chinese herbs: a clinical review of Astragalus, Ligusticum, and Schizandrae. Altern Med Rev. 1998 Oct;3(5):338-44.
 Zhou X. Study on the inhibitive effect of Astragalus Injection solution on hepatic fibrosis in rats Zhonghua Gan Zang Bing Za Zhi.
 Wu Y. Hypoglycemic effect of Astragalus polysaccharide and its effect on PTP1B. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2005 Mar;26(3):345-52.
 Sheng BW et al, Astragalus membranaceus reduces free radical-mediated injury to renal tubules in rabbits receiving high-energy
shock waves. Chin Med J (Engl). 2005 Jan 5;118(1):43-9.
 Yesilada E. et al Effects of triterpene saponins from Astragalus species on in vitro cytokine release. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Jan 4;
96(1-2):71-7. [A1] Increased antitumor efficacy by the combined administration of swainsonine and cisplatin in vivo.
Phytomedicine. 2011 Jul 13. [A2] The regulatory effect and mechanism of Astragalus polysaccharides on CD11c(high)
CD45RB(low) dendritic cell Zhonghua Shao Shang Za Zhi. 2011 Apr;27(2):95-9.  Enhancement of Astragalus
polysaccharide on the immune responses in pigs inoculated with foot-and-mouth disease virus vaccine. Int J Biol
Macromol. 2011 Oct 1;49(3):362-8. [A4] Astragaloside IV improves metabolic syndrome and endothelium
dysfunction in fructose-fed rats. Molecules. 2011 May 10;16(5):3896-907. [A5] Cheng Y, et al,Astragalus
Polysaccharides Lowers Plasma Cholesterol through Mechanisms Distinct from Statins. PLoS One. 2011;6(11):e27437
[A6] Sun WY, et al, A standardized extract from Paeonia lactiflora and Astragalus membranaceus attenuates liver
fibrosis induced by porcine serum in rats. Int J Mol Med. 2011 Nov 21. doi: 10.3892/ijmm.2011.844. [A7] Lin Y, et al,
Clinical study of astragalus's preventing the recurrence of asthma in children, Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2011
Aug;31(8):1090-2. [A8] Chen R, et al, Treatment with Astragalus membranaceus produces antioxidative effects and
attenuates intestinal mucosa injury induced by intestinal ischemia-reperfusion in rats. Am J Chin Med. 2011;39(5):879-
87. [A9] Auyeung KK, et al, Astragalus saponins modulate cell invasiveness and angiogenesis in human gastric
adenocarcinoma cells. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Aug 12. [A10] Mikaeili A, et al, Antifungal activities of Astragalus verus
Olivier. against Trichophyton verrucosum on in vitro and in vivo guinea pig model of dermatophytosis. Mycoses. 2011
Aug 15. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0507.2011.02090.x A11 Li WZ, et al, Protective effect of extract of Astragalus on learning
and memory impairments and neurons' apoptosis induced by glucocorticoids in 12-month-old male mice. Anat Rec
(Hoboken). 2011 Jun;294(6):1003-14.
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ASTRAGALUS HERB REVIEWS
Native to China, astragalus has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. In the United States, the herb gained popularity in the
1980s. There are actually over 2,000 species of astragalus; however, the two related species Astragalus membranaceus and Astragalus
mongholicus are the ones primarily used for health purposes.
Astragalus root has been used for thousand years in the Chinese society. It has become an important remedy in the west since its effects upon the
immune system came to light. Astragalus root contains glycosides, polysaccharides, choline, betaine, rumatakenin and b-sitosterol. Studies have
shown that the polysaccharides in Astragalus could intensify phagocytosis of reticulo-endothelial systems, stimulate pituitary-adrenal cortical activity
and restore depleted red blood cell formation in bone marrow. Many herbalists believe that Astragalus is an ideal remedy for any one who might be
immuno-compromized in any way. This can range from someone who easily catches colds to someone with cancer. 
Decoction: put l teaspoonful of the root into a cup of water, bring to boil and simmer for l0-l5 minutes.
Milk-vetch root, huang qi [Astragalus membranaceus, Leguminosae]