In this article I will share with you how you can protect your health and vitality with Astragalus!
This often underestimated adaptogen will protect your health from the ill effects of stress (without the excess heat of Panax ginseng). It is also a powerful anti-aging agent that I highly recommend for optimal health and vitality.
CAUTION: Medical Disclaimer
Table of Contents
- 1 Herbal Name and Characteristics
- 2 About this Herb
- 3 What is Astragalus
- 4 Benefits and properties of Astragalus
- 5 When and how to take it
- 6 Safety and side effects
- 7 Cycling
- 8 Dosage
- 9 Closing thoughts
Herbal Name and Characteristics
- Name: Astragalus Root
- Pin Yin: Huang Qi,
- Latin: Radix astragali or Astragalus membranaceus
- Taste: Earthy taste, bitter with a hint of sweetness.
- Color: Yellow
- Constitution: Slightly warm (Yang)
- Builds: Qi and blood
About this Herb
I had often heard about the wonders of the Astragalus root but I did not get to use it until 2014. It is the kind of herb that works in the background. It is known to build up the Protective Qi in your body and muscles as well as supporting your immune system so I did not see any huge difference after using it.
It is also one of the herbs you should be using synergistically with several others. You must also be aware that as a Yang builder, it should be avoided if you have a Yin deficiency (which would also explain why I did not see a big difference as I tend to always be Yang).
However for people with fatigue, weakness and lack of strength, it can be miraculous.
I tried the powder form first and then experimented with the tinctures as I believe it gave more results than the powder form.
Below you will find more details about this herb, benefits, side effects and precautions you need to know before using it.
What is Astragalus
Astragalus is yet another herb that has been used for over 2000 years in China. Its benefits include activating the Protective Qi which lies just under the skin and inside the muscles, enhancing the immune system and builds Qi and the blood.
The root of the plant are dug out either in summer or autumn, dried in the sun and cut into pieces. The autumn ones are believed to be more powerful.
This herb works specifically on the spleen, lung and stomach and it is usually used in the winter time to protect against the flu and colds especially for people working outdoors.
Astragalus contains several active ingredients such as:
- Polysaccharides (AG-1 or astragalus glucan-1, AG-2 or astragalus glucan-2, AH-1 or astragalus heteroglycan-1, AH-2 or astragalus heteroglycan-2),
- Flavonoids and especially the compound astragaloside IV it contains (also known as TA65).
With these ingredients, Astragalus can regulate the immune functions, stimulate extraction of water from the organs (such in the cases of edema) and can help the production of certain immuno-proteins.
The saponin it contains has liver protective functions and it is a mild diuretic so it can relieve bloating and excessive sweating by removing toxins. Ron Teeguarden also mentions that from all the herbs used for male fertility, this is the only one that has actually been proven to be effective.
When used for long periods of time, it can sustain a strong and healthy immune response in the person as it works on the digestive, respiratory and eliminative functions (three burning spaces).
There are different varieties that range from very cheap to very expensive. Usually the good quality ones are distinguished by their earthy, yellow color while the ones of lesser quality are more beige to white.
Benefits and properties of Astragalus
Summarizing the many benefits of Astragalus:
- Has anti-aging qualities and can help with longevity as it was shown to reduce oxidative damage to the mitochondrial membranes which happens naturally with age.
- It can help with stress responses and protect the nervous system due to Astragaloside IV’s adaptogenic properties.
- It can help beautify the skin and help wounds heal faster as shown in a study in rats.
- It has displayed strong antioxidant qualities because of its compounds in studies.
- It has strong anti-inflammatory effects as the polysaccharides and Astragaloside IV it contains can inhibit NF-kB
- It can help with sperm motility and male fertility as it can increase circulating IGF-1 levels in the body with its GABA content.
- High IGF-1 levels can influence both G.H and testosterone production. According to one study in rats, it can influence testosterone levels however no direct studies on humans and testosterone have been officially conducted in the Western world.
- It can support the immune system because of its immunoregulatory properties as shown in vivo studies.
- It can protect the kidneys in various conditions such as Lupus-induced nephropathy, post-lithotripsy and following operations because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities.
- It can help prevent insulin resistance by inhibiting NF-kB in muscle cells and improving glucose uptake.
- It can reduce cholesterol levels (by lowering LDL) and triglyceride.
- It can help lower blood pressure as shown in studies performed on both rats and humans.
- It can protect the heart by preventing oxidative damage to its cardiac tissue.
When and how to take it
Alcohol based Tincture: This is the best way to extract the Astragaloside IV compound from the root and is the preferred way in TCM. (by using wine along with Astragalus and Angelicae 5:1)
Hold the dose in your mouth (under the tongue) for 1 to 3 minutes until it gets absorbed. Then you can swallow it.
The tincture can also be taken in a glass of water. Wait a couple of minutes for the alcohol to evaporate and then drink the tincture.
Capsules or Tablets: Astragalus can also be taken in tablet form. I would advise you to be really careful when selecting tablets. Their quality and potency can be of questionable quality while if you opt to buy the powder, you can also see if you have the right color.
Powder: Buying Astragalus in powder form will prove to be more beneficial than anything. You can add it to your recipes (look up recipes with duck or stews), and even add it to your shakes (has a sweet but strong taste) or you can make capsules and tinctures with it.
Another way to take it is to hold the powder in your mouth for 1 to 5 minutes.
What you can also do is alternate through 2 sources, 1st would be a tincture and the second, powder or tablet form.
Tea: Another great way to take Astragalus is making a concoction a.k.a tea. Just boil some water, add some powder and let it steep for some time and then drink it.
The best times to take it would be:
- Before a stressful day in the morning,
- After a stressful day along with food,
- Before bed.
Safety and side effects
Astragalus does not seem to have any toxicity levels and there are currently no known side effects when 100gr/kg was used.
You should not take Astragalus if you:
- Are currently on any kind of medication as it can inhibit CYP3A4 and interfere with any kind of drug or medication,
- If you have the flu or any active virus
- If you have low blood pressure or taking blood pressure medication as it can lower blood pressure and interfere with proper dosage,
- Have any hormonal problem or medical condition including but not limited to cancer, diabetes or undergoing chemo treatment: Check with your doctor before using Astragalus if you have any of the above conditions as he is the only person who can determine if using it is a good idea or not.
- Are taking any anti-depressants, diuretics or lithium as this herb is a mild diuretic and can interfere with doses,
- Have an autoimmune disorder like (MS, Lupus, Rheumatic Arthritis) as it can cause the immune system to become more active and enhance their negative effects,
- Have low blood sugar levels, being treated for diabetes or take anti-diabetes medicine as it can interfere with blood sugar levels and may possibly affect your medicine dose.
- Are scheduled for an operation, organ transplant or you just underwent one. Certain ingredients may interfere with the sedation used during surgery, rejection of the organ, interfere with healing and/or cause internal bleeding.
- Have allergies to this specific herb or any of its ingredients.
The best thing you can do before taking any herb supplement is to test it. If you want to be safe while using herbs I strongly urge you to read my other article on how to test an herb for allergies and intolerances.
Contraindications or interactions with other medication/substances:
Avoid using this herb/adaptogen if you have any medical condition or are taking any kind of medication without consulting your doctor first.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Since there are not enough studies performed to determine the full safety of this product, pregnant women or breastfeeding women should avoid using this product.
Use for up to 3 months and then take 4 weeks off. Repeat cycle after that.
While there are no side effects or toxicity associated with long term consumption, I would not use any herb for long periods of time without a break in order to keep them being effective and protect the body from accumulation of other toxins unrelated to the herb itself.
Over the past 20 years I have experimented with literally hundreds of herbs, supplements (and other natural products) and was finally able to discover the right doses for amazing results.
If you wish to learn more about the dosages that I use with my clients for different purposes (better health, hormonal balance, stress management, testosterone boost and more) or how I combine this herb/supp with others, leave a comment below or reach out to me for a consultation through the “Hire me” link.
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Astragalus is an amazing herb with great adaptogenic properties that will protect your heart, vitality and your health from stress with almost zero side effects. It is quite inexpensive and easy to find. Just remember that unlike drugs, herbs give subtle results after long term use.
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by Nick Sigma
CWC, EH, E-YRT200
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