Astragalus is an herb. The root is used to make medicine.
Astragalus is used for many conditions, but so far, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to determine whether or not it is effective for any of them.
Astragalus is used for the common cold, upper respiratory infections, allergies, fibromyalgia, anemia, HIV/AIDS, and to strengthen and regulate the immune system. It is also used for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), kidney disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Some people use astragalus as a general tonic, to protect the liver, and to fight bacteria and viruses.
Astragalus is commonly used in combination with other herbs. For example, in combination with Ligustrum lucidum (glossy privet), astragalus is used orally for treating breast cancer, cervical cancer, and lung cancer.
Astragalus is sometimes applied to the skin to increase blood flow to the area and to speed wound healing.
There are several different species of astragalus. Some species contain a toxin called swainsonine and have been linked to livestock poisonings. Some of these species include Astragalus lentiginosus, Astragalus mollissimus, and others. However, these species of astragalus are usually not found in dietary supplements used by humans. Most astragalus supplements contain Astragalus membranaceus.
How does it work?
Astragalus seems to stimulate and increase the immune system.
- Common cold. There is some evidence that taking astragalus long-term might help prevent colds.
- Allergies. There is some evidence that taking astragalus for up to 6 weeks may improve symptoms such as running nose, itching, and sneezing in people with seasonal allergies.
- Hepatitis. Astragalus given intravenously (by IV) might benefit people with chronic hepatitis.
- Breast cancer. There is early evidence suggesting that astragalus used in combination with glossy privet (Ligustrum lucidum) might increase survival in people also receiving conventional treatment for breast cancer.
- Lung cancer. Some research suggests that taking astragalus-containing herbal products might increase the effectiveness of platinum-based chemotherapy for advanced non-small cell lung cancer.
- Chest pain.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
- Cervical cancer.
Side Effects & Safety
Astragalus is POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults. The side effects of astragalus are not known. Although side effects have not been reported, doses greater than 28 grams might make the immune system less active.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of astragalus during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
“Auto-immune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other immune system conditions: Astragalus might make the immune system more active. This could worsen the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. Avoid using astragalus if you have any of these conditions.
Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination
- Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar) interacts with ASTRAGALUS
Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar) is used to decrease the immune system. Astragalus increases the immune system. Taking astragalus along with cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar) might decrease the effectiveness of cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar).
- Lithium interacts with ASTRAGALUS
Astragalus might have an effect like a water pill or "diuretic." Taking astragalus might decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium. This could increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects. Talk with your healthcare provider before using this product if you are taking lithium. Your lithium dose might need to be changed.
- Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants) interacts with ASTRAGALUS
Astragalus increases the immune system. Taking astragalus along with medications that decrease the immune system might decrease the effectiveness of medications that decrease the immune system.
Some medications that decrease the immune system include azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), corticosteroids (glucocorticoids), and others.
The appropriate dose of astragalus depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for astragalus. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.