With a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine, astragalus belongs to the legume family, and may also be referred to as milkvetch or huang qi. Best known for its ability to support the immune system, astragalus is also considered to be an adaptogen, which means it helps the body fight stress and find balance.
Additionally, studies have shown astragalus to support the liver and to help manage diabetes.
This review explores a study, which concludes that astragalus enhances immunity and inhibits H9N2 avian influenza virus in vitro and in vivo.
Kallon, Sanpha et al. “Astragalus polysaccharide enhances immunity and inhibits H9N2 avian influenza virus in vitro and in vivo.” Journal of animal science and biotechnology vol. 4,1 22. 21 Jun. 2013, doi:10.1186/2049-1891-4-22
This study demonstrates that astragalus extract can increase the migration and release of immune response mediators and may be effective for improving host defenses (natural barriers) to avoid infections.
Qin, Qiaojing et al. “Astragalus embranaceus extract activates immune response in macrophages via heparanase.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 17,6 7232-40. 13 Jun. 2012, doi:10.3390/molecules17067232
This study finds that oral administration of an ethanol extract of the root of astragalus alleviated liver injury in mice and protected liver cells from pathological changes.
Zhang ZL, Wen QZ, Liu CX. Hepatoprotective effects of astraglus root. J Ethnopharmacol. 1990 Sep;30(2):145-9. doi: 10.1016/0378-8741(90)90003-c. PMID: 2255205.
This study found that after administration of Chinese peony and astragalus daily for 10 days, the extract significantly reduced the degree of liver damage in liver injury. These results suggest that the ingredients have a protective effect on liver injury mice, which might be associated with the antioxidant properties.
Sun WY, Wei W, Gui SY, Wu L, Wang H. Protective effect of extract from Paeonia lactiflora and Astragalus membranaceus against liver injury induced by bacillus Calmette-Guérin and lipopolysaccharide in mice. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2008 Aug;103(2):143-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-7843.2008.00243.x. PMID: 18816297.
This paper discusses the anti-diabetic effects and pharmacological action of the chemical constituents of astragalus in relation to types 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus.
Agyemang K, Han L, Liu E, Zhang Y, Wang T, Gao X. Recent Advances in Astragalus membranaceus Anti-Diabetic Research: Pharmacological Effects of Its Phytochemical Constituents. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:654643. doi:10.1155/2013/654643
This study investigates the effect of astragalus in diabetic nephropathy patients. It suggests that although of unknown bioactive ingredients and mechanism of kidney protection, the role of astragalus in the treatment of DN can be of profound significance.
Zhang J, Xie X, Li C, Fu P. Systematic review of the renal protective effect of Astragalus membranaceus (root) on diabetic nephropathy in animal models. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Nov 12;126(2):189-96. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2009.08.046. Epub 2009 Sep 6. PMID: 19735713.
In this study, it’s found that astragalus can reduce the incidence of Type I diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice, delay the onset of disease, reduce the degree of islet inflammation, and protect the ultrastructure of β cells.
Zheng, Yijun et al. “A Review of the Pharmacological Action of Astragalus Polysaccharide.” Frontiers in pharmacology vol. 11 349. 24 Mar. 2020, doi:10.3389/fphar.2020.00349