Principal Proposed Uses
What Is Astragalus Used for Today?
In the United States, astragalus has been presented as an immune stimulant useful for treating colds and flus . Many people have come to believe that they should take astragalus, like echinacea , at the first sign of a cold.
The belief that astragalus can strengthen immunity has a partial basis in traditional Chinese medicine . The expression noted above, "stabilize the exterior," means helping to create a "defensive shield" against infection. However, according to tradition, astragalus formulas should not be taken during the early stage of infections. To do so is said to resemble "locking the chicken-coop with the fox inside," causing the infection to be "driven deeper." Rather, astragalus is supposedly appropriate only for use while you're healthy, for the purpose of preventing future illnesses.
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Astragalus?
A typical daily dosage of astragalus involves boiling 9 to 30 g of dried root to make tea. Newer products use an alcohol-and-water extraction method to produce an extract standardized to astragaloside content, although there is no consensus on the proper percentage.
As mentioned above, traditional Chinese medicine warns against using astragalus in cases of acute infections. Other traditional contraindications include "deficient yin patterns with heat signs" and "exterior excess heat patterns." Because understanding what these mean would require an extensive education in traditional Chinese herbal medicine , we recommend using astragalus only under the supervision of a qualified Chinese herbalist.
Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 07/2012 -
- Update Date: 07/25/2012 -