Daily Archives: June 20, 2019

All About Astragalus

AstragalusJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Found principally in the mountains of the Far East, astragalus membranaceus is a medicinal plant related to Fabaceae family of flowering plants, commonly known as the pea, legume and bean family. Considered a foundational herb in the field of Traditional Chinese Medicine, its rich history of use dates back to the first century AD. Deemed to be an important tonic herb, astragalus is used to strengthen the body’s defensive energy against disease and is often recommended for those thought to be in a state of poor or weakened health. Cultivated astragalus is traditionally harvested when the plants are four or five years old, and only the roots are dried and utilized.

Classified as an adaptogen, astragalus is thought to increase the body’s endurance and resistance to a wide array of physical, chemical and biological stressors. By affecting hormonal actions, adaptogens help to normalize or balance various bodily functions. Beneficial for use in chronic conditions, adaptogens have been found to enhance immune response, reduce inflammation, stabilize blood sugar and support hormone systems, particularly the adrenal and pituitary glands. It is valued for its ability to strengthen the primary energy of the body, which we know as the immune system, as well as metabolic, respiratory and eliminative functions.

More than 200 compounds have been isolated and identified from astragalus, including 14 polysaccharides, 161 saponins, 63 flavonoids and other constituents. Astragaloside IV (As-IV) is the main active compound of astragalus membranaceus. Research has shown that via numerous signaling pathways in vital organs and systems, As-IV has strong anti-inflammatory, anti-neurodegeneration, anti-cancer, anti-aging and anti-hyperglycemic effects, as well as immunoregulatory, hepato and vascular protective properties. Additionally, its strong antioxidant actions markedly inhibit oxidative stress, improving free radical scavenging abilities.

In the last decade, numerous studies have focused on the pharmacological activities of As-IV. Based on existing studies and clinical practices, astragalus membranaceus has good potential for broad application in aging and aging-related diseases. While further studies are warranted, several have reported that As-IV has a wide range of pharmacological actions, noting that the prospect of clinical application is quite good. Per the Institute of Liver Diseases, Shuguang Hospital, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai, China, “Astragaloside IV has broad application prospects, especially in cardiovascular and digestive diseases, cancer and other modern high incidence, high-risk diseases, and could be developed as a medicine.”

Due to an increase in average life expectancy, aging and age-associated diseases, including neurodegeneration, cardiovascular disease and cancer, are becoming health issues of global concern. As such, research in longevity and healthy aging has progressed rapidly in recent years. Last year, the World Health Organization declared aging to be a treatable condition. One component of the aging process is known as telomere shortening, a process that leads to apoptosis, or cell death. Because cells lose telomeres with each cell division and have a limited lifespan, telomere length is negatively correlated with age and increased risk of disease and compromised health. Pharmacological research indicates that certain components of astragalus membranaceus can increase telomerase activity and may have a significant age-reversal effect in the immune system. While it’s not definitive that the medicinal properties of astragalus can add years to your life, its positive health promoting effects may, in fact, add life to your years.

Although astragalus has been found to be safe, even in higher dosages, those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a medical condition or are taking diabetic, hypertensive, immunosuppressant or other medications should consult with a healthcare provider before taking dietary supplements.

Professional Supplement Center offers these and other high quality supplements in support of healthy aging and overall health:

Astragalus Max-V 500...Astragalus Max-V 500 mg by Douglas Laboratories®: This herbal extract formula provides astragalus membranaceus root, standardized to contain 105 mg of astragalosides, in support of the cardiovascular, renal and hepatic systems. Free of yeast, wheat, gluten, soy, milk/dairy, corn, sodium, sugar, starch and artificial coloring and preservatives. Non-GMO formulation.

Astragalus Complex...Astragalus Complex/BP by Professional Complementary Health Formulas: This professional liquid herbal tonic is formulated for those with impaired immunity, chronic disease or poor health. Their Botanipure™ processing assures maximum potency without disturbing the natural oils and other constituents. Ingredients include astragalus membranaceus, eleuthero root and echinacea angustifolia.

Astragalus SupremeAstragalus Supreme by Gaia Herbs: This Traditional Chinese herbal tonic is formulated to provide deep level immune support, while assisting the body’s response to daily physical and emotional stress. Ingredients include ecologically harvested astragalus membranaceus, ligustrum berry and schisandra berry.

AstragalusAstragalus by Oregon’s Wild Harvest: Each serving provides 1125 mg of organic astragalus membranaceus formulated for long-term immune support. Free of dairy, wheat, gluten, soy and corn. Non-GMO formulation.

 

References:
“Astragalus.” Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. Retrieved June 19, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/astragalus
Pharmacological effects of Astragaloside IV: a literature review. https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S0254627213601892?token=5AB6222F43E59CC262D37EA2A2753D404C8FFADD3F96F5B541812577F78578FE43080F4B3D919DCB4AD8DD04318020A8
Astragaloside IV protects RGC-5 cells against oxidative stress. http://www.nrronline.org/article.asp?issn=1673-5374;year=2018;volume=13;issue=6;spage=1081;epage=1086;aulast=Hao
Anti-Aging Implications of Astragalus Membranaceus (Huangqi): A Well-Known Chinese Tonic. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5758356/
Functional Assessment of Pharmacological Telomerase Activators in Human T Cells. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3972662/