Astragalus Extract, an essential element of traditional Chinese medicine.
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus
) ‚Äď Huang Qi ‚Äď is a plant which grows at the edge of forests in north-east China. The roots are harvested when the plants reach four or five years old, and are then dried and cut into thin strips from which tisanes can be produced.
Considered an excellent tonic, astragalus has been prescribed for hundreds of years to treat a wide range of diseases, prevent weakness in those who are ill and protect them from infection.
Russian physician Dr Alexander van Bunge was the first to study and describe this species of legume in 1868 but it was only in the Seventies that large-scale scientific studies began to confirm its multiple properties.
Astragalus Extract boosts and stimulates the immune system
¬§ Astragalus increases the number of stem cells in bone marrow and lymphatic tissue and promotes their development into active immune cells. It reactivates inactive immune cells, produces immunoglobulins, stimulates macrophages and encourages regeneration of T lymphocytes and the activation of Natural Killer Cells.
¬§ In addition, it induces endogenous production of interferon and maximises its effects on viral infections.
¬§ Finally, astragalus is traditionally used in China as an adjunct support for patients undergoing chemotherapy, since it boosts resistance to the latter’s immunosuppressant effects by inciting macrophages to produce interleukin-6 and tumour necrosis factor. It is therefore well indicated for reducing the toxic effects of chemotherapy and helps cancer patients boost their defences and recover more quickly as well as offering the possibility of extended survival.
Increased life expectancy
The benefits of astragalus go even further, with the potential to extend lifespan, as examination of its components indicates ‚Ä¶ It contains flavonoids, polysaccharides and triterpenic glycosides, including astragaloside and cycloastragenol which have been shown to stimulate telomerase in keratinocytes, fibroblasts and immune cells in culture and to lengthen the shortest telomeres. Astragaloside IV and cycloastragenol are state-of-the-art anti-ageing substances but their very high extraction costs may unfortunately prevent more widespread use.
The glycerine extract of the whole plant is thus particularly beneficial since it not only contains these valuable substances at a reduced dose, but it also offers synergistic effects from the plant’s other components.
More easily-absorbed than astragaloside IV or cycloastragenol, Astragalus Extract offers the promise of wide-ranging health benefits associated with its centuries-old traditional use.
Astragalus Extract, cardioprotective and neuroprotective effects
In vitro, astragalus has been shown to inhibit lipid peroxidation by 40% in the myocardium, thus constituting a powerful antioxidant which can protect the heart from oxidative stress. Studies have highlighted benefits for patients suffering from congestive heart failure and angina pectoris.
Astragalus root extract is also used in traditional Chinese medicine for relieving neurodegenerative diseases.
¬§ Chinese medicine frequently utilises astragalus for boosting the body’s protection from various types of stress, whether physical, mental or emotional.
¬§ In addition, certain studies have shown that astragalus can also reduce inflammation and protect the liver.
¬§ One anecdotal but well-documented report showed that several months’ topical use of a glycerine astragalus extract, combined or not with oral astragaloside IV, restored colour to greying hair.
¬§ It is worth noting that no side-effects have been reported with the use of this plant, either from the various studies conducted or from hundreds of years’ use in humans.