Astragalus is a Chinese herb whose root is used primarily for the treatment of chronic immune problems. It contains a variety of phytonutrients, such as flavonoids, saponins and polysaccharides, that stimulate factors of the immune system, thereby, quickening a patient's recovery from a damaged immune system. Astragalus can be used alone or in combination with other herbs in the forms of decoctions, herbal teas, capsules and tablets. If you want to use astragalus, consult with your doctor first.
Astragalus is considered adaptogenic because it helps your body build up energy that resists stress and fatigue. It can also be used for rebuilding the body following illness. Basically astragalus encourages the production of adrenal hormones, especially cortisol, which helps the body cope with physical and emotional stress.
Astragalus may boost immune response in patients with cancer and increase their body's ability to kill cancer cells, according to a 2003 study conducted by Samantha Dodd, which was published on the University of Colorado, Denver, website. However, the available scientific evidence, which indicates astragalus may be useful in the treatment of cancer, mostly comes from laboratory and animal studies. More human trials are needed to confirm that these results also apply to humans.
The use of astragalus may help alleviate common diabetes complications, because it has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in experimental animals, according to a 2009 study conducted by naturopath Bianca Garilli of the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California. However, people who are using other diabetes medications must not consume astragalus products without talking to a doctor, since astragalus contains some constituents that may interact with drugs.
Astragalus acts as an immune booster in the treatment of HIV. It also offers benefits in preventing viral infections due to its immunostimulant effects, according to the Huntington College of Health Sciences. Astragalus is normally prescribed for the initial stage of HIV infection to prevent or retard the spread of retrovirus, a type of virus that causes AIDS.