What Is Astragalus?
Astragalus is a plant within the Leguminosae (beans or legumes) family, with a very long history as an immune system booster and disease fighter. Its roots are in Traditional Chinese Medicine, in which it’s been used as an adaptogen for thousands of years — meaning it helps the body fight off stress and disease. Today, astragalus medicinal healing and treatment uses span many different illnesses and diseases.
The perennial flowering plant, also called milkvetch root and Huang-qi, grows from 16 to 36 inches tall and is native to the north and eastern regions of China. It’s also been traced back to Mongolia and Korea.
Astragalus roots are harvested from 4-year-old plants and are the only part of the plant that’s used medicinally. Only two of the over 2,000 species of astragalus, astragalus membranaceus and astragalus mongholicus, are used medicinally.
Astragalus contains three components that allow the plant to have such a positive impact on human health: saponins, flavonoids and polysaccharides, which are all active compounds contained in certain plants, including some fruits and vegetables. Saponins are known for their ability to lower cholesterol, improve the immune system and prevent cancer.
Flavanoids, also found in astragalus, provide health benefits through cell signaling. They show antioxidative qualities, control and scavenge of free radicals, and can help prevent heart disease, cancer and immunodeficiency viruses. Polysaccharides are known to have antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory capabilities, among other health benefits.
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