is also known as milk vetch root (referring to astragalus species that grow in the United States) and huang-qi. It is an adaptogen, that is, it has a balancing effect on bodily functions. Astragalus is used by practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine to strengthen or tone the body's overall vitality, improve digestion, and support the spleen. Studies confirm it contains medicinally active compounds, including a polysaccharide that stimulates the immune system.
Astragalus is a perennial plant, approximately 16 inches tall, that is native to the northern and eastern parts of China as well as Mongolia. It has hairy stems with leaves made up of 12 to 18 pairs of leaflets. The root is usually harvested from 4-year-old plants.
To ensure effectiveness, select an astragalus product that contains a standardized extract of the root, with 0.5% glucosides and 70% polysaccharides.
Astragalus is an exciting and potentially promising herb. Further research may prove astragalus to be invaluable in the medical treatment of a variety of conditions and illnesses.
Taken as a tonic, astragalus is believed to build stamina and vitality. It has a reputation for improving overall health by helping the body to fight off viral and bacterial infections responsible for causing colds, the flu, bronchitis, and sinus infections. As an antioxidant, it helps to counteract cell damage caused by unstable oxygen molecules called free radicals.