Astragalus
Astragalus

Background

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) is a type of flowering plant. The root has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Astragalus is considered an adaptogen. Adaptogens are a class of natural substances that are believed to stimulate the body's resistance to physical, environmental, and emotional stressors. The chemicals in astragalus also seem to stimulate the immune system and reduce swelling.

People commonly use astragalus for hay fever, diabetes, kidney disease, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses. There is also no good evidence to support using astragalus for COVID-19.

There are many species of astragalus. Some species contain a nerve toxin and have been linked to livestock poisonings. These include Astragalus lentiginosus, Astragalus mollissimus, and others. But these species usually aren't found in dietary supplements. Most astragalus supplements contain Astragalus membranaceus. Also, don't confuse astragalus with tragacanth. These are different plants.
When taken by mouth: Astragalus is possibly safe for most adults. Doses of up to 60 grams daily have been safely used for up to 4 months. Astragalus is usually well-tolerated.

When applied to the skin: There isn't enough reliable information to know if astragalus is safe or what the side effects might be.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if astragalus is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. But some research in animals suggests that it can be toxic during pregnancy and to the fetus. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

"Auto-immune diseases" such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other immune system conditions: Astragalus might make the immune system more active. This could worsen the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. Avoid using astragalus if you have any of these conditions.

Effectiveness

There is interest in using astragalus for a number of purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions

Dosing & administration

Astragalus is available as the dried root, as an extract, and as a liquid decoction. It is also often used in combination with other herbs. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what type of product and dose might be best for a specific condition.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

Cyclophosphamide

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Cyclophosphamide is used to make the immune system less active. Astragalus increases the activity of the immune system. Taking astragalus along with cyclophosphamide might decrease the effects of cyclophosphamide.

Lithium

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Taking astragalus might decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium. This could increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects. Talk with your healthcare provider before using this product if you are taking lithium. Your lithium dose might need to be changed.

Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Astragalus can increase the activity of the immune system. Some medications, such as those used after a transplant, decrease the activity of the immune system. Taking astragalus along with these medications might decrease the effects of these medications.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods.
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This monograph was last reviewed on 07/12/2023 11:00:00 and last updated on 10/05/2018 19:09:54. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year.
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