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Astragalus to fight viral infection

Astragalus is traditionally used in Chinese medicine for ages and is often combined with other herbs for maximum effectiveness to use in numerous ailments to fight diseases. Products containing astragalus are generally derived from the roots of astragalus membranaceus and related herbs, all native to china.
Astragalus can be used orally in soups, teas, extracts and in pill forms. However it should be taken under the guidance of a health care professional or an herbalist.
Tragacanth (gummy sap) derived from astragalus is used as an emulsifier, thickeners in ice cream, denture adhesive and as an anti-diarrheal agent.

Health benefits of astragalus

There are various unclear scientific evidences that prove to be beneficial in the following conditions. More human studies need to be conducted for the safe use of astragalus.
  1. Astragalus had anti-viral properties which help to fight against viral infections in the lungs, heart, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, papilloma virus and HIV virus.
  2. Limited evidence suggests the use of astragalus in the treatment of burns patients.
  3. Astragalus used with other herb mixtures reduce the chemotherapy side effects of cancer, increase immune cell function and reduce cancer cell growth in patients with cancer.
  4. Astragalus is a potent antioxidant and helps to fight the free radicals (byproducts of cellular energy) in the body and has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties.
  5. Astragalus also boosts the immune system and is very effective in preventing colds.
  6. Astragalus present in herbal mixtures (astragalus supplements) is also used to treat heart diseases and reduce heart disease symptoms and improve overall functioning of heart. These herbal mixtures containing astragalus also helps to reduce the blood sugar levels in type-2 diabetes.

Side effects of astragalus

Astragalus is generally used in combination with other herbs, so it is difficult to determine its toxicity or side effects. When used alone in a recommended dose is safe but the extent of safety is not well studied.
  1. Individuals with hypoglycemia should use astragalus with a word of caution as it might decrease the blood sugar levels if taken with other herb, supplement or drug taken for hypoglycemia.
  2. Patients with bleeding disorders or on drugs that increase the risk of bleeding should also use astragalus with caution as it can increase the risk of bleeding.
  3. Astragalus also causes alteration in blood pressure and palpitation in some, so patients on blood pressure medication should consult a health care professional before consuming its supplements.
  4. Growth hormone levels might be increase with astragalus consumption.
  5. Astragalus may increase urination due to its diuretic properties.
Submitted on January 16, 2014