Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)

Common names: Huang qi

Parts used and where grown: Astragalus is native to Northern China and the elevated regions of the Chinese provinces Yunnan and Sichuan. The portion of the plant used medicinally is the four to seven year old dried root collected in the spring. While there are over 2,000 types of astragalus worldwide, the Chinese version has been extensively tested, both chemically and pharmacologically.1

In what conditions might astragalus be supportive?

Alzheimer's disease chemotherapy support common cold/sore throat immune function infection

Historical or traditional use: Shen Nung, the founder of Chinese herbal medicine, classified astragalus as a superior herb in his classical treatise Shen Nung Pen Tsao Ching (circa A.D. 100). The Chinese name huang qi translates as Òyellow leader,Ó referring to the yellow color of the root and its status as one of the most important tonic herbs. Traditional Chinese medicine utilized this herb for night sweats, deficiency of chi (e.g., fatigue, weakness, and loss of appetite), and diarrhea.2

Active constituents: Astragalus contains numerous components, including flavonoids, polysaccharides, triterpene glycosides (e.g. astragalosides I&endash;VII), amino acids, and trace minerals.3 Research conducted by the M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston, Texas, confirms this herbÕs immune-potentiating actions. Astragalus appears to restore T-cell (a specific type of white blood cell that is part of the lymphocyte family) counts to relatively normal ranges in some cancer patients.

How much should I take? Textbooks on Chinese herbs recommend taking 9-15 grams of the crude herb per day in decoction form. A decoction is made by boiling the root in water for a few minutes and then brewing the tea. Supplements typically contain 500 mg of astragalus. Two to three tablets or capsules or 3-5 ml of tincture three times per day are often recommended.

Are there any side effects or interactions? Astragalus has no known side effects when used as recommended.


1.Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics,2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 50&endash;3. 2.Foster S, Chongxi Y. Herbal Emissaries: Bringing Chinese Herbs to the West. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1992, 27&endash;33.
3.Shu HY. Oriental Materia Medica: A Concise Guide. Palos Verdes, CA: Oriental Healing Arts Press, 1986, 521&endash;3.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Disclaimer: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

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