The Cure all

Nic Fauquet

Astragulus (Astragalus membranaceus)

Astragalus is of the legume family, fabaceae, and has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. Also called milkvetch , this plant is Native to eastern and Northern China as well as parts of Mongolia and Korea. This plant is used largely throughout the world today to treat against a multitude of different ailments but it was originally used by the Chinese in combination with other herbs to strengethen the body against disease. Astragalus came into popular use in the United Stated in the 1980's as a cure and prevetative for cold symptoms. It is still used in China today for chronic hepatitis and as an adjunctive therapy for cancer.

Plant part and Uses

The Astragulus is a perennial plant that stands between 16 to 36 inches tall. It has hairy stems, and leaves that are made up of 12 to 18 leaflets. The part of plant that is used medicinally is the root and it is usually harvested from 4-year-old plants.

Astragalus has been used for the following:

Adaptogen -- protects the body from stress and disease

Anemia -- One early study suggested astragalus may improve blood counts in people with aplastic anemia. The study was poorly designed, so more research is needed.

Colds and influenza -- In TCM, astragalus is used as part of an herbal combination to prevent or treat colds, although TCM theory holds that, in some cases, it may make colds worse. Evidence in animal and laboratory tests suggests it may act against viruses like the ones that cause colds.

Diabetes -- Astragalus appears to lower blood sugar. More studies are needed to determine whether it can help treat diabetes.

Fatigue or lack of appetite from chemotherapy -- Some studies suggest astragalus may help reduce side effects from chemotherapy. The studies have not been well designed, however. More research is needed.

Heart disease -- Several studies suggest that astragalus may act as an antioxidant and help treat heart disease. Other studies suggest astragalus may help lower cholesterol levels.

Hepatitis -- A few studies have used a combination of herbs containing astragalus to treat hepatitis. Results have been mixed.

Kidney disease -- Preliminary research suggests astragalus may help protect the kidneys and may help treat kidney disease. More studies are needed.

Seasonal allergies -- One study found that astragalus may help reduce symptoms in people who have allergic rhinitis or hayfever.

Forms and Dosages

Astragulus root is usually either ground up to make a fine powder or boiled to make tea. It is also often added to soups or boiled to make a soup broth, Boiling the root is how it was prepared in TCM. Here are some other popular ways it is used today:

Tincture - (liquid alcohol extract)

Capsules and Tablets

Injectables - for use in hospitals in Asia

Topicals - for the skin

  • Dosages:

  • Standardized extract: 250 - 500 mg, 3 - 4 times a day standardized to 0.4% 4-hydroxy-3-methoxy isoflavone 7-sug.

  • Decoction (strong boiled tea): 3 - 6 g of dried root per 12 oz water, 3 times per day
  • Fluid extract (1:1) in 25% ethanol: 2 - 4 mL, 3 times a day

  • Powdered root: 250 - 500 mg, 3 - 4 times per day

  • Ointment: 10% astragalus applied to surface of wound. Do not apply to open wound without your doctor's supervision.

  • Tincture (1:5) in 30% ethanol: 20 - 60 drops, 3 times a day
  • Possible Cancer Cure and other uses

    Astragalus has been used to treat chemotherapy patients to help with symptoms of fatigue and it has been tested in use against cancer but the results are limited. The effects of the drug have also been tested in senile rats and the results show that it may be useful in combating senility. In other studies, Astragalus extract was shown to help with allergy-related asthma. In another study, Astragulus extract was shown to help with cancer-related fatigue as well as imporving the quality of life for patients with advanced non small cell lung cancer (NSCLS). All of these findings must be tested in much larger, well designed trials but it seems that the healling potential of this plant is best observed when partnered with angelica sinensis, the herb used traditionally by the Chinese in their ancient healing practices. Also note that all findings may be dependent on the form in which the drug was taken or used.


    -Ehrlich, S. (2012, December 28). Astragalus. Retrieved December 3, 2014, from

    -Astragalus. (2007, May 1). Retrieved December 3, 2014, from

    -Integrative Medicine: Disclaimer. (2014, September 12). Retrieved December 3, 2014, from

    Photos: in sequential order

    -Steven Foster

    -Steven Foster