Astragalus, a perennial plant that is native to China, Mongolia, and Korea, has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine Traditional Chinese Medicine Originating > 2000 years ago, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a medical system based on the philosophy that illness results from improper flow of the life force (qi). The movement of... read more . It is commonly combined with other herbs and used for many conditions.
(See also Overview of Dietary Supplements Overview of Dietary Supplements Dietary supplements are the most commonly used of all integrative, complementary, and alternative therapies, primarily because they are widely available, relatively inexpensive, and can be bought... read more and National Institutes of Health (NIH): Astragalus.)
Astragalus is said to be useful for many conditions, including upper respiratory infections, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, and chronic kidney disease.
It is also said to strengthen the immune system and prevent physiologic and psychologic stress.
Astragalus is used topically to improve blood flow and speeding wound healing.
There are no high-quality studies in people demonstrating that astragalus is effective for treating any health condition (see NIH: Astragalus).
A systematic review of astragalus for treating chronic kidney disease included 22 studies that involved 1323 participants, of whom 241 were on dialysis. Overall, study quality was low. This analysis found that astragalus, as an adjunctive treatment to conventional therapies, offers some promising effects in reducing proteinuria and increasing hemoglobin and serum albumin. However, because of the suboptimal study quality, definitive conclusions could not be made based on available evidence (1 Reference Astragalus, a perennial plant that is native to China, Mongolia, and Korea, has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. It is commonly combined with other herbs and used for... read more ).
Adverse effects from astragalus are uncommon, but rash, itching, nasal symptoms, or stomach discomfort may occur.
Astragalus might make the immune system more active, which can worsen the symptoms of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.
Astragalus should not be used during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Animal studies suggest that astragalus can be toxic to the mother and fetus.
Astragalus may interact with medications that suppress the immune system. Astragalus may increase immune system activity and thereby may decrease the effectiveness of medications that suppress the immune system, such as those used after organ transplant or to treat cancer.
Astragalus may decrease excretion of lithium, which may result in increased lithium blood levels and thus possible serious adverse effects.
(See also table .)
1. Zhang HW, Lin ZX, Xu C, Leung C, Chan LS: Astragalus (a traditional Chinese medicine) for treating chronic kidney disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (10):CD008369, 2014. Published 2014 Oct 22. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD008369.pub2
The following English-language resource may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.
National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: General information on the use of astragalus as a dietary supplement
Drugs Mentioned In This Article
|Drug Name||Select Trade|
|Albuked , Albumarc, Albuminar, Albuminex, AlbuRx , Albutein, Buminate, Flexbumin, Kedbumin, Macrotec, Plasbumin, Plasbumin-20|
|Eskalith, Eskalith CR, Lithobid|