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Astragalus membranaceus

Astragalus membranaceus is one of the fifty fundamental herbs in traditional Chinese medicine. It is used for a variety of purposes and supposedly increases lifespan. It has anti-inflammatory effects and is especially beneficial for the kidneys.

Our evidence-based analysis on astragalus membranaceus features 180 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of Astragalus membranaceus

Primary information, health benefits, side effects, usage, and other important details

Astragalus membranaceus is an important herb in traditional Chinese medicine. It has been used in a wide variety of herbal blends and ‘natural’ remedies, including Dang-gui buxue tang, which is Astragalus membranaceus paired with Angelicae Sinensis.

Astragalus membranaceus has been researched for its cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory, and longevity effects.

Though Astragalus membranaceus supplementation has been shown to reduce the metabolic and physical complications of aging, there are currently no studies that show an actual increase in lifespan. The flavonoid content of Astragalus membranaceus may also contribute to its cardioprotective effects. Its polysaccharide content also protects the heart because it is a potent anti-inflammatory agent, and it is able to reduce cholesterol levels, similar to psyllium husk, which is a fiber supplement.

The main mechanism of Astragalus membranaceus is a result of its active ingredients. The main component is astragaloside IV, which has been extracted, isolated and patented under the name TA-65 and marketed as a longevity agent. Unfortunately, astragaloside IV has a low bioavailability, meaning it doesn’t circulate well through the body after being ingested. This means it can only be present in the body at low concentrations. Still, low concentrations of astragaloside IV can provide cardioprotective effects. Several studies done on astragaloside IV have conflicting sources of funding, and while that doesn’t invalidate the results, replication by a third party would go a long way toward confirming the effects of astragaloside IV.

Astragalus membranaceus supplementation can provide a variety of health benefits, but may not actually prolong lifespan. Like resveratrol, Astragalus membranaceus is a compound that adds life to your years, rather than adding years to your life.

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How to Take

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

Astragalus membranaceus and Angelicae Sinensis are highly synergistic, meaning they are more powerful when taken together. This combination is traditionally called Dang-gui buxue tang.

The starting point for the preparation of Dang-gui buxue tang in traditional Chinese medicine is 30g of Astragalus membranaceus root paired with 6g of Angelicae sinensis. This is a 5:1 ratio, which is ideal for extracting the bioactive ingredients of the plants.

Astragalus membranaceus can also be supplemented via a root extract. Due to potential differences in the quality/efficiency of the extraction process among different commercial manufacturers, product label recommendations for dosage should be followed and you should consult with your pharmacist or personal physician before taking.

The main bioactive compound in Astragalus membranaceus is astragaloside IV, which can be supplemented by itself. The standard dose for astragaloside IV is 5-10mg.

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Human Effect Matrix

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The Human Effect Matrix summarizes human studies to tell you what effects Astragalus membranaceus has on your body, how much evidence there is, and how strong these effects are.

Full details are available to Examine members.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
grade-c Notable - See study
Appears to activate T-cells to a degree higher than the reference drug echinacea
grade-c Minor - See study
Astragalus root appears to have diuretic properties with oral ingestion (0.3g/kg) in otherwise healthy persons.
grade-c Minor - See study
Not an overly potent reduction of nasal congestion and other rhinitus symptoms, but more than placebo.
grade-c Minor - See study
Not remarkably effective, but does confer some protective and cognitive promoting effects following acute stroke.
grade-d Notable - See study
Despite statistically weak evidence, case studies suggest curative effects. Potential of astragalus for aiding kidney function.

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Things to Note

Primary Function:

Also Known As

Astragalus, huangqi, (A component of) Danggui buxue tang (DBT), membranous milk-vetch root, ogi, Huang Qi, TA-65, TAT2

Do Not Confuse With

Astaxanthin (a red pigment), Ashwagandha (Indian aphrodisiac)

Goes Well With

  • Angelicae Sinensis (increases bioavailability of Astragalus flavonoids, enhances a wide variety of in vitro parameters by unknown mechanisms)

  • Stephania Tetrandra (in regards to controlling blood glucose in diabetes)

  • A variety of herbs in regards to in vitro anti-oxidant potential (not the best synergism, however)

Caution Notice

Known to interfere with drug metabolizing enzymes

  • The traditional Chinese preparation of herbal DBT extract with some wine (Astragalus:Angelicae 5:1, ethanolic extract) preceded scientific validation for being the most effective ratio for extracting Astragaloside IV from Astragalus

  • Astragaloside IV has poor oral bioavailability, so the effects that can be contributed to this steroidal saponin (seen as the active ingredient) are either those that occur in very low concentrations in vitro, or those that are actually due to other compounds

  • The Astragalus herb can inhibit CYP3A4, which metabolizes a large deal of pharmaceuticals, and may have adverse side-effects with pharmaceuticals

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Click here to see all 180 references.