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. One of the main active components 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.
In addition to astragaloside IV, many other compounds contribute to Astragalus membranaceus biological activity including polysaccharides (arguably also one of the main contributors to its biological activity), flavonoids, and other compounds.
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.