Traditional Chinese approaches to health often use astragalus as an adaptogen to support the body's ability to adjust to varying environmental and biological changes. For centuries, the dried roots of this plant have been used as an approach to the cold and flu, as a supportive herb during times of stress and fatigue, and as a general tonic. Its adaptogenic qualities appear to provide wide-ranging benefits, thanks in particular to its potent antioxidant properties. The root's active compound cycloastragenol (TAT2) may even have anti-aging qualities, making it an interesting herb for scientific research. Here are 3 facts of how astragalus root promotes youthful health.
1. Protects Immune Cells Against Aging
TAT2 increases the activity and production of telomerase, an enzyme which facilitates the repair of telomeres on DNA.  Telomere length has been strongly associated with aging, and shorter telomeres are typically indicative of older, damaged cells. These segments of DNA protect our cells from damage and the wear-and-tear process associated with aging. By protecting telomeres, cellular replication can continue its normal process.
2. Supports Toxin Removal
The liver is the body's main detoxifying organ and is constantly removing toxins from the blood. In the modern world of processed foods, PBDEs contaminating our indoor environment, phthalates, and other chemical pollutants, it's no wonder the liver quickly becomes overloaded. This allows toxins to build up throughout the body, damaging cells and advancing the aging process. Research has shown that extract of Astragalus membranaceus protects the liver against cellular dysfunction and liver fibrosis.  Protection like this against advanced liver damage suggests astragalus may support normal liver activity and help reduce the effects of toxic overload.
3. Protective Effects for Kidney Health
Even the best filters get clogged. The kidneys are no different. Like the liver, damaged kidneys result in a toxin buildup and expedited aging. A regular kidney cleanse helps remove buildup, and herbs such as astragalus can help support health of the kidney itself. In some studies, researchers have discovered that astragalus offers protective effects against kidney disease.  The more wastes removed, the younger and healthier the body.
Using Astragalus Root
Additional studies support that astragalus aids immune function and cardiovascular health, and other research shows it may reduce the effects of seasonal allergies.  It has no known side effects when used by adults, but it's important to always discuss supplementation with a doctor. Rare species can be toxic to humans, but all supplements on the market containing astragalus are non-toxic varieties. Astragalus is typically found in extracts, yet sometimes the dried roots can be purchased and prepared like a tea.
Have you used astragalus root for a specific use? How well did it work? Share your thoughts and comments!
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
- Fauce SR1, Jamieson BD, Chin AC, Mitsuyasu RT, Parish ST, Ng HL, Kitchen CM, Yang OO, Harley CB, Effros RB. <a class="colorbox" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" …read more