Astragalus membranaceus is one of the lesser known immune herbs, but it has a history going back hundreds of years. In traditional Chinese Medicine, Astragalus is known for tonifying the blood and supporting the flow of Qi (energy). It strengthens the body, particularly after periods of illness. It promotes healing, supports the cardiovascular system and has warming properties that make it ideal for treating colds and the flu. Clinical trials support its use for other less common viral illnesses (e.g. herpes virus, HIV and hepatitis), but also for cardiac conditions and as a supportive treatment for fatigue. Astragalus is a common addition to many herbal mixtures during the winter months, because it dispels cold and stimulates the immune system.
Astragalus promotes the activity of natural killer cells, which hunt down and destroy infected or cancerous rogue cells. When infection is detected by the immune system, it assists proliferation of leukocytes and antibodies.(1)
In addition to its immune-enhancing properties, Astragalus helps the body adapt to stress and protects DNA from oxidative damage, leading some scientists to believe that it may even be able to increase human longevity. This is pure speculation for the time being, but gives us an idea of the potential of this amazing herb for future application and research.
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