Astragalus

Astragalus prestigious plant

This prestigious plant has been used for millennia and is truly loved by the Chinese traditional medicine system. Belonging to the Fabaceae family, this genus is comprised of around two thousand species that are equally important from the medicinal point of view. Due to its praiseworthy pharmacological properties with little adverse effects, this plant sits with pride among the fifty fundamental drugs that are used in the Chinese medicinal system. 

Herb lovers are no strangers to this astounding flowering plant. For centuries it has been used by people all around the globe for treating a wide variety of diseases and disorders and has a long history of medicinal use.

The hype regarding Astragalus is erupting in the West because it exhibits itself as adaptogen i.e. they are able to adapt according to the need of body and change their functioning.
Quite flexible, I must add.
That is exactly they are able to deal with a plethora of problems. 

Around here, we savor Astragalus as an anti-aging agent, immunizer, for better heart functioning, maintenance therapy for diabetes, improve kidney functioning, treatment of seasonal allergies. Its benefits don’t stop at just warding off cold but it also possesses anticancer, hypolipidemic, expectorant, hepatoprotective and diuretic effects. [1]

It boasts a number of active ingredients and properties that give your health some serious love, especially when it comes to protection. So if you are searching for a solution regarding the aforementioned disorder; Astragalus is the one-stop solution that you have been waiting for all these years.

Let’s stop your hold because our red carpet is ready for the launch of some of the impressive benefits of Astragalus and you are cordially invited to be an esteemed part of it. Follow us along so we can guide along with the therapeutic world of Astragalus. We hope your reading session will be worth the time that you are about to spend on it.

Astragalus- Personalized Anti-aging agent

Has your skin been looking a little down in the dumps? Unfortunately, our age tends to have a dulling effect on your skin. Many of us go through periods where the skin isn’t as bright, glowing and tight as it once was, and we know how exasperating it is when you can pinpoint the cause too. Your age!

In the name of gloriously glowing skin, we’ve identified the most potent herb to help you get back your radiance.

The most advantageous and famous property attributed to our plant of interest is its anti-aging property. It helps in reducing signs of aging on the face, helps in the growth of tissues and prevents chronic illness symptoms. [2]

Exposure to UV radiation is a norm and it brings colossal damage to our skin that is obviously not needed. It decreases the type I collagen in the dermis through upregulation of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression which damages the skin and results in premature aging.  Due to the inhibition of transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β)/Smad signaling, wrinkles emerge that prove to be a great hindrance in flaunting your skin. [3]

The use of Astragalus membranaceus keeps collagen intact and inhibits its breakdown and increases hyaluronic acid to maintain skin hydration. It has been also found to have wound healing properties by various parties.[4,5] It proves that Astragalus is potentially therapeutic in avoiding photoaging.

All these mediators provide a therapeutic effect in a combined form which is a good reason for slipping Astragalus in your daily routine to stay away from that wrinkly dull skin that is good for nothing.

Astragalus is a Magic for your Immunity

Your immunity is the sole reason for your existence on this mother earth. You are nothing without your immune system as this is the only thing that keeps all those materials that are foreign to your body at bay. It plays a chief role in guarding your body against harmful invaders including bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes that are the reason for different sorts of mild, moderate and severe illnesses. 

Astragalus is a potent immunizer as it increases the production of white blood cells in your body that are streamlined to prevent different illnesses. [6]

In a preclinical trial, Saponin fraction from Astragalus membranaceus (SAM) roots was used against inflammation in mice. [7] It was administered one hour before Cecal ligation and punctures to induce sepsis. The results portrayed elevated survival rate of mice because of attenuation of inflammatory mediators which suggest that SAM has a protective effect on polymicrobial sepsis in mice by inhibition of inflammatory mediators and upregulation of the PC pathway.  

It is also therapeutically active in combating viral infections in humans. Either it is a common cold or hepatitis, Astragalus knows how to take care of this matter. A meta-analysis was conducted for the determination of the effectiveness of Astragalus in the treatment of hepatitis B. It was seen that it significantly increased seroreversion of HBsAg and was equivalent to interferon alfa in seroreversion of HBeAg and hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA. Its active component kurorinone was equivalent to interferon alfa in seroreversion of HBeAg and HBV DNA. [8]

Another clinical trial undertook 192 hepatitis B patients out of which 116 patients were considered as control while the rest of them were administered with Astragalus compound containing Radix Astragali. [9] The trial was continued for a period of two months. The clinical efficacy of AC was significantly better in AC-treated patients than in controls ones. Negative seroconversions of hepatitis B virus (HBV) antigen and HBV DNA were also significantly higher in AC-treated patients than in controls. These results indicate that AC may promote recovery from viral hepatitis and inhibit HBV replication. 

All these studies and clinical trials shout in the favor of Astragalus genus and raise it as one of the best the immunizer in the world.  

Heart to Heart

Around one-third proportion of death is attributed to heart diseases. A healthier heart in early adulthood is a sign of a healthier later life.

Assuming that chest pain as heartburn has become a movement because it is human nature to all those big issues less seriously. Experiencing those shoulder pain, jaw pain or shortness of breath upon exertion is an alarming sign that severely needs attention. 

People need to pay close attention to their health, even if they think they are too young to do so.

Astragalus mongholicus is considered to be therapeutically active against cardiovascular diseases. Forty-five patients of chronic heart failure volunteered to take part in a clinical trial. [10] The control group was maintained on their usual drug i.e. digoxin while the treated group was additionally administered Astragalus granules at the dose of 2.25gm twice a day. The treatment was carried out for a period of two weeks and the end results were quite shocking. NYHA cardiac functional grading, serum TNF-alpha level, left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) and walk distance in 6 min (WD) were measured before and after treatment. After the completion of two week, the level of TNF-alpha in the two groups decreased but it was lower in the treated group [(54.77 +/- 9.34) microg/L] than in the control group [(62.10 +/- 9.94) microg/L] (P < 0.05); LVEF in the two groups increased (P < 0.05) and it was higher in the treated group [(64.45 +/- 12.47)%] than that in the control group [(56.03 +/- 13.33)%] (P < 0.05); both groups’ WD increased (P < 0.05) and it was longer in the treated group [(446.97 +/- 68.82) m] than in the control group [(345.40 +/- 63.62) m] (P < 0.05). [10]

The results of this clinical study vividly suggest that Astragalus can alleviate the calcium-induced myocardial damage and improve both systolic and diastolic functions of the heart in patients with Chronic Heart Failure.

Another clinical trial elected sixty-two in-patients of Chronic Heart Failure. [11] They were randomly divided into two groups where the control group received nitroglycerin injection 10mg and the treated group received 60g Astragalus. This trial was continued for twenty days and on the completion of this trial’s period, there were remarkable results that suggest the immense importance of Astragalus. Heart functioning, left ventricular ejection fraction and end systolic volume improved in both the groups but the results Astragalus injections were superior to that of nitroglycerin injections.

This portrays that Astragalus injection can improve the condition of chronic heart failure and can be taken as an additional therapy for the treatment of CHF.

Revolutionize Diabetes with Astragalus membranaceus

 This disease is burdening the globe. The condition requires daily monitoring in the vast majority of diabetic patients. A lack of insulin being produced naturally by their bodies means consistent monitoring of blood sugar levels and insulin injections to ensure their bodies can carry out vital processes and keep them alert and healthy. [12]

Astragalus membranaceus

About a billion β-cells are needed to cure a diabetic patient. As we all know that type 1 is characterized by the deficiency of insulin due to autoimmune destruction of pancreatic β-cells, whereas in type 2 the insulin is there to act but its receptors are depleted due to which the blood sugar level elevates. As type 2 progresses, insulin levels also deplete and the person becomes highly prone to the risk of renal failure and death. Type 1 usually occurs in infancy while type 2 hits in adulthood.

The world is in dire need of some more potent drugs as an adjunct therapy with other anti-diabetic drugs. Astragalus membranaceus is a dominant component of Chinese herbal anti-diabetic medicines. Its active constituents like polysaccharides, saponins, and flavonoid fractions are mostly under the scrutiny of researchers as they work primarily in normalizing various disorders.

Several pieces of researches prove that the total polysaccharides fraction demonstrate the activity to normalize both types 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus. A recent paperwork claimed it as the most prescribed herbal medicine in Type 2 diabetes.

Its chemical constituents have demonstrated the potentials of attenuating DM and their associated complications. They were generally observed to have lowered increasing blood glucose and lipid levels, improved insulin sensitivity, and also corrected several pathological indicators of DM and its complications. [13-15]  

Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus

In a preclinical trial, it lowered the incidence rate and postponed the onset of type 1 DM in non-obese type 1 diabetes mellitus (NOD) mice. It also attenuated autoimmunal insulitis, increased the proliferation of pancreatic beta cells, and decreased apoptotic beta-cell mass. Furthermore, it was also was observed to have decreased lymphocytic inflammation of pancreatic islets in type 1 non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice. The study concluded that Astragalus may protect pancreatic beta cells from autoimmune destruction through the regulation of inflammatory and apoptotic responses.

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

All of the major constituents of Astragalus membranaceus have been shown to differentially lower high blood glucose levels and body weight and improve impaired glucose tolerance in type 2 diabetic models. It restores insulin sensitivity and proliferative ability of pancreatic β-cells.

To hone the approach, the researchers need to work on novel techniques to boost the efficiency of Astragalus so that it can be marketed in a proper medicinal form to the globe to the end the misery of patients with diabetes.

Management of Chronic Kidney Disease

A sharp rise in death due to Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) has been reported by scientists. On the onset of CKD, it asymptomatically affects the kidneys due to which they gradually stop their normal functioning. As kidneys are programmed for filtration of excess fluid, toxins and wastes, failure to do so results in accumulation of these fluids and wastes which are obviously not good and the kidneys fail to carry on with its usual physiologic functions.

This condition can be reversed but if it is left untreated, then the patient has to bear the pain and expenses of dialysis, or in more severe cases, a kidney transplant.

CKD is also an epidemic and considered as a silent killer because it does not clinically manifest itself until the disease progresses to the final stage. 

Another risk of contracting CKD is that the patient is at a higher risk of developing CVD. The death rate of CVD patients with ongoing dialysis is 10 to 20 times higher than in the general population. [22]

Astragalus, however, is again here to save the day. A review included 22 studies in which around1323 patients of CVD were elected out of which 241 were acquiring dialysis. [23] Overall results showed a reduction in 24 hours proteinuria on the completion of treatment, remarkably ameliorated hemoglobin levels and serum albumin in both dialysis and not dialysis patients. There was another notable decrease in systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure, according to two studies in which seventy-seven patients volunteered)

Astragalus also incredibly curtails the risk of development of the nephrotic syndrome. [24] The results of a study proved its granules to be therapeutically active in the prevention of nosocomial or unspecified infection with no serious adverse events in children with nephrotic syndrome. Its dosage was settled as 7.5 to 15 grams daily for three to six months that reduced the risk of nephrotic syndrome in 38% of people that were under observation.

So if you are taking care of your heart then you are ultimately taking care of your kidney and vice versa. What’s good for your heart is obviously good for your kidney too.

Now that you have read it all, you can definitely understand why this herb sits proudly among fifty Chinese traditional herbs and why it is so much celebrated in the Chinese herbal system. The myriad of fringe benefits it provides is of great importance. 

Switching to herbal treatment never fails you. All you need to do is trust in nature and let it heal you.

References

  1. Liu, P., Zhao, H. and Luo, Y., 2017. Anti-aging implications of Astragalus Membranaceus (Huangqi): a well-known chinese tonic. Aging and disease8(6), p.868.
  2. https://food.ndtv.com/health/8-incredible-benefits-of-astragalus-root-for-health-and-beauty-1667068
  3. Chen, B., Li, R., Yan, N., Chen, G., Qian, W., Jiang, H.L., Ji, C. and Bi, Z.G., 2015. Astragaloside IV controls collagen reduction in photoaging skin by improving transforming growth factor-β/Smad signaling suppression and inhibiting matrix metalloproteinase-1. Molecular medicine reports11(5), pp.3344-3348.
  4. Kim, J. H., Kim, M. R., Lee, E. S., & Lee, C. H. (2009). Inhibitory Effects of Calycosin Isolated from the Root of Astragalus membranaceus on Melanin Biosynthesis. Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin,32(2), 264-268. doi:10.1248/bpb.32.264
  5. Zhao, B., Zhang, X., Han, W., Cheng, J., & Qin, Y. (2017). Wound healing effect of an Astragalus membranaceus polysaccharide and its mechanism. Molecular Medicine Reports,15(6), 4077-4083. doi:10.3892/mmr.2017.6488
  6. Block, K.I. and Mead, M.N., 2003. Immune system effects of echinacea, ginseng, and astragalus: a review. Integrative cancer therapies2(3), pp.247-267.
  7. Gao, X.H., Xu, X.X., Pan, R., Li, Y., Luo, Y.B., Xia, Y.F., Murata, K., Matsuda, H. and Dai, Y., 2009. Saponin fraction from Astragalus membranaceus roots protects mice against polymicrobial sepsis induced by cecal ligation and puncture by inhibiting inflammation and upregulating protein C pathway. Journal of natural medicines63(4), pp.421-429.
  8. McCulloch, M., Broffman, M., Gao, J. and Colford Jr, J.M., 2002. Chinese herbal medicine and interferon in the treatment of chronic hepatitis B: a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. American journal of public health92(10), pp.1619-1628.
  9. Tang, L.L., Sheng, J.F., Xu, C.H. and Liu, K.Z., 2009. Clinical and experimental effectiveness of Astragali compound in the treatment of chronic viral hepatitis B. Journal of International Medical Research37(3), pp.662-667.
  10. Yang, Q., Lu, S. and Sun, H., 2010. Effects of astragalus on cardiac function and serum tumor necrosis factor-alpha level in patients with chronic heart failure. Zhongguo Zhong xi yi jie he za zhi Zhongguo Zhongxiyi jiehe zazhi= Chinese journal of integrated traditional and Western medicine30(7), pp.699-701.
  11. Liu, Z.G., Xiong, Z.M. and Yu, X.Y., 2003. Effect of astragalus injection on immune function in patients with congestive heart failure. Zhongguo Zhong xi yi jie he za zhi Zhongguo Zhongxiyi jiehe zazhi= Chinese journal of integrated traditional and Western medicine23(5), pp.351-353.
  12. https://nypost.com/2020/02/27/scientists-cured-diabetes-in-mice-but-are-humans-next/
  1. Antidiabetic drugs of plant origin used in China: compositions, pharmacology, and hypoglycemic mechanisms, Jia W, Gao WY, Xiao PG,Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2003 Feb; 28(2):108-13.
  2. Radix astragali (huangqi) as a treatment for defective hypoglycemia counterregulation in diabetes, Sang Z, Zhou L, Fan X, McCrimmon RJ, Am J Chin Med. 2010; 38(6):1027-38.
  3. [Effects of Qilan Tangzhining capsule on glucose and lipid metabolism in rats with diabetes mellitus and hyperlipemia],  Zhang DQ, Zhang JJ, Wang JX, Hu SM, Li W, Ou LN, Chen SH, Gao XM, Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2005 May; 30(10):773-7.
  4. Wu XY, Chen W, Yu MH. Effect of astragalus polysaccharides on expression of IL-4 and IFN-γ in non-obese diabetic mice. Chinese Journal of Rehabilitation Theory and Practice. 2008;14(2):147–149.
  5. Astragalus polysaccharides: an effective treatment for diabetes prevention in NOD mice, Chen W, Li Y-, Yu M-, Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 2008 Aug; 116(8):468-74.
  6. Chen W, Xia YP, Yu MH, Shi XM. Astragalus polysaccharides effect on pancreatic histopathology. China Journal of Modern Medicine. 2007;17(2):146–148.
  7. [Effect of Astragalus polysaccharide on pancreatic cell mass in type 1 diabetic mice], Li RJ, Qiu SD, Chen HX, Tian H, Liu GQ, Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2007 Oct; 32(20):2169-73.
  8. Astragalus polysaccharide improves insulin sensitivity in KKAy mice: regulation of PKB/GLUT4 signaling in skeletal muscle, Liu M, Wu K, Mao X, Wu Y, Ouyang J, J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Jan 8; 127(1):32-7.
  9. Astragalus polysaccharides decreased the expression of PTP1B through relieving ER stress induced activation of ATF6 in a rat model of type 2 diabetes, Wang N, Zhang D, Mao X, Zou F, Jin H, Ouyang J, Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2009 Aug 13; 307(1-2):89-98.
  10. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/chronic-kidney-disease-is-on-the-rise
  11. Zhang, H.W., Lin, Z.X., Xu, C., Leung, C. and Chan, L.S., 2014. Astragalus (a traditional Chinese medicine) for treating chronic kidney disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (10).
  12. Wu, H.M., Tang, J.L., Cao, L., Sha, Z.H. and Li, Y., 2012. Interventions for preventing infection in nephrotic syndrome. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (4).

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