Journal article Open Access

Astragalus, an Ancient Medicinal Root in Traditional Chinese Medicine, a Gift from Silk Road

Mohamad Hesam Shahrajabian; Wenli Sun; Qi Cheng

Astragalus is a medicinal herb which has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for many years. Specifically, the root of the plant is made into many different forms of supplements, including liquid extracts, capsules, powders, and teas. Its root contains many active plant compounds, which are believed to be responsible for its potential benefits. Saponins, polysaccharides, amino acids, flavonoids, organic acid, glycosides, alkaloid, and trace elements. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Astragalus considers to used in the treatment of diabetes, mellitus, nephritis, leukemia, uterine cancer, besides its tonic agent and diuretic effects. Astragalus polysaccharide, the active component extracted from Astragali Radix which is the root of Astragalus membranaceus Bunge. Some uses of Astragalus are in kidney and urinary problems, digestion, liver problems, female reproductive system problems, muscular, skin problems, cardiovascular and blood, immune and lymphatic system, nervous system, respiratory system, and for some specific disease. It helps protect the body against various types of stress such as physical and emotional stress. Astragalus root including anti-aging properties, and also helping to prevent bone loss. It contains Astragalosides (antioxidants), which support the integrity of the respiratory tract. In addition, the polysaccharides found in Astragalus are known for their immune supporting properties. Astragalus herb also supports deep immune function by promoting normal levels of specific immune cells and aids in their function. Astragalus appears especially effective when immune function is stressed by environmental or endogenous challenges. In TCM, huang qi is never administered as a mono-drug but forms part of mixtures depending on the indications. Astragali Radix, the root of Astragalus membranaceus Bunge, has been reported to exert hepatoprotective effects, anti-oxidative effects, antiviral activity, anti-oxidative effects, anti-hypertensive effects, and immunostimulant properties; it has also been reported to strengthen superficial resistance, drainage action, and new tissue growth. Although TCM in China is partly integrating with western medical science, researchers should learn more from TCM and carry out more studies.

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