Preliminary research on Astragalus membranaceus, a flowering plant and one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine, demonstrates that the root may improve immune system function and boost the effect of conventional immune therapy for some cancers – just some of the astragalus benefits.
Astragalus Benefits – The Power of this Health-Boosting Herb
Known as Huang Qi in Chinese medicine, astragalus root has long been used by Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners as a general tonic, to strengthen and energize the body, to help resolve colds and upper respiratory infections and to strengthen and regulate the immune system. It is among the most widely used herbs in Chinese Medicine and has recently garnered the interest of western science for its potential to boost immunity and lessen side effects of chemotherapy
Researchers at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center have found that astragalus successfully enhanced the cytotoxicity, or cell-destroying capability, of interleukin-2 (IL-2), a drug commonly used to help the immune system fight off infections. It is theorized that astragalus helps the body to produce interferons, which help the body fight off viral infections.
Complementary medicine practitioners have long noted the efficacy of astragalus in helping AIDS patients, relieving symptoms of the Epstein-Barr virus, treating chronic colds and respiratory infections as well as aiding adrenal function, combatting fatigue, improving metabolism, digestion and immune function in otherwise healthy individuals.
Further adding to the astragalus benefits, a 2006 article published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that herbal tinctures of astragalus, along with two other herbs purported to boost the immune system, Echinacea purpurea and Glycyrrhiza glabra, stimulated immune cells within 24 hours of ingestion. Each herb was effective on its own, but the greatest effect was seen when all three were taken together.
According to the American Cancer Society, a 2006 review of the most reliable studies of astragalus and lung cancer found some evidence that the herb might enhance the effects of platinum-based chemotherapy drugs such as cisplatin, with the reviewers recommending that more rigorously designed studies be conducted.
Astragalus is the least-studied agent. There are some preclinical trials that show intriguing immune activity. The herbs discussed appear to have satisfactory safety profiles. Cancer patients may wish to use these botanicals to inhibit tumor growth or to boost resistance to infections.
Faced with standard, failing treatments that often beg the age old question, ‘Can one survive the cure?’, it would certainly seem that a potential adjunctive therapy with such potential, and no known drawbacks, could find a place in our arsenal against disease.
Experience the astragalus benefits today!
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