Do You Know the Health Benefits of Astragalus Root?
Traditional Chinese medicine uses Astragalus root for centuries. It is a powerful adaptogenic herb which supports immune function. It has recently gained popularity as research has emerged about the possibility that it can increase longevity and protect DNA. Recent research has shown that this root may protect the telomeres from degradation.
What are Telomeres? Flashback to freshman biology: They are attached to the end of chromosomes. Telomeres keep the DNA together during the DNA replication process, (like how the plastic caps on the end of shoelaces keep them from unraveling). Every time DNA replicates, the telomeres actually get slightly shorter and eventually when they get small enough, the process of cell death begins. Research has linked this process of cell death to cancer and aging.
Astragalus can help activate an enzyme called telomerase (hTERT). It stimulates the production of additional telomeres.
“Preliminary research suggests that astragalus may also have powerful anticancer properties. Researchers, in a study conducted at the University of Texas Medical Center in Houston, found that a water extraction of astragalus enhanced or restored the function of T-cells. Those are white blood cells that play specific roles in the immune system and taken from people with cancer. In some cases, astragalus stimulated the damaged cells to greater activity than found in normal cells taken from healthy individuals.” – The Encyclopedia of Popular Herbs by Evelyn Leigh, Robert S. McCaleb, and Krista Morien.
Astragalus has a unique structure of polysaccharides that have additional benefits:
“Formononetin, astragaloside IV and calycosin are the most notable compounds, and seem to do the following things in our body:
- Reduces the amount of nitric oxide released from cells, which actually reduces inflammation
- Causes certain metabolic and genes pathways to be shutdown which would otherwise cause blood and chemicals to flow to wounds
- Activates other genes and pathways which activates different immune cells”
How to Use Astragalus Root?
Traditionally Astragalus root has been used as a supplement or natural remedy and in cooking in traditional Chinese culture. It is a starchy and tough root, and you can add it to soups or made in to a decoction simply by boiling the root in water.
It’s great to use it in times of high stress or while traveling. It will counteract the effects of foods that we would not normally eat. For its anti-aging effects, there are many people who take it daily.
In traditional cultures, people generally consider it as safe for use. But since it does stimulate the immune system, be careful not to overuse with the autoimmune disease. Logically, people who are pregnant or nursing or have any medical condition, before taking this or any supplement or herb, should consult a doctor. Also, those people who are taking any kinds of medication should check with a doctor to rule out drug interaction before taking.