Scientific: Astragalus membranaceus [WikiPedia]
Astragalus is also called huang qi or milk vetch. It comes from a type of bean or legume. While there are multiple species of astragalus, most astragalus supplements contain Astragalus membranaceus.
Appearance: Milkvetch species include herbs and shrubs with pinnately compound leaves. There are annual and perennial species. The flowers are formed in clusters in a raceme, each flower typical of the legume family, with three types of petals: banner, wings, and keel.
Parts Used: The dried root in the form of tea, encapsulated or as an extract. Powder is mildly sweet and may be sprinkled on food or whipped into a shake or smoothie.
Common Uses: Astragalus has been used for at least 2,000 years in Traditional Chinese Medicine, in which it is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs and is an important tonic herb for maintaining vitality (qi) and strengthening resistance (immunity). From a Western perspective, astragalus is useful with a wide range of conditions, both preventively and as a treatment. While we often think of it as an immune system modulator, useful with many forms of cancer and especially to help support the body through chemotherapy, it has many other applications for human, and canine health as well. Even though astragalus is a powerful immune supporter, it is not stimulating in the same sense as echinacea.
- Increases the body’s resistance to stress, trauma, anxiety and fatigue (according to human and animal studies)
- Helps the body maintain optimal homeostasis by creating balance in the endocrine, hormones and immune system
- Creates whole body health and has anti-ageing benefits
- Can be taken in small doses over a long period of time to prevent infections
- Enhance immune function
- Normalizes blood pressure and cardio function
- Increases the body’s strength and endurance
- Destroys cancer cells
Alternatives and Adjuncts: For respiratory combines well with coltsfoot, grindelia or mullein leaf. For kidneys, couch grass, corn silk, pipsissewa and goldenrod. For liver, cancer, or depressed immunity, dandelion, burdock, red clover, licorice and alfalfa.
Topic Specific References:
- Effects of Astragalus Polysaccharides on Associated Immune Cells and Cytokines in Immunosuppressive Dogs [ScienceDirect]
- Anti-ageing Implications of Astragalus Membranaceus (Huangqi): A Well-Known Chinese Tonic (PubMED)
- Astragalus membranaceus: A Review of its Protection Against Inflammation and Gastrointestinal Cancers. (PubMED)
PLEASE NOTE that herbal and other natural products can harm your animals – not all plants are safe and gentle! Do not attempt using any of the ingredients listed, or any other plant matter, without the guidance of a qualified herbalist.