Astragalus - Herbal Treatments

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Astragalus - Herbal Treatments

Post by Katy on Sun Oct 02, 2011 9:46 am

Astragalus - Astragalus membranaceus



Introduction

Astragalus is a plant native to Asia. It is indigenous to China, Korea, Mongolia, and Siberia. The Chinese name of the herb, huang qi, means "yellow leader", because the root is yellow and it is considered to be one of the most important herbs in traditional Chinese medicine. The part of the plant used medicinally is the root.
In traditional Chinese medicine, astragalus is usually made into a decoction - the roots are boiled in water then removed. It's often combined with other herbs, such as ginseng. Astragalus can also be found in supplement form at some health food stores.

Family

Fabaceae

Similar Species

Astragalus floridus, Astragalus tonglensis, and Astragalus chrysopterus are all used in trade, along with A. membranaceus. Astragalus propinguus is a similar species. These are considered adulterants.

Other names:

Membranous milkvetch, astragalus root, huang-qi, milkvetch.

Parts Used:

Root

Selected Constituents:

Major constituents are triterpene saponins (astragalosides I-X and isoastragalosides I-IV) and polysaccharides (e.g., astragalan, astraglucan).

Used for:

Traditionally used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years for increasing endurance. It has been used for gas and bloating and for reduction of night sweats, allergies, fatigue, anemia, ulcers, and uterine bleeding.

Potentially supportive for geriatric support, congestive heart failure, early heart failure, chronic infection, immune deficiency, renal disease, cancer.

Clinical Actions

Anecdotally reported to be immune enhancing, tonic, cardiotonic, diuretic, hypotensive

Dosages

Small Animal:
Dried herb: 50-400mg/kg divided daily (optimally, TID)
Decoction: 5-30 g per cup of water, administered at a rate of 1/4 - 1/2 cup per 10kg, divided daily (optimally, TID)
Tincture: 1:2-1:3:1.0-2.0mL per 10kg, divided daily (optimally, TID) and diluted or combined with other herbs. Higher doses may be appropriate if the herb is used singly and is not combined in a formula.

Toxicity Information:

AHPA class 1 - According to Integrative Medicine: Principles for Practice (B. Kliger) this means that it can be consumed safely without specific use restrictions. Ref here

Astragalus is a relative of locoweed (Astragalus alpinus, Astragalus lentiginosus, Astragalus lambertii, Astragalus mollisimus, Astragalus emoryanus, and Astragalus miser), aerial portions of which are toxic to livestock. The root of the Chinese species is nontoxic.


Preparation Notes:

The traditional method of preparation is to decoct the dried root, or sometimes fry it with honey. Frying, however, negatively affects the triterpene content and decreases macrophage-stimulating activity. Some Western herb pharmacies supply tinctures that are a traditional decoction, preserved with alcohol. Simple hydroalcoholic extracts (as opposed to fluid extracts) are thought by some to be too weak to use.

Contraindications:

None known

Drug Interactions:

Interacts with Acyclovir, anticoagulants, cyclophosphamide, immunosoppressants, interferon a1, interleukin-2

University of Maryland wrote:
Antiviral medications -- Astragalus may increase the effects of some antiviral medications such as acyclovir and interferon.
Drugs that suppress the immune system -- Astragalus may counteract the immune-suppressing effects of cyclophosphamide, a medication used to reduce the chances of rejection in transplant recipients, as well as corticosteroids.
Diabetes medications -- Astragalus may lower blood sugar, making the effects of diabetes drugs stronger.
High blood pressure medication -- Astragalus may lower blood pressure, making the effects of these drugs stronger.
Diuretics (water pills) -- Astragalus is a diuretic and may make the effects of other diuretics stronger.
Anti-coagulants(blood thinners) -- Astragalus may make the effects of these drugs stronger, increasing the risk of bleeding and stroke.
Drug Interactions: Cyclophosphamide
http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/astragalus-000878.htm

Published Research Results:

Oral doses improve renal function in rats with experimental nephritis, and large doses are traditionally used in the treatment of chronic nephritis (Chang, 1987). Experimental diabetic nephropathy in rats is ameliorated by oral astragalus (Yin, 2004). It can increase albumin level in plasma, decrease the output of urinary protein, and increase muscle perotein. This may improve dysfunctional protein metabolism in glomerulopathy and can effectively prevent glomerular sclerosis (Peng, 2005). The water decoction of astragalus (0.5 g/kg) administered to rats or to dogs under anesthesia, was found to have a significant diuretic effect. The water decoction (0.2 k/kg) also has a diuretic effect in humans (Modern TCM Pharmacology, 1997).

Astragalosides can delay senility in middle-aged mice and have an antiaging effect on induced senescent mice by improving brain function and having immunomodulatory effects (Lei, 2003). Immunologically astraglalan can enhance the phagocytic activity of mouse macrophages and increase the number of macrophagocytes. It can increase spleen size and promote antibody synthesis (Modern TCM Pharmacology, 1997).

Experiments show that astragalus can control a rise in blood pressure and lower the blood pressure of cats, dogs, and rats under anesthesia. Astragalus has positive cardiac effects and can increase coronary blood flow and decrease coronary circulation resistance and troponin-T release; it can also assist with postmyocardial infarction recovery (Modern TCM Pharmacoogy, 1997).

Astragalus has antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects (Modern TCM Pharmacology, 1997). It can significantly improve the immunity of mice with solid tumors and has antioplastic effects (Kurashige, 1999).

Investigation into the effects of astragalus on the activity of dog small intestine indicated that it could strengthen movement and muscle tonus, especially in the jejunum (Yang, 193).

[size=120]Poultry: Antiparasitic effects
Compared with controls, an extract of Astragalus membranaceus significantly increased immunoglobulin (Ig)G and proliferation of antigen-specific spenocytes against Eimeria tenella-infected chickens. This study concluded that supplementation with the extract resulted in enhancement of both cellular and humoral immune responses in E. tenella-infected chickens (Guo, 2004a). Effects of astragalus extract on chicken growth and the cecal microbial ecosystem were also compared with those of the antibiotic apramycin. Chickens were naturally infected with avian Mycoplasma gallisepticum. In contrast to apramycin, the extract stimulated potentially beneficial bacteria (bifidobacteria and lactobacilli), while reducing potentially harmful bacteria (Bacteroides spp and Escherichia col)(Guo, 2004bf).[/size]


Can we grow it ourselves?

Probably not in a useful sense. Nostress has found the following information for us:

As Astragalus seems to be a plant for cold/temperate climates, it's possible that it wouldn't grow well for us. It also seems to be a bit difficult to grow and harvest it in a backyard situation, as the roots can be harvested from plants that have been growing for 4 years and the roots don't take disturbance very well.

An online source for seeds in Queensland: http://www.herbs-to-use.com/herbs-for-sale/seed-culinary-other-spices-aromatics.html
Some advice on propagation of Astragalus: http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Astragalus%20membranaceus

Sources:

http://altmedicine.about.com/od/herbsupplementguide/a/Astragalus.htm
Wynn, S.G. & Fougere, B.J. (2007) Veterinary Herbal Medicine. Mosby Elsevier. Sydney
http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/astragalus-000878.htm
Picture link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astragalus


Disclaimer
All threads listed in this Index are the opinions of caring forum users. Poultry Matters takes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information contained within, and if in doubt, always refer your poultry queries and problems to your vet.
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Katy
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Join date : 2011-09-30
Location : Morayfield QLD

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