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ASTRAGALUS
ASTRAGALUS ROOT
HUANG QI

plantation d'astragale de ChineASTRAGALUS MEMBRANACEUS
= ASTRAGALUS MONGHOLICUS
= ASTRAGALUS PROPINQUUS

FABACEAE

The genus Astragalus comprises between 2500 and 3000 species, it is one of the botanical genus of flowering plants that has the most species in the world.

Many astragalus grow in arid places, they are then perennial thanks to their deep root system full of nutritive reserves and defend themselves from herbivores being often very thorny.

There are several "medicinal" astragalus in Asia, the most well-known, used and studied is the so-called Chinese astragalus, which is located in the rather cold forest regions of China, Korea, Mongolia and Siberia.

It is a plant that is part of the Asian pharmacopoeia (China, Korea, Japan) since a long time.

In the Chinese medical tradition it is a plant considered important that helps the body to fight against infections, whether respiratory or urinary, to delay aging and cardiovascular disorders, to improve physical performance and endurance.

It is still harvested in the wild, but it is also cultivated (domesticated) on a large scale in Asia and more recently in Europe and North America.

"Wild" plants are the most valued for their content in active substances.

Some astragalus species in North America (including Astragalus mollissimus = locoweed) contain an alkaloid (swainsonine) that is toxic to livestock and potentially to humans.

Other species of astragalus provide gum by scarifying the top of the root (gum tragacanth or tragacanth) used in cooking or in industry.

It is the root of the Chinese (or Mongolian) astragalus which is the medicinal part, it must be "aged" at least 3 years.

It is cylindrical, sometimes with branches near the surface of the soil, 30 to 90 cm long, 1 to 3 cm in diameter, brown or pale yellow, with an irregular surface once dry.
It is a root very hard to cut, fibrous, yellow inside.

In general, in contemporary medicine, astragalus extracts from China are used to increase immune defenses, delay aging and protect fragile and important tissues of our body.


: racine d'astragale découpée en lanièresSLICED ASTRAGALUS ROOT

ASTRAGALUS ROOT ASTRAGALUS MEMBRANACEUS IMMUNITY INFECTIONS CANCER TONUS FATIGUE DIABETES CARDIOVASCULAR DISORDERS BRONCHIAL ASTHMA AGING CHROMOSOME SENESCENCE


CHEMICAL COMPOSITION AND PROPERTIES

CHINESE ASTRAGALUS ROOT ASTRAGALUS MEMBRANACEUS

The main components of the astragalus root of China ASTRAGALUS MEMBRANACEUS are:

- carbohydrates: polysaccharides with various structures composed of glucose, rhamnose, arabinose,

- saponosides (triterpenic structure), there are characteristic compounds of this plant (astragalosides) with interesting medicinal properties,

- flavonoids, some of which become pharmacologically active after transformation in the intestine (daidzein).

The astragalus root also contains other potentially interesting compounds (lignans, lectins, trace elements).

Numerous pharmacological studies show that the total extracts of the astragalus root:

- STRENGTHEN (STIMULATES) non-specific cellular immune response (lymphocytes and macrophages), thus decreasing the risk of viral (production of interferon?) Or bacterial infection,

- have ANTI-INFLAMMATORY and ANTI-ALLERGIC activity (inhibition of pro-inflammatory cytokines),

- increase the activity of cells (lymphocytes) that destroy abnormal cells of the body, which would delay the development of cancer or help strengthen modern anti-cancer treatments,

- might have an ACTION AGAINST AGING (senescence) by delaying the chromosome "degeneration" (shortening of telomeres), and thus by increasing the life span of cells.

A particular fraction of a saponoside of the astragalus root, cycloastragenol, is considered to be the important element that prevents chromosomal degeneration by activation of an enzyme called "telomerase".

This enzyme is very often activated in cancer cells thus ensuring them a long life.





USES

Traditionally in China, astragalus root, increases the resistance to infections and provide endurance.

It is rarely prescribed alone, Chinese therapists generally associate it with other plant extracts to treat various disorders (infectious, cardiovascular, kidney failure, diabetes, hemorrhages, cancers).

In Western herbal medicine its main uses are :

- to PREVENT viral and bacterial infections: flu, colds, bronchitis,

- as COMPLEMENTARY ANTI-CANCER TREATMENT: to limit the side effects of chemo-radiotherapy, to shorten the recovery phase after these "heavy" treatments that lower the body's defenses and cause inflammatory reactions almost everywhere in the body,

- in combination with other plants (ginseng, rhodiola) to restore TONUS, fight against chronic FATIGUE, delay SENESCENCE.

- in addition to a treatment of bronchial ASTHME in adults.

Examples of DOSAGE for treatments of 15 days to 1 month:

- DECOCTION: one to two tablespoons (or 3 to 6 g) of dried root, powdered or roughly crushed in 1/2 liter of water, boil gently for 10 to 15 minutes, filter, to consume in the day in several times.
One can also incorporate the ground root in a vegetable soup for example.

- ROOT POWDER in capsules: 1 to 2 g per day in several doses,

- ALCOHOLIC TINCTURE of astragalus root (at 1/10): 100 drops twice a day or 50 drops twice a day of 1/5 tincture.

Some herbal therapists recommend higher doses in short treatment of one week: 30 to 50 drops of FLUID EXTRACT (ratio 1/1) twice a day.

- other Astragalus root EXTRACTS : comply with laboratory indications as astragalus extracts are not standardized.


 



PRECAUTIONS

Chinese doctors do not prescribe the astragalus root in case of acute infection, it is for them only a preventive anti-infectious plant .

Some people are allergic to plants of the fabaceae family.
Others may have mild digestive disorders during treatment.

In the absence of specific pharmaco-toxicological informations, pregnant women should avoid consuming it as well as children.

 

CULTIVATION OF THE ASTRAGALUS OF CHINA ASTRAGALUS MEMBRANACEUS

Astragalus is a very hardy plant that can adapt to different climates and soils.
It is a rather cold temperate plant that is easily grown in Europe.

There are many crop varieties (depending on the climate) that can be found in specialized seed traders.

The seeds are small (some mm) in the shape of small beans, with a thick envelope that requires treatment (scarification, soaking, use of hot water or cold setting) to lift the dormancy.

They can be sown in place in the fall or spring.

Astragalus can reach 1 m high.

The recommended spacings vary between 50 cm by 50 cm and 20 cm by 20 cm (intensive culture).

It is necessary to wait at least 3 years before harvesting.

The root is then washed, cut into rings or strips and dried in the shade.



ABSTRACT

ASTRAGALUS OF CHINA ASTRAGALUS MEMBRANACEUS
The astragalus root of China is an important plant in ASIAN pharmacopoeias .
In Western herbal medicine, astragalus extracts are used to increase immune defense, delay aging and protect fragile and important tissues of our body.
Astragalus can easily be cultivated in Europe and North America.