Remember that old Calgon laundry detergent commercial which made the phrase “ancient Chinese secret” popular?
It came to mind recently while I was researching an article on herbal remedies and reading about astragalus.
Astragalus really is an ancient Chinese secret.
Although little known in the west, its use as an adaptogen in traditional Chinese medicine goes back thousands of years. Adaptogens are herbs that adjust the body’s response to physical and emotional stress.[i]
Astragalus’s health benefits are largely due to flavonoids. These are antioxidant compounds. The herb also contains saponins, which improve the immune system, and polysaccharides, which fight infections and inflammation.
Astragalus is a flowering plant. Its roots are the part that is harvested for medicinal use. It has varied and remarkable health benefits:
- Immune system enhancement. A study from the Institute for Integrative Cancer Care found astragalus can boost white blood cells.[ii]
Research published in the American Journal of Public Health found astragalus was comparable to the drug interferon for treating hepatitis B.And a study out of China Pharmaceutical University found that astragalus fought bacterial infection and inflammation in mice.[iii]
- Better heart strength. A study from the Wuxi Provincial Hospital of Traditional Medicine looked at 45 heart-failure patients. They all received standard medical care. But some were also given 2.25 grams of astragalus twice daily. This group had greater improvement in heart function than the group that didn’t receive the herb.[iv]
Another Chinese study divided 62 patients with heart failure into two groups. Both received conventional treatment. But one also was given 60 grams of astragalus per day intravenously. The astragalus group’s symptoms showed more improvement.[v]
- Cancer protection. A study published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology found that astragalus made cancer chemotherapy work better.[vi]
Research published in the Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine found astragalus promoted apoptosis (programmed cell death) in breast cancer cells.[vii]
- Blood sugar control. In China, astragalus is the most commonly prescribed herb for fighting diabetes.Researchers at the Medical College of Wuhan University gave astragalus to diabetic rats. The herb increased their insulin sensitivity. It also lowered blood sugar levels.[viii]
A human study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found astragalus improves blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes patients.[ix]
Astragalus is commonly available in health food stores and online.
Do your health a favor… This is one “ancient Chinese secret” you should get to know.