As a Naturopath, herbal medicines are my secret weapons when it comes to supporting my clients back to feeling well again.
When you’re looking for something to support your immune system, combat ageing and help you feel energised, Astragalus is a great herbal medicine to consider.
Let’s discover how Astragalus can hold off premature ageing and have you feeling your best.
What is Astragalus?
Astragalus, also known as Huáng qí, is an amazing adaptogenic herb. It has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and now modern science is catching up with the benefits it has to offer.
Although there are over 3000 varieties of Astragalus, the main species used medicinally is Astragalus membranaceus. It can be used for many different conditions including immune support, adaptation to stress, controlling night sweats, relieve fluid retention, protecting the liver and it’s an antioxidant.
What is an adaptogen?
Since Astragalus is an adaptogenic herb, let’s quickly review what an adaptogen is. An adaptogen is a herb or mushroom that helps to counteract the impact of stress on your body.
The exact mechanisms vary between different herbs. Some can help to relieve fatigue and increase energy, while others support the function of the nervous system and reduce fatigue, poor concentration and sleep disturbances.
Overall, adaptogens encourage a state of balance or homeostasis within the body’s systems. That state of balance means improved health and increased stress resilience.
The health benefits of Astragalus
Now let’s take a closer look at what Astragalus has to offer. Like many traditional medicines, research is only just beginning, with more studies being released regularly showcasing new actions.
Some of its potential benefits include:
- Increased resistance to stress and reduction of the cognitive effects of stress
- Supporting immunity and reduction in upper respiratory infections
- Addressing symptoms of seasonal allergies, hayfever and asthma
- Improvements in cardiac function
- Combating fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome
- Supporting blood sugar regulation
- Telomerase activator
Many of these benefits are particularly useful for anti-ageing, as they address underlying inflammaging (accelerated ageing caused by inflammation). For example, regulating blood sugar and reducing stress will reduce the risk of inflammaging.
One of the most exciting actions of Astragalus when it comes to healthy ageing is that it’s a telomerase activator (err what now??). This is pretty complex stuff, but here are the basics. As we age, our telomeres shorten. Telomeres are little caps on the end of our chromosomes that protect them (kind of like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces that stop them unravelling). If those plastic tips come off, then the shoelace will become frayed and unravel. As we age, our telomeres shorten and this can increase risk of chronic diseases, wrinkled skin, etc.
So if you’re looking to combat premature ageing, Astragalus is one ingredient to consider in any supplement you’re choosing.
WHO SHOULD NOT TAKE ASTRAGALUS?
Compared to many herbs, Astragalus is generally well tolerated. There are only occasional side effects reported, with itching, runny nose and digestive upsets being the most common.
However, as with any herbal supplement, some precaution is always warranted. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have an autoimmune condition or are on medications, you may wish to consult with your healthcare practitioner before taking Astragalus.