Astragalus Root (Astragalus membranaceus)
Latin Name: Astragalus membranaceus
Common Names: Yellow Vetch, Tai Shen, Bei Qi, Ji Cao, Mongolian Milk Vetch, Ogi (Japanese)
The plant is one of many herbs known by several names. Astragalus membranaceus and Astragalus propinquus are both Latin names for the unique plant more commonly known as Astragalus root. The plant comes from the pea family, and has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine. Astragalus herb is thought to boost overall vitality. In Chinese medicine it has been historically used to promote healing and reduce fatigue.
The Root is part of the largest genus of the Fabaceae family, with over two thousand members of that large and varied grouping. Membranaceus have an alternate pattern of leaves on each stem. The flowers of the herb are built to attract the attention of pollinators, such as bees or hummingbirds. The flowers of Membranaceus are arranged in patterns of five sepals and five petals. The ovary inside the herb’s flower develops into what is recognizably a legume. The roots of organic Membranaceus have rhizomes within their nodules. These rhizomes can assimilate nitrogen from the atmosphere and put it back into the ground where the plant is growing, which helps to replenish that important nutrient back into the soil.
You can utilize sliced the plant Root whole, cut and sifted or in a powder. A tea is commonly used to promote digestion. The tea can be made from the dried Astragalus Root.
Cautions/Contraindications: Membranaceus potentiates the effects of IL2 and Acyclovir, but may be incompatible with immunosuppressive drugs (ie. Cyclosporine, azathioprine and methotrexate) (Hoffman).
Research: Studies indicate that the polysaccharides in Astragalus intensify phagocytosis in reticuloendothelial systems (phagocytosis), stimulate pituitary-adrenal cortical activity, and restore depleted red blood cell formation in bone marrow.
In an in vitro study, researchers were able to use a lower dose of Interleukin II (IL2), a common cancer treatment, by combining the drug with astragalus. High doses of IL2 are associated with significant side effects. The addition of Membranaceus potentiated IL2 activity tenfold, thus potentially facilitating a lower dose of IL2 for the same therapeutic outcome.
In another study, the plant prevented liver damage induced by the common anticancer drug stilbenemide.