Friday, December 12, 2014

ASTRAGALUS - Articles by a Naturopathic Doctor ( N.D.)

Astragalus helps you get through colds and flus ...
Astragalus is one of the most widely used herbs in Asian medicine.  It was first mentioned in Chinese medical texts that date back to 2000 years ago.  The root of the Astragalus plant has been extensively studied in Asia.  It is most well known for its effect on the immune system.  It increases the activity of immune cells, resulting in more efficient responses to infection and reversing states of immune suppression. In contrast to the immune boosting properties of some herbs, Astragalus can be taken for long periods of time (several months) without showing a decrease in the response of the immune system.  Astragalus also has antiviral and anti-cancer properties.  It has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system by protecting the heart from viral infections that damage heart tissue.  Astragalus also improves shortness of breath and cardiac output in patients with congestive heart failure.

Certain constituents of the astragalus root, specifically cycloastragenols and astragalosides have been implicated in activating telomerase. A telomere is a region of repetitive DNA at the end of a chromosome, it serves to protect the end of the chromosome from deterioration and make it possible for cells to divide (which inevitably means shorten) without losing genetic material. Telomoerase is an enzyme that initiates telomere synthesis and can add to the end of the telomere,ensuring that it does not wear down too much, too fast. Astragalosides have been shown to increase this enzyme production. Not only does this mean that astraglalus prevents depletion, but that it may be capable of supporting a certain amount of telomere rebuilding, making up for what has been lost through the natural process of ageing and DNA replication. This has numerous implications in term of anti-ageing abilities. 

Astragalus is commonly used as dried root, tincture or solid extract.  Astragalus is often found mixed with herbs, such as licorice and ginseng, in Chinese patent formulas.  These formulas are specially formulated to increase the power of single herbs by combining them with other synergistic herbs.

Astragalus should not be used when an individual has a fever.  The Asian philosophy believes that the herb can boost the strength of the infecting organism as well as the patient.  More research is needed with regard to the use of Astragalus in HIV patients.

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