What Is Astragalus Root Extract?
Astragalus membranaceus is an important herb in traditional Chinese medicine. It has been used in a wide variety of herbal blends and ‘natural’ remedies, including Dang-gui buxue tang, which is Astragalus membranaceus paired with Angelicae Sinensis.
Astragalus membranaceus has been researched for its cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory, and longevity effects.
Though Astragalus membranaceus supplementation has been shown to reduce the metabolic and physical complications of aging, there are currently no studies that show an actual increase in lifespan. The flavonoid content of Astragalus membranaceus may also contribute to its cardioprotective effects. Its polysaccharide content also protects the heart because it is a potent anti-inflammatory agent, and it is able to reduce cholesterol levels, similar to psyllium husk, which is a fiber supplement.
The main mechanism of Astragalus membranaceus is a result of its active ingredients. The main component is astragaloside IV, which has been extracted, isolated and patented under the name TA-65 and marketed as a longevity agent. Unfortunately, astragaloside IV has a low bioavailability, meaning it doesn’t circulate well through the body after being ingested. This means it can only be present in the body at low concentrations. Still, low concentrations of astragaloside IV can provide cardioprotective effects. Several studies done on astragaloside IV have conflicting sources of funding, and while that doesn’t invalidate the results, replication by a third party would go a long way toward confirming the effects of astragaloside IV.
Astragalus membranaceus supplementation can provide a variety of health benefits, but may not actually prolong lifespan. Like resveratrol, Astragalus membranaceus is a compound that adds life to your years, rather than adding years to your life.
Chemical Constituents of Astragalus Root Extract
Astragalus root extract contains the saponin cycloastragenol. Constituents of the roots (Radix Astragali) include polysaccharides, triterpenoids (astragalosides) as well as isoflavones (including kumatakenin, calycosin and formononetin) along with their glycosides and malonates. One of the astragalus root extract called TA-65 may activate telomerase, extending the lengths of the shortest telomeres which protect the terminal DNA at the ends of all chromosomes.
Beneifts of Astragalus Root Extract
The most common use of astragalus root extract in herbal medicine in the United States is as an immunostimulant to counteract the immune suppression associated with cancer chemotherapy. This use is based on several observations.
The cycloartane saponins are capable of stimulating the growth of isolated human lymphocytes. The polysaccharides astragalans Ι and ΙΙ were found to potentiate immunological responses in mice following intraperitoneal administration but not after oral administration. The glycans AMem-P and AMon-S increased phagocytic indices with intraperitoneal injection into mice.
Astragalus root extract stimulated phagocytosis of murine macrophages and augmented proliferation of human monocytes in response to phytohemagglutinin, concanavalin A, and pokeweed mitogen. In cells from cancer patients, which were comparatively resistant to such stimulation, astragalus extract also stimulated mononuclear cells. Using a graft versus host (GVH) model, astragalus extract restored the GVH reaction in vivo for healthy and immunosuppressed patients.
These in vitro and in vivo effects justify further human trials of the immunostimulant activity of astragalus root extracts in patients whose immune systems have been suppressed by cancer chemotherapeutic drug regimens.
Another use of astragalus root extract in the United States is in the treatment of HIV infection. It may help reduce opportunistic infections, but such use depends on a host-mediated response because the aqueous extract of astragalus has no direct effect on viral infectivity and little effect on viral reverse transcriptase.
Research reveals no animal data regarding the use of astragalus in HIV.
A pilot trial of a Chinese herbal formulation containing astragalus root was found to improve subjective measures and symptomatology; however, the number of subjects was too small to detect statistically meaningful effects.
A series of unverified reports from China claim that treatment with herbal mixtures including astragalus can induce seronegative conversion in a small fraction of HIV patients.
In view of revised opinions on the population dynamics of the HIV virus in infected humans, an attempt to stimulate T-cell proliferation may not be a realistic therapeutic objective because the turnover rate is rapid. Nevertheless, improvement in subjective symptoms in the above study cannot be ignored, and a larger clinical trial might confirm these effects as important.
Astragalus often is recommended for the prevention of the common cold; however, there are no published clinical trials that support this use.
The biphenyl compound 4,4′,5,5′,6,6′-hexahydroxy-2,2′-biphenyldicarboxylic acid 5,6:5′,6′-bis (methylene), 4,4′-dimethyl ether, dimethyl ester was isolated as the antihepatotoxic principle of astragalus root. The isoflavones afrormosin, calycosin, and odoratin had antioxidant activity similar to butyl hydroxytoluene or alpha-tocopherol in several experimental models of air oxidation of lipids.
Astragalus root saponins also has diuretic activity presumed to be caused by local irritation of the kidney epithelia. Astragalus saponins showed anti-inflammatory and hypotensive effects in rats.
Certificate of Analysis
|Assay||Astragaloside IV 98%||HPLC||Complies|
|Particle size||100% pass 80 mesh||USP32<786>||Complies|
|Loss on Drying||≤5.0%||Eur.Ph.6.0[2.8.17]||Complies|
|Solvents Residue||Meet Eur.Ph6.0<5.4>||Eur.Ph 6.0<2.4.24>||Complies|
|Total bacterial count||≤1000cfu/g||USP30<61>||Complies|
|Yeast & mold||≤100cfu/g||USP30<61>||Complies|
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