Last Updated: July 22, 2023

Astragalus membranaceus is an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is claimed to have anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, and anti-aging effects.

Astragalus is most often used for

What is astragalus?

Various Astragalus species are used in alternative medicine around the world.[1][2] This page refers to Astragalus membranaceus, a popular herb used in traditional Chinese medicine, also known as Astragali radix or huangqi.[3][4] Astragalus membranaceus can be used alone, but it is also paired with another herb called Angelicae sinensis in Danggui Buxue Tang, a Chinese medicine.[5] Astragalus membranaceus contains several bioactive compounds, including polysaccharides, flavonoids, and saponins. One of its major bioactive molecules is called astragaloside IV.[6][7], and another of its bioactive extracts has been patented under the name TA-65 (telomerase activator 65).[8]

What are astragalus’s main benefits?

There are widespread claims about the beneficial effects of Astragalus membranaceus and its extracts (e.g., astragaloside IV, TA-65, etc.) on several conditions. These include chronic heart failure,[9][10] metabolic syndrome,[11] blood lipids,[12] diabetes,[13][14][15][16] kidney disease,[17][18][19][20][15][16] neurological disorders,[21] cell lifespan,[3][8] and cancer.[22][23][24][25] However, the quality of evidence for these effects in humans is generally low because of variable findings between studies, poor methodological quality, unclear methodological details, widespread lack of blinding, use of intravenous rather than oral administration, and publication bias in favor of predominantly positive findings being published.[9][10][17][18][19][20][12][13][14][22][23][24][25] Furthermore, much of the evidence supporting the benefits of astragaloside IV is derived from animal and cell culture experiments,[26][15][16][27][21][28] while clinical studies showing the therapeutic benefit of TA-65 are authored by the group that patented the compound.[8][11] Consequently, high-quality randomized controlled clinical trials by independent researchers are urgently needed to confirm these therapeutic claims.

What are astragalus’s main drawbacks?

There is no obvious toxicity nor serious side effects caused by Astragalus membranaceus or its extracts.[29][30][31][32][8][9][10] However, human studies often fail to record the side effects of astragalus.[17][33][32][9][10][20]

The main drawback is that research in this field has major limitations. For example, systematic reviews conclude that evidence in this field is generally of low quality.[9][10][17][18][19][20][12][13][14][22][23][24][25] Furthermore, it is often unclear which species (e.g., Astragalus membranaceus) or part (entire plant, roots, flowers, etc.) of an Astragalus plant is used, or which type of extract is administered (i.e., a total or purified extract). Additionally, astragalus extracts are often combined with other compounds or drugs so their direct effects cannot always be determined. These limitations reduce the certainty of the claimed benefits.

How does astragalus work?

Pharmacological research indicates that Astragalus membranaceus[3][34][35][36] and its extracts (e.g., astragaloside IV[37][38][6][7] and TA-65[39][40][37][8]) can regulate several pathways, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunological systems, as well as increase telomerase activity, which prolongs the lifespan of cells. This may explain the potential role of astragalus in the treatment of chronic disease. However, most pharmacological evidence is derived from cell culture (i.e., in vitro) and animal experiments.[26][15][16][27][21][28] Further clinical pharmacology research is needed to fully understand the potential mechanism(s) of action in humans.

What else is Astragalus known as?
Note that Astragalus is also known as:
  • Astragalus
  • huangqi
  • (A Component Of) Danggui Buxue Tang (DBT)
  • Membranous Milk-vetch Root
  • Ogi
  • Huang Qi
  • TA-65
  • TAT2
  • Astragalus Membranaceus
Astragalus should not be confused with:
Dosage information

Astragalus membranaceus and Angelicae Sinensis are highly synergistic, meaning they are more powerful when taken together. This combination is traditionally called Dang-gui buxue tang.

The starting point for the preparation of Dang-gui buxue tang in traditional Chinese medicine is 30g of Astragalus membranaceus root paired with 6g of Angelicae sinensis. This is a 5:1 ratio, which is ideal for extracting the bioactive ingredients of the plants.

Astragalus membranaceus can also be supplemented via a root extract. Due to potential differences in the quality/efficiency of the extraction process among different commercial manufacturers, product label recommendations for dosage should be followed and you should consult with your pharmacist or personal physician before taking.

The main bioactive compound in Astragalus membranaceus is astragaloside IV, which can be supplemented by itself. The standard dose for astragaloside IV is 5-10mg.

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  3. ^Liu P, Zhao H, Luo YAnti-Aging Implications of (Huangqi): A Well-Known Chinese Tonic.Aging Dis.(2017-Dec)
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  10. ^Wang K, Wu J, Duan X, Wu J, Zhang D, Zhang X, Zhang BHuangqi injection in the treatment of chronic heart failure: A systematic review and meta-analysis.Medicine (Baltimore).(2017-Sep)
  11. ^Fernandez ML, Thomas MS, Lemos BS, DiMarco DM, Missimer A, Melough M, Chun OK, Murillo AG, Alyousef HM, Medina-Vera ITA-65, A Telomerase Activator improves Cardiovascular Markers in Patients with Metabolic Syndrome.Curr Pharm Des.(2018)
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  13. ^Tian H, Lu J, He H, Zhang L, Dong Y, Yao H, Feng W, Wang SThe effect of Astragalus as an adjuvant treatment in type 2 diabetes mellitus: A (preliminary) meta-analysis.J Ethnopharmacol.(2016-Sep-15)
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  34. ^Zheng Y, Ren W, Zhang L, Zhang Y, Liu D, Liu YA Review of the Pharmacological Action of Astragalus Polysaccharide.Front Pharmacol.(2020)
  35. ^Man Li, Bing Han, Huan Zhao, Chongyi Xu, Daokun Xu, Elwira Sieniawska, Xianming Lin, Guoyin KaiBiological active ingredients of Astragali Radix and its mechanisms in treating cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseasesPhytomedicine.(2022 Jan 8)
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Examine Database References
  1. Immunity - Zwickey H, Brush J, Iacullo CM, Connelly E, Gregory WL, Soumyanath A, Buresh RThe effect of Echinacea purpurea, Astragalus membranaceus and Glycyrrhiza glabra on CD25 expression in humans: a pilot studyPhytother Res.(2007 Nov)
  2. Diuresis - Ai P, Yong G, Dingkun G, Qiuyu Z, Kaiyuan Z, Shanyan LAqueous extract of Astragali Radix induces human natriuresis through enhancement of renal response to atrial natriuretic peptideJ Ethnopharmacol.(2008 Mar 28)
  3. Nasal Congestion - Matkovic Z, Zivkovic V, Korica M, Plavec D, Pecanic S, Tudoric NEfficacy and safety of Astragalus membranaceus in the treatment of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitisPhytother Res.(2010 Feb)
  4. Stroke Recovery - Chen CC, Lee HC, Chang JH, Chen SS, Li TC, Tsai CH, Cho DY, Hsieh CLChinese Herb Astragalus membranaceus Enhances Recovery of Hemorrhagic Stroke: Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Randomized StudyEvid Based Complement Alternat Med.(2012)
  5. Kidney Function - Ahmed MS, Hou SH, Battaglia MC, Picken MM, Leehey DJTreatment of idiopathic membranous nephropathy with the herb Astragalus membranaceusAm J Kidney Dis.(2007 Dec)