Agrimony large Astragalus

Astragalus | Astragalus membranaceus

general characteristics

general characteristics

Common names include astragalus, yellow leader (huang qi), milk vetch, locoweed,

Astragalus is a member of the Legume family, as are liqourice and peas. It is a sprawling herbaceous perennial herb that will happily grow in Britain, Europe, America, Russia and Asia but is originally native to China, Korea and Mongolia. It grows best in a sunny position on dryish, sandy soil that has good drainage as it doesn't like to sit in wet soil. Its height is between 1-3 feet tall with opposite leaves and yellowish pea shaped flowers in the Summer, giving way to pea like pods containing the seeds in Autumn.


It is considered one of the most important herbs used in Chinese medicine and has been in use there for over 2000 years as a strengthening, rejuvenating and invigorating tonic.



Astragalus dried herb and tincture are available to buy in our herbal shop.





harvesting and preparation

harvesting and preparation

Astragalus is grown for its large branched taproots which are harvested in the Autumn when the plant is at least 3 years old. Gently wash the fresh roots, cut into smaller pieces or slices and dry gently over a few days before storing in an airtight glass jar away from light and heat. Ensure the root is thoroughly dried before storing or moulds will set in and could ruin the entire batch. Check your stored batch regularly for a few weeks after first storing to catch any mould as it develops.

If you do spot any mould or spoilage, pour out the contents, discard the mouldy bits and dry for another few days before re-storing in a clean jar as before.


Astragalus dried herb and tincture are available to buy in our herbal shop.

therapeutic actions and uses

therapeutic actions and uses

Astragalus is valued for its all round tonifying properties that it provides to the spleen, heart, blood vessels, lungs, pancreas, adrenals, stomach, kidneys and uterus (and the cervix) and provides considerable protection against free radical damage due to its high antioxidant content. It is considered in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) to be a sweet, moisturising yet slightly warming herb with an upward moving energy. Its ability to help the body cope with the physiological effects of stress makes it a valuable adaptogenic tonic herb, capable of enhancing body vitality and build stamina and easing psychosomatic illnesses.

Its medicinal actions include immuno-regulating, powerful antioxidant, mild diuretic, liver protective, anti-cancer, kidney protective, anti-inflammatory, hypoglycaemic.


Astragalus root is a powerful ally to the adrenal glands, protecting them from the depleting effects of excessive stress. It can be useful for Cushings syndrome.


Astragalus root has profound immuno-stimulating actions, it actually increases production of stem cells in the bone marrow, enhances the production of other immune cells and increases the activity and quantity of killer cells and phagocytes ('bad' cell destroyers and eaters) and white blood cells generally. It is therefore suitable for conditions where the immune system is considered to be continuously under performing such as in allergies, recurring infections and even (based on historic usage) the so called auto-immune disorders such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and ME.


Its action on the bone cells also has an impact on maintaining good bone density and helping to protect against bone loss.


The root is mildly diuretic and tonic to the kidneys which helps to regulate fluid balance within the body and eliminate water retention. It can be used safely for nephritis (kidney inflammation), protects the kidneys against the damaging effects of diabetic nephropathy, and protects the kidneys from the harmful effects of hypertension, cystitis, prostatitis and for benign enlargement of the prostate. Night time sweats and excessive sweating can also benefit from this herb.


Astragalus root is also cardio-protective, it protects the heart from fatty build ups in the muscle walls, reduces overall circulating cholesterol (when in excess) and helps to prevent blood clumping and the build up of unhealthy deposits on the lining of blood vessels, it improves the symptoms of breathlessness in congestive heart failure, can be used in a formula to reduce high blood pressure and to increase the force and frequency of the heart beat. It can also help to improve blood flow to the heart muscle so can help in angina and myocarditis.


Astragalus root is both antibacterial and antiviral, making it suitable for many types of infection such as cocksackie virus, HPV virus and the herpes viruses. It also has a positive impact when taken internally with other antifungals and immune boosters (pau darco, echinacea, siberian ginseng etc) for fungal infections such as athletes foot.

It also can be used to raise vitality and increase the immune response in people who suffer from recurring infections such as tonsillitis, quinsy, colds, flu and other such illness.


Astragalus root improves the health and functioning of the lungs and can be used in the treatment of recurring chest infections, asthma, tuberculosis, certain kinds of lung cancer and multiple allergies. Because of its tonic action on both the heart and lungs, it is particularly suitable for cases of congestive heart failure and pulmonary hypertension.


Astragalus root contains compounds that are anti-inflammatory, making it suitable as part of a formula in the treatment of conditions involving both inflammation and immunity such as ankylosing spondylitis and arthritis.


The root has hepato-protective actions and promotes liver health recovery from viruses such as hepatitis and conditions such as fatty liver, liver fibrosis and jaundice (including from obstructions).


Its anti-cancer properties are being researched recently and several studies show that taking astragalus root can increase the survival rate from certain cancers such as some lung cancers, colon and rectal cancer, kidney cancers and cervical and endometrial cancers.

It can also help to alleviate cancer related anorexia. Astragalus root helps to protect against the ill effects of radiation exposure, increases the bodies resistance to the immuno-suppressive effects of chemotherapy and similar cancer treatments.

It can be used with other herbs (e.g. angelica root, yellow dock root, nettle tea) in anaemia where it slows the destruction of healthy red blood cells and improves the functioning of the spleen and bone marrow (major red blood cell production sites) as well as raising haemoglobin and vitamin B12 levels.


Astragalus has been used traditionally as an anti-diabetic herb. Its polysaccharides seem to both lower blood sugar levels and improve the bodys sensitivity to insulin (which encourages cells to take up the excess sugars from the blood). It also seems to help the body to shed excess weight and reduce circulating cholesterol. This paper on astragalus and how it works in diabetes is useful to understand its action in the body.


Astragalus is known to contain complexes that are anti-ageing. It protects skin and connective tissue against signs of ageing, helps protect the brain and cognitive functions from age related degeneration.



This monograph on Astragalus root gives more detailed information on its constituents and how they work and interact in the body.


dosage and cautions

dosage and cautions

Astragalus is considered to be a generally safe tonic herb to be used daily in therapeutic doses or in smaller doses and more sporadically over the longer term for its preventative, tonic and anti-ageing effects.

Very occasionally, astragalus can cause stomach upsets (bloating and diarrhoea) in some. Discontinue if this happens and choose another herb with similar adaptogenic properties such as reishi mushroom or siberian ginseng.


*Astragalus root will interfere with medications that suppress the immune system (including steroids). It may well interfere with medications supressing the immune response following transplant surgery.

* Do not use astragalus root if you are taking lithium.


Tincture: 5ml in a little water, 3 times daily.

Dried root in tea form: 1 heaped teaspoon of shredded root, 3 times daily. Simmer 3 heaped teaspoons of the root in a pint or so of water for 20 minutes, strain of each cup and drink evenly spaced throughout the day

Dried root in powder form: 30-60g daily.

The dried root is considered to be slightly more potent than the tincture.

A slither of dried astragalus root can also be added to soups and stews as it tastes quite bland with a hint of sweetness. Remove the root before eating the soup/stew as it is very fibrous and does not make good eating. It can also be added to the water when cooking grains or vegetables.

Add 12 to the child’s age. Divide the child’s age by the total.
E.g. dosage for a 4 year old...... 4 {age} divided by 16 {age + 12} = . 25  or 1/4 of the adult dosage.






Child watering plants




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