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How Does Astragalus Work?

astragalus root

Astragalus is a herb that has been used for many thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

It's one of the most popular herbs used by TCM practitioners to treat various conditions, including chronic fatigue syndrome and immune system disorders.

In recent years, modern science has undertaken studies that align with the Traditional Chinese Medicine principles, so it’s become a very popular natural supplement for treating these same conditions.

In this article, we will explore exactly how astragalus works and how it interacts with the body.

How Astragalus Works

Astragalus is said to be an adaptogen, meaning that it can help your body ‘adapt’ to changing conditions and better cope with stress and other impactful factors in your life.

Studies indicate that it has a calming effect that helps promote relaxation and can reduce stress - with some studies also suggesting that its benefits also extend to reducing inflammation and supporting the immune system.

Astragalus contains several active compounds that are believed to be responsible for its effectiveness as a natural remedy. Its most significant compounds include;

  • Polysaccharides
  • Saponins
  • Flavonoids

The polysaccharides in astragalus have been indicated to help improve blood circulation and increase the production of white blood cells.

Saponins are also thought to play a role in improving immunity by stimulating the activity of certain enzymes in the body. The saponins in astragalus are thought to reduce inflammation by acting on certain chemicals called cytokines.

Flavonoids are shown to have strong antioxidant properties as well as anti-inflammatory effects. Antioxidants are believed to work by neutralising harmful substances called free radicals while anti-inflammatories help to reduce inflammation in cells and damaged tissue.

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How Astragalus Works On The Immune System

astragalus and the immune system

It is believed that astragalus can support the immune system by helping to increase the number of T-cells (white blood cells) that fight infection as well as stimulate antibody production.

Another way in which Astragalus is indicated to help boost the immune system is through their stimulation of macrophages.

Macrophages are activated when they come into contact with bacteria or viruses. When this happens they begin a process called ‘lymphocyte activation’ which tells nearby cells to produce more antibodies and activate killer cells.

The saponins found within Astragalus are believed to help macrophages promote lymphocyte activation, in turn helping to stimulate a fast and effective immune response - helping the body quickly deal with any pathogens.

How Astragalus Works On Improving Mood

Stress affects every one of us in one way or another. At some point in your life, you’ll likely find yourself overwhelmed or just burnt out - it’s part of being human!

Whilst there are many prescription medications for treating depression, many are known to cause severe side effects as well as carry a risk of addiction. Hence, many look to more natural alternatives that are said to produce beneficial effects without the adverse effects.

As an ‘adaptogen’, astragalus has properties that can help you deal with the physiological and psychological effects of stress.

There is much research needed on the exact mechanisms of what even causes stress, but current research indicates that astragalus interacts with neurotransmitters that release hormones associated with mood and emotion, particularly serotonin.

Serotonin is a hormone produced naturally in the brain that regulates our emotions, sleep patterns, appetite, and sexual behaviour. Astragalus is believed to naturally help the brain produce more serotonin which is thought to help alleviate factors of stress, anxiety and depression.

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How Astragalus Can Help Reduce Inflammation

Before we get started, it’s important to note that there are two major kinds of inflammation: acute and chronic.

Acute inflammation is an important part of the body’s healing process, however, chronic inflammation can lead to serious health problems.

Acute inflammation occurs when your body responds to an injury or infection. Your immune system sends white blood cells to the area to deal with any pathogens, or, begin healing damaged tissue.

Chronic inflammation occurs when your body's immune response doesn’t stop after an injury or infection is healed - remaining sore, stiff and swollen far longer than it should.

Chronic inflammation can affect almost every organ in the body and if left unchecked, can potentially contribute to harmful diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

When taken regularly, astragalus has been found to be particularly effective at reducing chronic inflammation in the body, largely due to its super high polysaccharide content.

How Long Does It Take Astragalus To Work?

how long does it take astragalus to work

It’s hard to know when astragalus will ‘work’ for you as everybody has a different constitution and reacts differently to supplements.

You will most commonly find astragalus as a dried powder extract, capsule or liquid extract - making it very easy to take or mix in with drinks or food.

When taken orally like this - it is said to take generally take effect after approximately 24 hours for the body to absorb water-soluble astragalus. However, fat-soluble compounds may take a couple of days or a week to be processed.

Keep in mind you may never ‘feel’ the effects but that doesn’t mean it isn’t working for you.

where to buy astragalus

How Long Does Astragalus Stay In The Body?

Astragalus contains both water-soluble and fat-soluble components that stay in the body for differing periods of time.

Once ingested, the water-soluble components will remain in the body for several days, however, the fat-soluble components will stay in the body significantly longer - typically up to 4 weeks.

Ideally, it’s best to consume astragalus regularly so you have both active components in your system.

When Should Astragalus Be Used?

Ideally, astragalus should be consumed on a daily basis - and it can be taken both morning and night. I personally keep it in the pantry to put in smoothies, juices or breakfast bowls.

Astragalus is best as a preventative measure against illnesses. It’s great to take when you notice signs of colds or flu to reduce the impact, or, in times of stress or illness to help support your overall well-being.

putting astragalus in food

Final Considerations

Astragalus has long been considered a potent adaptogen and herbal remedy for helping improve overall health and wellbeing.

Coveted and revered in Traditional Chinese Medicine for millennia now, modern research is now uncovering the mechanisms and components that could be contributing to astragalus’ ability to help with immunity, mood and digestion.

As with all supplements though, they are only as good as the quality of their production - we exclusively recommend you go with SuperFeast or Teelixir if you're looking to get some for yourself.

There are very few reported side effects associated with astragalus, but as with any new supplement, it’s imperative that you consult your doctor, GP or medical practitioner before taking it to be on the safe side.

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