Milk Vetch (Astragalus)

Milk Vetch


Milk vetch (Astragalus mongholicus) is a medicinal herb that originates from traditional Chinese medicine.It is believed to have immunostimulating properties. It is mostly used in combination with other herbs, depending on the diagnosis. Milk vetch induces apoptosis, inhibits cell proliferation, induces a pro-inflammatory response, and augments phagocytic functions.

This study says Milk Vetch displayed its ability to control t-helper cells 1 and 2, essentially regulating the body’s immune responses.

This study concluded: This double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study demonstrates that Echinacea, Astragalus and Glycyrrhiza herbal tinctures ingested by human subjects stimulate activation and proliferation of various immune cells. A tincture that combines these three herbs demonstrates an additive effect on activation, but no additional increase of proliferation.

In this studyOne hundred and twenty tumor patients were randomly divided into the treated group and the control group. Both groups were treated with chemotherapy, but the treated group was also given an Astragalus injection once per day for 21 days as one course and 4 courses were given successively.
Compared with the control group, the treated group showed a lower progressive incidence, lesser decrease of peripheral WBC [white blood cell] and platelet count, accompanied with other improvements.
Conclusion: Astragalus injection supplemented with chemotherapy could inhibit the development of tumor, decrease the toxic-adverse effect of chemotherapy, elevate the immune function of organism and improve the quality of life in patients.

This study reports the effects of pure Astragalus preparation (PAP) in treating 115 cases of leucopenia [low white blood cells that form part of the immune system]. These cases were divided into two groups. Group I (58 cases) was treated by more concentrated PAP , Group II (57 cases) was treated by less concentrated PAP. The patients took the PAP twice a day for 8 weeks. The results showed that effectiveness in Group I was 82.76%, compared to only 47.37% in Group II. According to the comparison of average WBC [white blood cells] counts after treatment, Group I was significantly higher than that of Group II. There was an obvious rise of the WBC counts in both groups after treatment (P < 0.001). The results were dose-dependent. The author holds that Astragalus is an effective drug in treating leucopenia, and increasing the dosage could enhance its effectiveness.

Milk Vetch (Astragalus)

Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)
Common Names: astragalus, bei qi, huang qi, ogi, hwanggi, milk vetch

Historically, astragalus has been used in traditional Chinese medicine, usually in combination with other herbs, to support and enhance the immune system. It is still widely used in China for chronic hepatitis and as an adjunctive therapy for cancer. It is also used as a folk or traditional remedy for colds and upper respiratory infections, and for heart disease.

The root of the astragalus plant is typically used in soups, teas, extracts, or capsules. Astragalus is generally used with other herbs, such as ginseng, angelica, and licorice.

What the Science Says

  • The evidence for using astragalus for any health condition is limited. High-quality clinical trials (studies in people) are generally lacking. There is some preliminary evidence to suggest that astragalus, either alone or in combination with other herbs, may have potential benefits for the immune system, heart, and liver, and as an adjunctive therapy for cancer.
  • NCCAM-funded investigators are studying the effects of astragalus on the body, particularly on the immune system.

Side Effects and Cautions

  • Astragalus is considered safe for most adults. Its possible side effects are not well known because astragalus is generally used in combination with other herbs.
  • Astragalus may interact with medications that suppress the immune system, such as the drug cyclophosphamide taken by cancer patients and similar drugs taken by organ transplant recipients. It may also affect blood sugar levels and blood pressure.
  • People should be aware that some astragalus species, usually not found in dietary supplements used by humans, can be toxic. For example, several species that grow in the United States contain the neurotoxin swainsonine and have caused “locoweed” poisoning in animals. Other species contain potentially toxic levels of selenium.
  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health.

Where can I get this treatment and more information?
Available in Health food Stores and Online

1. Some cancer therapies can conflict with others. Do not start ANY therapy without consulting your doctor to ensure it’s safe and beneficial to do so.
2. Just because any given therapy worked for someone else does not necessarily mean it will work for you.
3. Although there are many viable alternative cancer treatments, there isn’t a “best” treatment for a certain type or stage of cancer.

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