Natural Health Products

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General Information

Astragalus is a family of herbs that contains over 2,000 species. The most common species – Astragalus membranaceus and Astragalus mongholicus – are used in traditional Chinese medicine, as well as in the United States for health-related purposes.

Common Name(s)
astragalus, bei qi, huang qi, ogi, hwanggi, milk vetch
Scientific Name(s)

Astragalus membranaceus

How is this product usually used?

The roots of this plant are usually made into soups, extracts, tablets, and capsules for use. Typically, astragalus is used together with other herbs, such as ginseng, angelica, and licorice.

Your health care provider may have recommended using this product in other ways. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What is this product used for?

Traditionally astragalus is used to strengthen the immune system, together with other herbs. It is also used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to improve qi (vital energy), infections like the common cold, and for spleen deficiencies with symptoms such as lack of appetite, tiredness and diarrhea. It may be used in herbal medicine to help build stress resistance.

The root is usually boiled in water for 15 to 25 minutes and the liquid is then consumed. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the dose ranges from 9 to 30 grams of dried root per day. When used for other purposes (such as for building stress resistance), the dosage range may be lower.

Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What else should I be aware of?

Scientific support for use of astragalus is limited. There is a lack of high-quality research on the actual benefit of astragalus for any of its traditional uses. Some weak evidence exists to suggest that astragalus, either alone or in combination with other herbs, may have potential benefits for the immune system.

Use of astragalus is generally considered safe for most adults. However, possible side effects are not well known as the herb is usually used together with other ingredients.

This herb may interact with drugs that affect the immune system, such as chemotherapy for cancer and drugs taken by organ transplant recipients.

Some astragalus species, not typically used in dietary supplements, can be toxic. For example, some species contain the neurotoxin swainsonine and have caused "locoweed" poisoning in animals. In addition, other species may contain potentially toxic levels of selenium (a dietary mineral).

You should not take astragalus if you:

  • are breast-feeding
  • have an autoimmune condition
  • are pregnant

Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.

  1. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Herbs at a Glance. Astragalus.
  2. Health Canada. Drugs & Health Products. Monograph – Astralagus.

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