Astragalus Root: Is This Right for You?

Feel fatigued, drained and devoid of energy? Read more about astragalus, an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine that can keep your energy going and get you through the day.

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What Is Astragalus?

Astragalus root has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries as a restorative tonic; it is considered a sweet, warming herb with effects on many organs. It is used either alone or with other herbs to help with aging, improve energy, and stimulate the immune system during conditions such as the common cold, blood disorders, cancer and HIV/AIDS. It is also used as an adaptogen, which is meant to increase general resistance to stress and disease, and normalize disturbances in your body’s ability to balance itself.

The root is sold as a supplement in tablets of different dosages.

How Does It Work?

There's a special chemical in astragalus that actually slows down the aging process right where it happens, inside of our cells, where the blueprint of our cells resides.

Recent research has shown that this special chemical derived from astragalus can "turn on" an enzyme called telomerase (hTERT). Telomerase acts to maintain or lengthen telomeres, which extend the lifespan of your DNA. If you imagine DNA as a shoelace, telomeres are the plastic aglets at each end. It serves as a protector for your DNA because it keeps it from fraying or damaging. As you age, your telomeres shorten due to wear and tear, which gives your cells an expiration date. However, telomerase helps to preserve telomeres by making them longer. Telemerase is usually "off" in adult cells, except in immune cells, in egg and sperm cells, and in malignant cells, like those found in cancer.

The length of your telomeres is important: Researchers have discovered correlations between telomere length and susceptibility to certain aging-related diseases, like cardiovascular diseases (heart attacks, atherosclerosis, and strokes), diabetes, and cancer.

Is It Safe?

Because of its long history of traditional and clinical use, astragalus is considered to be safe. However, it may increase the risk of bleeding, so caution is advised to those with bleeding disorders or those taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. 

Also avoid using astragalus while pregnant or breastfeeding, due to harmful effects seen in preliminary studies.

How Much Should I Take?

Take 200 mg, twice a day. Take it once in the morning, and once in the evening, with or without food.

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Also, understand that no pill is more effective than maintaining a regular exercise regimen and a healthy diet.

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