Astragalus extract is used in natural skin care products for it’s antioxidant, vasodialation and collagen producing properties. Of the thousands of herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine, this herb ranks as one of the most important and it has special connections with the skin.
Astragalus herb contains several beneficial compounds that are beneficial for the skin. These include saponins, sterols, and polysaccharides.
The herb is well-known for its wound healing properties, and its effect on the circulatory system helps to improve blood flow to targeted areas where one applies astragalus, providing suppleness to the flesh and adaptive energy to the skin. The herbal extract aids the skin in eliminating toxins and is commonly used topically to expedite the healing of skin.
The antioxidant properties of astragalus makes it an extraordinary natural beauty product that helps diminish the appearance of wrinkles and heal skin damage caused by over exposure to the sun. Astragalus also promotes the production of hyaluronic acid, which in turn induces growth of collagen-producing cells called fibroblasts. As levels of hyaluronic acid decrease with age the synthesis of collagen is also reduced—resulting in the clinical signs of aging skin.
Another study on Astragalus extract has also demonstrated some promising anti-aging skin effects. The main findings from this study indicated that astragalus also directly stimulates collagen production by both young and aged skin.
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. But it also has been used to treat other conditions, including heart disease. 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.
Astragalus appears to work by stimulating the immune system. It has antioxidant effects that inhibit free radical production. In the body, free radicals damage cells and are linked to many health problems associated with aging. 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.
What Is Astragalus Used For?
Astragalus is a natural dietary supplement that’s used for various health conditions. For instance, it’s used to treat the common cold, upper respiratory infections, fibromyalgia, and diabetes. Some proponents of astragalus use it for its heart benefits. They claim it may protect against heart disease. It’s also used to help improve overall weakness.
Proponents also say astragalus stimulates the spleen, liver, lungs, circulatory, and urinary system. It’s also used to treat arthritis, asthma, and nervous conditions as well as to lower blood sugar and blood pressure.
Does Astragalus Root Have Heart Benefits?
Astragalus is often promoted for its effects on the immune system, liver, and cardiovascular system. There is, though, little research to suggest that astragalus can help protect the heart in humans. More research is needed before experts can make any firm recommendations about using astragalus for its heart benefits.
Astragalus has also been tested for breast cancer, the common cold, hepatitis, and lung cancer. Some preliminary studies suggest a possible benefit. But as with heart benefits, more medical research is needed to understand if astragalus can help with these other health problems.
Are There Side Effects With Astragalus?
Astragalus is usually taken in combination with other herbal supplements. When used appropriately, astragalus appears to be very safe and to have few side effects. Very high doses may suppress the immune system. So you should avoid using astragalus if you are taking immune-suppressing drugs.
Pregnant or nursing women should not use astragalus root. If you have an immune system disease such as multiple sclerosis, lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis, or another condition known as an “autoimmune disease,” you should not use astragalus root.
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.