Side Effects Free Immune-Enhancing Herb
by Jennifer Mueller -- Reprinted by permission
from Pat Whittington of Vitamin Research News
is a common ingredient in traditional Chinese herbal medicine.
Huangqi (the Chinese name for this immune enhancing herb) is an
integral part of Fu-Zhong therapy, a combination of herbs thought to
promote and enhance natural defense mechanisms with positive side
traditional Chinese herbal medicine, astragulus is used to replenish
vital energy, and accelerate wound healing.3 Astragalus
membranaceus is the most common form of astragalus used for medicinal
purposes; other varieties were once used to make gels for the
manufacture of other medications.4
But perhaps its most promising use is in helping as a support
nutrient for those with canc.
Astragalus enhances immune function by altering the metabolism of
immune cells. Studies in both humans and laboratory animals have
demonstrated its potential via its ability to help protect our bodies
from the viruses that cause influenza and the common cold. Both
oral and nasal administration of astragalus extracts have offered
positive side effects of protection against the common cold and in people who are susceptible
to colds and flu. Treatment with astragalus for short periods of
time (two weeks) enhances interferon induction via the white blood
cells, and results in increased levels of cytokines (such as
interleukin-2 and IgA and IgG).
Astragalus may lead to an increase in T-helper cell
activity. This increase in immune function was clearly
demonstrated in one study where immuno-deficient and healthy normal
mice were treated with astragulus extract. The astragalus treatment
increased T-helper cell activity in both the immuno-deficient and the
healthy mice.3 This positive side effect has been noted in
humans as well.
Astragalus and the Immune Response
The body's first line of defense against foreign bodies such as
bacteria and viruses and mutated (tumor) cells is phagocytosis lysing.
Macrophages (a class of white blood cells) are accompanied by reactive
oxygen species such as superoxide ions and hydrogen peroxide.
These oxygen radicals are the major mechanism by which macrophages
fight viruses and tumor cells and the negative side effects associated
with them. Certain tumor cells, however,
have the capability of producing suppresser factors, which impair the
production of these oxygen intermediates, allowing the tumor to grow
relatively uninhibited.5 This is further exacerbated by the
fact that patients in advanced stages of canc have already depressed phagocytic function to begin with. Chemotherapy and radiation
treatments further compromise their cellular immune response
Studies on the immunoprotective effects of
astragalus represent a fraction of the available
scientific literature. Both herbs have clearly demonstrated antiviral
activity, by boosting phagocytic activity (echinacea), or increasing
the production of key immune cells and cytokines (astragalus). Both
have been implicated in protection against infection by the common
cold or influenza viruses and both show great promise in canc
support. The effects of each follow a dose-dependent
response; and to date, no toxic side effects have been reported.
With the emergence of new and more virulent strains of flu, AIDS, and
other immune disorders, the search for effective drugs to treat these
diseases blunders blindly forward. Herbal remedies are both safe and
usually more efficacious (not to mention less expensive), than
pharmaceuticals (and more often than not, lack most of the negative
side effects of synthetic drugs). Echinacea and astragalus are
just two examples of how nature has provided us with safe, effective
methods of improving our health and quality of life.
root membranaceus herb extract out of reach of children,
Do not exceed recommended dosage
for the best benefits,
If you have a bad reaction
or side effects, discontinue use immediately,
When using, please inform your physician.
Astragalus/Astragulus Root Membranaceus Extract
1. Zhao KS, Mancini C, Doria G. Enhancement of immune response in
mice by Astragalus membranaceus extracts. Immunopharmacolgy 20:
2. Sun Y, Hersh E., Talpaz M, et al. Immune restoration and/or
augmentation of local graft versus host reaction by traditional
Chinese medicinal herbs. canc 52: 70-73, 1983.
3. Zhang Z, Wen Q, Liu C. Hepatoprotective
positive side effects of astragalus
root. J Ethnopharmacol 30: 145-49, 1990.
4. Morazzoni P, Bombaradelli E. Astragalus membranaceus (Fish.) Bge.
Indena S.p.A., 1994 (Monograph).
5. Rittenhouse JR, Lui PD, Lau BHS. Chinese medicinal herbs reverse
macrophage suppression induced by urological tumors. J Urology 146:
6. Wang Y, Qian X, Hadley HR, et al. Phytochemicals potentiate
interleukin-2 generated lymphokine-activated killer cell cytotoxicity
against murine renal cell carcinoma. Mol Biother 4: 143-46, 1992.