Does Astragalus Affect Blood Pressure?
Astragalus root (Astragalus membranaceus) is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that has been used for thousands of years to help treat various diseases — including high blood pressure.
In recent years, studies have indicated that it may also be effective in treating hypertension while also helping to regulate and improve immunity (among a host of other benefits!)
Read on as we dive into how astragalus can positively impact blood pressure as well as potentially aid in improving and restoring kidney and liver function
Table Of Contents:
- What Is Astragalus?
- Is Astragalus A Blood Thinner?
- Is Astragalus A Diuretic?
- Is Astragalus Bad For Kidneys?
- Is Astragalus Good For Diabetes?
- Is Astragalus Good For the Liver?
- Final Considerations
What Is Astragalus?
Astragalus root (also known as Huang qi) is an ancient adaptogenic tonic herb that has long been used for improving health, most notably in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
There are over 2000 known species of this unique root, however, there are two that carry medicinal properties, Astragalus membranaceus and Astragalus mongholicus.
Most easily consumed as a dried or powdered extract, astragalus is rapidly growing in popularity as a dietary supplement in modern cultures due to its ability to enhance immune function and promote overall health.
It is regularly used by people who believe it can help with chronic illnesses such as colds and flu, chronic fatigue, respiratory infections, and heart and kidney disease.
The main active ingredients in astragalus include polysaccharides, saponins & flavonoids, however, it’s also packed with numerous amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and other beneficial compounds.
Let’s get a quick breakdown of some of the key components:
- Polysaccharides are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, while saponins are well-known for their digestive and detoxification abilities.
- Flavonoids are another major component of the astragalus. They are powerful antioxidants that help prevent free radical damage to cells.
- Saponins in astragalus provide immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory & cardio-protective benefits
The combination of these particular active ingredients is believed to be what delivers the wide-ranging health benefits that have made astragalus so sought after for thousands of years!
Is Astragalus A Blood Thinner?
According to TCM, astragalus is thought to help thin the blood and promote healthy blood flow throughout the body. It’s even believed to help prevent blood clots as well as lower cholesterol levels.
There is now also some clinical evidence to suggest that astragalus could be useful in lowering blood pressure as well.
A recent study presented promising results of patients suffering from heart failure seeing significant heart health improvements with the use of astragalus, with another study suggesting that astragalus can assist with the widening of blood vessels — helping to improve blood flow and overall heart function.
However, these trials are limited in both numbers and scope so much more research on the effects of astragalus as a blood thinner needs to be conducted before we know for sure.
Is Astragalus A Diuretic?
A diuretic is a substance that accelerates the process of water and salt expulsion from the body via urination.
By doing this, diuretics can support the kidneys by helping them release more sodium, which in turn can remove water from your blood and help reduce blood pressure.
Astragalus has been used in TCM for millennia to help improve blood and heart health with some recent clinical studies also indicating its potential use as a mild diuretic.
Whilst studies of astragalus’ diuretic effects have mainly been carried out on animals so far, the results are promising and warrant further research to better determine the extent of the diuretic effects astragalus has on humans.
Is Astragalus Bad For Kidneys?
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), astragalus is believed to be a ‘kidney tonic’ that when taken consistently, can help improve overall kidney health and function, as well as help treat kidney-related illnesses such as nausea and vomiting and painful or difficult urination.
Again, coming back to its believed ability to help promote healthy blood flow, astragalus is thought to be able to improve blood circulation which can assist the kidneys in their work of filtering waste products from the bloodstream.
It is also believed that the powerful antioxidant effects of astragalus further help in preventing kidney damage by helping to remove excess free radicals in the body.
Again, this is another aspect of astragalus that definitely needs further research, but, the limited results currently available are still promising.
Is Astragalus Good For Diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus is a condition where the body’s inability to properly regulate sugar levels leads to high levels of glucose circulating within the bloodstream.
When talking bout diabetes it’s important to note that there are two types of diabetes with different characteristics; called type 1 and type 2.
Type 1 diabetes is caused when the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin. Insulin is required to convert sugar into energy for use by the body and without sufficient insulin, sugar builds up in the bloodstream.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin. When the body becomes resistant to the action of insulin, sugar cannot enter the cell and is instead stored in the blood as glycogen.
Glycogen is a form of carbohydrate which is stored in the liver and muscles. Excess glycogen (i.e. sugar) can cause weight gain and eventually develop into many other chronic health problems.
There are several prevailing ways to manage diabetes such as diet changes, exercise and medication.
One of the major causes of type 2 diabetes is poor diet. As well as being high in calories, sugar-rich foods like white bread, cakes and pastries all contain carbohydrates which are digested quickly and converted into glucose.
These carbs are absorbed directly into the bloodstream without first passing through the digestive system which can cause a spike in blood sugar levels.
Clinical studies have suggested that astragalus may be effective in helping to reduce blood sugar levels in both animals and humans with other studies showing its anti-diabetic effects on both Type 1 & Type 2 diabetes.
These studies suggest that the combination of its active compounds may be effective in regulating and balancing insulin production, largely due to the immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory and blood pressure reducing effects of astragalus’ key active -compounds polysaccharides, saponins and flavonoids.
Is Astragalus Good For the Liver?
The liver is a super important organ responsible for breaking down toxins and producing bile. Bile helps break down fats so that they can be used by the body.
If the liver is damaged or diseased, it can not perform these functions effectively which can lead to fatty build-ups in the body, further leading to potential heart diseases, obesity and even cancer.
Astragalus root contains a number of compounds that may help protect the liver against damage — most notably, saponins. Researchers believe that this is because saponins stimulate the production of proteins called cytokines which act as ‘messengers’ between cells and help promote healing and the immune response.
The saponins in astragalus also increase enzyme activity that helps the liver break down harmful and waste substances — removing potential toxins from the body.
Furthermore, early animal studies have suggested that astragalus may potentially improve liver function in people with hepatitis as well.
Astragalus is a brilliant tonic herb that has been a cornerstone of Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years now.
It’s been used for millennia to help with boosting immunity, improving lung health & cleansing the blood — and now several modern clinical studies are indicating its potential and ability to improve blood sugar levels to help with diabetes, heart disease, liver and kidney concerns.
Whilst the question of whether astragalus can be used as a blood pressure treatment is inconclusive due to the research being relatively new, astragalus is considered to be safe, and it may be an effective natural alternative for anyone looking to improve overall health.
With all supplements and extracts, you should always consult your doctor before using them — especially if you have an existing medical condition, are on medication, are pregnant or breastfeeding.