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Study: Astragalus helps keep our immune system on an even keel

Michael Wäger Michael Wäger
from Michael Wäger, BSc, MSc
on 28.02.2020
Study: Astragalus helps keep our immune system on an even keel Study: Astragalus helps keep our immune system on an even keel

Astragalus membranaceus is one of the best known herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine. In its countries of origin, northern China and Mongolia, the roots of this plant are highly valued as a powerful aid to maintaining healthy immune function. Recent findings indicate that this Asian member of the papilionaceae family supports our immune system in a number of different ways, for example by preventing us from being knocked off balance by potential irritants.

The plant Astragalus membranaceus has a longstanding medical tradition in its countries of origin, where it has enjoyed widespread use for over a thousand years. Nowadays, modern analytical methods provide us with deeper insights into the modes of action displayed by plants like Astragalus membranaceus. In 2013, a research team led by C.P. Wan discovered that Astragaloside II,  a major active component of this Asian member of the papilionaceous family, can increase the activity of an enzyme known as CD45 phosphatase, thereby activating certain white blood cells that support the body’s immune system (Th1 cell activation).

On the basis of this new discovery, the institute behind the team of researchers resolved to compile all the latest immunological research findings on Astragalus membranaceus in a comprehensive review. The review showed that this traditional medical herb supports our immune system via a number of different mechanisms. In addition to the effects described above, these effects also include inhibition of certain pro-inflammatory substances (cytokines) and regulation of the balance between effector cells and regulatory T cells.

A recent study published in July 2019 also confirms the immunoregulatory effects of Astragalus membranaceus. This study showed that supplementation with an extract of Astragalus root causes a significant reduction in hypersensitive reactions to certain irritants.

Conclusion: Long appreciated in its Chinese homeland for its invaluable immunological benefits, recent studies suggest that Astragalus membranaceus not only actively supports our bodies’ natural defense mechanisms, but also helps to prevent our immune system from being thrown off balance by the presence of potential irritants.


Qi, Y. et al. 2017. Anti-Inflammatory and Immunostimulatory Activities of Astragalosides. Am J Chin Med. 45(6):1157–67.

Wan, C.P. et al. 2013. Astragaloside II triggers T cell activation through regulation of CD45 protein tyrosine phosphatase activity. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 34(4):522–30.

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