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Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) is a type of flowering plant. The root has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Astragalus is considered an adaptogen. Adaptogens are a class of natural substances that are believed to stimulate the body's resistance to physical, environmental, and emotional stressors. The chemicals in astragalus also seem to stimulate the immune system and reduce swelling.

People commonly use astragalus for hay fever, diabetes, kidney disease, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses. There is also no good evidence to support using astragalus for COVID-19.

There are many species of astragalus. Some species contain a nerve toxin and have been linked to livestock poisonings. These include Astragalus lentiginosus, Astragalus mollissimus, and others. But these species usually aren't found in dietary supplements. Most astragalus supplements contain Astragalus membranaceus. Also, don't confuse astragalus with tragacanth. These are different plants.

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When taken by mouth: Astragalus is possibly safe for most adults. Doses of up to 60 grams daily have been safely used for up to 4 months. Astragalus is usually well-tolerated.

When applied to the skin: There isn't enough reliable information to know if astragalus is safe or what the side effects might be.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if astragalus is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. But some research in animals suggests that it can be toxic during pregnancy and to the fetus. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

"Auto-immune diseases" such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other immune system conditions: Astragalus might make the immune system more active. This could worsen the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. Avoid using astragalus if you have any of these conditions.

Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar) is used to decrease the immune system. Astragalus increases the immune system. Taking astragalus along with cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar) might decrease the effectiveness of cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar).

Lithium

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Astragalus might have an effect like a water pill or "diuretic." Taking astragalus might decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium. This could increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects. Talk with your healthcare provider before using this product if you are taking lithium. Your lithium dose might need to be changed.

Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Astragalus increases the immune system. Taking astragalus along with medications that decrease the immune system might decrease the effectiveness of medications that decrease the immune system.

Some medications that decrease the immune system include azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), corticosteroids (glucocorticoids), and others.

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

There are no known interactions with foods.

Astragalus is available as the dried root, as an extract, and as a liquid decoction. It is also often used in combination with other herbs. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what type of product and dose might be best for a specific condition.

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