Astragalus membranaceus is a member of the pea family. It has been used by Chinese doctors for centuries for various aliments. In the book, The Killer Plagues to Come, author William Lee, R. Ph. Ph.D. and Lynn Lee, CN share information about Astragalus as a potential super herb. Research done in the People’s Republic of China has shown that it operates through four main pathways of action:
1. On the cellular level, it enhances cell metabolism, delaying the cell’s aging, prolonging its life and making it more energy efficient.
2. It boosts protein synthesis in the liver with an improvement in nutrition and increase in energy.
3. It stimulates the body’s immune system.
4. It restores improved functioning to the adrenal cortex, improving metabolism in general. 
Astragalus as a Super Herb
The polysaccharides found in astragalus increasese the production of interferon and the white blood cells.
In The Killer Plagues to Come, in a series of articles in the Chinese Medical Journal, doctors at the Shanghai Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases described the overwhelming victory of the anti-germotic, against the coxsackie B virus, which can cause a catastrophic infection of the heart called Coxsackie B vial myocarditis. At this time, there were no drugs known to prevent or treat this killer, but in 1987, Chinese researchers proved that extracts of astragalus literally blew the virus apart. 
Clinical experiments were conducted with patients suffering from Coxsackie B viral myocarditis, all of who showed weakened immune systems, as evidenced by depressed natural killer (NK) cell activity. Ten patients were treated with intramuscular injections of Astragalus extracts at a dosage of eight grams per day for three to four months. Another six patients were given “conventional treatment” that consisted of vitamin C, coenzyme A, DNA, and chinese herbal compound drug Sheng Mai Chong Ji. After therapy NK activity was tripled in the Astragalus group from 15.6 percent to 44.9 percent, and the general condition of these patients markedly improved. Another benefit was that three patients discovered that they “were virtually free from attacks of the common cold and seven had occasional attacks only.” In the conventional therapy group, there was no significant change in the NK activity, and the clinical condition showed no improvement. 
Astragalus comes from the root of a perennial plant plant in the pea family that grows in the northern and eastern parts of China as well as in Mongolia and Korea. The root is what is used for medicine. Astragalus is called an adaptogen, meaning it helps protect the body from physical, mental, or emotional stress. It appears especially effective when immune function is stressed by environmental or endogenous challenges.
Astragalus is still widely used in China for treatment of chronic hepatitis and as an adjunctive therapy for cancer and as a folk or traditional remedy for heart disease. Astragalus has also been promoted for stimulation of the spleen, liver, lungs, circulatory, and urinary system, to help treat arthritis, asthma, and nervous conditions and to lower blood sugar levels and blood pressure. 
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 Lee, William and Lynn, The Killer Plagues to Come, 1995, p. 63.
 Yang, Y.Z. et all. Chinese Medical Journal, 1987, 107(7):595.)
 Lee, William and Lynn, The Killer Plagues to Come, 1995, pp. 65-66.
About the Author
Amy Willis M.H.