Can This Plant Prevent Cancer?
Native to China, astragalus is a plant in the bean/legume family. Known for its many medicinal uses, it’s particularly popular for its ability to stimulate the immune system.
According to the Society for Integrative Oncology, “the root is often combined with other herbs to boost the immune system, to improve endurance, for preventing upper respiratory infections and colds, to lower blood pressure, to treat heart disease and diabetes, and as an adjunctive therapy for cancer.”
Astragalus and Cancer
The greatest strength from a supplement like Astragalus is that it can protect cells from free radicals. Free radicals are unstable atoms that cause oxidative stress, and more damage to cells, which leads to degenerative processes, as well as “normal” aging.
Astragalus contains three components that greatly impact health:
- Saponins – antioxidants that prevent heart disease and cancer
- Flavonoids – provide health benefits through cell signaling pathways and antioxidant effects
- Polysaccharides – have antimicrobial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties, also fight free radical damage
For cancer patients, astragalus is often used after they’ve gone through traditional treatments and their immune system has been compromised. It’s been found to be beneficial in treating fatigue, nausea, and weakness. An injectable form, combined with chemotherapeutic agents, improved quality of life in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (source).
Astragalus is used to rebuild the immune system of people undergoing radiation or chemotherapy for cancer-it increases the body’s production of white blood cells. For this reason, it may be useful in treating patients with low white blood cell counts (source).
Research shows success of Astragalus in decreasing or eliminating tumors:
- “In instances of chemo-resistance treating liver cancer, astragalus has shown potential in reversing multidrug resistance and as an addition to conventional chemotherapy, according to a study published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology.” (source)
- Another study showed that in colon cancer, astragalus suppress colon cancer cell growth through promotion of apoptosis and inhibition of cell proliferation (source).
- According to The Truth About Cancer, “researchers at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas believe cancer patients who use astragalus will double their chances of survival”.
- “In one study, astragalus membranaceus was able to restore immune function in 90% of the cancer patients studied!” (source). They also state that patients taking the astragalus supplements experienced a faster recovery and improved survival rates.
Here is how to consume astragalus:
- Dried root: 2 to 30 grams a day.
- Liquid extract (1:2): 4.5-8.5 millilitres a day.
- Decoction: 8 to 12 grams divided into two doses and taken on an empty stomach.
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