Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)
Astragalus has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), in combination with other herbs, to stimulate the immune systemThe organs specialised to fight infection.. It is also used to enhance the effects of chemotherapyThe use of chemical substances to treat disease, particularly cancer. and reduce possible side effects. Based on traditional use and clinical experience, astragalus is generally considered to be safe.
Astragalus is a huge genus of over 2,000 species. The main medicinal species are Astragalus membranaceus and Astragalus mongholicus. Other astragalus species, such as Astragalus mollissimus (locoweed), may be toxic.
Gummy sap (tragacanth) from astragalus is used as a thickener in ice cream, a denture adhesive, and an antidiarrheal agent.