By: Griffin McKenzie
Entrepreneur, Health Coach, and Blogger
Is the mid-day slump a regular occurrence in your life? You know you feel heavy pulling yourself out of bed on a daily basis, and by the end of the day, it’s all you can do to keep your eyes open at a dinner with friends. If you’re someone who is already holding their fourth cup of coffee by 3:00 o’clock and “powering through” a HIIT workout in search of a little more energy, might we suggest that caffeine and exercise may not be the solution to your problem? Instead, it could be that your adrenals are running on empty, which causes you to feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle.
If you’re not familiar with these powerful organs, your adrenals sit on top of your kidneys and are responsible for how your body deals with internal and external stressors. If your adrenals are depleted, the best thing you can do is practice rest, good nutrition, and supplementation with a product like our Adrenal IQ to help you manage. Adrenal IQ will help you combat your stress, build a healthy endocrine system, and rebalance your hormones. Within this supplement, ingredients like Schizandra, Ashwagandha, and Holy Basil work together to undo the damage of daily life and restore your body to proper working order. However, one ingredient in our Adrenal IQ, astragalus root, might not be one that you are familiar with, but you should be! In fact, astragalus could be one of the main reasons that this supplement is so powerful in fighting chronic fatigue and stress.
What is Astragalus?
Astragalus root might be new to your health vocabulary, but it’s definitely not new to the world of health and nutrition. It is obtained from the root of Astragalus membranaceus (7). In fact, this yellow root has been used as a dietary supplement to treat a plethora of traditions for thousands of years. Chinese medicine has touted the benefits of astragalus for centuries, using it in the form of a soup, tea, extract, and capsule. It has been used to treat both common conditions, such as diarrhea and fatigue, and serious diseases, like hepatitis, fibromyalgia, and cancer (1).
Astragalus is an adaptogen, like ashwagandha, which means that it falls into a class of herbs specifically designed to combat stress. It comes from a tough and starchy root, which is typically converted into capsule form for medicinal use. The polysaccharides in astragalus, such as formononetin, calycosin, and astragaloside IV are said to reduce inflammation by reducing the amount of nitric oxide released from cells, shut down negative metabolic pathways, and activate genes that support immune boosting pathways (2). When you’re dealing with stress and chronic fatigue, your immune system has a higher risk of contracting a virus or infection, so astragalus is a wonderful preventative supplement, as well.
What are The Benefits of Astragalus?
When learning about any adaptogen, it is important to remember that stress is not just caused by external sources, like a stressful day at work or conflict with a family member. Rather, stress can be caused by not taking enough time to break from routine and truly recover, as well as from inflammatory foods that stress the body from an internal standpoint. Because the root is both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial in nature, it successfully combats stress from a multitude of angles (3).
In terms of its disease-fighting properties, astragalus root has been used to boost the immune system by controlling t-helper cells 1 and 2 to regulate the immune response, enhance treatment for heart disease by strengthening arterial walls, and increase insulin sensitivity to combat diabetes the natural way (4). Additionally, astragalus has been shown to protect DNA by protecting telomeres from breaking down and leading to cell death by activating the enzyme telomerase (2). Cell death has been linked to early aging and cancer development, so trust us when we tell you that it’s not something you want to deal with!
Astragalus polysaccharides (APS) is the major factor in the herb’s anti-diabetic activity because APS has been shown to lower blood glucose and lipid levels, combat diabetic complications, and improve insulin resistance (5). APS has also been said to improve diabetic nephropathy and protect the renal system because of its anti-inflammatory properties (4). For those who are borderline diabetic and working to reduce their chances for type 2 diabetes, astragalus could be a great addition to your daily diet.
The anti-inflammatory nature of astragalus makes it somewhat of a universal need, as inflammation is a precursor to a wide variety of autoimmune diseases, digestive issues, and yes, chronic fatigue. Inflammation is a stress response designed to protect your body from harm, which means that it is a beneficial reaction for your body to have, but only in moderation. For instance, if you are dealing with an infection or a wound, you need inflammation to protect the area under attack and send beneficial antibodies to help your body heal. Because of this, astragalus can aid in wound healing and minimize scarring, but it can also be applied to more serious inflammatory conditions (4).
Chronic inflammation can persist if the body is regularly dealing with stress, toxic exposure, or nutrient-poor, inflammatory foods (6). Astragalus is so potent that it has been used in trials to reduce the inflammatory effects of the neurodegenerative disorder Alzheimer’s disease in rats, which speaks to its ability to treat a diverse array of conditions (7). It has been effective in the reduction of high triglycerides and blood pressure, both of which are precursors to cardiovascular disease and stroke (4).
Astragalus and Chronic Fatigue
In Chinese medicine, astragalus is often identified as the “Qi tonifying” herb, meaning that it can replenish the Qi or vital energy life force. Because it has the ability to improve immune function and endurance capacity, it is a natural choice to battle chronic fatigue. It has been used in clinical trials with both red sage and female ginseng to support a remarkable reduction in patients’ reports of their chronic fatigue, and the natural antioxidants in astragalus mitigate oxidative stress within the body (8). In fact, not only does astragalus help you feel better on a daily basis, it can actually improve your exercise endurance by reducing lactic acid build up (8)! It is crucial to heal the adrenals and handle issues of chronic fatigue before reintroducing strenuous exercise, but astragalus can support you when you’re ready to hit the gym again!
So, Will Astragalus Fix My Stress?
Here’s the tricky thing about stress and inflammation, there’s no “one size fits all” medicine. Even within our Adrenal IQ, we have a wide variety of ingredients that work together to combat the variety of stressors you might have in your life. Astragalus’s benefits are proven, but if your chronic fatigue is rooted in other lifestyle practices, such as poor sleep or dietary habits, then any supplement will be fighting an uphill battle to get you back on track. You need support for your endocrine system, as well as a lifestyle than prioritizes rest and recuperation, to experience the full benefit of any nutritional supplement.
Side Effects and Recommendations
Thankfully, the potential side effects of astragalus are moderate and uncommon, so most people will not experience adverse effects. Because it does stimulate the immune system, those with autoimmune (AI) conditions or patients undergoing cancer treatment should talk to their doctor before using the herb (2). Those with multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other AI conditions can be particularly susceptible (4). Astragalus can cause diarrhea or mild gastrointestinal upset, and it does hold potential risks for those suffering from hypertension or other blood disorders (1). As always, for your healthcare practitioner to be most successful in recommending supplements that may work for you, it is important to detail the full scope of your health concerns and other medicines and supplements you are currently consuming.
Though many users experience relief in their first week of consuming Adrenal IQ, we recommend that you continue supplementation for 6-8 weeks to truly evaluate how your body is performing with this product. As always, discontinue using the supplement if you have any adverse effects, and talk to your doctor or naturopath about any concerns you might have.
- Sun, S., Yang, S., Dai, M., Jia, X., Wang, Q., Zhang, Z., & Mao, Y. (2017). The effect of Astragalus polysaccharides on attenuation of diabetic cardiomyopathy through inhibiting the extrinsic and intrinsic apoptotic pathways in high glucose -stimulated H9C2 cells. BMC Complementary And Alternative Medicine, 17(1), 310. doi:10.1186/s12906-017-1828-7
- (2017). Ask the doctor: What is inflammation?. Harvard Heart Letter.
- Bahaeddin, Z., Yans, A., Khodagholi, F., & Sahranavard, S. (2018). Dietary supplementation with Allium hirtifolium and/or Astragalus hamosus improved memory and reduced neuro-inflammation in the rat model of Alzheimer’s disease. Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism, 43(6), 558-564.