Also known as: Astragalus Membranaceus, AstraGin, Astragalus Root Extract 5:1
Traditional Chinese medicinal herb that exerts adaptogenic effects on the body leading to decreased stress, anxiety, and blood pressure while potentially boosting NO production.
What Is It?
Astragalus membranaceus is one of the cornerstone herbal remedies in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It's long been used on its own and as part of herbal blends as a natural remedy for various disorders of the "qi." These conditions include fatigue, lack of appetite, diarrhea, and various ailments of the spleen.
Astragalus is considered an adaptogenic herb that helps protect the body against various stresses, including mental, emotional, and physical stress. Studies on Astragalus membranaceus have focused on its potential anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, and longevity effects.
What Does It Do?
Astragalus membranaceus owes its effectiveness to the combination of the active ingredients contained within it. The main component that is most widely isolated and extracted is astragaloside IV (a steroidal sapogenin), which is patented and sold under the name TA-65. Typically, this proprietary extract is used as a longevity agent.
However, astragaloside IV has a relatively low bioavailability, meaning it isn't utilized by the body all that well post-ingestion. While this doesn't translate into elevated concentrations of the compound in the body, lower concentrations of astragaloside IV have demonstrated cardioprotective effects in clinical trials. The high flavonoid content of Astragalus membranaceus may also contribute to its cardioprotective effects.
Astragalus also demonstrates the capability the ability, via adipocytes (fat cells), to improve glucose metabolism and diabetic symptoms through a variety of mechanisms. Not much research exists on its effects regarding body fat, but it may possess a beneficial effect in treating obesity via increasing fat cell differentiation.
Lastly, and most important for the fitness enthusiast, Astragalus can enhance exercise endurance and performance. Studies using the herb found that supplementation reduced exercise-induced accumulation of the byproducts blood lactate and ammonia. This resulted in less fatigue and translates into improved exercise performance.
Uses of Astragalus
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Reduce Blood Pressure
Lower Blood Sugar
Enhance Endurance Capacity
Reduced waste byproducts attributed with strenuous exercise (i.e. blood lactate and ammonia)
Astragalus membranaceus can also be supplemented via a root extract. Given the various standardizations for extracts, it's difficult to prescribe an "ideal" dose for astragalus.
However, if you're choosing to supplement with the saponin astragaloside IV, the typical dose for astragaloside IV is 5-10mg.
Note: Most astragalus root extracts included in pre and post workouts will contain approximately 1-2g.
There are A LOT of herb and herbal extracts included in supplements that claim to be effective. While most are misses, Astragalus is one of definitive "hits."
Not only is it an effective immune system booster, it also protects the brain and heart. More studies are needed to conclusively prove it as a solid addition to a pre workout stack, but based off initial findings, it can go a long way to improving your overall work capacity and endurance.