- This article is about the plant genus. The talus bone of the ankle is also sometimes called the Astragalus.
Astragalus (As-trá-ga-lus) is a large genus of about 2,000 species of herbs and small shrubs, belonging to the legume family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. The genus is native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Common names include milk-vetch (most species) and goat's-thorn (A. gummifera, A. tragacanthus). Some pale-flowered vetches are similar in appearance, but vetches are more vine-like.
Astragalus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the following case-bearers of the genus Coleophora: C. astragalella (feeds exclusively on A. glycyphyllos), C. cartilaginella (feeds exclusively on Astragalus), C. colutella, C. euryaula (feeds exclusively on Astragalus), C. gallipennella (feeds exclusively on A. glycyphyllos), C. hippodromica (feeds exclusively on A. gombo), C. onobrychiella (feeds exclusively on Astragalus), C. polonicella (feeds exclusively on A. arenarius) and C. vicinella.
- Selected species
Astragalus membranaceus, or huángqí (黄芪, literally "yellow leader"; also called běiqí, 北芪, literally "northern leader") is a tonic herb originally used in Chinese medicine. It is believed to be a galactagogue, and recent studies show that it may strengthen the human immune system.
The natural gum tragacanth, which is used in pharmaceuticals and textiles, is obtained from Astragalus tragacanthus. It is claimed to help the immune system, and to increase the body's resistance to common viruses.
In western herbal medicine, Astragalus is primarily considered a tonic for enhancing metabolism and digestion and is consumed as a tea made from the roots of the plant. It is also traditionally used to strengthen the immune system and in the healing of wounds and injuries.
The biotech company Geron Corporation has determined that a molecule from Astragalus membranaceus root called TA-65 is a telomerase activator. According to PRNewswire, TA Sciences, has a license from Geron to sell TA-65 and is now selling it as a neutraceutical anti-aging product at their TA Sciences Center in New York City. 
Traditional use of huang qi (radix astragali)
- Replenishes the Qi of the Spleen and Stomach
- Causes the Yang Qi of the Spleen and Stomach to Ascend
- Benefits the Qi and consolidates the surface, controls sweating
- Promotes urination and disperses swelling caused by a deficiency pattern
- Promotes the discharge of pus and speeds healing
- Tonifies and nourishes the Qi and Blood
- Used for Wasting and Thirsting syndrome (diabetes)
It enters the Lung and Spleen meridians and its properties are Sweet and Slightly Warm
Contraindications: Deficient Yin with Heat, Exterior Excess Heat Notes: Prepare with Honey to tonify Spleen and Stomach Qi, with wine to tonify the essence or with salt to tonify the Kidneys.
Several species, including A. alpinus (bluish-purple flowers), A. hypoglottis (purple flowers) and A. lotoides, are grown as ornamental plants in gardens.
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