Health Guide


What is it?

Astragalus is an herbal medicine used to boost the immune system, treat heart disease, and decrease side effects for people undergoing cancer chemotherapy. It may also be used as an injection when treating aplastic anemia.

Other names for astragalus include: milk vetch and huang-qi.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement).
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine.
  • are breastfeeding.
  • have an autoimmune disease (such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis) (5).
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease.


Talk with your caregiver about how much astragalus you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking astragalus. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.

Drug and Food Interactions:

Do not take astragalus without talking to your doctor first if you are taking:

  • Medicine used to treat or prevent blood clots (examples: aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix(R)), ticlopidine (Ticlid(R)), warfarin (Coumadin(R)), enoxaparin (Lovenox(R))) (4)


  • Before taking astragalus, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • If you have an autoimmune disease (such as lupus), you should use astragalus only under the advice and direction of a physician (5).
  • Discontinue astragalus 14 days before having elective surgery or dental work (4).

Side Effects:

Call your doctor right away if you have any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hand, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing, or rash

Other Side Effects:

This medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Unexplained bruising or bruises which do not heal within a few days, bleeding gums, nosebleeds, any other unusual bleeding (4)


1. Bone K: Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs: Monographs for the Western Herbal Practitioner. Phytotherapy Press, Queensland, Australia; 1997.

2. Hoffman D: The Herbalist on CD-ROM. Hopkins Technology, MN; 1994.

3. Zhang WJ, Wojita J & Binder BR: Regulation of the fibrinolytic potential of cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells: Astragaloside IV downregulates plasminogen activator expression. J Vasc Res 1997; 34: 273-280.

4. Norred CL & Finlayson CA: Hemorrhage after the preoperative use of complementary and alternative medicines. AANA J 2000; 68:217-220.

5. Yoshida Y, Wang MQ, Liu JN et al: Immunomodulating activity of Chinese medicinal herbs and Oldenlandia diffusa in particular. Int J Immunopharmacol 1997; 19:359-370.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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