Also known as milk vetch, huang qi (or huangqi)

Can Astragalus Help Prevent or Cure Urinary Tract Infections?

Astragalus may improve immune response and inhibit UTI infections.

Research suggests that astragalus may be a natural herbal remedy for urinary tract infections (UTIs). Though these infections are fairly common, they can be uncomfortable. In some people, UTIs can be severe or chronic forms of the condition can occur. 71

Emerging drug-resistant bacteria makes it more important than ever to find alternative treatments for UTIs. Options such as astragalus that naturally boost the body's own immune system response to bacteria are potentially ideal solutions. 71

How Does Astragalus Work Against Urinary Tract Infections?

Research suggests that there may be a genetic predisposition to UTIs. In these individuals there appears to be an impaired response to the bacteria that causes UTIs. Specifically, patients with chronic UTIs have lower levels of a specific protein (TLR4) that plays an important role in activating the innate immune system response. TLR4 sends signals to produce cytokine proteins that help: 71

  • Expel bacteria from the bladder.
  • Inhibit bacterial invasion.
  • Control the inflammation in the urinary tract.

Evidence of Benefit

Animal studies have shown that treatment with astragalus improves the immune response. Astragalus also inhibits infection from bacteria that cause urinary tract infections. 136

In a clinical trial, patients with chronic UTIs were given astragalus injections (500 mg per kg of body weight a day) for 1-2 weeks along with antibiotics. All of these study subjects had significantly lower than normal TLR4 levels before treatment compared to the healthy control group. After the astragalus treatment TLR4 levels increased by over four times the pre-treatment level. 71

While these results sound promising, the study authors failed to indicate if a control group with chronic UTIs was treated with antibiotics alone to compare results with. Although other studies substantiate the immune-stimulating effects of astragalus, in this study it is difficult to know how much of the benefit was due to the antibiotics and how much to the herbal help. Nevertheless, results like this warrant further investigation. 71

Finally, injections of astragalus proved useful in reducing the risk of infections (including UTIs) in children with leukemia. Astragalus also reduced the duration of infection in those children who did develop infection. 137

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For example, acute cystitis or urethritis. 71