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

Herbal Asthma Remedies

Astragalus compounds may help reduce inflammation and mucus in people with asthma.

If you have asthma or know someone who does, you understand the seriousness of this chronic inflammatory condition that can literally take your breath away when an asthma attack happens. Asthma can be triggered by allergies, smoke, and viral infections. Once triggered, the immune system overreacts and causes the following: 102

  • Inflammation in the lungs.
  • Constriction of the muscles around the bronchial airways.
  • Stimulation of the airway cells to produce mucus.

These immune system responses can than cause symptoms of wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing. 102

How Can Astragalus Help?

Astragalus is used as an ingredient in herbal formulas used to treat asthma. Compounds from astragalus have also been tested to reduce asthma symptoms. Preclinical research suggests astragalus may help control the inflammation and immune system response to asthma triggers. For example:

  • Treatment with one of the active components of astragalus reduced inflammation and mucus in a mouse model of asthma triggered by an allergen. The beneficial effects of the astragalus compound were evident despite the severity of symptoms. 103
  • A traditional Chinese medicine called Raven Napas shows significant benefit in asthmatic rats. Besides astragalus, ingredients of the herbal formula also include fennel, safflower, turnip mustard, and red date. 104

Is There Clinical Evidence of Benefit?

Despite promising animal and lab research, clinical study results using astragalus for asthma have been mixed. For example, a clinical trial showed that when combined with cordyceps, stemona root, fritillaria, and Baikal skullcap, Astragalus mongholicus did no better than placebo in reducing the need for steroid inhaler use in children aged 7-15 years old. 105

A greater number of clinical studies suggest that astragalus can be beneficial for people with asthma:

  • In 2 randomized clinical trials herbal allergy formulas (Biminne and Lectranal®) that contain astragalus reduced symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Seasonal allergies are often a trigger for an asthma attack. 16, 17
  • Results of a 6-month clinical trial using astragalus by itself proved effective in children with allergic asthma. Eighty children were randomly divided into a control group (given a placebo) or a treatment group (given 10 mL/day of oral astragalus solution). Astragalus proved to be more effective than the placebo in managing and reducing asthma symptoms. Blood tests revealed astragalus worked by reducing levels of inflammatory proteins while boosting levels of beneficial immune system cells. 20
  • Two courses of astragalus treatment in 67 patients with bronchial asthma proved effective in 91% of cases after 14 days, and 96% effective at the 1-year follow-up. 106
  • A small clinical trial showed that combining astragalus with conventional asthma drugs significantly improves outcomes in patients with acute bronchial asthma. 107

However, it should be noted that these studies are of limited strength and size. In addition, success of astragalus as an asthma treatment clearly depends on how it is used and should be studied further.

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Specifically, astragaloside IV. 103
Specifically, Astragalus membranaceus16, 17