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

Astragalus Increases Insulin Sensitivity

Astragalus increases insulin sensitivity in cells and may help prevent diabetes.

Insulin is a hormone critical to regulating the glucose cells take in from the blood to use for energy. In people with diabetes cells are insulin-resistant, and cells aren't able to absorb sugar as well as they should. Research suggests astragalus may improve insulin sensitivity in cells. In lab and animal studies, compounds in the herb enhanced the ability of cells to take in glucose, lowering blood sugar levels. This could help prevent or reduce the risks of diabetes.(62188196197)

Clinical Evidence of Benefit

One way to test for insulin resistance is to test blood sugar levels after eating. Blood sugar levels that are still high 2 hours after eating is a sign that cells are insulin-resistant.(193)

In one clinical trial involving 43 non-medicated patients with type 2 diabetes, those who were given a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) containing astragalus showed much less insulin resistance than those given a placebo.(193)

Astragalus and Diabetes Prevention

According to another clinical trial conducted at multiple health centers for a year, astragalus may also help prevent type-2 diabetes. Almost 400 people with pre-diabetes participated, with roughly half in the treatment group given a Chinese herbal medicine (which contained 9 other herbs in addition to astragalus). The other half were given a placebo.(198)

Results showed significantly fewer of those who took the herbal formula developed diabetes. Analysis showed the astragalus-containing herbal medicine reduced the risk of diabetes by 32%, with no serious side effects reported. The preventive benefits of this Chinese herbal formula were corroborated by a systematic review and meta-analysis of multiple studies.(198199)

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Randomized, controlled clinical trial.(193)
Randomized, placebo controlled clinical trial.(198)
An herbal formula called Tianqi.(198)