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

Natural Herbal Help for Lupus

Astragalus may help reduce symptoms and complications of lupus, including nephritis.

Lupus is an autoimmune condition. In autoimmune diseases, the immune system "attacks" different organs throughout the body. The resulting inflammation damages cells and can affect how well organs work. Treatment for lupus includes anti-inflammatory steroids and drugs that suppress the immune system, both of which may have serious side effects. Results of a randomized clinical study involving 80 lupus patients suggest that astragalus can safely improve drug effectiveness by helping to regulate the immune system. 114, 115

Astragalus Help for Lupus Nephritis

One of the most serious complications of lupus is kidney disease (called lupus nephritis). Unfortunately, some drugs (such as cyclophosphamide) used to treat this kidney condition can increase the risk of infections in the kidneys. 60

Another risk of infection for lupus and lupus nephritis patients arises from the underlying disease itself. One of the signs of lupus nephritis is the loss of immune-supporting red and white blood cells and proteins in the urine. This occurs because the capillaries in the kidney that filter out waste while retaining proteins and other cells within the blood are damaged by lupus. 80

Clinical Evidence of Benefit

To find out if using astragalus with cyclophosphamide could reduce the risk of infection linked to the drug, a 3-month clinical trial was conducted. Patients were randomly assigned to one of 2 groups: 60

  • 20 patients in a control group given IV infusion of cyclophosphamide once a month.
  • 23 patients in the trial group also received once monthly IV infusions of the immunosuppressant drug. In addition, these patients were given drip infusions of high dosages (20 mL) of astragalus for 12 days a month.

The group treated with astragalus had an infection rate of less than 5%. This was dramatically lower than the 25% infection rate of the control group. Astragalus was also significantly better at improving clinical symptoms than cyclophosphamide alone. 60

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Lupus erythematosus.
As measured by serum and urine protein levels and blood cell counts. 60