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

Can Astragalus Help Reverse Hair Loss?

Astragalus may help reverse hair loss.

Hair loss is currently treated with finasteride and minoxidil. Both of these drugs have potential side effects. Natural products (such as astragalus) may be safer, but are they effective?(229241)

Life Cycle of Hair

Hair emerges from hair follicles, which are complex cellular structures. The life of hair follicles follows phases. In very general terms, the main phases are as follows:(242)

  • Anagen: growth phase, lasting years
  • Catagen: interim phase where growth stops and hair follicle begins to shrink as cells in the follicle switch from dividing and growing to programmed cell death
  • Exogen: hair sheds
  • Telogen: resting phase (as hair follicle prepares to re-enter the anagen phase with new hair growth)

Imbalances triggered by a number of factors (such as hormonal changes, stress, and disease) can disrupt these phases. Typically, hair loss is linked to the hair follicle prematurely entering the catagen phase.(242)

Evidence of Possible Benefit

Results of preclinical animal studies suggest astragalus and astragalus compounds could reverse or slow thinning hair.

Astragalus Compound or Form Effect

Astragalus extract, 1% (topical)(50)

Initiates hair regrowth in hair follicles in the telogen phase by: (50)

Astragaloside IV (topical)(229)

Reverses premature initiation of catagen phase, stimulating regrowth of hair by:(229)

  • Blocking death of hair follicle cells.
  • Promoting hair growth factors and anagen phase.

Formononetin (topical)(241)

Promotes hair regrowth by:(241)

  • Blocking death of hair follicle cells.
  • Reversing miniaturization of hair follicles.
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Linked to catagen phase.(241)