|Article and Photo © Ann Walker|
Lack of clinical data is surprising considering the huge amount of laboratory research that has gone into studying this herb and its constituents, but cancer is difficult to study in a clinical trial setting because of ethical considerations. A review by the internationally-recognised Cochrane review collaboration found four trials in which Astragalus was combined with chemotherapy for large bowel cancer (PMID: 15674951).
These showed reduced nausea during chemotherapy and better preservation of the white blood cell count, but it again concluded that more vigorous trials were needed to confirm these results. However, there was no evidence of any harm from including Astragalus in these regimes. While waiting for more evidence of its adjunct value in chemotherapy, Astragalus has been adopted as a key herb in western herbal medicine over the last decade because of the research interest in it. I use it a lot in my clinic, along with other herbs, for reducing susceptibility to infection – both viral and bacterial - and to reduce the symptoms of chemotherapy treatment.
PMID = PubMed identifier
Ann Walker PhD, FCPP, MNIMH, RNutr
Course Director DHM