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Does Astragalus Root Increase Testosterone?

There are a large number of herbal remedies out there that claim to boost testosterone, muscle mass, strength and libido. Some contain the necessary nutrients to do this and others do not.

When you’re searching for testosterone boosting ingredients you’ll sometimes come across astragalus root. 

But are the claims that it can increase T levels backed up by science?

In this article you learn:

  • What is astragalus?
  • What do the studies say – does it boost testosterone?
  • Can it improve health?

What is Astragalus Root?

Astragalus membranaceus is one species of a family of over 2000 herbs. Otherwise known as locoweed or milk vetch, it is a perennial plant within the legume family fabaceae.

It is native to the northern hemisphere and most commonly found in the north or eastern regions of China, as well as Korea and Mongolia. In fact, it has been used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine for hundreds of years, being combined with other plants to treat illnesses relating to fatigue, diarrhea and breathlessness.

The plant contains a number of active compounds that may improve health, immune system and fight disease. These include saponins, flavenoids and polysaccharides. You’ll also find a range of amino and phenolic acids as well as sucrose in this plant which also help to provide essential nutrients.

Together, these nutrient compounds have been found to offer anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, lower cholesterol and protect against cancer and oxidative stress [1].

The extract from this herb has also been used in a small amount of commercially available testosterone boosting supplements. It isn’t as popular as some of the more well-known T-boosting ingredients such as D-aspartic acid or magnesium, but can the milk vetch nutrient actually increase your T levels too?

Read on to find out…


astragalus-plant

Key Point: Astragalus is a perennial herb used in traditional Chinese medicine to improve your immune system and overall health.


What Do The Studies Say – Does It Boost Testosterone?

One of the most apparent things with astragalus is that it is a very under-researched nutrient in the context of testosterone and male reproductive health.

Whilst many manufacturers make bold claims about its effect on androgen hormones, there isn’t a great deal of clinical evidence to back it up. In fact, according to a recent review study, the effects of milk vetch on the reproductive system have not been well investigated [2].

This statement was echoed in a large and robust review of herbal supplements in Plant Biochemistry and Physiology [3]. The report itself is a detailed analysis of all herbal agents and their effectiveness at boosting T levels – each herb has it’s own section where the evidence for it is critically evaluated.

Whilst there are long and comprehensive sections in the paper for other herbs, the astragalus section is short, and contains no reference to scientific studies – basically the researchers currently have no idea if it boosts T or not.

The only worthy point to note within that section is that the authors point out that whilst historically claimed to boost testosterone, there are currently no studies to our knowledge that specifically examine the effect of astragulus root on testosterone levels. 

Currently, the only study available that links the herb with male hormone levels is an animal study using Wistar rats [2]. In the study, 100 ug.mL was found to improve a range of male fertility markers including testes cell count as well as testosterone production – but obviously this is an animal study and not on human participants.

No matter what angle you come from with this supplement, its whole sales pitch is based on inconclusive data. There are so many supplement ingredients out there that have been proven to boost testosterone, that it just isn’t worth investing in. Until more robust evidence is made available we suggest that you avoid it. 


lean-bodybuilder

Key Point: Astragalus is a very understudied herbal remedy – it has practically no clinical research to suggest that it boosts testosterone.


Can Astragalus Improve Health?

Although there is no real evidence that milk vetch can increase T levels, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest it may improve health in a clinical setting.

Astrageloside IV – a saponin found in the herb extract – has been seen to improve cardiac and vascular health including regulation of blood, pressure and oxygen flow to the heart muscle [4].

Similar protective properties have been found with illnesses related to glucose control too, with the saponin and flavenoid content being found to have anti-diabetic effects. One study found that the milk vetch nutrients were able to protect specific pancreatic cells referred to as beta cells, which helped to improve blood sugar regulation [5].

Lastly, there is also some evidence that this herb offers anti-viral capabilities. This is probably its most well-known benefit. It may help to regulate white blood cells, which in turn boost the immune system. Although not an overwhelming amount of clinical evidence, a study published in Integrative Cancer Therapies [6] reported that astragalus may be useful as an early treatment for the common cold – as a side note though, the researchers did state that it is the least studied of many traditional herbal remedies. 


Summary

Astragalus root is a species of perennial herb, long used in traditional Chinese medicine for its supposed health benefits. It contains saponins and flavenoids that offer anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties – some studies have shown that it can improve cardiovascular and immune markers of health and therefore help to reduce the risk of long-term illness.

As an ingredient in a small number of testosterone boosters, there is a remarkable lack of scientific evidence to back up any claims. At present, the limited number of either animal or human studies mean that you may want to avoid it until more robust evidence is made available.

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References

  1. Zhang, J et al. Systematic review of the renal protective effect of Astragalus membranaceus (root) on diabetic nephropathy in animal models. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009; 126(2): 189-96
  2. Jiang, X et al. Effects of treatment with Astragalus Membranaceus on function of rat leydig cells. The official journal of the International Society for Complementary Medicine Research (ISCMR). 2015; 15: 261
  3. Gunnels, TA et al. Increasing circulating testosterone: impact of herbal dietary supplements. J Plant Biochem Physiol. 2014; 2(2)
  4. Ren, S et al. Pharmacological effects of Astragaloside IV: a literature review. J Tradit Chin Med. 2013 Jun;33(3):413-6
  5. Agyemang, K et al. Recent Advances in Astragalus membranaceus Anti-Diabetic Research: Pharmacological Effects of Its Phytochemical Constituents. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2013, Article ID 654643
  6. Block, KI et al. Immune system effects of echinacea, ginseng, and astragalus: a review. Integr Cancer Ther. 2003; 2(3): 247-67

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