Acanthophaca Nevski Aragallus Neck. ex Greene Astenolobium Nevski Astracantha Podlech Atelophragma Rydb. Barnebyella Podlech Batidophaca Rydb. Biserrula L.[Note 1] Brachyphragma Rydb. Cnemidophacos Rydb. Contortuplicata Medik. Cryptorrhynchus Nevski Ctenophyllum Rydb. Cystium Steven Didymopelta Regel & Schmalh. Diholcos Rydb. Diplotheca Hochst. Erophaca Boiss.[Note 1] Geoprumnon Rydb. Gynophoraria Rydb. Hamosa Medik. Hedyphylla Steven Hesperastragalus A. Heller Hesperonix Rydb. Holcophacos Rydb. Homalobus Nutt. Jonesiella Rydb. Kentrophyta Nutt. Kiapasia Woronow ex Grossh. Lonchophaca Rydb. Microphacos Rydb. Mystirophora Nevski Neodielsia Harms Oedicephalus Nevski Onix Medik. Ophiocarpus (Bunge) Ikonn. Orophaca (Torr. & A. Gray) Britton[Note 1] Oxyglottis (Bunge) Nevski Phaca L. Phacomene Rydb. Phacopsis Rydb. Phyllolobium Fisch. ex Spreng.[Note 1] Pisophaca Rydb. Podlechiella Maassoumi & Kaz. Osaloo[Note 1] Poecilocarpus Nevski Pterophacos Rydb. Sewerzowia Regel & Schmalh. Thium Steud. Tragacantha Mill. Xylophacos Rydb.
Astragalus is a large genus of about 3,000 species of herbs and small shrubs, belonging to the legume family Fabaceae and the subfamilyFaboideae. The genus is native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Common names include milkvetch (most species), locoweed (in North America, some species) and goat's-thorn (A. gummifer, A. tragacanthus). Some pale-flowered vetches are similar in appearance, but vetches are more vine-like.
Biotechnology firms are working on deriving a telomerase activator from Astragalus. The chemical constituent cycloastragenol (also called TAT2) is being studied to help combat HIV, as well as infections associated with chronic diseases or aging. However, the National Institutes of Health states: "The evidence for using astragalus for any health condition is limited. High-quality clinical trials (studies in people) are generally lacking. There is some preliminary evidence to suggest that astragalus, either alone or in combination with other herbs, may have potential benefits for the immune system, heart, and liver, and as an adjunctive therapy for cancer".
Research at the UCLA AIDS Institute focused on the function of cycloastragenol in the aging process of immune cells, and its effects on the cells' response to viral infections. It appears to increase the production of telomerase, an enzyme that mediates the replacement of short bits of DNA known as telomeres, which play a key role in cell replication, including in cancer processes.
Extracts of Astragalus propinquus ( syn. A. membranaceus) are marketed as life-prolonging extracts for human use. A proprietary extract of the dried root of A. membranaceus, called TA-65, "was associated with a significant age-reversal effect in the immune system, in that it led to declines in the percentage of senescent cytotoxic T cells and natural killer cells after six to twelve months of use". Telomerase activation was suspected to pose an increased risk of cancer because telomere shortening is a mechanism that limits cell proliferation. However, short telomeres result in chromosome instability, so there is also a potential mechanism for telomere lengthening to protect against cancer.
Astragalus at a Glance This fact sheet from the U.S. National Institutes of Health provides basic information about Astragalus – common names, uses, potential side effects, and resources for more information.
Astragalus alpinus This Rare Species Guide profile from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources provides information about the basis for the species' listing, habitat, biology and life history, conservation and management, and conservation efforts.