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22.09.2012


Astragalus membranaceus boosts EPO synthesis

Supplements containing extracts of the roots of Astragalus membranaceus are, according to the supplements industry, interesting for people who want to increase their resistance to infections. Researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology believe that the same supplements may also be worthwhile for endurance athletes. In test-tube studies Astragalus membranaceus boosts EPO synthesis.


Flavonoids in Astragalus membranaceus


Astragalus
membranaceus

According to classical Chinese medicine Astragalus membranaceus, or Huangqi as astragalus is called in Chinese, boosts Qi - our 'vital life force'. Danggui Buxue Tang, a herbal medicine that 'feeds the blood' contains an extract of roots of Astragalus membranaceus together with an extract of the roots of Angelica sinensis in a 5:1 ratio. A few years ago the researchers showed that Danggui Buxue Tang boosts the production of EPO in cells. In this study, published in 2011, they only looked at Astragalus membranaceus.

The roots of astragalus contain the flavonoids formononetin [1 in the figure below], ononin [2], calycosin [3] and calycosin-7-O-beta-D-glucoside [4]. Ononin is a sugared version of formononetin. Ononin and formononetin are also found in soya, but calycosin and calycosin-7-O-beta-D-glucoside are components typically found in Astragalus membranaceus.


Flavonoids in Astragalus membranaceus


Astragalus membranaceus also contains steroid compounds that the researchers refer to as astragalosides [5]. These play no role in this particular study. The researchers discovered that they did not boost the production of EPO.

Study
When the researchers added their Astragalus membranaceus extract to kidney cells the latter started to produce more EPO. When the researchers repeated the experiment with the astragaloside flavonoids, it emerged that all four boosted the synthesis of EPO. The best EPO-booster was calycosin-7-O-beta-D-glucoside.


EPO-effect of Astragalus membranaceus


The researchers discovered that the Astragalus membranaceus flavonoids in the kidney cells activated the gene for HIF-1alpha. This gene is usually activated when cells are not getting enough oxygen, for example during extended periods of physical exertion or when time is spent in an oxygen deprived environment. The astragalus flavonoids lost their effect when the researchers exposed the kidney cells to HIF-1alpha inhibitors.

Funding
The researchers were not funded by supplements manufacturers but by the Croucher Foundation [croucher.org.hk] and the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong.

Source:
J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Mar 9;59(5):1697-704.

More:
Astragalus membranaceus reduces hay fever 09.08.2018
Astragalus for more Leydig cells (and therefore also more testosterone) 11.01.2017
Combine astragalus with ginseng to boost the effect of creatine 01.05.2014

Archives:
Astragalus membranaceus
Endurance Supplements


Danggui Buxue Tang: spectacular performance improvement in runners Few grams Astragalus daily improves endurance training performance by sixty percent Chinese herbal preparation Danggui Buxue Tang boosts EPO

Danggui Buxue Tang: spectacular performance improvement in runners
In China traditional healers use Danggui Buxue Tang, a mixture of Angelica sinensis and Astragalus membranaceus.

A few grams Astragalus daily improves endurance training performance by sixty percent
Endurance athletes looking to improve their stamina may benefit from Astragalus membranaceus.

Chinese herbal preparation Danggui Buxue Tang boosts EPO
A Chinese herbal mixture has been found to raise the production of EPO in human kidney cells.