The astragalus (A. membranaceus) is an amazingly powerful herb applied in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatment for millennia. Also known as huang qi or bei qi, the astragalus was thought to be the most potent "potion of longevity" and held as a treasure by the emperor. Modern science proved us that the legend was true, as this plant comes packed with some of the most effective rejuvenating substances on earth, making astragalus extract a top tier ingredient in all antiaging skin serums.
What is astragalus?
The plants in the Astragalus genus are small shrubs and vines of the legume family. Also known of the Mongolian milkvetch, it is an plant native to Asia that is part of the 50 fundamental used in TCM. It is widely found in many energy supplements since it helps the body adapt to stress by restoring homeostasis.
Widely used in skincare as well, astragalus extract is appreciated for its ability to stimulate the immune function, protect the skin against oxidizing agents, and rejuvenate it by fighting off wringles and dryness.
How does Astragalus work?
The active components extracted from astragalus include a broad range of phytochemicals known as saponins, as well as polysaccharides, astragalosides and isoflavones (kumatakenin, calycosin, and formononetin). The most active substance is a saponin known as Astragaloside IV (AST), a substance responsible for protecting against the breakdown of collagen.
Whenever the skin is stressed, such as when it is exposed to weather agents, UV rays, excess dryness, pollution, and so on, the levels of a substance known as MMP-1 or Collagenase-1 increase, causing collagen to be broken down together with hyaluronic acid. Both collagen and hyaluronic acid are critical to keep the skin hydrated, supple, and moisturized, and are known to be the "scaffolding" upon which the proteic structure of a young skin is built.
AST inhibts the production of MMP-1, therefore increasing the levels of collagen and hyaluronic acid, keeping the skin younger and healthier.
Astragalus secondary effects on skin health
The effects of astragalus on the skin go well beyond just the activity of ATS. The synergy between its many phytochemical active principles is known to positively affect the eliminative and metabolic functions of the human body. In other words, astragalus helps removing toxic substances that may damage the skin, such as those produced by overexposure to sun rays or air pollutants.
In addition, several studies found that astragalus extract possesses a powerful antioxidating and protective action, it's able to strengthen the skin's natural defences by stimulating immune response, and is able to accelerate wound healing. This herb is also able to empower your skin's natural ability to retain moisture, helping stave off the damaging effects of dehydration and dryness.
All these properties make it a fundamental ingredient in any antiaging skin serum, and a wonderful rejuvenating agent to keep your skin always young and plump.
- Block, Keith I.; Mead, Mark N. (1 September 2003). "Immune System Effects of Echinacea, Ginseng, and Astragalus: A Review". Integrative Cancer Therapies 2 (3): 247–267. doi:10.1177/1534735403256419.
- Harley, C. B.; et al. (2011). "A natural product telomerase activator as part of a health maintenance program". Rejuvenation Research 14 (1): 45–56. doi:10.1089/rej.2010.1085. PMC 3045570. PMID 20822369.