How do experts use astragalus? - CancerChoices

A natural product commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine herbal mixtures may help to improve quality of life, manage side effects, and treat certain cancers.

How do experts use astragalus?

Both medical groups and integrative experts provide recommendations for astragalus in treating people with cancer. Learn more about the approaches and meanings of recommendations: Integrative Oncology Programs and Expert Guidelines ›

Clinical practice guidelines

Shanghai Association of Chinese Integrative Medicine

Clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of primary liver cancer with integrative traditional Chinese and Western medicine ›

2018 clinical practice guidelines from a multidisciplinary working group provide these recommendations for use of Aidi injection, a therapy containing an astragalus extract for people with middle- and advanced-stage primary liver cancer:

  • For patients with middle- and advanced-stage primary liver cancer undergoing transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE), a weak recommendation is made for joint application of TCM-assistant therapy, including Aidi injection, to improve efficacy and reduce adverse reactions caused by TACE.
  • For patients with middle- and advanced-stage primary liver cancer who are unable to undergo surgery or TACE, a general symptomatic and supportive treatment of antitumor Chinese medicine injection via intravenous drip may improve the quality-of-life and clinical benefit rate. A weak recommendation is made for Aidi injection.

Several Chinese herbal mixtures containing astragalus are recommended for pain, constipation, and insomnia in 2019 clinical practice guidelines for cancer palliative care.

Published protocols, programs, and approaches

Astragalus is used in programs, approaches, and protocolsa package of therapies combining and preferably integrating various therapies and practices into a cohesive design for care from these integrative oncologists, drawing from both scientific research and observations from years or even decades of treating people with cancer.

Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO, and Karolyn Gazella

Approaches are described for certain cancer types, or along with certain conventional therapy treatments, or for particular conditions such as insulin resistance.

Uses of astragalus:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Leukemia 
  • Lung cancer 
  • Stomach cancer
  • Immune modulation during chemotherapy and radiation therapy

Keith Block, MD

Block KI. Life over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Care. New York: Bantam Dell. 2009.

The integrative Block Program has recommendations to people who are at different places along the cancer continuum:

  • Those who’ve been recently diagnosed
  • Those in treatment
  • Those who’ve concluded treatment and need to remain vigilant to prevent recurrence

Uses of astragalus:

  • Kidney cancer
  • Melanoma

Neil McKinney, BSc, ND

McKinney N. Naturopathic Oncology, Fourth Edition. Victoria, BC, Canada: Liaison Press. 2020.

This book includes descriptions and uses of many natural and complementary protocols for cancer in general and for specific cancers. It also includes information on integrative support during conventional cancer treatment.

Uses of astragalus:

  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome
  • Lung cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Melanoma
  • Mesothelioma

Gurdev Parmar, ND, FABNO, and Tina Kaczor, ND, FABNO

Parmar G, Kaczor T. Textbook of Naturopathic Oncology: A Desktop Guide of Integrative Cancer Care. 1st edition. Medicatrix Holdings Ltd. 2020.

This book provides information on the treatment of 24 cancers, plus the most effective treatments of the most common symptoms affecting cancer patients while they undergo chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or surgery.

Uses of astragalus:

  • Esophageal cancer
  • Leukemia (acute lymphocytic)
  • Lung cancer (non-small cell) 

Traditional medicine

Astragalus is one of the most commonly used herbs in traditional Chinese medicine, often administered in mixtures with other herbs. Recommendations from Chinese medicine groups are included above on this page.

Learn more about tradition medicine and how to find practitioners: Finding Integrative Oncologists and Other Practitioners ›

Other expert assessments

Current Oncology Reports

An expert review of evidence suggests that astragalus “might have a potential role in alleviating cancer-related fatigue” among people with a deficiency.1David A, Hausner D, Frenkel M. Cancer-related fatigue-is there a role for complementary and integrative medicine? Current Oncology Reports. 2021 Nov 7;23(12):145.

Moss Reports

The Moss Reports conclude: “If your doctors want to suppress your immune system for medical reasons, you probably should not take astragalus. On the other hand, if you are trying to stimulate your immune system, as most cancer patients are, this is an effective and inexpensive way of doing so.”


Dosage has not been standardized for use in cancer care, but recommendations are available from NatMed ›

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General information about dosing

Find general dosing guidelines regarding natural products and supplements in Dosing Guidelines ›

Keep reading about astragalus


Maria Williams

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Maria Williams is a research and communications consultant who brings over 15 years’ experience in research, consumer education, and science communication to CancerChoices. She has worked primarily in public health and environmental health.

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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher and writer for CancerChoices and also served as the first program manager. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

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Andrew Jackson, ND, serves as a CancerChoices research associate. As a naturopathic physician practicing in Kirkland, Washington, he teaches critical evaluation of the medical literture at Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington. His great appreciation of scientific inquiry and the scientific process has led him to view research with a critical eye.

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Last update: July 12, 2024

Last full literature review: March 2021

CancerChoices provides information about integrative in cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care. We review complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapies and self-care lifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

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