Boosting Immune System Function – A key to cancer treatment and prevention
The immune system is your first key to defense against cancer. Cancer has a really hard time taking hold where the immune system is strong. As one of the keys to both cancer prevention and overall health, it is vital to keep your immune system healthy.
There are a number of herbs that can help you boost the immune system. Astragalus and mushrooms like the Maitake mushrooms have been used for thousands of years to promote health and well-being. While it is possible to take these herbs on a daily basis, a supplement makes a really convenient, care-free way to ensuring you boost the immune system on daily basis without trying to figure out which herbs, vitamins and minerals you still need for the day.
Boosting Immune System Function with Astragalus
Commonly known as Milkvetch or goats horn, Astragalus is generally available as a supplement from health stores.
Astragalus has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years to strengthen the body against disease.
As with all supplements, it is important to tell your cancer care specialist about supplements you are taking.
Boosting Immune System Function – Astragalus and Cancer
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Astragalus may help protect the body from diseases such as cancer and diabetes.” They also state, “Fatigue or lack of appetite from chemotherapy – Some studies suggest Astragalus may help reduce side effects from chemotherapy. The studies have not been well designed, however. More research is needed.” 
There are some cancer studies that relate to Astragalus but the bulk of the studies relate to Astragalus as an immune system support supplement.
Here are some of the studies relating to Astragalus and cancer:
- Astragalus may have anti-cancer properties (human): There are some preclinical trials that show intriguing immune The herbs discussed appear to have satisfactory safety profiles. Cancer patients may wish to use these botanicals to inhibit tumor growth or to boost resistance to infections.
- It reduced or stopped the growth of kidney cancer(mice) – Chinese medicinal herbs inhibit growth of murine renal cell carcinoma
- Improved cancer survival in patients (human) – Several preliminary clinical trials in China have suggested that Astragalus can benefit immune function and improve survival in some people with cancer.
The Vitabase Immune System Support supplement offers you a simple and convenient way to boost the immune system. It contains astraglus, Maitake mushroom, Garlic and quercetin all of which have studies on their ability to help to fight cancer as well.
Astragalus and Boosting Immune System Function
There are over two hundred studies related to Astragalus and the immune system. A large portion of the studies show that Astragalus has the ability to support and improve the immune system.
According to Smart Publications, Astragalus supports the immune system by enhancing the activity of white blood cells that increases the production of certain antibodies. It increases the production of interferon that is a natural anti-tumor agent in the body.And it stimulates the natural killer cells within the body.
Here are links to three studies of interest:
- It improved the immune system (Review) – These plants (Astragalus, Garlic, etc.) are bestowed with functional ingredients that may provide protection against various menaces. Modes of their actions include boosting and functioning of immune system, activation and suppression of immune specialized cells, interfering in several pathways that eventually led to improvement in immune responses and defense system. In addition, some of these plants carry free radical scavenging and anti-inflammatory activities that are helpful against cancer insurgence.
- In a review of all the studies Astragalus showed it supports the immune system – Protective effects of Astrageloside IV on the cardiovascular system, immune, digestive, nervous system were identified, and the action mechanisms were associated with regulation of the calcium balance, anti-oxidant, anti-apoptosis, antivirus, and so on.
- Lab Study – researches come with a theory on how Astragalus works in immune protection – 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.
- Astragalus protected rats’ hearts from infection in a lab setting – Effect of Astragalus membranaceus on electric activities of cultured rat beating heart cells infected with Coxsackie B-2 virus. The results suggest that AM should be valuable in preventing and treating acute myocarditis caused by Coxsackie B virus.
- In six studies on mice and in the lab, it was show to increase T-helper cells and increase certain cytokines – Astragalus appears to enhance cell-mediated immunity by increasing the number of T-helper cell type 2 cytokines, increasing levels of tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-6.
Astragalus and Inflammation
Astragalus also has some naturally anti-inflammatory activities that can help fight the inflammation cycle in cancer and by inference help to reduce the pain experienced by cancer patients.
Here are some of the references and studies on the anti-inflammatory effects of Astragalus:
- Astragalus was found to be an anti-inflammatory in the studies reviewed: According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Astragalus has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.”
- Astragalus showed anti-inflammatory properties in a lab: Astragalus polysaccharide induces anti-inflammatory effects.
- The Anti-inflammatory properties of Astragalus in a study involving rats: Effects and mechanism of ShenQi compound recipe on inflammation maker in GK rats. These results suggest that ShenQi (A compound containing Astragalus) can decrease the level of inflammation maker in serum
- Astragalus showed anti-inflammatory properties in the lab: Anti-inflammatory activity of astragaloside IV is mediated by inhibition of NF-kappaB activation and adhesion molecule expression
Boosting Immune System Function – Taking Astragalus
Astragalus is available as a tincture, herb and supplement at most health stores. It is important to check that you can take Astragalus with your current treatments and medications and to tell your cancer care professional about any supplements you are taking.
Warnings for Astragalus
Astragalus is an immune boosting supplement. It therefore interacts with drugs designed to suppress the immune system – like the ones they give you after a transplant.
Lithium – Astragalus can make it harder for the body to get rid of lithium, so dangerously high levels of the drug could build up.
Please consult your cancer care practitioner to ensure your supplements do not interact with your current medications.
 J Tradit Chin Med 2013 June 15; 33(3): 413-416. Download this review as the Astragalus PDF under research