Astragalus is a large genus of about 3,000 species of herbs and small shrubs, belonging to the legume family Fabaceae and the subfamily Faboideae. It’s the largest genus of plants in terms of described species. The genus is native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Common names include milkvetch (most species), locoweed and goat’s-thorn. Some pale-flowered vetches are similar in appearance, but vetches are more vine-like.
There is data regarding Astragalus, and its effects on telomerase, and cancer. Although 80% of cancer cells utilize telomerase for their proliferation—a factor that might theoretically be exacerbated by Astragalus—the shortening of telomeres might also be mitigated by Astragalus. Thus, short telomeres result in chromosome instability, and the potential for telomere lengthening as a protection against cancer is possible. Additionally, scientists recently reported that cancer cells may proliferate precisely because of the lack of differentiation occurring via damaged or shortened telomere length. They propose that the use of Astragalus and the elongation of telomeres promotes the differentiation of cancer cells, probably reducing malignancy, which is strongly associated with a loss of cell differentiation.