Written by Klara Rombauts and the CAM-Cancer Consortium.
Updated April 29, 2016

Milk vetch (Astragalus mongholicus)

Is it safe?

Toxicity of milk vetch is very low. The LD50 of milk vetch in rats is 40g/kg, via intraperitoneal injection of the extract.6

Some Astragalus species produce the toxin swainsonine.25-27 Other species accumulate selenium what may cause selenium poisoning.28 Therefore, it is very important to be cautious when buying Astragalus supplements.

Adverse events

No adverse effects were reported in rats given milk vetch via gastric lavage for doses up to 100g/kg.1

Animal and human studies have shown some extent of blood pressure and glucose lowering effects.6 As milk vetch is most often used in combination with other herbs, it is difficult to extrapolate the significance of reported adverse events seen under clinical settings.

Contraindications

Milk vetch showed potential hypotensive activity in rabbits, so patients who have low blood pressure (or are subject to hypotension), or are taking antihypertensive drugs, should avoid large doses of milk vetch. However, this has not been confirmed by clinical findings.4

Interactions with other herbs/drugs/therapies

Tragacanth, the gummy sap of milk vetch, may reduce absorption of pharmacological agents taken orally. Thus, tragacanth should be taken separately from other drugs. Due to its immunostimulating properties, milk vetch may lower the effects of immunosuppressant agents.4

Citation

Klara Rombauts, CAM-Cancer Consortium. Milk vetch (Astragalus mongholicus) [online document]. http://cam-cancer.org/The-Summaries/Herbal-products/Milk-vetch-Astragalus-mongholicus. April 29, 2016.

Document history

Assessed as up to date in April 2016 by Barbara Wider.
Assessed as up to date in September 2013 by Barbara Wider.
Most recent update and revision in September 2012 by Klara Rombauts.
Summary first published in April 2011, authored by Klara Rombauts.

References

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