Astragalus L. is widely distributed throughout the temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. The genus is widely used in folk medicine and in dietary supplements, as well as in cosmetics, teas, coffee, vegetable gums, and as forage for animals. The major phytoconstituents of Astragalus species with beneficial properties are saponins, flavonoids, and polysaccharides. Astragalus extracts and their isolated components exhibited promising in vitro and in vivo biological activities, including antiaging, antiinfective, cytoprotective, antiinflammatory, antioxidant, antitumor, antidiabesity, and immune-enhancing properties. Considering their proven therapeutic potential, the aim of this work is to give a comprehensive summary of the Astragalus spp. and their active components, in an attempt to provide new insight for further clinical development of these xenobiotics. This is the first review that briefly describes their ethnopharmacology, composition, biological, and toxicological properties.
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