Astragalus membranaceus improves exercise performance and ameliorates exercise-induced fatigue in trained mice

Molecules. 2014 Mar 3;19(3):2793-807. doi: 10.3390/molecules19032793.


Astragalus membranaceus (AM) is a popular "Qi-tonifying" herb with a long history of use as a Traditional Chinese Medicine with multiple biological functions. However, evidence for the effects of AM on exercise performance and physical fatigue is limited. We evaluated the potential beneficial effects of AM on ergogenic and anti-fatigue functions following physiological challenge. Male ICR strain mice were randomly assigned to four groups (n = 10 per group) for treatment: (1) sedentary control and vehicle treatment (vehicle control); (2) exercise training with vehicle treatment (exercise control); and (3) exercise training with AM treatment at 0.615 g/kg/day (Ex-AM1) or (4) 3.075 g/kg/day (Ex-AM5). Both the vehicle and AM were orally administered for 6 weeks. Exercise performance and anti-fatigue function were evaluated by forelimb grip strength, exhaustive swimming time, and levels of serum lactate, ammonia, glucose, and creatine kinase after 15-min swimming exercise. Exercise training combined with AM supplementation increased endurance exercise capacity and increased hepatic and muscle glycogen content. AM reduced exercise-induced accumulation of the byproducts blood lactate and ammonia with acute exercise challenge. Moreover, we found no deleterious effects from AM treatment. Therefore, AM supplementation improved exercise performance and had anti-fatigue effects in mice. It may be an effective ergogenic aid in exercise training.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astragalus propinquus / chemistry*
  • Blood Glucose / drug effects
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Creatine Kinase / blood
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Fatigue / blood
  • Fatigue / drug therapy*
  • Glycogen / metabolism
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional*
  • Mice
  • Muscle Strength / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / pharmacology*
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances
  • Lactic Acid
  • Glycogen
  • Creatine Kinase