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

Milk vetch (Astragalus mongholicus)

Abstract and key points

  • Milk vetch (Astragalus mongholicus) is a medicinal herb that originates from traditional Chinese medicine.
  • Data from clinical trials are of low quality and need to be confirmed.
  • Milk vetch appears to be safe.

Milk vetch (Astragalus mongholicus) is a commonly used herb in traditional Chinese medicine, which is believed to have immunostimulating properties. It is mostly used in combination with other herbs, depending on the diagnosis.

Milk vetch induces apoptosis, inhibits cell proliferation, induces a pro-inflammatory response, and augments phagocytic functions.

The use of milk vetch-based products as a cancer therapy has been evaluated in about 65 trials clinical trials conducted in Asia. Only four trials, however, have looked at Milk vetch monopreparations because in traditional Chinese medicine mostly combinations of herbs are used. Most trials reported positive results including improvement of quality of life, increase in immunological parameters or direct anticancer effects. Poor design and low quality of these trials, however, prohibit any definite conclusions.

There are no severe safety concerns associated with the use of Milk vetch.

Read about the regulation, supervision and reimbursement of herbal medicine at NAFKAMs website CAM Regulation.


Klara Rombauts, CAM-Cancer Consortium. Milk vetch (Astragalus mongholicus) [online document]. http://www.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.


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