Botanical: Asparagus officinalis
Family: Liliaceae (lily)
Other common names: Garden Asparagus, Asperge, Plant of 100 Roots, Sparrowgrass
Feeling bloated? Asparagus Root is a restorative, cleansing herb that helps rid the body of excess water and salt and may thus be helpful in easing hypertension. This highly nutritious vegetable may help soothe the pain and swelling of joints due to rheumatism or arthritis; and because it is high in folic acid, it may also help to stave off anemia. Asparagus has long been considered a natural laxative, a tonic for the bladder and urinary tract - and was even called an aphrodisiac.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Asparagus, the well-known table delicacy, is an herbaceous perennial that is native to the eastern Mediterranean area, and now over one-hundred and fifty species are cultivated throughout much of the world. Interestingly, most species contain asparagine, a powerful diuretic that gives the urine a characteristic odor in those who lack the gene to break it down. Asparagus officinalis has been cultivated for over two thousand years as a vegetable and also as a medicinal herb with noticeable diuretic and laxative effects. The botanical specific, officinalis, was bestowed on the plant to recognize its status as "official" with a long commercial history as a medicinal herb. In ancient times, it was greatly esteemed as a nutritious vegetable by the Greeks and Romans. In 200 B.C., Cato, in his On Farming, gave directions for growing Asparagus that are similar to those in a modern manual of agriculture; and there is a recipe for cooking Asparagus in the oldest surviving book of recipes, Apicius's third century A.D. work, De Re Coquinaria. Woody, thick-rooted crowns bear buds that produce tender spears, which may reach a height of five feet. Those short, thick rootstocks send up the tender, young shoots that we enjoy as vegetables. Young shoots are steamed and served hot or cold as a vegetable and pureed or finely chopped in soups. The parts of A. officinalis that are used medicinally are the rhizomes (root), young shoots and leaves. Traditional Chinese herbalists consider the plant to promote feelings of love and compassion, and Chinese pharmacists save the best roots of this plant for their families and friends. In Indian Ayurvedic medicine, Asparagus Root (particularly the species, A. racemosa or Shatavari) is used to encourage fertility, relieve menstrual cramping and enhance milk production in nursing mothers. The Japanese report that green Asparagus may aid protein conversion into amino acids. In the Western world, Asparagus has long been touted as an aphrodisiac. Asparagus contains compounds called steroidal glycosides (asparagoside), substantial amounts of folic acid and other B-vitamins, ascorbic acid, alanine, alpha- and beta-carotene, alpha-linolenic acid, arginine, asparagusic acid, essential oil, asparagine, arginine, tyrosine, flavonoids (kaempferol, quercetin, rutin), resin, zinc, phenylalanine, potassium, calcium, selenium, magnesium, iron, silicon, monounsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, diosgenin, fiber, glucose, glycine, inositol, inulin, iodine, trace amounts of oxalic acid, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycine, manganese, sulfur, tryptophan, tyrosine, tocopherol and tannin.
An excellent natural diuretic, Asparagus Root acts to increase cellular activity in the kidneys, promoting the rate of urine production, which helps to rid the body of excess water, relieving edema and a bloated feeling. It is considered a tonic for cleansing and opening the kidneys and bladder, helping to clear sediment from the bladder and preventing kidney stones. Asparagus may also aid in reducing uric acid deposits in the extremities.*
Considered an herbal anti-inflammatory, the diuretic activity of Asparagus has been known to soothe inflammation and the pain and swelling of joints due to rheumatism or arthritis by promoting urine flow and flushing impurities from the system.
Asparagus is said to have antibiotic properties. Along with its excellent diuretic qualities, these actions are said to improve urinary tract function, reducing bladder infections and other urinary tract infections, including cystitis.
Some studies report that the roots may help lower blood pressure. Asparagus Root may be especially useful in cases of hypertension where the amount of sodium in the blood far exceeds the potassium present.
Asparagus extracts may ease hangover, according to new research (2009) from Korea. Researchers from Jeju National University found that extracts from Asparagus officinalis may increase the function of liver enzymes and boost the metabolism of alcohol, thus alleviating alcohol hangover and protecting liver cells against toxicity. Extracts of Asparagus were also tested to discover if they could reduce liver toxity in human liver cells exposed to hydrogen peroxide and found that
toxicity to the cells from hydrogen peroxide were also significantly alleviated.
Asparagus is high in folic acid, which is essential for the production of new red blood cells and may therefore be helpful in inhibiting the onset of anemia.
As an aphrodisiac, the compounds called steroidal glycosides contained in Asparagus Root are said to directly affect and stimulate hormone production and may very well influence emotions.
As a tonic for the female reproductive system, steroidal glycosides in Asparagus that influence hormone production have also been used to promote fertility, reduce menstrual cramping and increase milk production in nursing mothers.
Asparagus Root is considered a gentle and mild laxative; it stimulates bowel evacuations by increasing fecal bulk with undigested fiber.
The asparagusic acid in Asparagus Root is said to be nematocidal, a substance that destroys roundworm. Furthermore, the acid has been used to treat schistomiasis (snail fever), a tropical disease caused by infestation with schistosomes in contaminated water, and characterized by infection of the kidneys, liver and other organs.
Asparagus has long been used to relieve nausea, while at the same time calming the stomach. Its probiotic fiber content (inulin) is thought to help activate healthy stomach bacteria that promotes a healthy digestive system.
Do not take Asparagus Root Herbal Supplement when kidneys are inflamed, as it increases the rate of urinary production. Do not use Asparagus Root if you have edema (swelling) due to impaired kidney or heart function. *Although used as a diuretic to flush impurities from the body and dissolve uric acid deposits, ingestion of Aparagus may aggravate gout in certain individuals, due to purine content.