Asparagus

Botanical Name

  • Family Liliaceae
  • Asparagus officinalis

Common Name

  • Sparrow Grass

Cautions

  • Workers in canning factories are prone to asparagus scabies.

Description

 Asparagus is a slender-stemmed perennial growing to about six feet. It has long fronds of delicate needle-like leaves and bell-shaped yellow-green flowers that produce small bright red berries. The plant grows in central and southern Europe, the Middle East, western Siberia, and northern Africa and is also cultivated worldwide, often in home gardens. Known mainly as a vegetable looking like long spears, it is the root that is used medicinally and unearthed after the shoots have been cut.

History

 Judging from ancient Egyptian tomb drawings, asparagus was cultivated as long ago as 4,000 BCE.

In the 1st century CE, Dioscorides, the Green physician, recommended a decoction of the root to improve urine flow and to treat kidney problems, jaundice, and sciatica. He also recommended holding the chewed root against aching teeth.

Key Actions

  • bitter
  • diuretic
  • mild laxative
  • mild sedative

Key Components

  • asparagine
  • bitter glycosides
  • flavonoids
  • steroidal glycosides (asparagosides)

Medicinal Parts

  • Roots, shoots
  • Asparagine is a strong diuretic.

Remedies

  • commercial tablets available for convenience
  • tinctures for kidney stones and cardiac insufficiency
  • infusions for internal flushing-out therapy
  • decoctions to increase urine flow

Traditional Uses

 In Chinese medicine, the root is used to treat irritable cough, coughing with blood, dry mouth and throat, and constipation.

Traditional use of the root includes application for non-specific inflammatory diseases of the urinary tract and for prevention of kidney and bladder stones. Because it is strongly diuretic, the herb helps to hasten the flushing of waste products that accumulate in the joints, thus helping arthritis and rheumatism sufferers.

It is also used for dropsy, rheumatic conditions, liver disease, bronchial asthma, and gout.

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