What is It?
Native to Europe and the Middle East, during the past fifty years asparagus has grown so popular as a vegetable that farmers now grow it around the world. Before this, asparagus had a long history as an herbal medicine.
The sweet edible stalks or shoots are green, with either a white or a bluish-red tinge. The plant has bright-red berries and yellow-green flowers. Asparagus root, the part most often used medicinally, consists of the plant’s fresh underground shoots along with the rhizome and roots, which are dug up and air-dried in autumn. Extracts of the seeds and roots are sometimes used as flavorings in alcoholic beverages.
Herbal textbooks from the past reveal that asparagus has been used to treat a variety of unrelated ailments including toothache, cancer, parasites, and rheumatism. Traditional Chinese medicine used asparagus root to treat cough, dry mouth and throat, and constipation.
Actually, the most useful purpose of asparagus root is, like celery stalk, a mild diuretic or ‘water pill.’ This means the herb is capable of removing excess water from your body to be secreted in your urine. The Commission E monographs, Germany’s extensive catalog of herbal medicines, specifically recommends asparagus root for these purposes.
Because of this diuretic effect, asparagus, eaten regularly, may be useful in preventing recurrent kidney stones and lowering mildly elevated high blood pressure.
The root also contains substances called saponins believed to have antibiotic properties. There have been a variety of reports during the past twenty years that asparagus has cured cancer. This is really not all that far-fetched as asparagus contains high levels of a chemical called histones that block uncontrolled cell growth, as well as extraordinarily high levels of the anti-oxidant glutathione. As a cancer fighter, it’s simply the asparagus stalk cooked and eaten. Searching around on the internet will yield several testimonials of patients that swear asparagus cured their otherwise fatal cancerous growths. Although I wouldn’t recommend basing your healthcare on internet testimonials, information like this simply cannot be ignored as useless.
Specifically, asparagus root may help to:
• Ease urinary tract inflammation. When the bladder and urinary tract are inflamed, increased urination can help to flush out irritating substances, possibly including bacteria associated with infections in this area.
• Prevent kidney stones. Increased urination is important for preventing painful kidney stones; as urine output increases, the urine itself becomes more diluted, which helps prevent the crystallization of minerals that causes most stones. In fact, asparagus root is commonly used as a component of popular alternative “irrigation therapies” designed to prevent stone formation.
• Reduce edema. Being a mild diuretic, asparagus can help with mild fluid retention, especially that which occurs around your menstrual period
• Reduce mild high blood pressure. Studies have already shown that celery, eaten daily, reduces high blood pressure. Asparagus acts similarly.
–When using asparagus root as a diuretic, it’s very important to drink plenty of water to help literally “flush” the urinary tract.
• To relieve urinary tract inflammation:Liquid extract: One teaspoonful (5 ml.) in ½ cup of water four times a day
• To prevent kidney stones:
Capsules: 2 capsules twice a day
Liquid extract: one teaspoonful twice a day
Guideline For Use
• Although asparagus herb (the stalk and fernlike foliage) has also been found to increase urine production and therefore act as a diuretic, its actions are much weaker than that of the root.
• There are no known supplement or nutrient interactions associated with asparagus root. .
Possible Side Effects
• An interesting result of taking asparagus root can be a distinctive odor in the urine. If this is the case for you, don’t worry–it’s harmless. According to one study of 800 volunteers, about 40% of people have this reaction. The latest findings indicate that it’s more likely the ability to detect the odor–rather than the tendency to generate it–that is at play. Researchers speculate that those who smell it have inherited a specific genetic trait.
Urinary tract inflammation
Kidney stone prevention
High blood pressure
If you have fluid retention (edema) from kidney disease or heart disease, do not take medicinal-strength asparagus root.
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David Edelberg, MD