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Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2011 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Asparagamine A, Asparagus africanus, Asparagus gobicus, Asparagus officinalis, Asparagus racemosus, edible asparagus, gobicusin A, gobicusin B, iso-agatharesinol, Liliaceae (family), racemofuran, racemosol, Shatavari, sparagrass, Spargel (German), sparrow grass, sperage.
In its wild form in Ancient Greece and Rome, asparagus was used as a diuretic (increasing urine flow) to flush out the kidneys and prevent the formation of kidney stones. In Asian medicine, asparagus root is given for cough, diarrhea, and nervous problems. Asparagus roots and leaves are used in Ayurvedic medicine for female infertility.
Today, asparagus is most often used as a food. There is very limited research in human on the medicinal uses of asparagus.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Dyspepsia (upset stomach)
Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari) is used in Ayurveda for dyspepsia (upset stomach). Additional study is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.
Galactagogue (promotes secretion of milk)
Asparagus may help promote the secretion of milk in women. There is currently insufficient available evidence in this area. Additional study is needed.
*Key to grades:
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use;
B: Good scientific evidence for this use;
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use;
D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work);
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
- Antimicrobial, antioxidant, antispasmodic, antitumor, anxiety, aphrodisiac, blood cleanser, bronchial congestion, cough, demulcent (soothing action on inflammation), diabetes, diarrhea, digestive, diuretic (increasing urine flow), dysentery, food uses, gastric ulcers, hepatoprotection (liver protection), immunostimulation, improving resistance to disease, infertility, inflammation, joint pain and stiffness, kidney stones, liver disease, neurological disorders, rheumatism, soap, tonic, urinary tract inflammation.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older)
There is currently no available scientific information about medicinal dosing for asparagus. Traditional dosing has used infusions, fluid extracts and alcoholic extracts for the treatment of urinary tract inflammation and kidney stones. A typical infusion dose uses 45-60 grams of cut herb in 150 milliliters of water and is taken daily by mouth. 45-60 milliliters of fluid extract has been taken daily by mouth. 225-300 milliliters of alcoholic extract (1:5 grams per milliliter) has also been taken daily by mouth.
Children (younger than 18 years)
There is currently no available scientific information about dosing for asparagus in children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Known allergy/hypersensitivity to asparagus or other members of the Liliaceae family.
Allergic reactions have been documented for asparagus, including itchy conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eye), runny nose, tightness of the throat, coughing, acute urticaria ("hives"), inflammation of the skin, and occupational asthma caused by asparagus inhalation
Side Effects and Warnings
Asparagus is likely safe when consumed as a food. The primary adverse effects for asparagus are dermatological (skin reactions) and pulmonary (lung) allergic reactions.
Allergic reactions that have been documented include itchy conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eye), runny nose, worsening of asthma symptoms, tightness of the throat, coughing, acute urticaria ("hives"), and inflammation of the skin.
Intestinal obstruction due to inhibition of bowel motility (ileus) of the small intestine has been caused by a high fiber diet, including canned asparagus.
Patients should not take asparagus if allergic to asparagus. Patients with edema due to impaired kidney or heart function should use cautiously, and should consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, before starting any new therapies.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
There is not enough scientific evidence to recommend asparagus during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
Asparagus may have diuretic effects (increases urine flow), and may positively affect diuretic drugs such as chlorothiazide (Diuril®). Caution is advised.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Asparagus may have diuretic effects (increases urine flow), and may positively affect diuretic herbs and supplements. Caution is advised.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
- Goyal RK, Singh J, Lal H. Asparagus racemosus--an update. Indian J Med Sci 2003;57(9):408-414. View Abstract
- Rieker J, Ruzicka T, Neumann NJ, et al. [Type I and type IV sensitization to Asparagus officinalis]. Hautarzt 2004;55(4):397-398. View Abstract
- Sharma S, Ramji S, Kumari S, et al. Randomized controlled trial of Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari) as a lactogogue in lactational inadequacy. Indian Pediatr 1996;33(8):675-677. View Abstract
- Tabar AI, Alvarez-Puebla MJ, Gomez B, et al. Diversity of asparagus allergy: clinical and immunological features. Clin Exp Allergy 2004;34(1):131-136. View Abstract
- Wiboonpun N, Phuwapraisirisan P, Tip-pyang S. Identification of antioxidant compound from Asparagus racemosus. Phytother Res 2004;18(9):771-773. View Abstract
- Yang CX, Huang SS, Yang XP, et al. Nor-lignans and steroidal saponins from Asparagus gobicus. Planta Med 2004;70(5):446-451. View Abstract
Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.