Phone

Supplements

asparagus root

What Is It?
Health Benefits
Forms
Dosage Information

Guidelines for Use
General Interaction
Possible Side Effects
Cautions
References
Evidence Based Rating Scale

 

What Is It?

Native to India, Europe, the Middle East, western Siberia, and northern Africa, asparagus has grown so popular as an elegant vegetable that it is now cultivated worldwide. However the garden variety Asparagus officinales is a different species than the medicinal Asparagus racemosa, which is primarily grown in India and has a centuries-long  history of use in herbal medicine. One of its names in Ayurvedic medicine is Shawatari, translated as “curer of a hundred diseases".

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 also sometimes used as flavorings in alcoholic beverages. A 2004 study of 31 plant species from the Indian Thar desert, well-known for its abundant medicinal plant life, found that asparagus root is still plentiful in the desert region and is still widely used in local culture for its soothing properties on mucous membranes; however others claim that it is becoming endangered and the quality of various products may be inconsistent. (8, 16)

Health Benefits

Historically, asparagus has been used to treat such wide-ranging ailments as toothaches, cancer, parasites, and rheumatism. Traditional Chinese healers treat cough, dry mouth and throat, and constipation with asparagus formulations. The root is also a mild Diuretic, which draws water from the system and increases urination.

Research supports the use of asparagus root primarily for conditions of the urinary tract and kidneys, largely on the basis of animal studies that indicate it functions as a mild diuretic–an agent that increases urine production and excretion. The Commission E monographs, Germany's extensive catalog of herbal medicines, specifically recommends asparagus root for these purposes. (1) The root also contains substances called saponins that are believed to have Antibiotic properties. Test tube studies indicate that asparagus may even have cancer-fighting properties.

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. Research in animals has shown that the antibiotic and diuretic effects of asparagus root may help to flush out the urinary tract during inflammatory conditions and infections. (2, 3) However, a study of 163 patients found that treatment with Asparagus-P® (a mixture of pulverized dried asparagus root and parsley leaf) as a first-line diuretic led to more adverse effects than beneficial in promoting flushing of the urinary tract. (4) More research is needed.

Prevent kidney stones. Increased urinary output 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. Preliminary studies in animals have shown that asparagus root inhibits kidney stone formation. (5, 6) However, research is limited. Studies in humans are needed. 

Suppress a cough. Asparagus root has a long history of use as a cough suppressant. The anti-tussive effects of asparagus root may help to suppress the body's urge to cough when the cough is dry and non-productive. A 2000 study in mice found that treatment with asparagus root led to significant anti-tussive activity, inhibiting cough as well as codeine phosphate. (7) Further scientific studies are needed. However, several alternative sources cite the plant's long history of use in cough syrups and tonics used to suppress cough. (9-12)  

Treat diabetes. Preliminary research in animals has shown that asparagus root may help to reduce blood glucose levels and stimulate insulin production, which may be beneficial in treating patients with diabetes. (13) More research is needed. 

Reduce diarrhea. Preliminary research in animals suggests that asparagus root may help to reduce gastrointestinal motility and diarrhea. (14-15) More research is needed. 

Forms 

  • capsule

  • extract

  • powder

  • root

  • tea 

Dosage Information

Special tips:

  • When using asparagus root as a diuretic, it's very important to drink plenty of water to help literally "flush" the urinary tract.

  • With a lack of scientific evidence, no typical dosages have been established for asparagus root. Consult a physician or alternative practitioner for advice about the appropriate dosages.

  • While no typical dosage exists, most experts recommend taking the root in a decoction form. Boil 60 grams of the root per liter of water.

  • Asparagus-P contains 200 mg of pulverized, dried asparagus root and 200 mg of dried parsley leaves per tablet. A maximum of 2,400 mg of dried asparagus root in divided doses taken daily has been used in studies. However, adverse reactions led to significant participant withdrawal from the study. (4, 6)

Guidelines for Use

Although dietary asparagus (the stalk and fernlike foliage of A. officinales) has also been found to increase urine production and therefore act as a diuretic, its actions are much weaker than that of the root.

General Interaction

There are no known supplement or nutrient interactions associated with asparagus root. Increased diuresis may cause more rapid elimination of drugs that are metabolized in the kidneys and decrease their effectiveness. Consult your physician or the package insert regarding potential interaction with any prescription medications you may be using.

Possible Side Effects

Taking asparagus root cause a distinctive odor to the urine. According to one study of 800 volunteers, about 40% of people have this reaction. If this is the case for you, don't worry--it's harmless. 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.

Cautions

Patients who experience fluid retention (edema) from kidney disease or heart disease should not take medicinal-strength asparagus root.

References 

1. Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.
2. Kamat JP, Boloor KK, Devasagayam TP, Venkatachalam SR. Antioxidant properties of Asparagus racemosus against damage induced by gamma-radiation in rat liver mitochondria. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000 Aug;71(3):425-35.
3. Kumar MC, Udupa AL, Sammodavardhana K, et al. Acute toxicity and diuretic studies of the roots of Asparagus racemosus Willd in rats. West Indian Med J. 2010 Jan;59(1):3-6.
4. Chrubasik S, Droste C, Black A. Asparagus P (R) cannot compete with first-line diuretics in lowering the blood pressure in treatment-requiring antihypertensives. Phytother Res. 2009 Sep;23(9):1345-6.
5. Christina AJ, Ashok K, Packialakshmi M, et al. Antilithiatic effect of Asparagus racemosus Willd on ethylene glycol-induced lithiasis in male albino Wistar rats. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol. 2005 Nov;27(9):633-8.
6. Dartsch PC. Effect of Asparagus-P on cell metabolism of cultured kidney and inflammation-mediating cells. Phytother Res. 2008 Nov;22(11):1477-81.
7. Mandal SC, Kumar C K A, Mohana Lakshmi S, Sinha S, et al. Antitussive effect of Asparagus racemosus root against sulfur dioxide-induced cough in mice. Fitoerapia. 2000 Dec;71(6):686-9.
8. Mohammed S, Kasera P, Shukla J. Unexploited plants of potential medicinal value from the Indian Thar desert. Indian Journal of Natural Products and Resources. March - April 2004;3(2):69-74.
9. Herbs2000.com. Asparagus Root. http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_asparagus.htm. Accessed January 21, 2011. 10. Hou J, Youyu Jin. The Healing Power of Chinese Herbs and Medicinal Recipes. New York: The Haworth Press, 2005.
11. Natural Herbal Treatments, Nature's Own Remedies & Cures. Asparagus Root. http://natural-herbal-treatments.com/herbal-glossary/a-f/asparagus-root.html. Accessed January 21, 2011.
12. Supplements and Vitamin Intake. Asparagus Root. http://www.supplementswizard.yourpower2be.com/asparagus_root.html. Accessed January 21, 2011.
13. Hannan JM, Marenah L, Ali L, et al. Insulin secretory actions of extracts of Asparagus racemosus root in perfused pancreas, isolated islets and clonal pancreatic beta-cells. J Endocrinol. 2007;192:159-68.
14. Nwafor PA, Okwuasaba FK, Binda LG. Antidiarrhoeal and antiulcerogenic effects of methanolic extract of Asparagus pubescens root in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000 Oct;72(3):421-7.
15. Venkatesan N, Thiyagarajan V, Narayanan S, et al. Anti-diarrhoeal potential of Asparagus racemosus wild root extracts in laboratory animals. J Pharm Sci. 2005 Feb 25;8(1):39-46.
16. Bopana N, Saxena S. Asparagus racemosus--ethnopharmacological evaluation and conservation needs. J Ethnopharmacol 2007;110:1-15.

Evidence Based Rating Scale

The Evidence Based Rating Scale is a tool that helps consumers translate the findings of medical research studies and what our clinical advisors have found to be efficacious in their personal practice into a visual and easy to interpret format. This tool is meant to simplify the information on supplements and therapies that demonstrate promise in the treatment of certain conditions.

 

Condition

Rating

Explanation

 

Cough

   

Traditional use in Chinese medicine as a demulcent and cough suppressant. A preliminary study in mice indicates anti-tussive effects. More research is needed. (7-12)

Diabetes  
Preliminary research in animals indicates potential efficacy to reduce blood glucose levels and stimulate insulin production. More research is needed. (13)
Diarrhea  

Preliminary research in animals indicates potential efficacy. More research is needed. (14-15) 

Kidney stones  
Preliminary studies in animals indicate efficacy. Studies in humans are needed. (5-6)

Urinary tract infections  
Studies in animals indicate antibiotic and diuretic benefits, but conflicting evidence in humans contraindicates this use. (2-4)


Date Published: 04/18/2005
Previous  |  Next
> Printer-friendly Version Return to Top