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ASPARAGUS [天门冬, TIAN MEN DONG]

radix_asparagi_asparagus_tuber_root_shiny_asparagus_optName : Asparagus

Chinese Name : 天门冬 or 天冬

Latin Name : Radix Asparagi

Overview

This herb consists of the dried tuberous roots of Asparagus cochinchinensis (Lour.) Merr, of the family Liliaceae. The best asparagus is grown in the Shandong province. Today, asparagus, a creeping plant with prickly leaves, is widely cultivated in the Beijing area and in the southern provinces of Guizhou, Jiangxi, and Zhejiang of China.

The herb is used as an expectorant, tonic, stomachic, and hypoglycemic agent. Its prolonged  use is recommended for the treatment of impotence. The root is preserved in sugar as a sweet meat.

Use of Asparagus in TCM

Sweet and bitter in taste, and cold, it acts on the kidney and lung meridians.

Effects, Medicinal Uses, and Combinations

  1. Nourishes the yin and promotes the production of body fluids: for thirst, asparagus is combined with ophiopogon root, anemarrhena rhizome, trichosanthes root, and scute root, as in the patented recipe Er Dong Tang.
  2. Removes pathogenic heat from the lungs: for a cough with sticky phlegm or a cough with bloody sputum, it is blended with ophiopogon root. For a cough due to tuberculosis, it is blended with ophiopogon root, dried rehmannia root, prepared rehmannia root, donkey-hyde gelatin, and notoginseng
  3. Nourishes kidney yin and improves sexual functions: for impotence and riocturnal emission, asparagus is used with ginseng, cistanche, amomum, and licorice root in a decoction.

Dosage

In a decoction of 6 to 12 g.

Precautions

People with diarrhea due to spleen deficiency or with a severe cough should avoids this herb.

Side Effects and Toxicity

The herb is safe at the recommended dose

Chemical Constituents

Asparagus root tuber contains saponins, methylprotodiocin, pseudoprotodiocin, inuline, and eight fructo-oligosaccharides, glucoside bitter principles (officinalisin I and II), asparagine, citrulline, serine, threonine, proline, clyccine beta-sitosterol, smilagenin, 5-methoxymethy  furfurol,  oligosaccharides,  asparagusic acid, rhamnose, starch, mucilage, and glucose.

Pharmacological Findings

  1. Antitussive and expectorant
  2. Relieves symptoms of diabetes
  3. Inhibits the growth of Streptococci, hemolytic streptococci. Diplococcus pneumoniae, B.diphtheria, B.anthracis, B. subtilis, and S. Aureus.
  4. Induces abortion and reduces labor time. The extract of asparagus dilates and softens the cervix, contracts the uterine muscles, and dilates the neck of the uterus, thus inducing abortion.
  5. Possesses antileukemic properties and inhibits acute lymphocytic leukimia in vitro
  6. The herb has antitumor activity againts sarcoma 180 and it has exhibited an anticoughing effect against sulfur dioxide-induced cough in mice.

Clinical Findings

  1. Today, asparagus tuber is used as a diuretic in Germany.
  2. This herb has also been used to treat lung cancer and diabetes in Chinese hospitals. For breast fibroma, breast tumor, and mastadenoma, fresh asparagus tuber soaked in wine is used.