One popular vegetable that is highly promoted for consumption due to its high nutritive and pharmaceutical benefits is the Asparagus. It is a perennial vegetable and one of the highest consumed herb in the world. It is native to eastern Asia and Europe where it has been in existence for more than 2000 years ago. Asparagus belongs to the genus of Asparagaceae and is remarked for its distinctive flavour and texture. It is a rich constituent of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and essential compounds such as vitamin A, B, C, E, K, folate (vitamin B9), protein, zinc, iron, carbohydrate, niacin, riboflavin, potassium, aspartic acid, phosphorus, glutathione, phytosterols, thiamin, flavonoids, lactones, phenolic compounds, triterpenoids, glycosides, saponins, fatty acids, protodioscin, amino acids and tannins.
There are several species in the genus Asparagus but the most common ones are the Asparagus racemosus and the Asparagus officinalis var altilis L. Asparagus racemosus (Liliaceae) is mainly cultivated for its bitter root that contains anti-abortifacient, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, anticancer, antidysenteric and antiulcer activities. Thus A. racemosus root can be used for treating diseases such as leprosy, tumor, biliousness, dysentery, epilepsy, night blindness, female sexual problems (menopause, amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea), inflammation and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) e.g endometriosis. The bark also contains antifungal and antibacterial power.
On the other hand, Asparagus officinalis is cultivated mainly for its shoot, which is in high demand for its edible benefit. The root of A. officinalis is also useful for tackling tuberculosis, rheumatism, indigestion, hypertension, schistosomiasis, anaemia and oedema. The use of A. officinalis for treating oedema is due to its high diuretic effect thus highly recommended for oedema patients to alleviate the edema. Furthermore, scientific studies show that the root of Asparagus plant contains antispasmodic, demulcent, antioxidizing, antiseptic and aphrodisiac properties. Asparagus root can also be used for treating syphilis, impotence, infertility, herpes, kidney disorders, hyperacidity, leucorrhea, menopause syndromes, fever, and liver cancer.
Tackles Female Infertility
Asparagus racemosus, which is traditionally referred to as Shatavari is remarked for its ability to tackle female infertility. As a result, shatavari is considered a rejuvenating herb or a female tonic for boosting sexual desire (libido), boosting female fertility, balancing female hormones, treating the inflammation of sexual organs, promoting folliculogenesis (maturation of the ovarian follicle), boosting ovulation, aiding conception, preventing miscarriages and resetting the uterus postpartum. A. racemosus can also be used for tackling menorrhagia (abnormal heavy bleeding during menstruation) and leucorrhoea (yellowish or whitish discharge of mucus from the vagina).
Anti-microbial Activity
Researchers reveal that varying concentrations of the methanolic extract of A. racemosus roots (50, 100 and 150 øg/mL respectively) exhibit in-vitro antibacterial power against Salmonella typhi, Escherichia coli, Shigella dysenteriae, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhimurium, Vibrio cholerae, Shigella sonnei, Shigella flexneri, Bacillus subtilis, Pseudomonas putida. Being plant-based, the therapeutic power of Asparagus against microbes and infectious diseases does not show side effects.
Antioxidant Activity
An antioxidant inhibits oxidation and basically eliminates potentially damaging oxidizing agents in a living organism. This is achieved by reacting with free radicals, acting as reactive species scavenger and by chelating catalytic metals. Studies reveal that the methanolic extract of Asparagus racemosus (Liliaceae) root contains moderate free radical scavenging activity. This is attributed to its rich constituent of polyphenolic compounds such as phenolic acids and flavonoids.
Anti-tussive Property
The Antitussive ability of A. racemosus makes it suitable for preventing, relieving and treating cough. It can also be used for treating mild upper respiratory tract infection. As a result, A. racemosus can serve as an antitussive medicine.
Anti-ulceric Effect
A. racemosus root has been reported to be effective for tackling ulcer. Some researchers experimented the ulcer protective power of the methanolic extract of fresh roots of A. racemosus.  The results showed a remarkable protective power of this plant against acute gastric ulcers. This is attributed to A. racemosus ability to inhibit the release of gastric hydrochloric acid while protecting against gastric mucosal damage.
Anti-leishmanial Activity
Leishmaniasis is a tropical and subtropical disease caused by Leishmania species. This disease condition is usually transmitted through the bite of sandflies and it affects either the internal organs or the skin. Visceral form of leishmaniasis is highly fatal if left untreated. A water-soluble steroidal saponin (Racemoside A), which is purified from the fruits of A. racemosus is anti-leishmanial in nature thus effective for tackling leishmaniasis.
Anti-cancerous Activity
Studies reveal that A. racemosus root possesses anticancer properties due to its high constituent of saponin. Saponins exhibit cytotoxic effects on cancerous cell lines.
Anti-candidal Activity
Candida albicans are the root cause of infections in immunocompromised humans and animals, for example, thrush and candidiasis. A. racemosus root is anticandidal in nature thus effective against Candida strains such as C. stellatoida, C. albicans, C. krusei, C. parapsilosis, C. tropicalis and C. guillermondii.
Anti-depressant Activity
The methanolic extract of A. racemosus root exhibits powerful antidepressant effect due to its high constituent of saponins and antioxidants.
Immunological Activity
A. racemosus root can be used for boosting the immune system while minimizing the inflammatory response. By stimulating the immune system, the root of this plant proves effective for fighting against infections, cancers and immunodeficiency diseases such as AIDS.
Antidyspepsia Activity
Dyspepsia, which is also referred to as indigestion or impaired digestion is a common problem often linked to gastritis or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Studies reveal that A. racemosus is effective for treating dyspepsia.
Increases Milk Production in Nursing Mothers
Researchers reveal that the Asparagus racemosus root is a powerful postpartum tonic, which is very useful for boosting milk production in lactating mothers.
Boosts Sexual Stamina
Asparagus has been noted to boost sexual stamina in both men and women.
Reduction of Congenital Malformations in Pregnancy
The high content of folate in asparagus is essential for minimizing congenital malformations and deformities during pregnancy.
This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnostic and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.
- Jashni et al., (2016), Effects of aqueous extract from Asparagus officinalis L. roots on hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis hormone levels and the number of ovarian follicles in adult rats, International Journal of Reproductive Biomedicine, 14(2): 75–80.
- Naquvi et al., (2011), In-vitro Antioxidant Activity Of Asparagus Racemosus Roots, International Journal of Biomedical Research, 2(4).
- Negi J S, Singh P, Joshi G P, Rawat M S, Bisht V K. Chemical constituents of Asparagus. Phcog Rev
- Pixabay (2018), Images from Pixbay via https://pixabay.com/en/asparagus-green-vegetable-food-700153/
- Pheaktra et al., (2017), Evaluation of Agricultural Inputs for Cultivation Organic Asparagus in the Field, International Journal of Agricultural Technology, Vol. 13(6): 893-906.
- Sharma, K. (2011), Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari): A Versatile Female Tonic, International Journal of Pharmaceutical & Biological Archive, VOL 2: NO 3.
- Sharma and Sharma (2013), A Brief review of medicinal properties of Asparagus racemosus (Shatawari), International Journal of Pure & Applied Bioscience, 1(2), 48-52.
- Singh and Sinha (2014), Pharmacological significance of shatavari; The queen of herbs, International Journal of Phytomedicine, 6, 477-488.
- Symes et al., (2018), Antioxidant Activities and Caffeic Acid Content in New Zealand Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) Roots Extracts, Antioxidants, 7(4), 52.

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