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Asparagus officinalis



Asparagus maritimus Mill; Asparagus sativus Mill; Asparagus tenuifolius Gilib.; Asparagus esculentus Salisb.; Asparagus prostates Dumort.; Asparagus dubius Decne; Asparagus oxycarpus Stev.; Asparagus caspius Hohen; Asparagus schoberioides Kunth; Asparagospsis javanica Kunth; Asparagus paragus et A. vulgaris Gueldenst.m ex Ledeb; Asparagus polyphyllus Stev.; Asparagus collinus Schur; Asparagus hortensis Mill; Asparagus hedecarpus Andr. ex Baker [6]

Vernacular Names:

Malaysia: Asparagus
China: Shi Diao Bai, Luo son
Korea: Yak pijjaru

Marchuba, Paragus, Vilayati Karua, Nakdown, Margiyeh, Halyun (Hindi); Hikua (Bengali)

Arabic: Yeramya, Isfarez, Halyun
Persian: Marchubeh
English: Garden asparagus, Common asparagus, Sparrow grass
French: Asperge
Italian: Sparagio; Asparago, Rusco, Spalice, Sparaci, Sparaciu di curmu, Sparaciu di Genova, Sparaciu domitu, Soparaciu finu, Sparagana
Spanish: Esparraguera; Esparrago, Asparago
German: Spargel, Garten-Spargel, Gemuse-Spargel
Dutch: Spargie, Asperge
Polish: Szparag
Portuguese: Corruda, Espargo
Swedish: Sparris
Hungarian: Sparga
Russian: Sparza aptecnaja, Sparxza lekarstvennaja [3][4][6]

General Information


Asparagus officinalis is a member of the Lilliaceae family. The roots are perennial, creeping with long thick simple fibres. The stem is erect, round, simple and bearing alternate scales without leaves below and can reach up to 2m tall. The upper part branches in a panicled alternate manner. The leaves are reduced to minute, bract-like, triangular, brownish, prickly scales with 3-6 cladodes in the axils. The stipule is solitary, membranous, triangular and acute. The upper ones are ovate and jagged. The flowers are solitary or in pairs appearing at the leaf-axils. They are unisexual, small, tubular, pendulous greenish yellow. The male flowers has tepals shortly united at the base measuring 6-8mm long with free stamens inserted near the base of the tepals and a rudimentary ovary. The female flowers contain tepals which measures 4-6mm with superior, 3-celled ovary, short style, 3-lobed stigma and rudimentary stamen. The fruits are globose red berries measuring up to 1cm diameter, with 1-6 seeds. The seeds are rounded with a flattened side and black in colour. [2][5]

Plant Part Used

Plant, root and ripe fruits (seeds) [4]

Chemical Constituents

(+/-)-1-monopalmitin; 1-methoxy-4-[5-(4-methoxyphenoxy)-3-penten-1-ynyl]-benzene; 4-[5-(4-methoxyphenoxy)-3-penten-1-ynyl] phenol and 4-[5-(4-hydroxyphenoxy)-3-penten-1-ynyl] phenol; 5,6-epoxide; 1-O-feruloyl-3-O-p-coumaroylglycerol; 1,2-O-diferuloylglycerol; 1,3-O-di-p-coumaroylglycerol; 1,3-O-diferuloylglycerol; 2-hydroxyasparenyn [3',4'-trans-2-hydroxy-1-methoxy-4-[5-(4-methoxyphenoxy)-3-penten-1-ynyl]-benzene]; (25S)-5beta-spirostan-3beta, 17alpha-diol; (25S)-5beta-spirostan-3beta-ol-3-O-beta-d-glucopyranosyl-(1,2)-[beta-d-xylopyranosyl-(1,4)]-beta-d-glucopyranoside; (25S)-5beta-spirostan-3beta-ol-3-O-beta-d-glucopyranosyl - (1,2)-beta-d-glucopyranoside; (25S)-5beta-spirostan-3beta-ol-3-O-alpha-l-rhamnopyranosyl-(1,2)-[alpha-l-rhamnopyranosyl-(1,4)]-beta-d-glucopyranoside; (25S)26-O-beta-d-glucopyranosyl-5beta-furost-20(22)-ene-3beta,26-diol-3-O-beta-d-glucopyranosyl-(1,2)-beta-d-glucopyranoside; (25S)-spirostan-5-ene-3beta-ol-3-O-alpha-L-rhamnopyranosyl-(1,2)-[alpha-L-rhamnopyranosyl-(1,4)]-beta-D-glucopyranoside; 3-[3''-(O-beta-d-glucopyranosyl)-6''-(O-alpha-l-rhamnopyranosyl)-O-beta-d-glucopy ranoside]; antheraxanthin; arginine; asparagin; asparagosides; asparagusic acid; asparagusic acid anti-S-oxide methyl ester; asparagusic acid syn-S-oxide methyl ester; asparenyn; asparenyol; beta-carotene; beta-cryptoxanthin, beta-sitosterol; blumenol C; capsanthin; capsorubin; cyanidin 3-rutinoside; (+/-)-epipinoresinol; ferulic acid; inulin; kaempferol; linoleic acid; lutein; methyl protodioscin; mutatoxanthin epimers; neoxanthin, protodioscin; quercetrin; rutin; sarsasapogenin M; sarsasapogenin N; sarsasapogenin O; sitosterol-beta-d-glucoside; spargancin; tyrosine; violaxanthin; yamogenin; yamogenin II; zeaxanthin. [4][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16]

Traditional Used:

To the Indian community, A. officinalis is a diuretic, laxative, sedative, cardiotonic, galactagogue. The young shoots has diuretic, emmenagogue and aphrodisiac activities. [1]7][8]

Kidney diseases

Its diuretic effects renders it useful in the treatment of oedema caused by both renal and cardiac origin. It is used in irrigation therapy of urinary tract and has been advocated for use to prevent renal stones. To bring out the diuretic activity it was recommended that the root or the shoot be boiled and the decoction consumed. It is also prescribe in cases of cystitis and pyelitis. [1][6][7][8].

Other uses

It is very useful in the treatment arthritis including chronic gout, rheumatoid arthritis and simple rheumatism. It is a gentle aperitif and is recommended in relieving intestinal obstruction. Its diuretic property has been taken advantage of an recommended in cases of cardiac dropsy. It is also considered a galactagogue, an emmenagogue and aphrodisiac. [1][3][4][6][7][8]

Pre-Clinical Data


Cytotoxic activity

Two steroidal saponins (methyl protodioscin and protodioscin) from A.officinalis were found to inhibit the growth of human leukaemia HL-60 cells in culture and macromolecular synthesis. The inhibitory effect on DNA synthesis seemed to be irreversible. Another steroidal saponin, Asparanin A, also exhibit active cytotoxic activity. It was found to have induced G(2)/M phase arresat and apoptosis in human hepatocellular carcinoma HepG2 cells. [10][23]

Nine steroids was isolated from the roots of A. officinalis. Of these eight showed significant cytotoxicity against human A2780, HO-8910, Eca-109, MGC-803, CNE, LTEP-a-2, KB and mouse L1210 tumour cells. [15] 

Anti-COX-1 and COX-2 activity

Of the 13 compound identified in the methanol extract of aerial parts of A. officinalis, linoleic acid proved to be most effective against both cyclo-oxygenase-1 and -2. [14] 

Antidiabetic activity

The aqueous extract of the discarded portion of asparagus spears and the methanol of the asparagus seed exhibits antidiabetic activities in differing ways. The aqueous extracts of the spears were able to reduce fasting blood glucose and triglyceride levels in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats probably by increasing hepatic glycogen storage activities. On the other hand the methanol extracts of the seeds improved glycaemic control by improving insulin secretion and beta-cell functions. [17][18] 

Hypolipidaemic and Hepatoprotective activities

Various extraction processes of the discarded portion of A.officinalis showed significant hypolipidaemic and hepatoprotective effects. The extracts tested by various authorities included ethanolic, aqueous and n-butanol extracts. All these extracts were found to be effective in lowering serum total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein cholesterol while at the same time were able to increase the high density lipoprotein. They also showed protective activity against liver damage as evidenced by the ability to decvrease levels of alanine transaminase, aspartate transaminase and alkaline phosphatase in blood. There were also evidences of antioxidative activities in the extracts. [19][20][21][22]


No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

There had been many reported cases of contact dermatitis as a result of handling of A. officinalis during production. This is due to both delayed cell-mediated reaction and IgE-mediated reactions. Recently some investigators had attributed the allergic reaction to the presence of 1,2,3-trithiane-5-carboxylic acid which is a plant growth inhibitor present in the young shoots. There has been cases reported of developing more severe allergic reactions which includes dyspnoea, dysphagia and even anaphylaxis. [24][25][26][27]

Used in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

No documentation

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation


No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation


Interactions with drugs

The A.officinalis has been found to have hypoglycaemic activity. This could have cumulative effects on those diabetic patients on antidiabetic drugs. [17][18]

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



No documentation

Case Reports

No documentation

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  1) Botanical Info


  1. Pereira J. The Elements of Materia Medica and Therapeutics, Volume 2 Part 1 Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans London 1855 pg. 211
  2. Sowerby J. Smith JE., English botany Volume V London 1796 pg. 339 – 340
  3. Barton BH., Castle T., The British Flora Medica E. Cox London 1837 pg. 35
  4. Panda H. Handbook on Medicinal Herbs with Uses Asia Pacific Business Press New Delhi 2004 pg. 158 – 159
  5. Grubben GJH Plant Resources of Tropical Africa Volume 2 – Vegetables PROTA Foundation Wageningen 2004 pg. 96
  6. Buttner R. Mansfeld’s Encyclopedia of Agricultural and Horicultural Crops Springer Berlin 2001 pg. 2189 – 2190
  7. Ong HC., Vegetables for Health and Healing Utusan Publications & Distributors Sdn. Bhd. Kuala Lumpur 2008 pg. 34 – 35
  8. Khare CP., Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary Springer Berlin 2007 pg. 68.
  9. Terada K, Honda C, Suwa K, Takeyama S, Oku H, Kamisako W. Acetylenic compounds isolated from cultured cells of Asparagus officinalis. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 1995 Apr;43(4):564-6.
  10. Shao Y, Poobrasert O, Kennelly EJ, Chin CK, Ho CT, Huang MT, Garrison SA, Cordell GA. Steroidal saponins from Asparagus officinalis and their cytotoxic activity. Planta Med. 1997 Jun;63(3):258-62.
  11. Deli J, Matus Z, Tóth G. Carotenoid composition in the fruits of Asparagus officinalis. J Agric Food Chem. 2000 Jul;48(7):2793-6.
  12. Jang DS, Cuendet M, Fong HH, Pezzuto JM, Kinghorn AD. Constituents of Asparagus officinalis evaluated for inhibitory activity against cyclooxygenase-2. J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Apr 21;52(8):2218-22.
  13. Huang X, Kong L. Steroidal saponins from roots of Asparagus officinalis. Steroids. 2006 Feb;71(2):171-6. Epub 2005 Nov 8.
  14. Sakaguchi Y, Ozaki Y, Miyajima I, Yamaguchi M, Fukui Y, Iwasa K, Motoki S, Suzuki T, Okubo H. Major anthocyanins from purple asparagus (Asparagus officinalis). Phytochemistry. 2008 May;69(8):1763-6. Epub 2008 Apr 10.
  15. Huang XF, Lin YY, Kong LY. Steroids from the roots of Asparagus officinalis and their cytotoxic activity. J Integr Plant Biol. 2008 Jun;50(6):717-22.
  16. Sun Z, Huang X, Kong L. A new steroidal saponin from the dried stems of Asparagus officinalis L. Fitoterapia. 2010 Apr;81(3):210-3. Epub 2009 Sep 12.
  17. Zhao J, Zhang W, Zhu X, Zhao D, Wang K, Wang R, Qu W. The aqueous extract of Asparagus officinalis L. by-product exerts hypoglycaemic activity in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. J Sci Food Agric. 2011 Aug 30;91(11):2095-9. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.4429. Epub 2011 May 12.
  18. Hafizur RM, Kabir N, Chishti S. Asparagus officinalis extract controls blood glucose by improving insulin secretion and β-cell function in streptozotocin-induced type 2 diabetic rats. Br J Nutr. 2012 Jan 6:1-10. [Epub ahead of print]
  19. Kim BY, Cui ZG, Lee SR, Kim SJ, Kang HK, Lee YK, Park DB. Effects of Asparagus officinalis extracts on liver cell toxicity and ethanol metabolism. J Food Sci. 2009 Sep;74(7):H204-8.
  20. Zhu X, Zhang W, Zhao J, Wang J, Qu W. Hypolipidaemic and hepatoprotective effects of ethanolic and aqueous extracts from Asparagus officinalis L. by-products in mice fed a high-fat diet. J Sci Food Agric. 2010 May;90(7):1129-35.
  21. Zhu X, Zhang W, Pang X, Wang J, Zhao J, Qu W. Hypolipidemic effect of n-butanol Extract from Asparagus officinalis L. in mice fed a high-fat diet. Phytother Res. 2011 Aug;25(8):1119-24. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3380. Epub 2011 Jan 31.
  22. García MD, De la Puerta R, Sáenz MT, Marquez-Martín A, Fernández-Arche MA. Hypocholesterolemic and hepatoprotective effects of "triguero" asparagus from andalusia in rats fed a high cholesterol diet. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:814752. Epub 2011 Nov 17.
  23. Liu W, Huang XF, Qi Q, Dai QS, Yang L, Nie FF, Lu N, Gong DD, Kong LY, Guo QL. Asparanin A induces G(2)/M cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in human hepatocellular carcinoma HepG2 cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2009 Apr 17;381(4):700-5. Epub 2009 Feb 28.
  24. Hausen BM, Wolf C. 1,2,3-Trithiane-5-carboxylic acid, a first contact allergen from Asparagus officinalis (Liliaceae). Am J Contact Dermat. 1996 Mar;7(1):41-6.
  25. Rademaker M, Yung A. Contact dermatitis to Asparagus officinalis. Australas J Dermatol. 2000 Nov;41(4):262-3.
  26. Tabar AI, Alvarez MJ, Celay E, López R, de Esteban B, Gómez B. [Allergy to asparagus]. An Sist Sanit Navar. 2003;26 Suppl 2:17-23.
  27. Rieker J, Ruzicka T, Neumann NJ, Bielicky P, Homey B. [Type I and type IV sensitization to Asparagus officinalis]. Hautarzt. 2004 Apr;55(4):397-8.

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