Asparagus root

Chinese Name: Tian men dong

Medical Name:
Latin Name: Asparagus cochinchinensis (Lour.) Merr.
Origin: E. Asia - China, Japan.
Taste: Sweet and bitter

Quotes from Chinese historical sources:

THE HERBAL CLASSIC OF SHEN-NONG: "Bitter and mild in flavour, it alleviates the joint pains which accompany cold, damp weather; promotes the functions of the bone marrow; and eliminates parasitic organisms from the digestive tract."

OTHER CLASSIFIED RECORDS OF FAMOUS DOCTORS: "Sweet in flavour and very cold by nature it is not poisonous. Its protection can help settle the energy of the lung, drive out colds and fever, nourish the muscles and skin, improve physical strength and promote healthy urination. Despite its cold properties, it nourishes the body."

OPINIONS ON THE PROPERTIES OF HERBS: "(Asparagus root) is the primary ingredient used in these formulations... Its primary uses are in treating adverse increases of lung-energy caused by coughing and resulting feelings of oppression in the chest; eliminating fevers; and promoting the energy of the kidney spirit. It relieves pulmonary flaccidity syndrome; weeping carbuncles; diabetes; and heatstroke. The correct usage is to take it continuously over a long period of time. Boiled and eaten like food, it will in time render the body smooth and moist, eliminating those diseases which arise from impurities and leaving the skin white and clean. In combination with Radix Rehmaniae, it promotes longevity, stopping the hair from whitening. Is cold is nourishing. Whenever you encounter illness arising from weakness and superfluous heat, use asparagus."

RI HUA ZI MATERIA MEDICA: "Used in combination with fritillary bulb, it can calm the heart, nourish the five internal organs, benefit the skin, alleviate skin congestion, cure the five types of impairment (of the heart, liver, spleen, lung and kidney) and seven damages. It treats those deficiencies of lung-energy which are marked by coughs and phlegm. Use it against arthralgia arising from cold and damp, heat stroke with fluid retention, internal bleeding due to worry, morbidity and depression."

Western Research:

J Ethnopharmacol. 2000 Nov;73(1-2):137-43.
Inhibition of tumor necrosis factor-alpha-induced apoptosis by Asparagus cochinchinensis in Hep G2 cells.
Koo HN, Jeong HJ, Choi JY, Choi SD, Choi TJ, Cheon YS, Kim KS, Kang BK, Park ST, Chang CH, Kim CH, Lee YM, Kim HM, An NH, Kim JJ.
College of Pharmacy, Wonkwang University School of Medicine, Center of Oriental Medicinal Science, Wonkwang University, Iksan, 570-749, Chonbuk, South Korea.
A human hepatoma cell line, Hep G2 cells, is a reliable system for the study of alcohol-induced hepatotoxicity. In this study, we investigated the effect of an aqueous extract of Asparagus cochinchinensis(MERRIL) (Liliaceae) roots (ACAE) on ethanol (EtOH)-induced cytotoxicity in Hep G2 cells. ACAE (1-100 microg/ml) dose-dependently inhibited the EtOH-induced tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) secretion. ACAE (1-100 microg/ml) also inhibited the EtOH and TNF-alpha-induced cytotoxicity. Furthermore, we found that ACAE inhibited the TNF-alpha-induced apoptosis of Hep G2 cells. These results suggest that ACAE may prevent the EtOH-induced cytotoxicity through inhibition of the apoptosis of Hep G2 cells.

J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Apr 21;52(8):2218-22.
Constituents of Asparagus officinalis evaluated for inhibitory activity against cyclooxygenase-2.
Jang DS, Cuendet M, Fong HH, Pezzuto JM, Kinghorn AD.
Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy, College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.
As part of a project directed toward the discovery of new cancer chemopreventive agents from plants, two new natural products, asparagusic acid anti-S-oxide methyl ester (1) and asparagusic acid syn-S-oxide methyl ester (2), a new acetylenic compound, 2-hydroxyasparenyn [3',4'-trans-2-hydroxy- 1-methoxy-4-[5-(4-methoxyphenoxy)-3-penten-1- ynyl]-benzene] (3), as well as eleven known compounds, asparenyn (4), asparenyol (5), (+/-)-1-monopalmitin (6), ferulic acid (7), 1,3-O-di-p-coumaroylglycerol (8), 1-O-feruloyl-3-O-p-coumaroylglycerol (9), blumenol C, (+/-)-epipinoresinol, linoleic acid, 1,3-O-diferuloylglycerol, and 1,2-O-diferuloylglycerol, were isolated from an ethyl acetate-soluble fraction of the methanol extract of the aerial parts of Asparagus officinalis (Asparagus), using a bioassay based on the inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2 to monitor chromatographic fractionation. The structures of compounds 1-3 were elucidated by 1D- and 2D-NMR experiments ((1)H NMR, (13)C NMR, DEPT, COSY, HMQC, HMBC and NOESY). All the isolates were evaluated for their inhibitory effects against both cyclooxygenase-1 and -2, with the most active compound being linoleic acid.