ASPARAGUS (Asparagus officinalis)
Young shoots, seeds
Most people are familiar with asparagus as a vegetable.
It is a perennial plant, generally cultivated, but can also be found in the wild.
The shoots are picked young in spring. A red berry fruit contains black seeds that ripen in August.
Though most of us consider asparagus only as a vegetable that signals the onset of spring,
worldwide it has been highly regarded as a healing herb.
In India, it is used to promote fertility, reduce menstrual cramping,
and increase milk production in nursing mothers.
Primarily, however, asparagus is a potent diuretic.
At the same time, it is highly nutritious, as it contains folic acid,
which helps prevent anemia and which most Americans rarely get in sufficient
quantity unless they take it as a supplement. It increases cellular activity in the kidneys,
increasing the rate of urine production, and may also help with constipation
because it contains indigestible fiber. Due to the anti-inflammatory action
of the component steroidal glycocides, herbal healers recommend asparagus for rheumatism, especially the gouty type.
The seed in powdered form will calm an upset stomach.
It is available from health food stores and by mail order.
Fresh, raw, or cooked: Eat the young shoots;
avoid buying those appearing brown or limp. They should be bright green and crisp enough to snap off the hard bottom end.
Seeds: Available in powdered form at health food stores.
Take 1 teaspoon of powder dissolved in any liquid once a day.