Botanical: Asparagus officinalis
Family: N.O. Liliaceae
This well-known table delicacy may be found wild on the sea-coast in the South-west of England, especially near the Lizard, in the Isle of Anglesea, otherwise it is a rare native. In the southern parts of Russia and Poland the waste steppes are covered with this plant, which is there eaten by horses and cattle as grass. It is also common in Greece, and was formerly much esteemed as a vegetable by the Greeks and Romans. It appears to have been cultivated in the time of Cato the Elder, 200 years B.C., and Pliny mentions a species that grew near Ravenna, of which three heads would weigh a pound.
Asparagus is noticed by Gerard in 1597, and in 1670 forced Asparagus was supplied to the London market.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The virtues of Asparagus are well known as a diuretic and laxative; and for those of sedentary habits who suffer from symptoms of gravel, it has been found very beneficial, as well as in cases of dropsy. The fresh expressed juice is taken medicinally in tablespoonful doses.
Prussian Asparagus, which is brought to some English markets, is not a species of Asparagus at all, but consists of the spikes of Ornithogalum pyrenaicum, which grows abundantly in hedges and pastures (especially in the locality of Bath). See STAR OF BETHLEHEM.
Culpepper tells us 'The decoction of the roots (Asparagus) boiled in wine, and taken is good to clear the sight, and being held in the mouth easeth the toothache.' He also tells us it helps those sinews that 'are shrunk by cramps and convulsions, and helpeth the sciatica .'
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Bear in mind "A Modern Herbal" was written with the conventional wisdom of the early 1900's. This should be taken into account as some of the information may now be considered inaccurate, or not in accordance with modern medicine.
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