Asparagus cochinchinensis

Botanical Name: Asparagus cochinchinensis
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Asparagoideae
Genus: Asparagus
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales

Synonyms : A. cochinchinensis. (Lour.)Merr. A. falcatus. Benth. A. insularis. Hance. Melanthium cochinchinen

Common Names:Chinese Asparagus, (chin. : tinméndng),(latin: Tuber asparagi Cochinensis)  Tian Men Dong actually translates to “Lush Winter Aerial Plant”.

Habitat :Asparagus cochinchinensis  grow mostly in E. Asia – China, Japan and Korea. The plants are found on the seashores all over Japan. Thinly forested slopes, roadsides and waste fields from near sea level to 1700 metres in China

Description:
Asparagus cochinchinensis is a  perennial plant growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is hardy to zone 7. It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen in September. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is not self-fertile

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Cultivation:
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.It requires moist soil.The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

Propagation:
Seed – pre-soak for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in spring or as soon as the seed is ripe in early autumn in a greenhouse. It usually germinates in 3 – 6 weeks at 25°c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a sunny position in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Division in early spring as the plant comes into growth.

Edible Uses :
Edible Parts: Fruit;  Root.

Tubers – cooked. The tubers are up to 5cm long and 2m wide. They are washed to remove the bitterness, the fibrous core is removed and the root is then boiled. It tastes like asparagus. Another report says that the tubers are eaten after preserving in sugar. The fruit is said to be edible. The fruit is about 6 – 8mm in diameter. Another report says that the berries are harmful if eaten

Medicinal Uses:
Antibacterial;  Antiinflammatory;  Antipyretic;  Antiseptic;  Antitussive;  Cancer;  Diuretic;  Expectorant;  Infertility;  Nervine;  Sialagogue;
Stomachic;  Tonic.

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This species has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. The roots contain asparagine, mucilage, starch and sugars. The dried root is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antiseptic, antitussive, diuretic, expectorant, nervine, sialagogue, stomachic, nervous stimulant and tonic. It is taken internally in the treatment of fevers, debility, sore throats, coughs etc. It is often decocted with other herbs and used in the treatment of a wide range of ailments including diabetes mellitus. It is commonly used in restorative recipes together with Rehmannia glutinosa and Codonopsis javanica. Prolonged usage is recommended for the treatment of impotence. The root is harvested when the plant is dormant and is dried for later use.

Internally used for fevers, debility, sore throats, coughs, rhinitis, diphtheria, tuberculosis and bronchitis.  Asparagus root is used mostly for its diuretic qualities.  It may be helpful in treating cystitis and other urinary-tract infections.  It is taken internally in the treatment of fevers, debility, sore throats, coughs etc. It is often decocted with other herbs and used in the treatment of a wide range of ailments including diabetes mellitus. Prolonged usage is recommended for the treatment of impotence. The plant has a folk history for the treatment of cancer, modern research has detected antitumor activity and it is now being studied for the treatment of lung cancer. It is also known as a woman’s tonic, and is good for the female reproductive system.  Chinese herbalists consider it a valuable tonic that enhances love and compassion.  The best way to use asparagus root is by juicing the rot, or making a tea from the dried root.

Researches:
Tuber Asparagi Cochinensis is used in clinical research along with Bulbus Lilii (Bai He), Radix Glehniae Littoralis (Sha Shen) in lung cancer when a dry thorat and/ constipation appear. One packet of these medicinals was decocted in water and administered hot orally in three divided doses per day, morning, noon, and night. It appeared that the rates of radiation-induced esophagitis, bronchitis, and pneumonitis were markedly lower in the treatment group than the comparison group. Based on these findings, it was the author’s conclusion that treatment with Chinese medicinals based on pattern discrimination along with standard radiation therapy can achieve significantly better short-term survival rates and better local control of tumors with less side effects than radiation alone.

Laboratory studies presented that Astragalus can increase can increase the clearance rate of charcoal particles and the weight of immune organs (in mice), and thus helps to facilitate their antifatigue, anoxia tolerance, analgesia and memory improvement, as well as decrease the contents of lipid peroxide (LPO) in plasma, liver and brain.

Another research states that the herb’s active ingredients may inhibit TNF-alpha (turmor necrosis factor) secretion by inhibiting IL-1 secretion and they may have antiinflammatory activity in the central nervous system. The results showed that it was no pertinence between content of sarsaspogenin with the other Asparagus species.The content of sarsasapogenin in the tuberous roots of Asparagus Cochinchinensis was inverse ratio with the commercial grande in same species.
Used along with other herbs during ac chemotherapy for breast cancer.

The herb is also used in diabetes, malignant lymphoma, migraine headaches, systemic lupus erythmatosus and multiple sclerosis. Nonetheless, research on treating those conditions is very limited. Also used, as a base ingredient in phytoestrogen supplements.

Contraindications:
Since it is a nervous stimulant it should be avoided by people with neurosis and/ hysteria as it may cause insomnia.
Cold due to deficiency of spleen and stomach with loss of appetite and diarrhoea; cough due to wind-cold
Women who are pregnant or wish to be, should refrain from taking Asparagus long term, because this could inadvertently induce abortion. Sad to mention, but Hsia-p’u Hsien Hospital in Fukien Province use it as a cervical dilator to induce abortion.

Other Uses :
Insecticide.

Kills the larvae of flies and mosquitoes. No more details.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Asparagus+cochinchinensis
http://www.cnseed.org/asparagus-cochinchinensis-seeds-asparagi-cochinensis-tian-men-dong.html
http://www.newsfinder.org/site/readings/asparagus_cochinchinensis/
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

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