Asparagus has been cultivated for thousands of years, but did you know that ancient cultures actually recognized it, and other vegetables, more for their inherent medicinal properties, than as food?
Today, we enjoy it in a multitude of traditional recipes, especially when it is in season! Among many others, enjoy these simple and traditional recipes for Risotto with Asparagus, Asparagus Frittata, and Creme of Asparagus soup, and take comfort in the health benefits you are providing for yourself and your family.
Particularly rich in potassium, phosphorus, B vitamins and over 21 vitamins and minerals, the succulent appearance of asparagus also denotes that it also has within it an abundance of water. It is this water that makes asparagus particularly valuable.
Although there is water content in all plants, it is important to make a distinction. In Traditional Herbal Theory, when water is a predominant feature of a plant, it is often part of it’s medicinal quality also. Carrying properties that are specific to each plant, water content combined with particular nutrients make up what is called the plants “specific moisture.”
Since the kidneys are the water and mineral regulators of the body, water figures most prominently in kidney functions. After having eaten asparagus, we all become aware that there must be some co-relation between asparagus and the kidneys. It is quite well known that asparagus acts as a fine laxative and diuretic. With a water content of 93%, it is like a fuel that powers the moistening, draining and balancing capabilities of the kidneys.
In fact, it is the kidney’s ability to efficiently balance excess fluids and electrolytes throughout the body that can result in improved vitality, muscle and nerve strength, coordination of organ functions and improved heart health. (including palpitations and lowering the risk of high blood pressure)
In both Traditional Herbal Theory and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) it is said that our kidneys are happiest when warm and moist. The nutrient properties of asparagus cause it’s ‘specific moisture’ to be more active in functions related to the kidneys because they provide both warmth and moisture to the body, creating the perfect environment for healthy kidney function.
On the other hand, whatever cools or dries the kidneys harms them. In our modern day, in addition to questionable foods, we are bombarded on a daily basis, with a multitude of well documented chemical toxins that are detrimental to our kidneys (and other organs). Everywhere in our food supply, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and even the clothes we wear. It is a known fact that these toxins affect our body chemistry.
According to Renaissance physician Paracelsus, issues arise when the fluids, or “waters of the body” become contaminated with disagreeable substances. These substances or toxins can cause kidney functions to become sluggish, creating “turbidity” in the waters or fluids of the body. This historical perspective can be highly valuable, especially when it seems to be clearly supported by modern day findings. Today, we use terms like “uric acid build up,” among others to describe what is essentially the same thing.
This jar of cloudy or “turbid” water illustrates this concept.
It is important to note that everything we are exposed to, our body has to deal with in one way or another. Everything has to be digested, processed and eliminated by our organs, and their functions may be inhibited or over worked as a result. Certain toxins introduced into the kidneys, can produce a “cooling” effect within the kidneys. This occurs because of the overwork that is required of the kidneys to dispose of that waste which, in turn depletes and cools them.
Less a measure of actual heat, and more a state of energy, this “cooled” kidney state, not only causes toxins to be retained within the fluids of the body, but also allows unnatural excess minerals, that would otherwise be utilized or eliminated by properly functioning kidneys, to accumulate and precipitate out of solution to form microscopic crystals.
The photos below demonstrate a simple crystal/string experiment that illustrates this concept effectively.
With regards to excess minerals in suspension, this experiment illustrates the growth of crystals on a string placed in a jar of water that has been super saturated with salt (for demonstration purposes). It is the formation of even the tiniest of these crystals anywhere in the body, that can cause great pain. Anyone who has had Sciatica, Kidney Stones, Gout or Arthritis can attest to this very painful reality.Introducing a gentle warming effect, through the nutritive properties of asparagus, helps to prevent, the accumulation of excess unnatural minerals within the waters of the body (turbidity), crystalline formations, and even mucus in the kidneys and bladder.
Being one of the first vegetables to appear in spring may not be a coincidence. After a long winter, spring cleaning is as welcome in the body as it is in other areas of our lives. We can utilize the abundance and freshness of this delicious spring vegetable in season, as nature intended.
In a nutshell, according to TCM, nutrient rich asparagus with it’s warming and moistening properties, is beneficial for most ailments caused by kidney weakness i.e. frigidity, impotence, gout, arthritis, urinary tract functions and other ailments.
Logically however, as much as there are toxins that produce a cooling effect, there are those that produce excess heat as well. Asparagus should be avoided in ailments in which excess heat is present, such as infections of the kidney or urinary tract.
In addition, since cells obviously contain moisture, kidney functions also have a prominent role in the growth and maintenance of all cells in the body. It is not surprising that asparagine, an amino acid essential to cell growth, is found in asparagus. This further reinforces the kidney/asparagus relationship, as does the fact that Oriental kidney remedies also contain the root of asparagus. (Roots are known to have an even stronger effect than the spears.)
Furthermore and by extension, properly functioning kidneys supported by the consumption of asparagus, can also benefit the liver, since the liver also depends on water to dilute toxins, thereby protecting the body from them.
*This type of natural health information in relation to asparagus can be found as much in Eastern as well as Western old herbal texts like Nicolas Culpepper, Dioscoridis, Tabernaemontanus and any book on Traditional Chinese Medicine or Ayurveda.
“These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”