ASPARAGUS, Asparagus officinalis
We, in this modern day and age, have been taught to believe that we are better and smarter in every way and in every field than those who lived a thousand or so years ago. Well, I guess that’s not always the case. When I was researching asparagus, I read in an old herb book that in the time of Cato the Elder, there was a species of the asparagus that grew near Revenna. It said that three heads of that species of asparagus would weigh a pound. Now that’s some kind of asparagus. One spear of that asparagus would be a meal. You would have to be smart to grow that kind of asparagus.
As far as I can tell, the history of asparagus started around Egypt, at least a thousand years before the time of Christ. Because it was such a delicious vegetables, it quickly spread from Egypt to China, Greece and most of the know world. The name asparagus comes from the Greek word meaning “to sprout”.
Although asparagus is a cultivated vegetable, it escapes into the wild very easily. Asparagus plants can be found along many stream banks where there is moisture and some fertile ground. It grows wild along many English seacoasts and as far as the eye can see on some of the steppes of Russia and Poland.
There some varieties of asparagus that have been grown as a vegetable for over 2,000 years. Some of the Roman emperors had their own asparagus gardens because they believed the plant was an aphrodisiac. Others thought it would increase your health as well as extend your life.
Asparagus is a perennial plant. It starts out of the ground as a spear like we eat. If not picked, within just a few days it will grow into a tall feathery plume. Some say this plume looks like a tiny miniature pine tree. On these little branches will grow tiny greenish bell-shaped flowers. Within a few days the flower will become a green berry which turns bright red.
In the spring of the year, it is common to see people walking up and down the ditch banks. For the most part, these folks are looking for wild asparagus. It also grows in pastures and orchards. Besides tasting good, asparagus is a very good diuretic. In other words, it helps to clean out your kidneys and bladder. You realize this once you have eaten it and it gives your urine that characteristic smell. This is due in part to the asparagine that is found in the plant. It helps to clean out the nephrons and dissolve any sand, gravel or stones in the kidneys and urinary tract. When used medicinally, the roots contain more asparagines than the spears or the stocks.
I think it was King Louis the XIV of France who got folks turned on to eating asparagus. Among other things, Louis liked to eat a lot. This could account for the gout and the kidney problems. When Louis praised asparagus, it seemed like everyone in France wanted to eat asparagus. Anyway, it did the economy good and it reduced the amount of kidney problems in France.
Asparagus is good for more than just treating the kidneys. It is also used as a heart tonic. It strengthens the beat and slows down the palpitations. When someone gets swollen legs from dropsy or edema, it is usually because the heart isn’t quite strong enough and the kidneys are having problems. At a time like this asparagus not only tastes good but it will have a good effect on the body.
Gout is not a fun thing to have. It is usually brought on by too much meat and rich foods which result in an excessive amount of urea, or uric acid. A good remedy is to eat simple foods, cleanse out the bowel and eat a lot of asparagus. A man in one of our classes said he got a lot of relief from rheumatism by getting off rich foods, milk, meat, salt and sugar and eating a lot of asparagus. You know, he could be right. It might be worth a try.