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Asarum

Generic Name: Asarum canadense

Category

Herbs & Supplements

Synonyms

Aristolochic acid, aristolochic acid I, Aristolochiaceae (family), Aristolochia fangchi, asarin, asarinin, asarone, asaroun, Asarum arifolium, Asarumcanadense, Asarum caudigerellum, Asarum caudigerum, Asarum europeum L., Asarum forbesii Maxim., Asarum hartwegii, Asarumheterotropoides var. mandshuricum, Asarum himalaicum, Asarum lemmonii, Asarum longerhizomatosum, Asarum marmoratum, Asarum naniflorum, Asarum sieboldii Miq., Asiasari radix, azarum, beta-sitosterol, broad-leaved asarabacca, black snakeroot, British Columbia wild ginger, Canada snakeroot, eucarvone, false coltsfoot, fang ji, Hartweg's wild ginger, hazlewort, Indian ginger, kakuol, little jug, long tail wild ginger, long-tailed wild ginger, ma dou ling, mandshuricum, marbled wild ginger, methyleugenol, mu tong, mu xiang, myristicin, N-isobutyldodecatetraenamide, naringenin, pentadecane, phenylpropanol, pluviatilol, public house plant, safrole, sangree root, sangrel, serpentaria, serpentary, sesamin, snakeroot, trans-aconitic acid, trans-isoasarone, trans-isomethyleugenol, wild ginger, wild nard, wild spikenard, xiexin, xi-xin, xixin.

Note: The Aristolochiaceae plant family contains many plant species thought to have medicinal properties. Although the plants in this family may share similar constituents, Asarum species are the focus of this monograph (except where noted). Aristolochia species are discussed in a separate monograph.

Note: Avoid confusion with bitter milkwort (Polygala amara) or senega (Polygala senega), as both are also known as snakeroot.

Background

Asarum is known commonly as wild ginger and is in the Asarum genus, which consists of about 60 species of perennial woodland herbs. Asarum is a member of the Aristolochiaceae (birthwort) family.

Asarum has been administered by those trained in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for centuries as a pain relieving, anesthetic, fever inducing, antitussive, sweat promoting, diuretic (increasing urine flow), and hypotensive (blood pressure lowering) herb. Asarum has been applied on the skin to reduce premature ejaculation; however, more research is needed to assess asarum's effect on sexual dysfunction. Asarum europaeum has been used homeopathically for anxiety, excitability, nervousness, or melancholy.

Asarum does not seem well tolerated in humans, except as a homeopathic agent. Aristolochic acid found in asarum has been reported to cause severe kidney failure resulting in dialysis, transplant, and death. Aristolochic acid may also be carcinogenic (cancer-causing).

Evidence

DISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Tradition

WARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Abortifacient, amenorrhea (absence of menstruation), analgesia (pain-reliever), anesthetic, antifungal, antioxidant, antipyretic (reduces fever), antitussive, bronchitis, cancer, conjunctivitis, diaphoretic (promotes sweating), diarrhea, diuretic (increases urine flow), emetic (induces vomiting), expectorant (expels phlegm), eye strain/fatigue, flatulence (gas), gastrointestinal disorders, headache, homeopathy, human papillomavirus, hypertension (high blood pressure), menstrual cramps, nausea, pain, premature ejaculation, rheumatism, sinusitis, stimulant, toothache, uterine stimulant.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older)

Based on the available scientific evidence, no dose has been proven safe or effective. In general, 20-30 grains of asarum powder 2-3 times a day (not for long-term use) has been used. 0.5oz. of powdered root in 1 pint of boiling water, 2-3 times daily, for a short-term duration has been used. To induce vomiting, 0.5-1 drachms as an individual dose has been used.

Children (younger than 18 years)

There is not enough scientific evidence to safely recommend the use of asarum in children.

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