What Is Asparagus Extract?

May Be Helpful for Diabetes but Risky for Those With Breast Cancer

Asparagus extract capsules

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Asparagus extract is a natural remedy sourced from parts of the asparagus plant (Asparagus officinalis). Asparagus is a perennial flowering plant. The shoots (spears) of the asparagus plant are the parts that are typically eaten.

The use of asparagus and asparagus extract as an herbal medicine dates back to ancient Greek and Roman times. It is now commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for urinary issues.

Because asparagus is rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients, asparagus extract is believed to be beneficial for a long list of health conditions. However, research on asparagus extract as a medicine is limited.

This article will explore the possible uses of asparagus extract, including the science behind its use. It will also discuss any side effects, precautions, drug interactions, and dosage information available for asparagus extract.

Unlike drugs, dietary supplements are not regulated in the United States, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. Whenever possible, choose a supplement tested by a trusted third party, such as U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), ConsumerLab, or NSF. 

However, even if supplements are third-party tested, they are not necessarily safe for all or effective in general. Therefore, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and check in about potential interactions with other supplements or medications.

Supplement Facts

  • Active ingredient(s): Steroidal saponins, lignans, flavonoids, phenolic compounds, and other antioxidants
  • Alternate name(s): Asparagus officinalis, garden asparagus
  • Legal status: Legal and sold over-the-counter (OTC) in the United States
  • Suggested dose: Dosage varies; no official guidelines regarding proper dosage
  • Safety considerations: May increase urination and alter the smell of urine

Uses of Asparagus Extract

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.

Asparagus extract is a concentrated form of asparagus. Of course, it should be noted that asparagus extract does not contain the beneficial insoluble fiber found in whole asparagus.

Asparagus is especially high in quercetin, a flavonoid thought to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects.

Asparagus is also rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and polyphenols that may help neutralize potentially harmful free radicals.

Due to these and other properties, research is emerging on the potential health benefits of asparagus extract.

In alternative medicine, asparagus is typically used to detoxify, or cleanse, the bladder and urinary tract. It is also commonly used for:

However, scientific evidence does not support many health claims surrounding asparagus extract. In fact, several claims border on pseudoscience.

Here is what some existing research says about the potential of asparagus extract.

High Cholesterol

Several studies have concluded that asparagus extract may help reduce high cholesterol. However, many of these have been performed in a lab setting or on animals rather than in humans.

In one study, rats were fed a high-cholesterol diet before they were given asparagus for five weeks. At the end of the five weeks, the rats were shown to have improved lipid (a type of fat) levels in their blood. Researchers attributed the cholesterol-lowering effects to flavonoids (antioxidants) and fiber.

Additionally, lab research has shown that asparagus may be able to bind bile acid, which would help reduce cholesterol and overall lipid levels in the blood.

Human trials are necessary to determine the effects of asparagus extract on cholesterol.

Type 2 Diabetes

Asparagus extract has been studied for its effects on type 2 diabetes.

One study used rats to test this hypothesis. In the study, rats with induced type 2 diabetes were given asparagus extract for 28 days. After treatment, researchers found that high doses of 500 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) (500 mg/kg) of asparagus extract helped normalize blood glucose levels and improve insulin secretion in the rats.

In addition to the test performed on the rats, researchers also performed a lab test of the asparagus extract used in the study and found strong antioxidant activity.

Another rat study found similar results. In this study, rats with diabetes were given juice extracted from the stems of asparagus for 21 days. By the end of the study, the rats showed decreased levels of fasting blood sugar.

Unfortunately, stronger studies on the effect of asparagus extract on type 2 diabetes do not exist. More rigorous research is needed on this subject.


Asparagus extract has been researched as a potential treatment for stress.

According to one study, mice subjected to sleep deprivation had normal levels of stress biomarkers (such as cortisol, a stress hormone) in their blood after having been given asparagus extract. Untreated mice showed high elevations of cortisol.

The researchers also tested the asparagus extract on a small group of humans. Participants were given a daily 150 mg dose for one week. At the end of the trial period, participants experienced significant increases in a protein called HSP70, which is thought to neutralize the effect of stress hormones.

In another human trial, healthy participants were given either asparagus extract or a placebo (an ineffective substance) for 28 days. Those who took asparagus extract reported improvements in tiredness, fatigue, and dysphoria (dissatisfaction). Participants in the asparagus extract group could also correctly answer test questions more accurately than those in the placebo group.

Despite these positive findings, better-designed studies are necessary before asparagus extract can be recommended as a stress treatment.

What Are the Side Effects of Asparagus Extract?

Even though asparagus is generally safe when consumed as food, little is known about the long-term safety of asparagus extract. What little research there is has shown asparagus extract to have few side effects.

Common Side Effects

Reports of common side effects associated with asparagus extract are extremely limited.

Animal research has found that asparagus extract does not cause any significant side effects. However, this has not been repeated in human studies, simply due to a lack of research.

Asparagus itself is known to cause urine to have a distinct odor.

Severe Side Effects

Some people may have an allergic reaction to asparagus extract. In some cases, an allergic reaction can be severe.

An asparagus allergy is extremely rare but may cause contact dermatitis (skin irritation), respiratory symptoms, oral allergy syndrome (e.g., swelling of the face, lips, or mouth), and anaphylaxis. In some cases, anaphylaxis can be life-threatening.

If you are allergic to asparagus, you should avoid using asparagus extract.

Please seek immediate medical care if you experience an allergic reaction when using asparagus extract.


Safety studies have not been performed on asparagus extract. Therefore, precautions should be taken when using asparagus extract.

Not enough is known about the safety of asparagus extract in children or in people who are pregnant or nursing. Some species of asparagus (e.g., Asparagus racemosus) are thought to be teratogenic, meaning they may cause birth defects.

As a precaution, these individuals should avoid asparagus extract and eat fresh asparagus instead.

Some concern is that asparagine, an amino acid in asparagus, may aid cancer development and progression.

According to a 2018 study in Nature, asparagine may promote the spread of breast cancer. Researchers found that exposing breast cancer cells to increasing concentrations of asparagine in the test tube triggered metastasis (the spread of cancer), while the restriction of asparagine reduced this risk.

It should be noted, however, that asparagine and asparagus are in no way thought to cause cancer. Also, these research results have not been repeated in humans.

If you have breast cancer or another medical condition, please talk with a healthcare provider before using asparagus extract.

Dosage: How Much Asparagus Extract Should I Take?

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs. 

There are no dosage guidelines for the appropriate use of asparagus extract.

Animal studies have used varying doses of asparagus extract, with 400 mg/kg considered a high dose. However, asparagus extract dosage has not been properly researched in humans.

Dosing tends to vary widely from one asparagus extract supplement to another. Some products provide 1,000 mg of asparagus extract per serving, while others provide 5,000 mg or more.

As a rule of thumb, never exceed the recommended dose on the product label. It's also good to talk with a healthcare provider about the right asparagus extract dose for you.

What Happens If I Take Too Much Asparagus Extract?

Asparagus extract is not thought to be toxic.

Regardless, it's still important to only use asparagus extract as directed. Using more asparagus extract than recommended may increase the likelihood of side effects.

It's worth noting that the red berries commonly found growing on the Asparagus officinalis plant may be poisonous. Therefore, humans and pets should not ingest these berries.


Interactions between asparagus extract and medications, supplements, foods, or herbs are not well-documented. However, interactions may still exist.

Asparagus is high in vitamin K, a nutrient vital to blood clotting. Vitamin K is known to interact with blood thinners like Jantoven (warfarin).

If you're taking warfarin or other blood thinners, talk with a healthcare provider before using asparagus extract.

There is some concern that asparagus extract may have diuretic effects (causing the elimination of urine). This means that taking asparagus extract along with a prescription diuretic may cause excessive urination. Although, this interaction has not been reported in any human research.

Additional interactions may exist. Be sure to inform your provider of all medications, supplements, or herbs you take before starting asparagus extract.

It is vital that you carefully read the ingredients list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement to understand which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included.

Please review all supplement labels with a healthcare provider to discuss any potential interactions.

How to Store Asparagus Extract

For best quality, asparagus extract supplements should be stored properly.

Asparagus extract should be kept in a cool, dry place that is out of direct sunlight.

Most asparagus extracts do not require refrigeration. However, you should refrigerate supplements if recommended on the product's label.

Keep asparagus extract out of reach of children and pets, and discard supplements once they pass their expiration date.

Similar Supplements

Various supplements may work similarly to asparagus extract. This is because asparagus extract has similar nutrient profiles as other herbs and supplements.

Supplements that are similar to asparagus extract include:

  • Berberine: Commonly used in TCM, berberine is believed to have cholesterol-lowering effects. According to one review, berberine may decrease low-density lipoprotein (LDL), known as "bad" cholesterol by 20% to 30%. However, statins have been shown to lower cholesterol even further.
  • Cinnamon: Cinnamon may be a useful complementary treatment for people with type 2 diabetes. A 2019 review found that cinnamon may improve fasting blood sugar levels in healthy adults. Researchers found a daily dose of 3 to 6 grams of cinnamon to be most beneficial.
  • Ashwagandha: The roots of the ashwagandha plant may help reduce stress. A small human trial on stressed adults found that supplementing with ashwagandha for eight weeks decreased perceived levels of stress compared to a placebo. Cortisol levels were also decreased in study participants who took ashwagandha.
  • D-mannose: In traditional medicine, asparagus extract is used for urinary health. D-mannose is another supplement that may help keep your bladder healthy. According to one analysis, D-mannose may have similar effectiveness to antibiotics in treating urinary tract infections (UTIs).
  • Green tea extract: Green tea extract is known to contain various antioxidants, including polyphenols and flavonoids. These and other antioxidants in green tea extract may make it a useful supplement for cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative diseases that are associated with free radicals.

This is not a comprehensive list. Talk with a healthcare provider if you're unsure which supplement or herb is best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is asparagus extract good for?

    Asparagus extract may be beneficial for a variety of health conditions. However, there is virtually no strong scientific evidence to back up many health claims surrounding asparagus extract.

    In alternative medicine, asparagus extract may be used for fertility, bladder health, liver disease, asthma, cancer, and other health conditions.

  • Is Shatavari the same as asparagus extract?

    Shatavari is another type of asparagus extract. Shatavari is also known as Asparagus racemosus, meaning it is different from Asparagus officinalis, the type of asparagus commonly eaten.

    Shatavari and traditional asparagus have some similarities, but the two look different and have different uses in traditional medicine. Shatavari may be used for ulcers, nervousness, inflammation, and certain infections.

  • Can I take asparagus extract every day?

    Long-term safety studies have not been performed on asparagus extract. Therefore, we do not know if asparagus extract is safe to use on a daily basis.

    Talk with a healthcare provider about the proper way to use asparagus extract. And be sure to only use asparagus extract and other supplements as directed. Taking asparagus extract improperly may increase the risk of side effects.

Sources of Asparagus Extract & What to Look For

To get all the nutrients that asparagus has to offer, it's best to eat the vegetable rather than use an asparagus extract supplement.

Whole foods generally contain more nutrition and benefits than supplements. In the case of asparagus, the vegetable contains fiber, an important nutrient for digestive health and overall health that is not found in asparagus extract.

Food Sources of Asparagus Extract

Asparagus extract is taken from the asparagus vegetable. Whole asparagus can be eaten in a variety of ways, including raw, roasted, and baked.

Asparagus is described as having a savory yet bitter flavor. Whole asparagus is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, magnesium, and other vitamins and minerals. It also contains phenolic compounds, like flavonoids and other antioxidants that may be beneficial for human health.

Asparagus Extract Supplements

Asparagus extract supplements come in various forms, including capsules, powders, and tinctures. Powders and tinctures require measuring, whereas capsules come in consistent doses.

You can also find asparagus extract tea.

Typically, asparagus extract supplements are naturally vegan and gluten-free, while many are also organic.

Always check the product label for ingredients you may be sensitive to or want to avoid, such as wheat fillers, animal-based gelatins, or preservatives.

Because dietary supplements are not strictly regulated in the United States, it's best to opt for brands that have been voluntarily submitted for testing by independent certifying bodies. These include USP, ConsumerLab, and NSF International.

Certification from one of these third parties does not guarantee safety or efficacy, but it does confirm that what is in the bottle matches what is listed on the label.

Unfortunately, supplement ingredients do not have to be approved by the FDA, which means some brands may falsify what is in their supplements.


Asparagus extract comes from the asparagus plant (Asparagus officinalis) and may offer a variety of health benefits. However, very few health claims for asparagus extract have been backed up by quality scientific evidence.

For the most part, asparagus extract is thought to be safe, but some people should take precautions before using it.

Talk with a healthcare provider if you're thinking about adding asparagus extract to your daily routine.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Brittany Lubeck, RD
Brittany Lubeck, RD, is a nutrition writer and registered dietitian with a master's degree in clinical nutrition. 

Originally written by Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong

Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.

Learn about our editorial process