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While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • 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.


  • 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).


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The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

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Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Author Information

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Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.