Shatavari is rightly a woman’s best friend! This herb is one of the most popular and widely used for women’s health in traditional medicine for ages. Ayurveda considers this herb as a Rasayana, which is a potent uterine tonic. It is native to the Asian subcontinent, found abundantly in India especially in the Himalayan region, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and found in Australia and Africa. It is widely gaining global popularity for its therapeutic benefits.
Botanical and common names:
The botanical name of Shatavari is Asparagus racemosus, which belongs to Liliaceae, the Lily family. There is another variety of Shatavari, known as Maha Shatavari (Asparagus sarmentose Linn), with similar medicinal properties to the racemosus. In Ayurveda, the name Shatavari literally means ‘the one with a hundred husbands’ but that hypothetical term only represents the action on the female reproductive system from menarche to menopause. In English, it is referred to as Wild Asparagus and Buttermilk Root. Shatavari is fondly called the ‘Queen of Herbs’ praising its multiple health benefits.
Physical Structure and useful botanical parts:
Shatavari is a perennial plant found in tropical and subtropical areas, that grows up to 2 meters in height. Shatavari roots are the most important part of this plant that are used for medicinal purposes in traditional medicine. The roots are thick, tuberous, white in color, and look like radish.
Ayurvedic properties and therapeutic benefits:
Shatavari is a Rasayana, which is a potent Ayurvedic tonic that gives strength. It is dominant in Madhura Rasa (sweet taste), followed by Tikta Rasa (bitter taste), with physical properties of being Guru (heavy) and Snigdha (Oily). The post-digestive taste of it is sweet, which enhances its Balya quality, that is providing physical strength and overall vitality. Shatavari root contains the active compound Sar sapogenin, and two types of saponins known as Sitosterol and Asparagamine A.
Shatavari is known to have tremendous health benefits. It is used in various Ayurvedic and herbal health formulations. Some prominent health benefits of this herb are:
- Female Reproductive System – Shatavari plays a major role in improving the functioning of the female reproductive system. It is a known uterine tonic that helps to balance the hormones and correct the menstrual cycle.
- Balances hormones – Hormonal imbalance is one of the common conditions seen in urban women. It helps in the regulation of hormone secretion by balancing the functioning of the glands.
- Fertility booster – It provides strength and nourishment to the ovum, and helps in regulating normal ovulation which improves the fertility in women. It is also helpful to improve the sperm count in males.
- Enhances lactation – It is known to increase the breast milk production due to its galactagogue property. It is recommended to be used for minimum six months after delivery.
- Balances pH – Shatavari is useful to balance the pH levels of the vagina and prevents infections such as candidiasis or pelvic inflammatory diseases by stimulating microphages.
- Immune support – It supports and strengthens the immune system by creating a healthy immune response and fighting infections by improving the WBC count. It also has powerful antioxidants which prevent the body from various diseases.
- GI Health – Shatavari has a cooling effect on the body being Madhura Rasa dominant, hence it is highly effective to soothe stomach ulcers, colitis, and any other inflammatory symptoms. It is ideally the herb of choice for the treatment of peptic ulcers and hyperacidity in case of GERD.
- Bleeding Disorders – Being Sheeta (coolant) in nature, It helps to prevent the recurrence of common bleeding disorders such as Epistaxis, rectal bleeding or dysfunctional uterine bleeding.
- Weight management – Shatavari is a natural weight gaining herb when used with the correct adjuvant such as cow milk or ghee. It gives strength and nourishment to the muscle tissues and promotes healthy growth.
- Rasayana action – It is a Rasayana that enhances the quality of life. For a woman, it is the best Rasayana that can be administered in all phases of life. Consuming Shatavari regularly can help in the subtle transitioning of natural changes, from menache to menopause. Apart from being a Stree Rasayana (women’s tonic), it is also a Medhya Rasayana, which is a tonic that improves intelligence and concentration by strengthening the functions of the nervous system.
- Menopausal symptoms – Pitta vitiated symptoms are seen during the peri-menopausal and menopausal stages such as hot flashes, fatigue, excessive sweating, etc. Shatavari nourishes the cells and generates energy that reduces these symptoms.
Clinical Studies on Shatavari and outcomes:
Various clinical studies have been conducted on Shatavari to understand this potent herb for its health benefits. Shatavari is clinically researched mainly for its galactagogue action, nutritional values, phytochemical properties, and therapeutic benefits.
An excerpt review from a publication state that,
‘Shatavari (A. racemosus) has been used for ages by the rural people as a galactagogue. The herb is a source of phytochemicals like steroidal saponins, sapogenins, flavonoids (kaempferol, quercetin, and rutin), and polyphenols (secondary metabolites that have high pharmacological importance). These active principles give medicinal value to the plant as anti-ulcerogenic, anti-oxytocic, anti-tussive, anti-diabetic, immunostimulants, cardioprotective, anti-cancerous, anti-hepatotoxic, anti-bacterial, anti-diarrheal, anti-aging, anti-depressant, anti-lithiatic, and anti-candidal activities. The review has been written as an attempt to enlist the detailed aspects of the pharmacological significance of Shatavari with the aim to provide a direction for further clinical research to promote safe and effective herbal treatments to cure a number of diseases.’
Traditional remedies, applications, and uses of Shatavari:
- Traditionally, Shatavari root powder added to warm cow milk is used as a health tonic as a remedy for fatigue and exhaustion.
- Milk infused with Shatavari root powder and Ashwagandha powder together is a known remedy to improve sperm count and loss of libido.
- Pippali (long pepper) powder mixed with Shatavari powder is useful to improve metabolism and helps to gain weight.
- Shatavari is available as a dietary supplement in the form of tablets, powder, and granules. The use of granules is widely popular for lactating mothers as it contains sugar.
- Shatavari tablets are recommended for females in the reproductive age as well as for menopausal women, to balance their hormones.