Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) is a species of asparagus grown throughout India, traditionally used in Ayurveda. The name is translated as “ she who posses a hundred husbands”. This may be because this plant has been used traditionally for hundreds to thousands of years as a general female reproductive tonic and hormonal balancer by Ayurvedic healers.
Ayurveda has evolved over 5,000 years, with its beginnings in the Himalayas. Around 800 BC the first Ayurvedic school was established by a man named Punarvasu Atreya. He and his students recorded their medical knowledge. These writings inspired a scholar named Charaka a hundred years later to write Charaka Samhita, which details over 1,500 plant species and identifies 700 medicinal plant species. Traditional Ayurvedic practitioners still use this book as a reference guide. Charaka’s second work titled Susruta Samhita was the basis for modern surgery. Traditional Chinese, Tibetan and Islamic medicine have their roots in Ayurveda. Ayurveda is one of the oldest modalities of traditional medical practices.
Shatavari is a plant with a woody stem that sends runners out, has needle like leaves, with small white flowers. If you look closely at the buds before they bloom they look like very thin asparagus, just like their larger relatives that some of us love to eat here in the States.
Shatavari has shown many benefits for both men and women’s fertility. It has adaptogenic, immunomodulator, diuretic, sexual tonic, galactogogue (promote breastmilk flow), demulcent, antibacerial, digestive and antioxidant actions.
This plant has been shown to improve overall fertility with no toxic side effects reported with long term use. Steroidal sapponins called Shatavarins may be responsible for the hormone like effect Shatavari has on reproductive system.
Adaptogenic Actions Support Overall Stress Support
This plant has shown to protect the body from stressors. It combines well with Tribulus terrestris another herb shown to be beneficial for fertility. Very helpful for women with stress induced fertility issues. Because of its adaptogenic actions it has been used by men and women to support healthy fertility.
Immune Related Fertility Issues
Satavari may be very helpful with women who have stress related or immune-mediated fertility issues. Autoimmune fertility issues may be helped by proper immnological function supported by Shatavari.
In one study Shatavari was shown to increase phagocytic activity of macrophages in turn reducing intraperitoneal adheshions. These are adhesions within the abdomen specifically. Macrophages have been shown to play a role in adhesion development. But this is just one study, if Shatavari can increase phagocytic activity of the macrophages there is hope for it in reducing adhesions in the entire body. This may be great news for women suffering from adhesion damage causing fertility issues such as endometriosis, blocked fallopian tubes, uterine fibroids, damage from c-section, ovarian cysts.
Supports Mucous Membranes
Herbs that have a demulcent action contain mucilage. Mucilage lines the mucous memebranes and acts as a protector and tonic for those membranes. Shatavari contains mucilage, this may be helpful for women with low Cervical Mucous.
In cases where the uterus is contracting due to oxytocin release the sapponin rich Shatavari has shown to have an antioxytocin effect that may help the uterine contractions to subside. Please talk to a skilled Ayurvedic practitioner or Naturopathic Doctor about the use of Shatavari for threatened miscarriage.
Menstrual Cycle Regulator
Shatavari’s main constituents are steroidal-sapponins, suggesting its use as an estrogen regulator, the estrogen modulating in turn may contribute to menstrual cycle regulation.
A galactogogue is an herb that helps to increase breast milk production. Some studies show that Shatavari may increase a mothers milk supply. This herb has shown signs of contributing to prolactin production so women with the endocrine disorder hyperprolactinemia or high prolactin levels should use caution with this herb.
Reduces Fluid Retention
This herb has shown to greatly help with fluid retention and may be helpful for PMS related fluid retention, helping the body to eliminate excess fluid build-up.
A traditional suggested dosage amount would be 4.5 to 8.5 mL of dried plant extract. This herbs is commonly sold in capsule form as well. It is important to be mindful of potential risk for heavy metal contamination when purchasing herbs from India. It would be best to search out a reputable source for this herb that is organic and fair trade. Purchasing it from an Ayurvedic practitioner may be a good option.
2. Aviva Romm, 2010: Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health, Churchill Livingstone
3. Andrew Chevallier, 1996: The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, DK Publising, Inc.