Referred to as “Queen of Herbs,” Shatavari is a popular Ayurvedic medicine, prescribed for the overall health of women. Originating in India and the Himalayas, Western countries are starting to notice this wondrous herb.
While there is much anecdotal evidence on its beneficial effects on women’s health, most studies have been conducted on rats. These studies have found that it has an anti-depressant effect, stimulates insulin secretion, improves memory and increases milk production for female animals that were breast-feeding. Shatavari is rich in protein, fat and carbohydrates and has small amounts of vitamins B, C and A.
Shatavari is a climbing plant found in the jungles of Himalayas and India, growing up to two meters tall. It grows in rocky soils and belongs to the asparagus species. The name means “one who possesses hundred of husbands” because of its reputed benefits for women’s health. The herb has long been used in Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani medicine to treat female problems such as insufficient lactation. In Ayurveda, shatavari is used as an adaptogen, to increase the body’s resistance against a number of diseases. The shatavari roots are used as a galactagogue (promotes the secretion of milk) and for general health.
Balance mind and body
Shatavari helps balance body and mind. When the mind is relaxed, it helps regulate the hormones in the body and problems like miscarriage can be avoided. Due to its bitter taste, shatavari is often mixed with other pleasant tasting ingredients, such as spices. According to Ayurvedic medicine, shatavari is a diuretic, galactagogue, demulcent, aphrodisiac and sattvic. It is extremely popular in India.
- Diuretic: Herbalists say that shatavari has diuretic properties that help eliminate the body’s toxins, and excess water to avoid the development of diseases and infections. Using shatavri will improve the bladder’s health and function.
- Increase lactation: A recent rat study found that shatavari helped lactating female rodents produce more milk for their offspring. In India, shatavari is marketed as a stimulant for milk production for breast-feeding mothers.
- Good for digestion: Shatavari contains dietary fibers, complex sugars, and isoflavones, which help improve digestion. According to Ayurvedic medicine, shatavari has a cooling effect, which helps lower the inflammation of the digestive system, like stomach ulcers and Crohn’s disease. The cooling effect can lower fever.
- Stress fighter: By relaxing body and mind, shatavari improves general well-being, which is good for the immune system. According to a 2009 study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, shatavari root stimulated T-cell response, boosting the immune system. Further research is needed.
- Reproductive system: Shatavari cleanses and improves the function of the female reproductive system. It maintains a woman’s ph balance in the vagina as well as all bodily fluids. Herbalists claim that shatavari increases the libido of both men and women.
- Rejuvenation: Shatavari is said to have rejuvenating properties that bring feelings of calm and stability, soothing difficult emotions and nerves, and producing peace of mind. Shatavari may make sleeping easier.
- Impotency: Shatavari is believed to boost the reproductive system’s health and function. In Ayurvedic medicine, it prevents impotence.
- Spermatorrhea: Spermatorrhea is a condition where men ejaculate involuntarily and excessively. Shatavari is said to treat and prevent this condition by nourishing the reproductive system.
- Intestinal infections: In Indian medicine, shatavari treats intestinal infections such as ulcers and gastroparesis by flushing out the bacteria and microorganisms that cause the infection.
- Anxiety: People with anxiety disorders may benefit from shatavari’s calming and relaxing properties. It may help prevent anxiety and panic attacks.
- Miscarriage: The evidence on shatavari’s effects on pregnancy and miscarriage is mixed. In India, it is used to strengthen reproductive health and prevent miscarriage. However, a 2006 study published in the “Indian Journal of Experimental Biology” found that pregnant rats given shatavari had fetal reabsorption, smaller litter size and smaller offspring.
Watch for allergies and pregnancy
While shatavari has been used in ayurvedic medicine for a very long time, studies on human health are limited. Shatavari belongs to the asparagus species; therefore, people who have allergies with asparagus will most likely be allergic to shatavari. Allergic reactions include headaches, itching, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. Shatavari is not recommended for pregnant women. Unfortunately, due to the rising demand and the native methods employed for harvesting it, the shatavri herb is now considered endangered in India and in the Himalayas. If possible, use sparingly.