Shatavari stands out as one of the thousands of year-old medicinal herbs in Ayurveda. Asparagus racemosus is primarily used to treat female specific ailments and hormonal disorders. It is also known as Shatamull, Shatavirya, Shatapadi, Madhabhanjani, Peevari, Indavari, Bahusuta, Shatavar, etc. ‘Shatavari’ means 'who is accepted by a hundred husbands', as the plant is extremely beneficial in promoting fertility and libido in women. The word also means 'one with a hundred roots’. This herb has been mentioned as the primary formula for treating women’s health issues as per Charaka Samhita and Ashtanga Hridayam.
The medicinal usage of shatavari has been recorded in the Rig Veda which dates back to approximately 1900-1200 BCE. In addition to that, the application of this plant has also been mentioned in Atharvaveda, which was most likely complied back in 1200-1000 BCE. Shatavari has been described as the panacea for various health ailments in Ayurveda.
Shatavari is available throughout India, Sri Lanka, and the Himalayas. It usually grows 1-2 meters tall on preferably rocky soil in higher hill ranges or upland areas (at an altitude of 4300-4600 ft). This plant belongs to the Asparagaceae family in the Plantae kingdom. Shatavari has uniform and shiny green photosynthetic branches which look like small pine-needles. The roots are fibrous. Flowers can be seen in July on short, spiky stems and blackish purple fruits come out in September.
Ayurvedic properties of Shatavari
Rasa: Tikta (bitter) and Madhura (sweet)
Guna: Guru (heavy) and Snigdha (oily)
Virya: Sheetal (cold potency)
Vipaka: Madhura (sweet)
Having cold potency, the herb can aggravate kapha dosha. It stabilizes vata and pitta dosha. Shatavari nourishes and strengthens all the seven dhatus.
Bio-active components in Shatavari
Saponins are the main active components in Shatavari. Saponins have many biological properties like being anti-oxidant, antibacterial, antidiarrheal, anti-oxytocic, antiulcerogenic and reproductive properties.
Other chemical components are Racemoside A, B and C (known to be antioxidant) found in fruits; Racemofuran, asparagamine A and Racemosol (known for being antioxidant, immunostimulant, anticarcinogenic, antihepatotoxic and gastroduodenal ulcer protective properties) found in roots. Other chemical compounds are Sitosterol, stigmasterol, sarsasapogenin (antiulcer, cytotoxic, inhibitory, antimicrobial and tyrosinase) found in fruits.
The plant also contains Vitamin A, Vitamin B1 and B2, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Calcium, Iron and Folic Acid. The powdered root contains 5.44% saponins, 2.95% protein, 52.89% carbohydrates, 17.93% crude fibre, 5% oil and 4.18% inorganic matter.
Medicinal usage of Shatavari
The bark, root, flowers, fruits, and leaves – all the parts of shatavari have been used as traditional medicine for centuries. This is the prime herb for strengthening female reproductive organs.
Healthy female reproductive system
The herb is highly effective in treating disorders related to the female reproductive system. The root extract from asparagus racemosus has galactagogue properties which are used to improve appetite and the secretion of milk in lactating women. The root extract promotes fertility in women and reduces menstrual cramps. It provides overall nourishment for new mothers after delivery. The estrogenic property effectively balances estrogen levels and enhances libido formation.
Shatavar is also extremely beneficial in treating endometriosis (inflammation of the uterus lining), improving maturation of the eggs into follicles. It is an age-old rejuvenating tonic for women’s overall health.
Other therapeutic applications
- The root extract of the plant is bitter-sweet and cooling in nature. Hence, it is used as a nerve tonic in the treatment of nervous disorders. The root has other therapeutic usages in treating dyspepsia, dysentery, neuropathy, hyperdipsia, hepatopathy, inflammation, and hyperacidity.
- Shatavari is used to formulate rasayana to prevent aging, to improve immunity, mental function and vigour.
- Studies have shown shatavari has diuretic properties, which are helpful in releasing excess fluid from a congested heart. It prevents blood clots and heart attacks. It helps to maintain good cholesterol levels.
- According to a 2005 study, shatavari can prevent the formation of kidney stones. It helps in maintaining proper magnesium levels in the body, which actively prevents the formation of crystals in the urine.
- According to a 2009 study, shatavari is also beneficial in reducing symptoms of depression. It calms the nervous system and enhances mental stability.
- Shatavari is also beneficial for improving men’s health. It has powerful spermatogenic properties which are beneficial in treating low sperm count, abnormal sperm anatomy, erectile dysfunction and sperm motility. It improves sperm counts and virility in men.
- Shatavari is known to be a great digestive herb. The root powder prevents the formation of gas, bloating, indigestion, diarrhoea and constipation.
- The anti-ulcer, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties help in treating peptic ulcers, ulcerative colitis, stomach ulcers, and mouth ulcers.
- The hypoglycaemic property of shatavari helps to maintain normal blood glucose levels. The root powder helps to reduce the breakdown of starch into glucose, which leads to a low glucose level in the blood. Shatavari is beneficial in managing diabetes.
- The root powder has significant antibiotic and anti-asthmatic properties – useful in treating common colds, coughs, fevers, nasal congestion, bronchitis and asthma. The daily intake of shatavari strengthens the respiratory organs.
Shatavari also means ‘the curer of a hundred diseases’. No wonder it has been used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. Regular consumption of shatavari fights free radicals in the body and reduces inflammation – the prime reason and root cause of all illness in the body. Consult an Ayurvedic practitioner and incorporate this elixir of health into your life.
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