Common name: Shatavari
Other names: Shatamuli, Indian asparagus root
Latin name: Asparagus racemosus
Affinities: Reproductive system, digestive system, nervous system
Actions: Rasayana, demulcent, aphrodisiac, antispasmodic, galactogogue, astringent, immunomodulator, reproductive tonic, adaptogen, nervine tonic
Diseases: Infertility(3), low libidio(3), inflammation of sexual organs(3), leucorrhoea(3), menorrhagia(3), urethritis(3), cystitis(3), irritable coughs(3), fatigue(3), hot flushes(3), anxiety(3), stress(3)
Parts used: Roots
Characteristics: The plant, shatavari, which is native to India, is a woody climber that grows to a height of 1-2 metres (Sharma, 2011). The leaves are small, pine needle shaped, and uniformly arranged with tiny white flowers. The name, ‘shatavari’, translates to, ‘who possess a hundred husbands or acceptable to many’.
History: Shatavari is mentioned in the two ancient Hindu texts, the Rig Veda and the Atharvaveda (Winston, 2007). It was recommended as a powerful rasayana that enhances physical strength, youthfulness, and improves memory and intelligence. In both the Charak Samhita and the Ashtang Hridyam, two ancient Ayurvedic texts, shatavari is listed as part of formulas aimed at treating disorders that effect women’s health (Sharma, 2011).
Current applications: Shatavari is considered both a general tonic and a female reproductive tonic (Sharma, 2011). In one paper, the author writes, it is thought to increase fertility, libido, reduce inflammation, enhance ovulation, and be effective in leucorrhoea and menorrhagia. Although it is mainly known as a female tonic for fertility and libido (Winston, 2007), it has a similar effect in men as well, and its effects are more far reaching than the reproductive system.
David Winston finds it useful for women with minor hormonal imbalances that are preventing the conception and also menopausal symptoms such as dryness and low libido (Winston, 2007). He also mentions it is an adaptogen and immune tonic and has use in treating fatigue, poor appetite, and chronic fatigue syndrome. It may be able to increase milk production during lactation. It is a soothing demulcent tonic and has use in reliving urinary, respiratory, and gastric irritation. He also states it may help urethritis, cystitis, gastric ulcers, irritable coughs with hard to expectorate sticking mucus. Maria Groves lists shatavari as a more calming adaptogen, similar to ashwagandha and tulsi (Groves, 2016). Shatavari may be combined with ashwagandha to enhance its effects on the reproductive system and as a more general tonic formula.
Science: There is only a little science on shatavari, most are animal studies, I don’t consider them very informative and the traditional knowledge is better for this herb. Until good quality human studies are available this section will not be updated.
Safety: Shatavari is safe during pregnancy and lactation, it is a safe herb generally although those with diarrhoea and abdominal bloating may want to avoid the herb.
Dosage: Follow directions on packaging.
Brands: Organic India
Groves, Maria. Body into Balance. Storey Publishing, 2016.
Sharma, Komal. “Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari): a versatile female tonic.” International Journal of Pharmaceutical & Biological Archive 2.3 (2011).
Winston, David, and Steven Maimes. Adaptogens: herbs for strength, stamina, and stress relief. Inner Traditions/Bear & Co, 2007.