Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) is a species of asparagus grown throughout India, traditionally used in Ayurveda. The name is translated as “she who possesses 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.
A Brief History of Ayurveda
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 entitled 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.
What is Shatavari?
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 fertility benefits for both men and women. It has adaptogenic, immunomodulator, diuretic, sexual tonic, galactagogue (promote breastmilk flow), demulcent, antibacterial, 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.
How Shatavari May Help With Fertility
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
Shatavari may be very helpful with women who have stress-related or immune-mediated fertility issues. Autoimmune fertility issues may be helped by proper immunological function supported by Shatavari.
In one study, the herb Shatavari (Aspargus racemosus) was shown to increase phagocytic activity of macrophages, in turn reducing intraperitoneal adhesions. These are adhesions within the abdomen specifically. Macrophages have been shown to play a role in adhesion development. (Journal of Postgraduate Medicine, the official publication of the Staff Society of Seth G. S. Medical College and K. E. M. Hospital, Mumbai, India) 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, and ovarian cysts.
Supports Mucous Membranes
Herbs that have a demulcent action contain mucilage. Mucilage lines the mucous membranes and acts as a protector and tonic for those membranes. Shatavari contains mucilage; this may be helpful for women with low Cervical Mucus.
In cases where the uterus is contracting due to oxytocin release the saponin rich Shatavari has shown to have an anti-oxytocin 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 saponins, suggesting its use as an estrogen regulator; the estrogen modulating in turn may contribute to menstrual cycle regulation.
A galactagogue is an herb that helps to increase breast milk production. Some studies show that Shatavari may increase a mother’s 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.
Traditional Daily Dosage
A traditional suggested dosage amount would be 4.5 to 8.5 mL of dried plant extract or 1,000 – 2,000mg a day. This herb 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.
- Gautam, Manish, et. al. (2009). Immunomodulatory activity of Asparagus racemosus on systemic Th1/Th2 immunity: Implications for immunoadjuvant potential. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Vol 121, Issue 2, pp 241-247. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2008.10.028 Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874108005928
- Rege N N, Nazareth H M, Isaac A A, Karandikar S M, Dahanukar S A.(1989) Immunotherapeutic modulation of intraperitoneal adhesions by Asparagus racemosus. J Postgrad Med ;35:199-203. Retrieved from: http://www.jpgmonline.com/text.asp?1989/35/4/199/5684
- Romm, Aviva. (2010). Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health. St. Louis, Missouri: Churchill Livingstone.
- Winston, David; Maimes, Steven. (2007). Adaptogens Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief. pp 198-200. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.
- Chevallier, Andrew (1996). The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, DK Publishing, Inc.