How to Use Ayurvedic Herb Shatavari to Promote Women’s Health

Dr. Morgan Camp M.D.

IN BRIEF

Ayurveda, the ancient practice of self-care and healing, can offer a lot of wisdom when it comes to finding balance in our bodies. This is particularly true when it comes to healing foods and herbs. Here is more about Shatavari, an adaptogenic herb revered for thousands of years in Ayurveda.

AYURVEDIC MEDICINE

Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest forms of holistic medicine still widely used today. It was developed more than 3,000 years ago in India and is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit.  A person’s personality and health are expressed in three bodily humors called doshas and are a combination of the five elements fire, water, air, earth, and space.

The doshas are:

Vata consists mostly of the two elements air and space and is generally described as cold, light, dry, rough, flowing, and spacious. Those with a lot of vata in their doshic constitution tend to be slim, energetic, and creative. They are known for thinking outside the box but can become easily distracted. (1)

Pitta is based on fire and water and is commonly described as hot, light, sharp, oily, liquid, and mobile.  People with pitta can be highly motivated, goal-oriented, competitive, and have a tenacious personality and muscular athletic build. (1)

Kapha is based on earth and water and described as steady, stable, heavy, slow, cold, and soft. People who lean toward a kapha constitution are often strong, thick-boned, and caring. (1)

Ayurveda’s comprehensive holistic approach emphasizes diet, herbal remedies, exercise, meditation, breathing, and physical therapy. Shatavari is one such herbal remedy. It is used in Ayurveda to balance pitta and vata, and can increase kapha due to its heavy nature.  Its bitter and sweet taste has a cooling effect on the body. Its oily nature gives it a nourishing, grounding effect. These combined qualities classify it as a rejuvenating herb especially for the reproductive system, the digestive system, and the blood. (2)

SHATAVARI 

In Sanskrit, “shatavari” translates to having “100 roots” or “100 spouses” indicating the powerful reproductive properties of this herb. Different extracts of the roots, leaves, flowers, and stems are used for Ayurvedic remedies. In India, the tubers are also eaten raw as a sweetmeat. (2)

The presence of many bioactive compounds such as steroidal glycosides, saponins, polyphenols, flavonoids, alkaloids, and vitamins make it popular among all of the medicinal plants used in the practice of Ayurveda. It is also reported to have minerals, proteins, starch, and tannins in the roots and flowers. (3)

Most scientific research on shatavari has been done in the laboratory, so quantifying its use and verifying results have come mainly from the clinical experiences of Ayurvedic doctors and therapists. No standardized dose has been established. More scientific studies need to be done to confirm what has long been observed and to better understand the composition and medical impact of shatavari on the body for various conditions and diseases.

BENEFITS

Hormonal Support

Shatavari has been used by Ayurvedic healers for centuries, but only recently have scientists identified the plant’s phytoestrogens. These are biochemicals with estrogen-mimicking properties that can be important during menopause when female estrogen levels naturally decline. These plant-based chemicals can supply needed hormones to relieve common menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, depression, memory loss, and night sweats. (3)

Shatavari has been shown to help promote the production of breast milk in lactating women. (3) 

It can be useful in regulating menstrual cycles. Being an effective adaptogen, it may be helpful for stress-induced fertility issues. It is also considered an aphrodisiac for both men and women by enhancing sexual experiences and improving the chances of conception. (3)

Stress Reduction

Researchers report that stress is a significant factor in hormonal imbalances. Psychological, physical, and emotional stressors disturb reproductive health by creating free radicals and oxidative stress. These effects are associated with disorders in menstrual cycles, ovary function, and female reproductive health. Shatavari is high in saponins whose anti-oxidant properties are known to prevent cell damage from free radicals. (4)

Inflammation

According to a 2004 study, a new antioxidant called racemofuran was identified within the shatavari root. Antioxidants in shatavari act as anti-inflammatory agents thought to reduce inflammation without serious digestive side effects. (5)

Depression

Shatavari has been shown to help with depression. A 2009 study on rodents done by researchers from the Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India found the antioxidants in shatavari to have strong anti-depressant qualities equal to some pharmaceuticals but natural in their effects on the body. (6)

Diabetes

Compounds within shatavari may stimulate insulin production and could be useful in the development of new diabetic treatments. (7)

Anti-aging

A small group of women was tested by a research group in Thailand in 2015 to observe the anti-aging properties of shatavari. The results showed that the anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties of the saponins in shatavari helped with skin damage from repeated exposure to UV radiation which causes wrinkle formation and degradation of collagen and elastin. (8) 

HIV 

There is an urgent need for new, safe, and inexpensive anti-HIV agents. Plant-derived natural products have shown strong anti-HIV activity. A recent study from India assessed the anti-HIV activity of various extracts prepared from Indian medicinal plants, eight of which showed great promise including shatavari. (9)

SIDE EFFECTS AND RISKS

Ayurvedic medicine considers shatavari safe for long-term use, even during pregnancy and lactation.  However, because there is not much scientific research on the side effects of shatavari, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use it until more studies are done and it is proven safe. (10)

There are reports of allergic reactions in some people who take shatavari. If you’re allergic to asparagus, avoid this supplement. Seek medical attention if you experience asthma or allergic symptoms. (10)

Shatavari is generally thought to be safe to eat in small amounts thus allowing you to reap its antioxidant and immune-boosting benefits. For higher doses, see your doctor or health care practitioner. (10)

RECIPES

Available in powder, capsule, tablet, and liquid forms, adding one of these to the following recipes may help boost your vitality, address female health, and help with inflammation while supporting your immune system. If you have any questions or concerns, contact your doctor or health care provider. Check out this link for these recipe ingredients: (11)

  1. Shatavari Tonics
  2. Shatavari-Pomegranate Juice
  3. Shatavri-Neem paste
  4. Rejuvenating Shatavari Milk
  5. Shatavari Latte

SOURCES 

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vata-dosha-pitta-dosha-kapha-dosha
  2. https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/plants/ayurvedic-herbs/shatavari/
  3. https://www.intechopen.com/books/phytochemicals-in-human-health/medicinal-properties-of-selected-asparagus-species-a-review
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0753332218301665
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15478181/
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0091305708002657#
  7. https://joe.bioscientifica.com/view/journals/joe/192/1/1920159.xml
  8. http://www.scienceasia.org/2015.41.n4/scias41_236.pdf
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21365365/
  10. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/shatavari#side-effects-and-risks
  11. https://www.amrutam.co.in/five-potent-shatavari-recipes-for-female-health/

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About Dr. Morgan Camp M.D.

Dr. Morgan is an expert in Functional and Integrative Medicine with a Strong Emphasis in stress related illnesses like anxiety and insomnia. In addition to his 20 years of work in Functional Medicine, he has expanded his practice to include work on the deeper aspects of our being that point to the root cause of our illnesses working with Mind Body Wellness, Energy Medicine, and Healing with Consciousness.
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ayurveda, shatavari