An Introduction To Shatavari
There are about 300 varieties of plants in the genus, Asparagus. One of these varieties is Asparagus racemosus, more commonly known as Shatavari. While it can be found in parts of Africa, Australia, and Southern China, it is most commonly cultivated in India. Shatavari is considered a rasayana in Ayurveda. (1)
What Is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that means “science of life.” It is the name for a healing tradition from the Vedic culture of India. It is thought that Ayurveda is one of the oldest healing disciplines. While we have some written records of Ayurveda dating back thousands of years, Ayurveda originated as an orally passed-down knowledge. Due to this, much of the knowledge of Ayurveda has been lost to us, though much has been preserved and passed down orally.
According to the Ayurvedic Institute, “Ayurveda places great emphasis on prevention and encourages the maintenance of health through close attention to balance in one’s life, right thinking, diet, lifestyle and the use of herbs.” Shatavari is, of course, one of these herbs. (2)
What Is Rasayana?
Rasayana is a branch of the Ayurvedic healing tradition which focuses on rejuvenation and Rasa Dhatu, which is the essence of what we put into our bodies.
While there are several components to rasayana, Dravaya Rasayana is where shatavari would fit in, since Dravaya Rasayana involves what we put into our body, such as herbs and food. (3)
The Physical Characteristics of Shatavari
Shatavari is a climbing plant with a tuberous root.
Like tubers, a tuberous root tends to have a very starchy composition. Plants such as potatoes are tubers you may be familiar with. However, a tuber is the stem of the plant. Tubers form nodes, which can allow more plants to grow from them (just leave a potato alone in the dark for a bit). Roots don’t grow nodes, so, with very rare exceptions, a tuberous root cannot produce more plants.
Other examples of plants with tuberous roots are dahlias, daylilies, peonies, some irises, sweet potatoes, taro, and more.
The root of Shatavari is grey or silver-white, with a white inside. The plant portion is fernlike in structure but made up of bright green needle-like pieces, akin to the needles of a pine tree. In July, it will sprout tiny white flowers. (1, 4)
The Benefits of Shatavari
Shatavari has been used for a variety of different health ailments, as well as for the benefits of preventative treatment. Below, we will look at some of the most common.
Gender Benefits of Shatavari
According to “Plant profile, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari): A review” from the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, while shatavari has many general use properties, it is also considered to be the Ayurvedic herb of choice for women. In addition to general “women’s health disorder[s],” it is supposed to aid with issues in the reproductive system, such as helping to prevent miscarriages.
Shatavari has also been prescribed by Ayurvedic doctors for weakness of the uterus and excessively heavy menstrual bleeding.
Ayurvedic tradition also suggests shatavari may increase lactation, and modern studies have suggested that, in combination with other herbs, this is quite likely.
Furthermore, shatavari has been shown to be an aphrodisiac with the potential to aid in sexual lubrication. (1, 5)
While shatavari has been called an herb for women, it is also said to have many positive effects on men as well. Shatavari has been used as an aphrodisiac, to aid erectile dysfunction, to reduce the refractory period, and to improve sperm count. Many of these traditional Ayurvedic uses have been found to hold true in studies done on rats. According to the article in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, “present results, therefore, support the folklore claim for the usefulness of these herbs and provide a scientific basis for their purported traditional usage.” (1, 5)
Digestive Benefits of Shatavari
Shatavari has been evidenced to help prevent diarrhea. It is also said to help with the prevention and treatment of ulcers. Studies done in mice also show that shatavari could prevent abdominal sepsis after trauma to the bowels. Furthermore, shatavari has been said to help prevent urinary tract infections. (5)
Mental Health Benefits of Shatavari
Shatavari has long been believed to have mental health benefits. Studies done on rats showed it to have “significant antidepressant activity,” to help with memory, and to have benefits in stress management. It also seemed to have properties to boost learning and retention.
These mental health benefits, in particular its stress-busting properties are why it’s one of the “pure, very high quality natural ingredients” in the Be Serene supplement formula. Made to reduce both the mental and physical effects of stress and anxiety, Be Serene is “non-sedating relief” which will “promote a state of calm, happiness, and relaxation.” (5, 6)
Q: Does shatavari go by other names?
A: Yes! It can also be known as satavari, shatamuli, shimaishadavari, chatavali, Satawar, or aheruballi–and these are only a few of the different names! (1)
Q: What are the growing conditions of Shatavari?
A: Growing best in tropically warm climates, shatavari does well in “black, well drained and fertile soil.” When growing, be careful not to over-water. (1)
Q: Is shatavari safe for use?
A: While it is always good to consult your doctor, shatavari is known as “absolutely safe for long term use, even during pregnancy and lactation.” The article in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine said that even at extremely high doses, shatavari did not put one at risk of fatality. (5)
Q: Why can it be so hard to find human trials for the benefits of shatavari?
A: Often, traditional medicine is ignored in favor of new pharmaceutical advances. However, “most herbs in traditional cultures are given as part of a whole system of medicine,” says physiologist Dr. Fredi Kronenberg. Furthermore, in traditional medicine, if after an initial treatment “your symptoms have changed, you may get different herbs, you may get different doses. That’s much more difficult to study.” (7)