Shatavari, also called wild asparagus, is an adaptogenic herb with a long history of use due to its various health benefits.
Traditionally, this herb was used in Ayurvedic medicine to promote fertility and vitality in females.
Presently, shatavari is being researched for its ability to balance female hormonal health, increase milk production, heal ulcers, and more.
In this article, we will look in-depth at the health benefits of shatavari, as well as its safety and history.
Table of Contents
- What is Shatavari?
- Health Benefits of Shatavari:
- Shatavari Safety:
- Naming & Taxonomy:
- History & Traditional Use:
What is Shatavari?
Shatavari is a low-to-the-ground plant in the Asparagaceae family (i.e. the asparagus) that grows throughout Southeast Asia.
This herb has a variety of different names, including wild asparagus, Satawar, Satamuli, and Satavari.
The root is the primary medicinal part of the plant. Like classic asparagus, it has a thick root (or rhizome) that is harvested.
The word “Shatavari” can be translated as “100 spouses”, implying its ability to increase fertility and vitality.
In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, shatavari was used to prevent aging, increase longevity, impart immunity, improve mental function and physical vigor, and add vitality to the body.
In India, shatavari is known as a Rasayana, that is, a rejuvenating herb.
Shatavari is reported to have a wide variety of health benefits, however, it is primarily used today to support women’s health. Researchers note that may be able to improve libido, increase milk flow (for nursing moms), help with ulcer healing, and improve digestion.
Shatavari’s mineral content also makes this a beneficial herb for increasing zinc levels.
We’ll look into these health benefits in more detail below.
Health Benefits of Shatavari:
A variety of different types of studies have been conducted on shatavari, including human clinical trials, pharmacological research, and animal studies.
1. May Help With Female Hormonal Balance
Stress is well known to impact female reproductive health by modulating ovarian physiology and reproductive hormones. This can lead to a host of negative health outcomes, including amenorrhea, anovulation, and menstrual irregularities.
Balancing hormones can help to improve fertility and menstrual status.
Researchers note that shatavari may be able to correct hormonal imbalances due to its phytoestrogenic properties.
It’s thought that the phytoestrogens found in shatavari can regulate the ovarian cycle and reduce adverse menopausal symptoms.
Shatavari has also been reported to correct pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) and dysmenorrhoea (painful menstruation) in a study of 40 patients for 3 months.
Summary:Shatavari may be beneficial in improving female hormonal balance.
2. May Impact Stress-Induced PCOS
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder that affects approximately 7% of women. Common side effects include: obesity, acne, amenorrhea, excessive hair growth, and infertility.
Some researchers have speculated that shatavari can help to overcome PCOS by working to normalize the function of the ovaries.
A clinical trial involving 40 women showed that shatavari (along with a few other Ayurvedic herbs) helped to reduce PCOS symptoms by reducing excessive body hair and by helping to maintain a regular menstrual cycle.
While these initial reports appear to be promising, it would be helpful to see a dedicated clinical trial that tests the efficacy of shatavari solely for women struggling with PCOS.
Summary:Shatavari may help reduce the symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), although further research is needed to confirm this finding.
3. May Help Treat Ulcers
Ulcers are painful sores that are found on the lining of your stomach, small intestine, or esophagus. Ulcers are often slow to heal and/or keep returning. They can cause complications such as internal bleeding or infection.
A human clinical trial looked at the effectiveness of shatavari in treating duodenal ulcers (i.e. ulcers found in the small intestine). In the study, 32 patients were given shatavari root powder 12 g/d in four doses, for an average duration of 6 weeks. Shatavari was found to relieve most of the symptoms in the majority of the patients.
The ulcer healing effect of shatavari is thought to be due to its ability to strengthen mucosal resistance, prolong mucosal cell lifespan, and increase mucous secretion and viscosity. It does not appear that shatavari has antacid properties.
Summary:Shatavari may work to treat and relieve the symptoms of ulcers.
4. May Increase Milk Supply
Shatavari has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years as a galactagogue (i.e. it stimulates the production of breast milk).
Approximately 35% of all women that wean early report insufficient milk supply as the primary reason for stopping nursing.
A human clinical trial showed that shatavari works by stimulating prolactin production. In the clinical trial, which involved 60 lactating women, shatavari was shown to increase prolactin levels by three-fold. Prolactin is an important hormone that signals the body to start producing milk.
Another study showed that a supplement containing shatavari was found to improve milk production in women with low breast milk supply.
Some women have noted that shatavari supplementation didn’t impact their milk production. As with all herbs, your experience may differ depending on your individual physiology.
Summary:Shatavari may increase the milk supply of nursing women.
5. Anti-Aging Properties
In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, shatavari is known as a Rasayana, or rejuvenating herb. It was often used to support healthy aging.
A recent study noted that the saponins in shatavari root helped reduce free-radical skin damage. Reducing this type of damage leads to healthier skin and fewer wrinkles.
Shatavari also helped prevent collagen breakdown, which is crucial for keeping your skin’s suppleness.
Summary:Shatavari may work to support healthy aging and reduce skin damage, although additional research is needed.
Safety Class: 1 (can be safely used when consumed properly).
Interaction Class: A (no clinically relevant reactions are expected).
Shatavari is generally recognized as safe and is not known to cause any adverse reactions.
As noted above, shatavari can impact hormone levels due to its estrogenic activity, this may be problematic for some individuals.
Noted herbalist David Winston notes that individuals with diarrhea and abdominal bloating may want to avoid using shatavari, or at the very least, mix the herb with ginger so that it does not aggravate these conditions.
Pregnancy & Lactation:
A review of the literature showed that, in Ayurvedic medicine, shatavari is considered safe when taken during pregnancy.
New research notes that it may be better to take shatavari during the later stages of pregnancy (2nd & 3rd trimester).
Shatavari is considered safe to take during lactation. Two studies found no adverse effects on mothers or their babies. It may even be beneficial as it can help to increase milk supply.
Since shatavari is a plant that is typically eaten as a food (i.e. wild asparagus), it is a plant that can be taken in higher dosages than what you typically find with herbs.
That’s why taking a standardized extract may be a good way to go, as it allows you to get an optimal amount of shatavari without having to take a large number of capsules.
Capsules: Take two capsules three times per day (six capsules total). In a powdered form, up to 20 grams per day can be used.
Tincture (1:5): Take 3–5 mL (60–100 drops), three times per day.
Decoction: Add 2 tsp. dried, powdered root to 8 oz. water. Simmer for 10–15 minutes, then steep for 40 minutes. Take up to two cups per day.
Naming & Taxonomy:
Shatavari is known scientifically as Asparagus racemosus. It grows as a woody climber reaching up to 1-2 m in height.
The leaves are like pine needles, small and uniform, and its flowers are white and have small spikes.
This plant belongs to the Asparagaceae family, which includes the well-known vegetable asparagus.
It’s commonly found growing at low altitudes in the shade and in tropical climates throughout Asia, Australia, and Africa.
The word “shatavari” can be translated as “100 spouses”, which implies its ability to increase fertility and vitality.
History & Traditional Use:
Shatavari is a much-loved plant in Ayurvedic medicine. It was first mentioned in two ancient religious texts, the Rig Veda and the Atharvaveda.
It was praised as a potent Rasayana that promotes physical strength, preserves youthfulness, and improves memory and intellect.
It has been used for millennia as an aphrodisiac and to enhance fertility in both women and men. The fresh juice of the plant’s roots is used in several classic formulas claimed to be sexual tonics.
In traditional Indian medicine, shatavari is often cooked with ghee to create a paste, which is then eaten or applied to the skin.
Shatavari has more than 50 organic compounds including steroidal saponins, glycosides, alkaloids, polysaccharides, mucilage, racemosol, and isoflavones.
The steroidal saponins are the biologically active constituents found in shatavari root.
Shatavari is an herb that can be potentially helpful in balancing hormones, increasing milk supply, and rejuvenating the skin.
As an adaptogen, shatavari may benefit all bodies, especially those struggling with stress.
It’s a safe herb that can be taken for long durations by most individuals without incident.
Always consult your doctor before adding shatavari or any herb to your herbal regimen.