What is Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus)?

The Himalayan region is showered with nature’s endless gifts. Ranging eclectically from ornamental to culinary and to exclusive healing agents, one will find the natural alternatives for almost every human need here. Shatavari is one such herb that is found growing wild in the Himalayas and at the base of the Himalayan regions. It is one of the oldest herbs in Ayurveda, which is mentioned in most ancient texts in Indian medicine. In both Charaka Samhita and Ashtanga hridayam Shatavari is famously known as a “female tonic”.In fact, it may interest you to know that the name shatavari means “ the one who has a hundred husbands”. Shatavari is known for its benefits in improving the overall health of the female reproductive system. If you think that is all, you're in for a surprise as shatavari is also known as the “curer of a hundred diseases” as per ayurveda. Additionally, the adaptogenic (anti-stress) and antioxidant properties of this herb make it very effective in alleviating most stress-related and age-related diseases. Such is the importance of this herb that ayurveda calls it the “queen of herbs”.

Some basic facts about shatavari:

  • Botanical name: Asparagus racemosus
  • Family: Liliaceae/ Asparagaceae
  • Common name: Shatavari, Asparagus root, Indian asparagus
  • Sanskrit name: Shatavari, Shatmuli/ Satamuli
  • Parts used: Roots and leaves
  • Native region and geographical distribution: Shatavari is native to the tropical regions of the Indian subcontinent but it also grows abundantly in the Himalayan regions of India. Shatavari is also found in parts of Sri Lanka and Nepal.
  • Energetics: Cooling and moistening. In ayurveda it is known to balance the vata and pitta “doshas”.
  1. Shatavari for arthritis as an anti-inflammatory
  2. Shatavari dosage
  3. Shatavari side effects
  4. Shatavari potential in preventing mosquito borne diseases
  5. Shatavari as immunoadjuvant
  6. Shatavari for improving immunity
  7. Shatavari as a potent anti-cancer agent
  8. Shatavari benefits in diabetes
  9. Shatavari benefits for hair and scalp
  10. Shatavari as a diuretic
  11. Shatavari for treating diarrhea
  12. Asparagus plant and how is Shatavari used
  13. Shatavari benefits as an antibiotic
  14. Shatavari for ulcers
  15. Shatavari antioxidant
  16. Shatavari helps in reducing stress
  17. Shatavari benefits for nursing mothers
  18. Shatavari benefits for men
  19. Shatavari for PCOS
  20. Shatavari benefits for women
  21. Health benefits of shatavari

If the diseases and health issues weren't enough the day to day stress of modern life and the amount of processed food in the diet has made life quality even worse for humans. Arthritis is one of the rising bone associated problems these days which is affecting even the younger generations now. Most of the drugs that are commercially available in the market are chemical based and they do come with a lot of side effects. Free radical damage and oxidative stress is one of the main causes of this problem. Shatavari, as an antioxidant helps scavenge the free radicals in the body thus relieving the oxidative stress and reducing the chances of diseases like arthritis in particularly younger people. Additionally, studies have also suggested shatavari to be an excellent anti-inflammatory so it also helps you deal with the swelling and pains in the joints.

Read more: Inflammatory disease treatment

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Ayurvedic doctors suggest that one teaspoon of shatavari powder can be taken as a tea twice a day.

For fertility issues, it’s better to take shatavari regularly for a few months before you decide to conceive. This will not only help in increasing your fertility but also improves the conditions of your uterus and makes it more suitable for conceiving. 2 tsp of shatavari powder is suggested by ayurvedic doctors to be taken with milk twice a day for improving the fertility and overall sexual health in females. However, the exact dose for any herb will varies from one person to another. So, it is best to check in with an experienced physician to know the most effective and safe dose of shatavari for you.

Consuming shatavari is likely unsafe during pregnancy as it has shown to cause miscarriage and birth defects in animal models of lab studies and there has been no human research to contradict this effect in humans. Pregnant women should always consult their doctor before taking shatavari in any form.

People who are allergic to other members of asparagus family may be allergic to shatavari too.

Not much is known about the drug interactions of this herb so if you are already on prescribed medicines, it’s advisable to refer to a registered medical practitioner if you want to add this herb to your diet.

Mosquito-borne diseases are one of the common causes of mortality in developing countries like India. The unsanitary conditions and lack of information is a major factor in making the disease ratio more severe than it should be. While there are a lot of programs to develop curiosity and knowledge about the safety measures we cannot stop the seasonal breeding of these insects entirely. Most of the chemical-based precautions that are commonly used have one or the other side effects and we cannot deny the development of new resistant species which are not affected by the current chemicals used. So, some stringent measures are needed to keep mosquitoes from breeding and spreading the disease so easily.

Some recent studies are suggestive that the methanol root extract of asparagus is an excellent killer of the mosquito larvae, eggs and adults. This means we can use the root extract of this plant to prevent diseases like dengue, malaria, and chikungunya in a way that is much more environmental friendly. It was further suggested that since it is a herb which has evolved along with mosquitoes, it works in a wide range manner and it’s difficult to get resistant against the action of the root extract.

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Immunoadjuvant are substances which can be given along with a vaccination to improve the efficiency and function of the vaccine. A number of studies have been done to study the working of shatavari root extract as an immunoadjuvant along with the vaccines for diseases like Hepatitis, DPT vaccine etc and all of them suggest that addition of the shatavari has a definite effect as an adjuvant. Further studies suggest that the saponins (natural chemical compounds present in shatavari) may be responsible for this property of the herb. It was also claimed that this herb acts in the body by stimulating the cell-based immunity of the body (T cell activation), which, in turn, is responsible for activating the white blood cells and antibodies in the human body. Thus shatavari root may have potential therapeutic uses as adjuvants with most vaccines.

Read more: How are vaccines made

Immunomodulators are drugs, plants or compounds which stimulate the immune system of our body and help us fight infections. With the advancement of science, we have a lot of antibiotics commercially available in the market. A lot of incurable diseases are now curable by a proper treatment and surgery if it goes to an extreme. But the mortality rates of secondary infections cannot be denied. Secondary infections are the infections which can be acquired as a result of regular consumption of medicines in high doses that lead to the decrease in the immunity of the person. As a result, more medical therapy is needed and it becomes a vicious loop. So what is the alternative? A more holistic treatment of the body with naturally occurring substances that can not only help you heal from the secondary infection but also helps your immune system be strong enough to reduce the chances of any further problems. Studies have shown that shatavari is an excellent agent against secondary infections like Candida and Staphylococcus. It was suggested that the oral administration of shatavari stimulates the immune system to produce more antibodies and kill the infection more effectively.

Read more: How to improve immunity

Studies have shown that the extracts of shatavari root and leaves have potent anti-cancer activities. Scientist claim that shatavarin, a chemical compound found in the shatavari roots and leaf extract has an ability to kill the cancer cells. However, human studies are yet to be done so it's better to talk to your ayurveda doctor for the potential uses of shatavari as an anti-cancer agent.

(Read more: Cancer treatment)

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Shatavari roots are an excellent antidiabetic agent, it increases the amount of insulin in the body thus helping in decreasing the blood sugar levels of the body. Animal studies support the potency of this herb in the anti-diabetes therapy but since there is a lack of human models, diabetic people are highly recommended to refer to their doctor before taking shatavari in any form.

Read more: Exercises for diabetes

Are you suffering from dandruff? Do scalp conditions never seem to leave you alone? This might be a sign of a skin based infection. Recent studies suggest that the ethanolic extracts of asparagus root is an excellent antibiotic against that common scalp fungi and can be very helpful in treating scalp problems like dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis (a scalp condition marked by rash and itching which is very similar to eczema and psoriasis) In ayurveda, shatavari is long known as an anti-inflammatory, which means it will help you get relief from the rashes and itching that can be a collateral with the scalp infections or dandruff. But there have been no human studies to prove the efficiency of shatavari in treating these scalp conditions. So, its advisable to talk to your ayurveda doctor before using shatavari for your the health of your hairs.

Read more: How to get rid of dandruff

Diuretics are the herbs or compounds which lead to a more frequent release of water from the body and shatavari is especially helpful if you are looking for a natural detoxifying agent. It releases the extra water and toxins from the body thus making your body function better. Additionally, the flushing out of extra salts and water from the body would clean up the kidneys too, animal studies show that the oral administration of shatavari root extracts helps break down kidney stones.

Read more: Detox diet benefits and side effects

Ayurvedic doctors have been using shatavari in the treatment of diarrhea but curiosity has lead the scientists to test the efficiency of this herb in the treatment of this most common health problem and the ayurvedic claims have been found to be accurate, at least in lab studies. Human studies are still pending to check the dosage and action of this herb in treating diarrhea and dysentery.

Read more: Home remedies for loose motions

Shatavari is a perennial plant (lives for many years) which climbs with the help of its woody stems to about 1-2 m in height. Its leaves are thin and needle-like and it bears white flowers with small spikes. The roots of this asparagus plant are tuberous and are the main source of all of its medicinal benefits. Although ancient texts suggest taking shatavari in a fresh form, it is generally taken in the form of a powder, which might be in part due to the bitter taste of the roots or because of sheer convenience. It is also available commercially as shatavari capsules, shatavari tablets, and granules. You are highly advised to confirm the dosage, and frequency to consume shatavari from a reputed ayurvedic doctor before including it in your daily diet.

Recently, there have been several studies that claim the usage of Asparagus racemosus in the production of edible biofilms, which can be used in wrapping commercial meat products. These films not only keep the food product fresh for a longer period of time, they also do not contain any of the side effects of the normal poly film. This is because of the antioxidant and antibacterial properties of shatavari, Researchers are seeing a great deal of potential in this natural product, keeping in mind, the environmental friendly biofilms, and a longer shelf life of food products in the market.

Numerous researches have been done to examine the antimicrobial properties of shatavari and almost every research claims that the root and leaf extract of this herb is very effective against a wide range of microorganisms (germs) including bacteria like E. coli, Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus, Salmonella and Pseudomonas and fungus, like Candida. So, it is safe to say that shatavari root can be used to treat most bacterial diseases and fungal diseases and may have potential as a naturally occurring wide range antibiotic in modern medicine.

Read more: Precautions to take with antibiotics

Do you suffer from acidity and heartburns often? Is your lifestyle too stressful and your diet mostly comprises of fast food or otherwise too spicy foods? It should not come as a surprise as none of the above mentioned is good for your health. According to doctors, our stomach has a very thin protective layer, which protects us from the harmful effects of the digestive acids produced in the body. These acids are normally produced to help our stomach easily digest the food and to reduce the chances of bacterial growth in the stomach thus keeping it healthy. But over-consumption of spicy food or poor lifestyle habits, in general, might lead to an oversecretion of this acid in the stomach. When the stomach is no longer able to save itself from the effects of the digestive juices it starts to burn the inner lining of the stomach itself and this is what leads to the formation of ulcers in stomach.

Peptic ulcer is the medical term which refers to the kind of ulcer which forms in the stomach due to the overproduction of acids. A study was conducted in India to test the efficiency of asparagus root in relieving the symptoms of peptic ulcers in a group of 30 patients wherein 3 gm of shatavari root powder was given with milk to all of the subjects for a period of 6 weeks along with keeping them on a strict diet. After 6 weeks it was found that shatavari root powder has an excellent effect in treating chronic cases of peptic ulcers in both males and females. But, there were a lot of factors involved, such as diet plan and regular monitoring. Hence it’s better to consult an ayurvedic doctor for enjoying the benefits of this herb safely and more holistically.

Read more: Stomach ulcer diet

Antioxidants are the body’s natural defense against free radical damage. Just in case you are wondering what free radicals are, they are molecules formed in the body by its everyday functions, but eventually, they become potentially toxic to the body by killing the body’s own cells. Accumulation of a large amount of free radicals is called oxidative stress, which is one of the main reason for weakened body functions and premature ageing. Studies have claimed that Shatavari has at least three very potent antioxidant compounds (racemofuran, aspargamine, racemosol) which help scavenge all the harmful free radicals from your system. So taking shatavari in your diet can help your body in dealing with a lot of metabolic damage and keep itself healthier for a longer time.

In Ayurveda, Shatavari is known as one of the top adaptogens, which means it has potent anti-stress activities. Recent studies suggest that intake of this herb affects a certain brain pathway which reduces the amount of stress hormones in the body thus leading to a stress-free mind. But these studies are mostly under trial with successful animal models and there has been no human trial so far to prove its efficiency in humans. So, its advisable to refer to a registered medical practitioner before taking in shatavari as a medicine for stress.

Read more: How to reduce stress

In ayurveda, shatavari is called as a galactagogue, which means it helps increase the milk production in nursing mothers and ayurvedic doctors suggest the consumption of this herb for increasing the amount of breastmilk in females. Modern medical science is fast moving towards the use of natural herbs in medicine too, in this series a research was done to test the effects of the root extracts of shatavari as a galactagogue and it was found that the oral administration of this plant might actually be potent in increasing milk production in mammals. However, the human tests are still not available to prove the exact action on humans so it’s better to talk to your ayurvedic doctor to know more about the benefits of this herb for nursing women.

Read more: Foods to increase breast milk

Shatavari is one of the best-known herbs for females but its efficiency doesn’t stop at just one gender. Studies have shown that the hydro-alcoholic and water extract of shatavari is very effective as an aphrodisiac. An aphrodisiac is a compound or a herb (in ayurveda) which is used to improve the sexual performance and libido in humans. However, due to the lack of any human studies, nothing can be claimed about the efficiency of shatavari as a human aphrodisiac for men.

Read more: Men's sexual problems and solutions

Polycystic ovary syndrome is the formation of cysts in the female ovary. Hormonal imbalance is known to be the main reason behind this problem which leads to symptoms like irregularities in the menstrual cycle, infertility, back pain and difficulty in conceiving or giving birth. The imbalanced female hormones can also cause irrational hair loss, acne and other skin conditions and neurological problems like anxiety and depression. There is no known cure for this problem so far but the medical science is exploring the use of Asparagus racemosus in dealing with this gradually rising female problem.

A recent article published in the International Journal of Herbal Medicine talks about estrogen (female hormone) like effects of asparagus root and how it could have a potential in the future treatments of this disease. The same article further suggests that shatavari does so by helping in the proper development of oocytes in the female ovary. However, it is always advisable to talk to your doctor about the proper dosage according to your body type.

Read more: PCOS herbal and home remedies

If anything, shatavari is a champion for women’s health. It doesn't only lead to a higher sex drive but also improves the overall health of the uterus, help the body to balance the female sex hormones and improves the fertility of women. Recent medical studies claim all of these benefits of shatavari to be true along with the property of this herb to improve the quality of the female reproductive cells (oocytes). Furthermore, a more balanced hormonal system in females would lead to lesser cramps and a more pain-free menstrual cycle.

Read more: Period pain causes

Shatavari is an excellent herb for fertility and overall well being of the female sexual health but there is a reason it’s called the herb with many remedies.

Here are some of the science-backed health benefits of shatavari plant that you should know of:

  • Champion of women health: Shatavari is best known for its benefits for women. It increases their libido, balances hormones and improves fertility. Shatavari consumption has also been found to reduce period pain and regularise menstrual cycle.
  • Beneficial in PCOS: Research studies suggest that shatavari has an estrogen-like effect on the body, which modulates hormone function in women and helps in proper development of oocytes, thus alleviating all the risk factors for PCOS. Though more studies are needed to confirm its efficiency and dosage for PCOS prevention.
  • Improves libido in men: Shatavari is not just the herb for women, it is as beneficial for men. Regular consumption of shatavari is claimed to exhibit an aphrodisiac action on the body. However, due to absence of clinical studies, it is best to talk to a doctor to know more about this benefit.
  • Benefits for nursing mothers: Shatavari is used as a galactagogue in ayurvedic medicine. This means it increases milk production in nursing mothers. While preclinical evidence has confirmed this benefit, human studies are still lacking to prove the galactagogue action of shatavari.
  • Reduces stress: Shatavri has been found to be an effective stress-buster in pre-clinical settings. As an adaptogenic herb, it reduces the amount of stress hormones in your body, leading to a stress-free mind.
  • Natural antioxidant: Laboratory studies indicate that shatavari is a repository of antioxidant compounds, which combats free radical damage and improve the natural ability of your body to fight diseases. It also delays ageing and improves organ function.
  • Reduces peptic ulcers: It has been found in a clinical study that regular consumption of 3 g of shatavari root with milk is effective in reducing the severity of peptic ulcers regardless of gender or age. However, it also needs some dietary restriction and must be taken under the supervision of a doctor.
  • Acts as an antibiotic: In a series of studies, it has been confirmed that the leaf extracts of shatavari plant can inhibit the growth of several pathogenic microbes and it may have some potential as a natural antibiotic for the treatment of infectious diseases.
  • Relieves arthritis symptoms: Shatavari is suggested to be an efficient anti-inflammatory herb in research studies. Regular consumption may reduce swelling and pain associated with arthritis. Being an antioxidant herb, it reduces free radical damage, one of the primary causes of arthritic inflammation.
  • Relieves diarrhoea: Ayurvedic doctors prescribe shatavari for alleviating diarrhoea symptoms. Lab-studies confirm this traditional use, but human-based studies are still pending to confirm the anti-diarrhoeal potential of shatavari.
  • Good for hair: Asparagus is a natural antibacterial and antifungal agent. It helps inhibit fungal infections of scalp. Being an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, it ensures that you do not suffer from scalp conditions like eczema and psoriasis. It also reduces hair fall and premature greying of hair.
  • Reduces blood sugar: Animal-based studies suggest that shatavari increases the amount of insulin in your body, facilitating the clearance of excessive blood sugar. 
  • Increases immunity: It has been proven by scientific studies that shatavari consumption boosts immunity and increase the capacity of your immune system to clear away pathogens. It is also useful in reducing the incidence of post-surgical infections.
  • Prevents mosquito-borne diseases: Shatavari root extracts are demonstrated to be toxic to mosquito larvae, eggs and adults. It is speculated that since it is a herb, it has evolved with mosquitoes and hence can act against these disease vectors in numerous ways, without posing a threat of resistance.
  • Immunoadjuvant: Shatavari root extract, when administered along with vaccines (as an adjuvant) results in a much better immune response than the vaccine alone. This is because of the immunostimulatoryry properties of shatavari root, provided in part due to its rich saponin content.
  • Prevents cancer: In vitro (lab-based) studies indicate the anti-cancer potential of shatavari root and leaf extracts. It has been found that shatavarin, an active compound present in this plant suppresses the growth and spread of cancer cells. However, clinical trials are still needed to confirm this benefit.

Medicines / Products that contain Shatavari


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