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Shatavari is the favoured women's remedy from India

Shatavari

Asparagus racemosus Liliaceae

Shatavari can mean ‘one hundred roots’ (literally ‘one hundred below’) but is commonly referred to as ‘the woman who has a hundred husbands!’. As this name suggests, it is a renowned tonic for the female reproductive system. It is considered as a uterine tonic building fertility, regulating the menses and supporting lactation.

  • How does it feel?

    Shatavari is part of the Asparagus family and is native to tropical and subtropical India but can be found in parts of Africa. It grows in the wild and is also cultivated. The plant is a thorny perennial with striated leaves and is a climber that can grow up to 2m in height with extensive branching. The leaves are delicate and soft but needle-like in shape. Its roots are full, juicy and tuberous and can reach lengths of 1m. Shatavari flowers are white, incredibly small, fragrant and profuse. It is happy growing in humid jungles, shatavari can also thrive in extremely arid conditions. Its capacity to capture and store moisture in dry soils is quite astonishing. It is the tuberous roots that are valued for their medicinal properties.

  • What can I use it for?

    Shatavari is a renowned tonic for the female reproductive system and contains natural precursors to female hormones that help to balance hormones, enhance fertility, promote conception and reduce menopausal and menstrual symptoms. Shatavarin and Sarsapogenin are the two key constituents in Shatavari. They act as pre-cursors to sex-hormones and are responsible for Shatavari’s oestrogenic activity, but are not phyto-oestrogens. Shatavari contains steroidal glycosides such as diosgenin which influence a strong anti-inflammatory effect, particularly within the reproductive and the digestive systems. This plant is also classed as an adaptogen and contains a proportion of immune stimulating polysaccharides making it particularly nutritive and tonifying to a weakened immune system exacerbated by stress.

  • Into the heart of Shatavari

    The primary use of this plant is as a tonic to the female reproductive system. It can tonify the uterus, giving it strength and nourishment. This in combination with shatavari’s ability to actively enhance the libido, make it an excellent fertility tonic that ensures a healthy and full term pregnancy.

    Shatavari is able to balance oestrogen levels in the female reproductive system supporting hormone dominant conditions but also supporting a woman through changes in their menstrual cycle, pre-menstrual tension and the hormonal changes that occur during the menopause.

    Shatavari actively stimulates the production of prolactin in breast feeding women, increasing milk flow.

    Shatavari contains strong anti-inflammatory constituents that have an affinity for the urinary, reproductive and digestive systems. The plant is also characteristically mucilaginous making it an excellent remedy for hot, dry and irritated mucous membranes. Shatavari is considered as an effective diuretic, making it particularly suitable for clearing congested heat from the kidneys and urinary system. Shatavari will, therefore, help treat inflamed conditions such as cystitis, vaginal dryness but also gastric reflux.

    Shatavari is an adaptogen and has an action upon the pituitary gland and the HPA (hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis). It has a regulating effect throughout the body and is particularly nourishing to a weakened and depleted immune system.

    Gynaecology: Shatavari is the foremost female uterine tonic. It is primarily used as a menstrual regulator in dysmenorrhoea, menorrhagia and menstrual irregularity. As the pitta dosha moves in both the blood and the artavasrotas, the cycle is often disturbed by excess heat; this heat can condense the blood (due to dehydration), cause it to move too quickly (due to its catalytic activity), cause it to overflow (due to its ‘rebellious’ nature) and cause inflammations (due to its irritating tendency). Its affinity for shukra dhatu tonifies female fertility; the unctuous properties increase the reproductive fluids, enhancing both conception and uterine strength. It can also be used to help prevent miscarriage. Shatavari is very useful in menopausal symptoms with hot flushes, irritability, irregular memory and dryness.

    Lactation: The nourishing effect of shatavari on rasa dhatu makes it specific for increasing milk flow and quantity during breastfeeding.

    GIT: The unctuous, bitter and sweet qualities of shatavari soothe inflammation of the mucus membranes with high pitta in conditions such as colitis, Crohn’s disease, dysentery with bleeding, inflammation and pain. It is specifically active against Entamoeba histolytica. Shatavari is good for conditions of gastric hyperacidity (amlapitta) with sour reflux and burning in the stomach as it is a cooling anti-inflammatory. Its demulcent properties also make it specifically useful for healing bleeding ulcers and gastritis.

    Lungs: Where there is inflammation from dryness and heat, Shatavari increases moisture. It is commonly used in dry coughs, sore throats and haemoptysis.

    Male fertility: Shatavari can help improve a low sperm count and irregularity.

    Urinary and kidney: Shatavari is useful in dysuria with hot and smelly urine and haematuria.

    Anabolic: Shatavari’s rasayana properties increase mamsa dhatu building body mass, muscle tissue and nourishing the blood. It nourishes the ojas and can enhance immunity in the treatment of cancer.

    Nerves: Shatavari nourishes majja dhatu and calms the nerves. It specifically nourishes the brain and reduces vata disorders; spasms, pain and insomnia.

  • Did you know?

    In India, the fresh roots of this plant were traditionally fed to buffalo in order to increase milk yield for their calves.

Additional information

  • Safety

    No drug herb interactions are known.

  • Dosage

    3–30g/day dried or 3–15ml of a 1:3 in 25% tincture

  • Traditional energetics

    • Rasa (taste) Bitter, sweet
    • Virya (action) Cooling
    • Vipaka (post-digestive effect) Sweet
    • Guna (quality) Unctuous, heavy
    • Dosha effect VP-, K+
    • Dhatu (tissue) All tissues
    • Srotas (channels) Digestive, female reproductive, respiratory
  • Recipe

    Aphrodite’s aphrodisiac tea

    This tea reaches deep into the reproductive system, nourishing our procreative and sexual energy. Use it when preparing for a family or for nurturing your love life. For men and women, this elixir feeds sex hormone release, improves egg/sperm quality and enhances orgasmic experiences.

    Ingredients:

    • Shatavari root 4g
    • Ashwagandha root 2g
    • Licorice root 2g
    • Cinnamon bark 2g
    • Milk (any type) 250ml (9fl oz)
    • Damiana leaf 2g
    • Cacao powder 1 tsp per cup
    • Maca root 1 tsp per cup
    • Flower pollen ½ tsp per cup
    • Vanilla essence a dash per cup
    • Honey (or Amaretto) a drop per cup

    Makes 2 cups of the most amorous elixir.

    Method:

    • Put the shatavari, ashwagandha, licorice and cinnamon in a saucepan with the milk and 250ml/9fl oz cold filtered water.
    • Cover, bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Take off the heat and add the damiana leaf.
    • Leave to steep for 10 minutes, then strain.
    • To each cup, add the cacao, maca, flower pollen, vanilla essence and honey. Then top with the tea and stir.

    Recipe from Cleanse, Nurture, Restore by Sebastian Pole

Aromatic
An ‘aromatic’ remedy, high in volatile essential oils, was most often associated with calming and sometimes ‘warming’ the digestion. Most kitchen spices and herbs have this quality: they were used both as flavouring and to ease the digestion of sometimes challenging pre-industrial foods. Many aromatics are classed as ‘carminatives’ and are used to reduce colic, bloating and agitated digestion. They also often feature in respiratory remedies for colds, chest and other airway infections. They are also classic calming inhalants and massage oils, and are the basis of aromatherapy for their mental benefits.
Astringent taste
The puckering taste you get with many plants (the most familiar is black tea after being stewed too long, or some red wines) is produced by complex polyphenols such as tannins. Tannins are used in concentrated form (eg from oak bark) to make leather from animal skins. The process of ‘tanning’ involves the coagulation of relatively fluid proteins in living tissues into tight clotted fibres (similar to the process of boiling an egg). Tannins in effect turn exposed surfaces on the body into leather. In the case of the lining of mouth and upper digestive tract this is only temporary as new mucosa are replenished, but in the meantime can calm inflamed or irritated surfaces. In the case of open wounds tannins can be a life-saver – when strong (as in the bark of broadleaved trees) they can seal a damaged surface. One group of tannins, the reddish-brown ‘condensed tannins’ are procyanidins, which can reduce inflammation and oxidative damage.
Bitter
Bitters are a very complex group of phytochemicals that stimulate the bitter receptors in the mouth. They were some of the most valuable remedies in ancient medicine. They were experienced as stimulating appetite and switching on a wide range of key digestive functions, including increasing bile clearance from the liver (as bile is a key factor in bowel health this can be translated into improving bowel functions and the microbiome). Many of these reputations are being supported by new research on the role of bitter receptors in the mouth and elsewhere round the body. Bitters were also seen as ‘cooling’ reducing the intensity of some fevers and inflammatory diseases.
Blue-purple colouring
Any fruits with a blue-purple colouring contain high levels of the polyphenols known as anthocyanins. These work 1) on the walls of small blood vessels, helping to maintain capillary structure to reduce a key stage in inflammation, and improving the microcirculation to the tissues; 2) to improve retinal function and vision; 3) to support connective tissue repair around the body.
Cooling
Traditional ‘cold’ or cooling’ remedies often contain bitter phytonutrients such a iridoids (gentian), sesiquterpenes (chamomile), anthraquinones (rhubarb root), mucilages (marshmallow), some alkaloids and flavonoids. They tend to influence the digestive system, liver and kidneys. Cooling herbs do just that; they diffuse, drain and clear heat from areas of inflammation, redness and irritation. Sweet, bitter and astringent herbs tend to be cooling.
Hot
Traditional ‘hot’ or ‘heating’ remedies, often containing spice ingredients like capsaicin, the gingerols (ginger), piperine (black or long pepper), curcumin (turmeric) or the sulfurous isothiocyanates from mustard, horseradich or wasabi, generate warmth when taken. In modern times this might translate as thermogenic and circulatory stimulant effects. There is evidence of improved tissue blood flow with such remedies: this would lead to a reduction in build-up of metabolites and tissue damage. Heating remedies were used to counter the impact of cold, reducing any symptoms made worse in the cold. .
Mucilaginous
Mucilages are complex carbohydrate based plant constituents with a slimy or ‘unctuous’ feel especially when chewed or macerated in water. Their effect is due simply to their physical coating exposed surfaces. From prehistory they were most often used as wound remedies for their soothing and healing effects on damaged tissues. Nowadays they are used more for these effects on the digestive lining, from the throat to the stomach, where they can relieve irritation and inflammation such as pharyngitis and gastritis. Some of the prominent mucilaginous remedies like slippery elm, aloe vera and the seaweeds can be used as physical buffers to reduce the harm and pain caused by reflux of excess stomach acid. Mucilages are also widely used to reduce dry coughing. Here the effect seems to be by reflex through embryonic nerve connections: reduced signals from the upper digestive wall appear to translate as reduced activity of airway muscles and increased activity of airway mucus cells. Some seed mucilages, such as in psyllium seed, flaxseed (linseed) or guar bean survive digestion to provide bulking laxative effects in the bowel. These can also reduce rate of absorption of sugar and cholesterol. .
New-mown hay aroma
The familiar country odour of haymaking, of drying grass and other plants, is largely produced by coumarins (originally isolated from tonka beans – in French coumarou) and widely used in perfumery. They are chemically categorised as benzopyrone lactones and are important phytochemicals, with strong antioxidant activity in the laboratory and likely effects in modulating inflammation. They were most often associated with the calming effect linked to their use in stuffing mattresses and pillows and plants, high In coumarins were commonly used for these properties.
Resinous
Resins are most familiar as tacky discharges from pine trees (and as the substance in amber, and rosin for violin bows). They were most valued however as the basis of ancient commodities like frankincense and myrrh (two of the three gifts of the Three Wise Men to the baby Jesus) and getting access to their source was one benefit to Solomon for marrying the Queen of Sheba (now Ethiopia). Resins were the original antiseptic remedies, ground and applied as powders or pastes to wounds or inflamed tissues, and were also used for mummification. With alcohol distillation it was found that they could be dissolved in 90% alcohol and in this form they remain a most powerful mouthwash and gargle, for infected sore throats and gum disease. They never attracted much early research interest because they permanently coat expensive glassware! For use in the mouth, gums and throat hey are best combined with concentrated licorice extracts to keep the resins in suspension and add extra soothing properties. It appears that they work both as local antiseptics and by stimulating white blood cell activity under the mucosal surface. They feel extremely effective!
Salty
The salty flavour is immediately distinctive. A grain dropped onto the tongue is instantly moistening and a sprinkle on food enkindles digestion. This easily recognisable flavour has its receptors right at the front of the tongue. The salty flavor creates moisture and heat, a sinking and heavy effect which is very grounding for the nervous system and encourages stability. People who are solid and reliable become known as ‘the salt of the earth'.
Sharpness
The sharp taste of some fruits, and almost all unripe fruits, as well as vinegar and fermented foods, is produced by weak acids (the taste is generated by H+ ions from acids stimulating the sour taste buds). Sour taste buds are hard-wired to generate immediate reflex responses elsewhere in the body. Anyone who likes the refreshing taste of lemon or other citrus in the morning will know that one reflex effect is increased saliva production. Other effects are subjective rather than confirmed by research but there is a consistent view that they include increased digestive activity and contraction of the gallbladder.
Sweet
In the days when most people never tasted sugar, ‘sweetness’ was associated with the taste of basic foods: that of cooked vegetables, cereals and meat. In other words sweet was the quality of nourishment, and ‘tonic’ remedies. Describing a remedy as sweet generally led to that remedy being used in convalescence or recovery from illness. Interestingly, the plant constituents most often found in classic tonics like licorice, ginseng are plant steroids including saponins, which also have a sweet taste.

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