A tuberous climber with straight or hooked spines, Shatavari is one of great rejuvenative herbs used in Ayurveda, the world’s oldest healing system. It is also known as Asparagus racemosus, or the Indian Asparagus. Its tubers are white, radish shaped, and found in clusters, and its branches are modified into a leafy structure. In fact, the entire plant has a feathery appearance. The stem is woody and dark green, the flowers are fragrant, small and white, and the fruits are fleshy red berries that turn purplish black when ripe. This climbing plant grows in low jungle areas of the tropics. In the beautiful tropical state of Kerala in India, Shatavari grows abundantly, and the legendary Ayurvedic physicians here have been using its roots and leaves for medicinal purposes for thousands of years- and with good reason. According to Ayurveda, there are three vital energies or doshas in the body, known as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. These three doshas are delicately balanced in a unique proportion in every individual. Good health can be enjoyed only when this balance is maintained. Shatavari has proved to be extremely effective in restoring the balance of the Pitta dosha, whenever it goes out of sync.
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Shatavari is truly Ayurveda’s gift to women. It nourishes and cleanses the blood and the female reproductive organs, enhancing female fertility. It also nourishes the womb and ovum and helps to prepare the female organs for pregnancy, as well as to prevent threatened miscarriage. Shatavari contains phyto-estrogens, the precursors of estrogen, that are really very useful for women who suffer from low natural estrogen levels as a result of menopause, hysterectomies or oophorectomies. For menstruating women Shatavari helps to regulate monthly cycles and ovulation. It is used to soothe PMS cramps, bloating, and irritability. It is also high in Folic Acid and so it helps to prevent anemia.
Shatavari literally means “having 100 spouses”! According to Ayurveda, Shatavari strengthens a woman to the point where she is being capable of producing thousands of healthy ova. Dry membranes, such as those on the vaginal wall, are also brought into balance through the herbs action. Shatavari alleviates morning sickness during pregnancy, and is effective after childbirth in cleaning out the uterus. Ayurvedic texts state that shatavari promotes maternal health too, and its meticulous use enhances breast milk in lactating mothers. Pre-menopausal women can take it to cool annoying hot flashes and mood swings. Even post menopausal women and those who have had hysterectomies greatly benefit from Shatavari’s rich source of phyto-estrogens, and the herb will lubricate and moisten the dry reproductive tissues as we age. Men also benefit from Shatavari, especially in the treatment of impotence and general sexual debility, as it is an aphrodisiac and it increases the libido.
Shatavari is also quite effective for stomach ulcers, hyperacidity and diarrhea. Dry and irritated membranes in the upper respiratory tract are soothed by this herb making it useful in cases of bronchitis and chronic fevers. Known as an adaptogenic herb, Shatavari minimizes the negative effects of stress on the nervous system. This herb is good for anyone under pressure, helping the body and mind to cope with challenges.
Applications of Shatavari
The powdered dried root of Shatavari is used to make a juice to cure ulcers -small holes in the gastrointestinal tract- and gastroparesis, a condition in which the stomach takes too long to empty its contents. Gastroparesis can cause heartburn, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. The medicated oil is useful in massages, and the famous preparation Narayana oil is made from Shatavari. It strengthens the muscles, reduces pain in lumbago, sciatica, inflamed joints and is also effective in paralysis or paresis. The paste of Shatavari’s fresh leaves is applied for relief from the burning sensation of the skin during chicken pox. Depending on the condition and a person’s individual constitution, Shatavari can be taken alone, cooked in milk, ingested as a medicated ghee or oil, or made into a paste and applied externally
Shatavari nourishes the body and mind, builds immunity, and promotes longevity. Its use can actually prevent deterioration and the aging process of cells, tissues and organs. This plant is a good source of zinc and calcium minerals and it also provides B-complex vitamins. Its estrogens do not produce negative side effects and gentle herb will promote an easier balanced life, which is why it is often called “The Queen of Herbs.”