Shatavari (Asparagus Racemosus) Benefits, Uses & Side Effects

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Shatavari (Asparagus Racemosus) is a powerful therapeutic agent, which is of great importance in Ayurveda. It promotes overall well-being and good health. It is one solution to many health conditions. Shatavari means ‘acceptable to many’.

Shatavari is a special female tonic because it helps women of all age groups to transit through natural phases of life very gracefully. Shatavari roots are very helpful during menstruation because it relieves abdominal cramps and spasms. It strengthens the uterus. During lactation, it stimulates the production of breast milk. The last but not the least it also helps women during menopause.

Besides this, Shatavari roots are have been found to be very useful in the treatment and control of diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, cancer, bacterial and fungal infections, oedema, infertility and depression.

Botanical Description

Botanically, Shatavari is Asparagus Racemosus.

Common Names

English NameAsparagus, Asparagus Root, Indian Asparagus
Hindi NameShatavari
Sanskrit NameSHATAVARI, SHATMULI, ATIRASA, SHATVIRYA
Also Spelled AsSATAWARI, SATMULI, CHATAVALI, SITAWARI, SATAWAR, SATVAR, SATMOOLI

Botanical Classification (Plant Taxonomy)

KingdomPLANTAE
Sub-KingdomVIRIDIPLANTAE
Infra KingdomSTREPTOPHYTA  (land plants)
Super DivisionEMBRYOPHYTA
DivisionTRACHEOPHYTA (TRACHEOPHYTES or Vascular Plants)
Sub DivisionSPERMATOPHYTINA (SPERMATOPHYTES or Seed Plants)
ClassMAGNOLIOPSIDA
Super OrderLILIANAE (monocots, monocotyledons)
OrderASPARAGALES
FamilyASPARAGACEAE
GenusASPARAGUS
SpeciesA. RACEMOSUS

Plant Description

Native Range (Geographic Distribution)Shatavari is widely grown across different tropical parts of the world such as Asia, India, Australia and Africa.
Height (grows up to)Shatavari is a tall, climbing, thorny under shrub and it grows one to two meters tall.
Habitat (type of environment)It is usually grown at low altitudes in shade and in tropical climates throughout Asia, Australia and Africa.
RootsShatavari roots are light pale to brown in color and they are soft and pliable.
LeavesShatavari leaves are pine needles, uniform and small. These leaves are linear with a stout conical spiny spur.
FlowersShatavari flowers are white in color and have small spikes.
FruitsIts fruits are round berries, which are purple to black in color.
SoilShatavari prefers to take root in rocky and gravelly soils.

Medicinal Parts

Shatavari roots are mainly used for therapeutic purposes. Shatavari Churna (Asparagus root powder) is generally used in ayurvedic medicines.

Phytochemistry (Active Constituents)

Shatavari is a great source of phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are plant chemicals that promote good health. It is found that phytochemicals present in Shatavari play an important role in strengthening immune system and, fighting oxidative stress. These active principles also possess anti-cancer activity. Different phytochemicals present in Shatavari include:

  1. Steroidal saponins knows as SHATAVARINS
  2. Alkaloids
  3. Oligosaccharides
  4. Mucilage
  5. Isoflavones
  6. Flavonoids such as QUERCETIN and RUTIN present in Shatavari fruits and flowers
  7. STEROLS such as SITOSTEROL present in Shatavari roots

Nutrients in Shatavari

Various minerals are abundantly present in Shatavari roots such as copper, manganese, zinc and cobalt. Other minerals present in good quantity include calcium, magnesium, selenium and potassium. Besides minerals, Shatavari also contain vitamins such as vitamin A and ascorbic acid. Essential fatty acid such as gamma linolenic acid is also present in Shatavari. Gamma linolenic acid is very beneficial for the treatment of arthritis, diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol levels, heart disease and depression. (1)

Medicinal Properties

Shatavari roots and leaves possess various medicinal properties such as:

  • Immunomodulatory activity
  • Anti-ulcerogenic
  • Antioxidant activity
  • Anti-cancer
  • Anti-diabetic
  • Anti-Candida
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antidiarrheal
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antidepressant
  • Aphrodisiac
  • Adaptogenic

Ayurvedic Properties

Taste – RASAMADHURA (Sweet), TIKTA (Bitter)
Main Quality – GUNAGURU (Heavy),SNIGADH or SNEHA (Unctuous or Oily)
Potency – VIRYASHEETA (Cold)
Resultant – VIPAKAMADHURA (Sweet)
Therapeutic Effect – PRABHAVARejuvenation, Supplement & Tonic
DOSHA KARMA (Effect on Humors)Pacifies VATA & PITTA
Dhatu (Tissue) EffectRASA, RAKTA, & SHUKRA
Beneficial for OrgansAll organs especially Stomach, Heart, Brain, Uterus, Ovaries, Testes

Therapeutic Indications

Shatavari is helpful in the following conditions:

  • High blood glucose levels or uncontrolled diabetes mellitus
  • High cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Bacterial and fungal infections
  • Diarrhea and dysentery
  • Edema or excess fluid accumulation
  • Infertility
  • Menstruation and menopause
  • Lactation
  • Excess stress and depression
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Cancer
  • Liver diseases

Shatavari Benefits & Uses

Research has found that Shatavari is a traditional healer and it possesses a wide range of biological activities which includes antifungal, antitumor, diuretic and immunostimulatory effects (stimulates the immune system and fights against infections). Besides this, Shatavari is also commonly used in the treatment of nervous breakdown, diarrhea, dysentery and rheumatism. It is considered a galactagogue that is it increases the production of breast milk in lactating mothers. Such beneficial effects of Shatavari is attributed to the presence of various health promoting compounds present in it such as saponins, amino acids, sulphur containing acids, flavonoids and oligosaccharides. (2)

Let’s have a look at how Shatavari helps in the treatment, prevention and management of various diseases:

Diabetes Mellitus

Roots of Shatavari possess anti-diabetic properties and they are very effective in lowering high blood glucose levels. Shatavari works by stimulating the secretion of insulin from the pancreas. This helps in controlling high blood glucose levels. Such action contributes to the anti-hyperglycemic action of Shatavari. Shatavari roots slow down or inhibit the absorption of carbohydrate in the gut. It also enhances the activity of glucose transporters so that more of glucose is transported to the muscle and cells and less remains in the blood. Thus, more glucose will be used as a source of energy rather than staying in the blood and raising the blood glucose levels post meal.

A rat study showed that daily administration of Shatavari to rats with type 2 diabetes for 28 days reduced blood glucose levels, increased secretion of insulin from the pancreas and increased the total antioxidant status. Thus, Shatavari can be used as a source of anti-diabetic compound for the management of blood glucose level. (3)

Besides this, roots of Shatavari have great antioxidant potential that inhibit the production and action of free radicals and protects the pancreas against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is also the major cause of hyperglycemia or high blood glucose levels. High levels of oxidative stress cause death of pancreatic beta cells, the main producer of insulin. This causes drop in the secretion of insulin and blood glucose level rises. Thus, by controlling the levels of oxidative stress one can control the rise in blood glucose levels. (4)

High Cholesterol

It is very well known that high cholesterol levels and oxidative stress increases the risk of atherosclerosis and other heart diseases. Therefore, it is very important to keep cholesterol levels under normal range. A study observed that administration of dried Shatavari powder to rats with altered lipid profile lowered the level of total and LDL- low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (unhealthy) by 29% and 33% respectively. Furthermore, a drop in the triglyceride levels by 39% was also observed. Shatavari had also shown to increase the level of HDL- high density lipoprotein cholesterol (protects the heart) by 11%. Shatavari powder also increased the excretion of cholesterol metabolites and bile acid.

Dried Shatavari powder improved the altered lipid profile by decreasing the absorption of cholesterol and by increasing the conversion of cholesterol to bile acids. These bile acids were then excreted in the feces, which lowered the overall cholesterol levels. (5)

Another study showed that such a beneficial role of Shatavari powder in lowering high cholesterol levels is due to the presence of various health promoting compounds such as phytosterols, saponins, flavonoids, polyphenols and ascorbic acid that increases the excretion of cholesterol and increases the level of antioxidants in the body. Thus, dried Shatavari powder can be a great remedy for individuals with high cholesterol and high triglyceride level. (6)

Lactation

In Ayurvedic literature, Shatavari is considered as a galactagogue (milk enhancing substance) that is it increases the production of breast milk in lactating mothers. A hormone called ‘prolactin’ is responsible for promotion of milk secretion in lactating mothers. Lactogenic effect of Shatavari is attributed to the presence of two important constituents present in SHATAVARI-STEROIDAL SAPONINS and SAPOGENINS.

A very interesting research showed that Shatavari root powder in the form of capsules was given to women with deficient breast milk production. These capsules were given 3 times a day with milk and this was continued for 30 days. The results showed that Shatavari root capsules had a positive effect on prolactin hormone levels in lactating mothers. The increase in the prolactin hormone level was 3 times higher in lactating mothers who were given Shatavari root capsules as compared to those who were not on Shatavari. In addition to this, no side effects or toxic effects were observed in lactating mothers who were on Shatavari capsules. (7)

Infertility

These days infertility has become a common problem that affects approximately 10-15% couples. Research has shown that Shatavari is a very effective tonic for both males and females that helps to overcome sexual disorders. Besides this, Shatavari is also very effective in enhancing male sexual activity and treats various sexual disorders such as ejaculatory incompetence, erectile failure, and lack of desire. The presence of various phytochemicals, mucilages, glycosides, saponins and carbohydrate in Shatavari possess aphrodisiac activity. Furthermore, no known adverse effects of shatavari were observed. (8)

Female Tonic

Shatavari is very commonly known as a female tonic. Shatavari increases female libido, moistens dry tissues of sexual organs, reduces and cures inflammation of sexual organs, and enhances ovulation. Thus, shatavari is very beneficial for female infertility. It also prevents female miscarriages and prepares womb for conception. Furthermore, post-birth delivery it normalizes uterus and hormone levels in women and also increases lactation. Shatavari is also very useful in the treatment of problems related to menstruation such as irregular bleeding, premenstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation). Thus, it reduces abdominal cramps and spasms that usually take place during menstruation. (9)

Stress & Depression

Shatavari is an adaptogen, a substance that improves the body’s ability to adapt to stress. It has further shown to possess anti-depressant activity and thus acts as a useful anti-stress agent. Oxidative stress and overload of free radicals is a common cause of stress and depression. Research showed that treatment with shatavari improved antioxidant defenses, increased antioxidant enzymes and reduced the damage cause by free radicals. Furthermore, shatavari improved the production of chemicals in the brain that have anti-anxiety, anti-stress and anti-depressant effect. The anti-stress properties of shatavari are due to the presence of flavonoids, polyphenols and saponins. They reduce the production of stress hormones and increase the production of hormones or chemicals that makes one feel calm and happy. Hence, shatavari can be used for the management of mental depression and stress. (10, 11)

Diarrhea & Dysentery

Research has found that shatavari can be used as an herbal remedy in the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery. Shatavari works similar to LOPERAMIDE, a drug used in the treatment of diarrhea. It reduced the frequency of stools and reduced gastrointestinal motility. It further slowed down the transit of intestinal contents. It also reduced the frequency and volume of stools. Such an effect was attributed to the presence of flavonoids because they inhibit the intestinal motility. It further reduced the secretion of fluid and electrolytes in the stools. Thus, shatavari can be very useful in the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery. (12)

Gastric Ulcers

Various studies have found that shatavari plays a very important role in the treatment of gastric ulcers. Stomach ulcers are formed on the inner lining of the stomach. Excess exposure of these ulcers to gastric acid aggravates the formation of more ulcers and causes symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, pain, cramps and spasms. Research has shown that shatavari reduces the exposure of these ulcers to acid by reducing the total volume of gastric secretion and total acidity.

Shatavari also increases the antioxidant enzymes that protects against the harmful action of free radicals. Free radicals attack the inner lining of the gastric region and thus cause the formation of ulcers. Different antioxidant enzymes such as ascorbic acid, superoxide dismutase and catalase increased significantly after shatavari was administered.

Another research found that shatavari inhibits the release of gastric hydrochloric acid and protects the mucosal lining against irritation and damage. It also increases mucus production, a viscous substance that forms a layer and protects the inner lining of the stomach. Such effects of shatavari were similar to the protective effects of ranitidine, a drug used in the treatment of gastric ulcers. (13, 14)

Cancer

Research has showed that many natural products have anti-cancer properties and shatavari is one of them. Shatavari contains saponins, flavonoids, Terpenes and glycosides that possess anti-cancer activity. All these anti-cancer compounds are majorly present in shatavari roots. Scientific studies have shown that treatment with shatavari roots reduced the volume of tumor and tumor cell count. This clearly indicates that shatavari roots work by killing cancer cells and further prevents the spread of tumors to other parts of the body. Furthermore, shatavari roots elevate the antioxidant activity, antioxidant enzymes and antioxidant defense that fight oxidative stress and reduce the load of free radicals. Shatavari has further shown to boost immune system that prevents the onset of infections. (15)

Stimulates Immune System

Research has found that shatavari root and root extracts play a very important role in stimulating immune cells. They also stimulate the cells that fight infection and thus, reduce the overall population of infection-causing cells. During infection or diseased condition, the immunity is suppressed. Shatavari roots stimulate the immune system, help the body to fight against diseases, and finally speeds up the recovery.

SAPOGENIN, a compound present in shatavari is a potent immune-stimulator. It enhances the body’s resistance during normal and immune-suppressed conditions. Thus, shatavari roots help to boost immunity during immune-suppressed conditions, helps in recovery of immune profile and this is the reason as to why shatavari roots are used as a therapeutic agent. (16, 17)

Gut Health

It is said that all the diseases begin in the gut, therefore, it is very important to keep the gut clean and healthy. Research has found that shatavari roots are very useful in cleansing the gut. It improves digestion by increasing the activity of digestive enzyme lipase and amylase. Lipase helps in fat digestion whereas, amylase help in the digestion of carbohydrates. In addition to this, shatavari roots promote gastric emptying and normalize the motility of intestine. It also helps in the treatment and management of gastric ulcers. Thus, shatavari roots are considered to be ‘healthy gut food’. (18)

Hepatoprotective Activity

Research has found that shatavari plays a very important role in protecting liver against damage caused by drugs, toxins and free radicals. Shatavari inhibits the formation of lipid peroxides (products formed by degradation of lipids) in the liver. Liver damage caused by toxins, drugs or due to any other reason raises the level of liver enzymes in the blood. Increased level of liver enzymes is a clear indicator that the liver is damaged.

Furthermore, level of oxidants was also raised in liver damage. Treatment with shatavari roots increased the levels of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, reduced glutathione and catalase. Such an increase reduced the population of oxidants and free radicals and improved the overall health of liver.

In addition to this, shatavari roots also improved the activity of enzymes that scavenge reactive oxygen species. Treatment with shatavari roots also restored the normal structure and function of the liver. Elevated liver enzyme levels also returned back to normal range. These parameters strongly suggest that treatment with shatavari roots helped in the liver regeneration process. However, human studies are required to confirm the positive effects of shatavari roots on liver damage. (19)

Antimicrobial Activity

It is found that root extract of shatavari has considerable antibacterial efficacy against-

  • ESCHERICHIA COLI
  • SHIGELLA DYSENTERIAE
  • SHIGELLA SONNER
  • SHIGELLA FLEXNERI
  • SALMONELLA TYPHI
  • VIBRIO CHOLERA
  • PSEUDOMONAS PUTIDA
  • SALMONELLA TYPHIMURIUM
  • STAPHYLOCOCCUS AURES
  • BACILLUS SUBTILIS

Such beneficial effects of shatavari root extract were similar to that of CHLORAMPHENICOL, a drug used against serious infections.

Research has found that besides shatavari roots, its leaves have also shown to possess anti-fungal and anti-bacterial activity. It was found that shatavari leaf extract indicates presence of anti-bacterial substances that fight against gram positive and gram-negative bacteria. Furthermore, shatavari leaf extract has anti-microbial activity against the following:

  • PSEUDOMONAS AERUGINOSA
  • CANDIDA UTILIS

Thus, shatavari leaf and root can be effectively used for curing bacterial diseases. (20, 21)

Diuretic Activity

Research has found that shatavari roots possess diuretic activity. Diuretic is a class of drug that increases the excretion of urine. It is usually recommended when fluid gets accumulated in the body (edema). In a rat study, shatavari root was administered to rats at three different doses- 800 milligrams/kilogram, 1600 milligrams/kilogram and 3200 milligram/kilogram for its diuretic activity. At all 3 doses shatavari roots increased the excretion of urine and reduced the accumulation of fluid in the body. Such an effect of shatavari root was similar to that of FUROSEMIDE, a standard diuretic drug. In addition to this, no side effects or toxicity was observed at high dose of shatavari root (3200 milligram/kilogram). However, more human trails are required to understand the role of shatavari roots as a diuretic agent. (22)

Safety Profile

Shatavari Churna (Asparagus root powder), leaves, stems or raw roots are considerably safe.

Pregnancy

Scientific studies have shown that shatavari should be used cautiously during pregnancy because it may cause damage to the offspring. One such rat study observed that administration of shatavari root extract during pregnancy showed teratological disorders in terms of malformations. For example- intrauterine growth retardation, small placental size and swelling in the legs. In addition to this, decrease in the body weight and length was observed after birth. A delay was observed in various developmental parameters as compared to the group who was not treated with shatavari roots. (23)


26 Comments
  1. Khursheed Hussain says

    Please comment on the white and green asparagus (Stems and heads of early asparagus plats), which are available in the supermarkets. Thanks.

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      Asparagus available in the supermarkets is Asparagus officinalis. It is different variety of Asparagus.

      The benefits given in this article are for Asparagus Racemosa roots used in ayurveda. It is an Indian variety. It has therapeutic value and used for treating several diseases, as explained in this article.

  2. Sona says

    Good Article
    1. Shatavari balances Vata, so will it help Tinnitus since it is a Vata imbalance?

    2. Does Shatavari cause to gain weight?

    3. Does Shatavari effects Thyroid in anyway (good or bad way) Like Hypothyroid – Hashimoto?

    4. What is the normal dose?

    5. What is the best time to take Shatavari – morning and evening or just evening?

    6. Can postmenopausal women take Shatavari?

    7. Can postmenopausal women take it on long-term basis?

    8. Can we take Shatavari with Gotu Kola and Ashwagandha?

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      1. Yes, Shatavari can be taken in Tinnitus, but along with Sarivadi Vati because it will balance the VATA and PITTA DOSHA, but there should also be medicine for particular disease and affecting organ for optimum results, according to ayurvedic principles. Sarivadi Vati is medicine for ears and particularly used for Tinnitus, so it might not be skipped.

      2. Yes, Indian Shatavari can cause weight gain. Naturally, Shatavari increases Kapha and strength in the body. It is also used for increasing weight in ayurveda.

      3. Again, Dosha analysis is more important. If VATA or PITTA aggravation observed in patient’s symptoms, then Shatavari can be used. Actually, it is likely more effective in hyperthyroidism.

      4. The normal dosage of Shatavari powder varies from 1 grams to 3 grams. In many cases, dosage more than 1 gram twice daily causes appetite loss, which should not occur under any circumstance. If patient feel loss in his appetite, then the dosage should be reduced.

      5. The best time to take Shatavari is Noon and Evening for VATA and PITTA diseases. For gaining weight, best time is morning and night.

      6. Yes, postmenopausal women can take Shatavari without any problem. It also reduces postmenopausal symptoms.

      7. It can be used for a longer period if required or as Rasayana.

      8. Shatavari can be taken with Gotu Kola and Ashwagandha as general health tonic, but if it is used for treatment of diseases, the proper Dosha Analysis should be conducted and herbs should be chose according to dominance of humors like- primary, secondary and tertiary.

  3. Geeta says

    Can shatavari be used to treat Epilepsy?

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      Yes, Shatavari is beneficial for the treatment of epilepsy in combinations with other herbs including Vacha, Jatamansi (Spikenard), Abhrak Bhasma etc.

  4. Lav Nahata says

    can shatavari & ashwagandha be combined for those suffering from interstitial nephritis, moderate high BP, high triglyceride, high uric acid (all under control with allopathic medicine). is it safe for long term usage and what should be the proportion. already taking avipattikar churna+chandraprabha vati for nephritis and gas trouble. what is the ideal time to take this. thanks

    1. Jagdev Singh says

      Shatavari and Ashwagandha can be combined and used for strengthening purposes and nourishment. Shatavari in high dosage may affect uric acid level, so it should be taken less than 3 grams per day.

  5. manisha says

    Can shatavari be taken for early periods usually after 19 days?

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      Yes, Shatavari can be taken for early periods.

  6. Farida Khan says

    Is it possible that Satavari can cause blood shot eyes as a side effect? Please let me know.

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      Shatavari is not likely to cause this side effect. The most common cause of bloodshot eyes is conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the conjunctiva due to an infection. There are also other causes, which also need to rule out.

      According to research studies, Shatavari has antimicrobial action, which should actually help in case of conjunctivitis. According to ayurveda, Shatavari reduces burning sensation and redness of the eyes due to its action on Pitta Dosha.

  7. neel says

    Can we take Ashokarishta and shatavari both for irregular periods and fatigue?

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      Yes, Ashokarishta and shatavari both can be taken. It should help to regulate periods and reduce fatigue.

  8. neetu says

    Can shatavari be combined with Ashokarishta or M2 tone for period problems?

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      Yes, Shatavari can be taken with Ashokarishta or M2 Tone for irregular periods.

  9. latasham says

    Can myosone and shatavari tablets be taken together for irregular periods? The age of the child is 18 yrs.

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      Drug interactions between Shatavari and most of the allopathic drugs are unknown.
      You should keep 3 hours precautionary gap between all allopathic medicines and Shatavari.

  10. Tunde says

    Does shatavari have high phytoestrogens level? If so! Can I take it if I had ovarian cysts or endometriosis? Some doctors say it can cause more problems in this case because of the high phytoestrogens.

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      Shatavari balances the hormones like estrogen and progesterone. It does not likely to increase the level of any hormone than the normal range. It improves menstrual health and regulates the periods. For ovarian cyst, Shilajit or Chandraprabha Vati is most suitable and effective medicine.

  11. adrian says

    What is the dosage of the powder in teaspoons? I can’t measure 1-3 grams of powder realistically. Thanks.

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      It should be around 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon for an adult.

  12. Anita says

    I would like to take Shatavari, but don’t want to put on weight, please advise.

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      You can take Shatavari with warm water instead of milk. It will help to reduce its effects on weight. You should also consider the low dosage of Shatavari i.e. less than 2 grams per day and should be taken in divided doses.

  13. Pinkie says

    I tried taking shatavari capsules on several occasions but it made me feel extremely nervous every time I took it. Why?

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      However, it calms the mind and does not likely to make nervous. If it makes you nervous, it might not be suitable for you. Further, you may also require Dosha Analysis. Ayurvedic doctor can help you to choose best herbs that suit your body and beneficial in your health condition as per Dosha analysis.

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