Shatavari the “Queen of herbs”
The word Shatavari is a combination of two Sanskrit words. “Shat” meaning “she who has” and “Var” meaning “of partners or husbands”. It is also known to mean “she who has a hundred roots” as “Vri” in Sanskrit means “roots”.
Shatavari is part of the Asparagus racemosus family. It originates from India. It likes to grow in tropical environments, but can also thrive in more arid environments. The roots are long and tuberous with thorny, climbing stems that have sweet smelling white flowers that produce red berries. The root is the part of the plant typically used.
Shatavari is an adaptogenic herb and phytoestrogen. It has been used traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine which is a system of medicine that helps balance the body, mind and spirit. It is used as a general tonic to address many health concerns. It helps boost the immune system, treats ulcers, kidney stones, diarrhea and has been shown to be anti inflammatory.(1)
It is used to balance hormones and support each stage of a woman’s reproductive cycle including menstruation, fertility, lactation and menopause. Shatavari has been used to help regulate the menstrual cycle and boost fertility. It supports ovulation and increased cervical mucus helping sperm to reach the egg.(2) Ayurvedic medicine claims it is safe throughout pregnancy, but there is not enough research to support this and so use during pregnancy is not recommended.(6)
In regards to Shatavari and breastfeeding - it is a galactogogue used to support healthy lactation and increase milk production. It increases prolactin and corticoid levels helping to boost milk supply and mammary gland growth.(3) Prolactin is a hormone responsible for making milk. When you nurse your baby and remove milk, that triggers the release of prolactin and signals the body to make more milk. The more often milk is removed, the more often milk is made.
A study was done including 60 women with decreased lactation who were randomly assigned to either the research group or control group. The research group was given powdered Shatavari root while the control group received a placebo. At the end of 30 days, they stopped taking the supplement. The women taking Shatavari had a 33% increase in prolactin and their babies had gained 16% more weight than the control group.(4) The mothers in the research group also reported they felt their babies overall wellness and happiness increased.
What is in Shatavari:
- Steroidal saponins
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Essential fatty acids
Shatavari may help with edema due to its natural diuretic effects. It helps with postpartum fatigue and can help balance stress and our mood. It has been shown to be helpful for relieving depression.(5)
Shatavari side effects & cautions:
- People who are allergic to asparagus should not take shatavari
- If you have low blood sugar or are on blood sugar lowering medication check with your care provider before taking Shatavari
- Shatavari has a diuretic effect so should not be taken with other diuretic medications without speaking to your healthcare provider first
Shatavari has a long history as a health tonic and a supportive lactation supplement. It has also been used to support and benefit men’s reproductive health and increase sperm count.(7) Both men and women can benefit from the many health promoting benefits of the herb Shatavari known as the “Queen of herbs”.