Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) is perhaps the most important herb for women in the Ayurvedic herbal apothecary. The word shatavari means “a woman with one thousand husbands,” hinting at the traditional use of this herb to support and tonify the female reproductive system. Shatavari has long been used to support women at the end of menses by encouraging circulation, as well as healthy nervous system and hormonal function.*
As an overall reproductive tonic, Shatavari is relied on heavily for all stages of a woman’s reproductive cycle, beginning with the menarche (start of menses), supporting the female system through menses, ovulation and fertility, and the hot flashes, irritability, irregular memory and dryness during menopause. Shatavari also builds ojas, our core vitality and the essence of immunity, vitality, virility, and sleep.*
Suggested Use: Take 1 capsule 3 times per day after meals or use a directed by your health care professional.
Bottle Contains: 90 vegetarian capsules, 500 mg each
Ingredients: Organic Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari Root)
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Does not contain: Yeast, gluten, corn, soy, milk, fish, animal products, binders, fillers, preservatives or artificial coloring
Kosher Certified: No animal derivatives
The female hormonal system – while bio-chemically complex – is also quite simple to understand when looking at it with logic. There are 3 hormones secreted by the ovaries: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. In addition, there are ruling pituitary hormones that send orders to the ovaries to increase or decrease the production of these hormones.
Contrary to what one might assume, most normal hormonal imbalances do not occur as a result of poor pituitary function. Rather, the most common cause of female hormonal imbalances has to do with the impact of stress on these 3 ovarian hormones. Stress can be emotional, mental, physical or bio-chemical as a result of toxic environmental stress. Any of these stressors can contribute to reproductive hormonal imbalance.
The body’s primary stress hormone, cortisol, is produced by the adrenal glands. Excessive stress is linked to an adrenal deficit, which results in either an overzealous production of cortisol or a depletion of cortisol. Too much or too little stress-fighting cortisol can cause a reproductive hormonal imbalance. Like the 3 little bears, all of these hormones have to be not too much, and not too little; they have to be just right.
Ayurveda and Menstruation
Ayurvedically-speaking, stress causes the body’s downward-moving reproductive energy, called apana vata, to be re-directed upwards to help the central nervous system (CNS) and the brain centers cope with the stress. Over time, the downward-moving apana vata (reproductive strength) is borrowed and depleted by the CNS in order to cope with the stress. This leaves the reproductive system depleted of its apana (downward-moving prana) and symptoms ensue.
With chronic stress, the adrenals get tired and are unable to keep up with delivering the needed amount of stress-fighting cortisol. In a desperate attempt to deliver the life-saving stress hormones, such as cortisol, the adrenals will begin to borrow from elsewhere in the body.
The body’s upward-moving energy or life force, called prana vata, which transports vital energy from the heart to the head and back is re-directed in a downward direction to support the depleted adrenal and reproductive systems. Over time, the upward-moving prana or life force becomes depleted, and fatigue, brain fog, lack of sex drive and moodiness can set in.
During menstruation, the demand for apana vata increases. With chronic stress and downward-moving apana vata and upward-moving prana vata both depleted, a host of premenstrual-related symptoms can result – commonly referred to as PMS.
To make matters worse, excessive stress will drive the adrenals to go shopping for hormones in order to make more of the stress-fighting cortisol hormone. Two of the three ovarian hormones, specifically progesterone and testosterone, will easily convert into cortisol. These two are commonly depleted in times of stress. This is the most common cause of female reproductive hormonal imbalances and PMS.
Addressing the Root Cause with Shatavari
Shatavari, otherwise known as wild asparagus, has been shown to be an effective reproductive tonic for women. Studies show it boosts sex drive in both men and women, while also combating vaginal dryness and balancing menstrual concerns such as heavy bleeding or discharge. (1)
In one study, shatavari was shown to enhance physical stamina and endurance, as well as increase the weight of fatigued adrenal glands after exercise stress – suggesting its adaptogenic support for adrenal health. Taking the stress off of the adrenals allows shatavari to effectively play its role as a reproductive tonic. (2)
This herb also balances the production of adrenal cortisol, making it a natural adaptogen. (3) Shatavari contains steroid saponins such as sarsaponin, protodioscin, and diosgenin, which are the most likely estrogenic components extracted from asparagus roots. These compounds also act as a precursor of progesterone and increase secretion of this hormone.
In another study, shatavari as a reproductive tonic, boosted the natural production of Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estrogen, and progesterone hormones. (4)
Shatavari has been over-simplified by many to be only estrogenic, but clearly, it acts as Ayurveda predicted – as a powerful reproductive tonic.
Ayurvedic Herbal Makeup