SHATAVARI (asparagus racemosus)
Shatavari has been used in India for thousands of years for its therapeutic and tonic properties. It is an all-round tonic and rejuvenative which can be given to a person with any type, constitution, males or females, youngsters or elders. Indeed, Shatavari is the Universal Rasayana. The name Shatavari is symbolic which means one who possesses one hundred husbands. It has various synonyms like atirasa (very juicy), narayani (from which famous preparation Narayana taila is manufactured), satpadi (possesses hundreds of roots), suksma patra (has tiny leaves etc).
Charaka has categorized it as balya promoting strength or a tonic, vaya sthapana – promotes longevity, sukra janana (spermatogenic), Also, he has cited it as a rejuvenative to rasa and mamsa dhatus and mamsavaha srotasa. Susruta has mentioned it as sukra sodhana – purifies the sperms or semen. Whereas, it is quoted as vajikara – augments the sexual vigour and quantity of semen (Sarngandhara Samhita). It is also classified as samsamana – neither it aggravates nor it eliminates the doshas from the body, but simply pacifies the aggravated doshas especially, pitta.
The plant grows all over India in tropical areas and is found in Himalaya’s up to an altitude of 1300-1400 meters. The plant is an armed climber, growing 1-2 meters in length. The leaves are green, shiny, small, and uniform and like pine needles. The flowers tiny, white, in small spikes. The roots are finger-like, clustered, tuberous, 30 cm to 1 meter or more in length and tapering at both ends. The fruits are globose, pulpy berries, purplish black when ripe. The plant flowers in July and fruits in September.
The botanical name of Shatavari is Asparagus racemosus and it belongs to family Litiaceae. Saponins are present in all species of Asparagus, but variations are found, in different species from different parts. For example, A4 fraction of the Asparagus glycosides obtained from the plant, from southern part of India was absent in the north Indian species. From dried roots, sitosterol, saponins A4, A5 to A8 isolated. Mucilage is also present in roots. In the leaves, disogenin is also isolated. From the flowers and fruits, rutin, sarsapogenin, glycosides of quercetin and hyperoside are obtained. Sitosterol, stigmasterol and their glucosides, sarsasapogenin and their glucosides, sarsasapogenin and two spirostanolic and two furostanolic saponins isolated from fruits and chemically studied Chem. Four glycosides – compound a, shatavarin I, II, and IV – isolated from roots, structure of shatavarin IV elucidated.
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Shatavari is sweet and bitter in taste, sweet in the post digestive effect and has cold potency. It alleviates the vata and pitta doshas. It possesses heavy, unctuous and soft attributes. The chief properties are cold, rejuvenative, tonic, galactogogue, aphrodisiac, anabolic and beneficial for eyesight
The roots and leaves are used for medicinal purpose. The plant is used both internally as well as externally. The medicated oil is the best medicament, in vata diseases and vata – pitta diseases of the head, useful for massage. The paste of its fresh leaves is applied on burning sensation of the skin in smallpox and bullae. The famous preparation Narayana taila is used externally on large scale on many vata diseases for massage. It strengthens the muscles, alleviates the vata dosha and reduces pain in lumbago, sciatica, inflamed joints and also in paralysis or paresis.
Internally, Shatavari is used in various diseases. The fresh juice of its roots with honey reduces the burning sensation and pain in tumors due to pitta. Shatavari ghrta (ghee) is the best panacea for acid peptic disease (hyperacidity). It is an effective demulcent for the dry and inflamed membranes of the lungs, stomach, kidneys and sexual organs. It is effective for the treatment of gastric and duodenal ulcers, along with hyperacidity. In diarrhea and dysentery associated with bleeding, the medicated milk or ghrta is extremely benevolent. Shatavari also augments the appetite and stimulates the liver. It also increases the quality and quantity of breast milk in nursing mothers, hence Shatavari preparations are traditionally given is postpartum period. It also is anabolic to uterus, hence, useful in uterine hypoplasia in young girls.
Vasa is beneficial in Rakta pitta (bleeding disorders) wherein the bleeding is common, whereas, Shatavari ameliorates the bleeding per rectum. For this purpose, the fresh root juice or its decoction is used. Shatavari is the best nervine tonic, so useful in debility in epilepsy and hysteria. Shatavari yoga is used for this purpose. As an aphrodisiac, its root powder (10 gm) is recommended daily, with the milk and sugar. It works well as a general tonic and augments the seminal fluids. The edema due to cardiac origin, Shatavari imparts beneficial effects on the heart, reduces edema, and boosts the hemoglobin percentage with Shatavari siddha ghrta.
Narayana taila, mentioned above can be used internally with benefit in bronchial asthma. It curbs the intensity of the bronchospasms and decreases the frequency of paroxysms. Shatavari also increases the urinary output, hence beneficial in urinary stones and Dysurea. It also works well as a rejuvenative, to improve the eyesight when given from prolonged duration. Phala grta is one of the well known preparations of Shatavari, which is used as an all round tonic for the uterus. It improves the uterine growth, mitigates dysmenorrheal and menorrhagia, augments the fertility and imparts anabolic properties. Phala grta is the formulation designed by an ancient seer – Bharadvaja. Shatavari is the main Ayurvedic rejuvenative for the female, as Ashwagandha is for the male, although they have some effect on both sexes. It is an extremely nutritious tonic for women, from menarche to menopause.
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
- Satavari ghrta
- Narayana taila
- Phala ghrta
- Visnu taila
- Satamulyadi lauha
- Satavari panaka
- Satavari curna
- Satavari kalpa
- Satavari yoga etc.