Taste: sweet, bitter
Post-digestive effect: sweet
Dosha: reduces Pitta and Vata, increases Kapha
Actions: tonic (general, reproductive and nervine), nutritive, rejuvenative, demulcent, antacid
Shatavari is a herb from the asparagus family and looks nothing like it really – the root of this plant is what is used for medicinal purposes, not the prickly fern-like foliage that grows above-ground (pictured here).
It translates to mean “who possesses a hundred husbands” – not that you would want to have that capacity but it surely gives you an understanding of the strength of this herb! Its the best rejuvenative tonic for the female reproductive system supporting proper function, increases fertility, healthy lactation, nourishes and cleanses the reproductive organs and blood, supports transition into menopause and beyond, and for those who have had a hysterectomy.
Its cooling nature helps to reduce the excess heat from an overactive Pitta Dosha and it is the best Rasayana (prevents aging and disease) for Pitta generally.
Shatavari has other health benefits that are not solely related to women. Its demulcent action soothes dry and inflamed membranes of the lungs, stomach and kidneys relieving ailments such as stomach ulcers, lung abscess, cough, chronic diarrhoea and dysentery.
It is best taken in a milk decoction – the powder is used here with warm milk, ghee and sweetened with raw honey or sugar. Tablets are also available and the herb is often part of a blend for women – I have seen it in the health food shops in Melbourne in a blended form.
This tonic is one all women should consider having in their home medicine cabinet – most of us could use some reproductive support at various times in our lives or even just for a healthy menstrual cycle.
Its Sattvic qualities calm the mind, aid in love and devotion – a few more wonderful reasons why this herb is so important for the women and mothers of the world!
Reference: some information in this post has been taken and adapted from the book by Dr David Frawley and Dr Vasant Lad, The Yoga of Herbs – An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine (1986, 2001) (183-184)