Summer is coming to a close, and with it, we eagerly await the cool reprieve of crisp and clear fall days. During this seasonal transition, there is an equal need to keep the focus on balancing pitta while also increasing our awareness of balancing vata. What a perfect time to talk about shatavari (Asparagus racemosus)! This sattvic herb is fundamental in Ayurveda, and no herbal education is complete without it. Thanks to its cooling, soothing, nourishing, and rejuvenating work throughout the entire physiology, shatavari effectively balances both pitta and vata. While famous as a powerful female reproductive tonic, shatavari is equally beneficial to men, and its powers cross into other organs and tissue layers, helping to bring overall health and balance. This is one herb that earns its place in practically everyone’s herbal cupboard!
“The One with One Hundred Roots”
Shatavari is in the wild asparagus family (hence its botanical name of Asparagus racemosus), with wispy, graceful stems and branches, thin, needle-like leaves, and delicate flowers. But it is what is below ground that has captured and held the reverence of Ayurveda for the past few millennia. Shatavari’s herbal power is found in the many creamy colored, thick tuberous roots. In fact, these roots are the inspiration behind its name—shat meaning “one hundred,” and avar meaning “below,” literally translating as “the plant that has one hundred roots below the ground.”1
Effects on Women’s (and Men’s!) Health
Shatavari has another translation. Vari can also be translated as “husbands,” giving shatavari the clever translation of “she who has one hundred husbands.”2 Indeed, this alludes to shatavari’s reputation as such a powerful reproductive tonic that, legend has it, a woman would have the passion and stamina to have one hundred husbands.3
Knowing this, it is no wonder that shatavari is famous for its work in the female reproductive tissue layer. Its cooling, sweet, and unctuous qualities penetrate deeply into the reproductive tissue, promoting fertility and so much more.4 This makes it an ideal ally for women’s health.
(As always, please first consult your practitioner before incorporating shatavari into your daily routine while you are pregnant or nursing.) Shatavari is particularly helpful when there is excess pitta or vata showing in the female reproductive tissue layer. (Curious about what that means? Check out our Healthy Cycle Guide and our Celebrating Menopause Guide!) The cooling virya, or temperature, chills out pitta, while the grounding, soothing, and tonifying qualities help pacify vata.6
Incorporating shatavari into your herbal regime is pretty straight forward. Shatavari can be effective when taken on its own. Its rasa is bitter and sweet, and it actually tastes good, making the powder easily palatable. It can be taken as a tea by simply adding shatavari powder to warm water. There are also many formulas that mix shatavari with other herbs to enhance its ability to support women’s health. For example, it is often mixed with ashwagandha, another reproductive tonic, and it does well with ashoka, rose, turmeric, and musta.7 Looking for a ready-made formula? We also offer Women’s Support tablets and Women’s Natural Transition tablets, both of which take advantage of shatavari’s work within the reproductive tissue layer.
Gentlemen, all this talk of shatavari in the female reproductive system doesn’t mean that you aren’t also able to benefit from this herb. Thanks to those same properties making it a famous female tonic, shatavari can also help balance any excess pitta or vata in the male reproductive system. In fact, shatavari has yet another translation, this time with men in mind—it is called “the many-heired,”8 hinting to its ability to support fertility, healthy reproductive fluids, and healthy sperm production.9 Shatavari does especially well when mixed with ashwagandha, kapikacchu, gokshura, and amalaki to address these intentions.
Shatavari as an Aphrodisiac and Rejuvenative
Regardless of male or female, shatavari works as an aphrodisiac for everyone. In the world of Ayurveda, an herbal aphrodisiac goes way beyond supporting a healthy sexual appetite (which, shatavari does, for men and women). According to Ayurveda, these substances revitalize the entire body by reinvigorating the sexual organs. Within these organs reside the power to create life, and this encompasses not only the ability to create a child, but also the entire capacity to renew one’s own life and vitality—body, mind, and soul.10
Considering shatavari’s ability to reinvigorate the entire person through the reproductive tissue layer, it is probably no surprise to learn that shatavari is considered a rasayana, or rejuvenative. Rasayanas nourish and tone the whole body. And among many other benefits of rasayanas, the immune system gets stronger, which means more ojas is created! Ojas gives the body strength, vigor, and vitality, and overall juiciness of life!
Beyond Reproductive Health
As we can now see, shatavari certainly isn’t limited to its work within the reproductive tissue layers. In fact, it can be called upon to help balance pitta and vata in various organs and tissues, thanks to those same properties of cooling, soothing, nourishing, and rejuvenating. For example, are you experiencing excess pitta in the digestive system? Shatavari can cool, soothe, and coat the mucous membranes in the stomach while also aiding the intestine’s ability to respond to excess heat and acidity. A mixture can be made with shatavari, amalaki, manjistha, and kutki to soothe excess pitta in the gut.11
Or perhaps you are experiencing dry and overheated lungs? Shatavari can help with that too, increasing moisture and cooling off that excess heat. A formula incorporating shatavari with licorice, vasaka, and a little neem is especially effective to reduce that aggravated pitta.12
Or maybe you have excess vata in majja dhatu (nervous tissue layer). Shatavari is there to help yet again, successfully reducing and eliminating excess vata in this tissue layer. The end result will be a calm mind, an easier time falling asleep, and overall comfort in the nerves.13 Through this work in the mind, it is even said to aid in love and devotion.
Shatavari’s work within the body-mind is truly inspirational. Shatavari is there to support women and men alike, infusing the body with its deeply nourishing and rejuvenating qualities and its uplifting sattvic energy. This is a stalwart ally that has more than earned its reputation in Ayurvedic herbology and is sure to keep its renown for thousands of years to come.