Find sustained energy with this adaptogenic herbal remedy for reproductive and adrenal health.
Shatavari’s Traditional Uses
My first real introduction to the female reproductive herb shatavari, known as the “woman with a hundred husbands,” was in the back waters of Kerala—in the south of India—during the late ‘80s.
I was visiting one of the last remaining Nampoothiri tribes still living in their traditional pre-colonial ways.
The Ayurvedic clinic in the village was famous throughout the region, and all of the writings, herbal formulas, and knowledge were inscribed on palm leaves.
Their remote village was impossible to get to without a boat. We were told we had rented the only motorboat in the region. Without it, the journey would have taken days to row.
In the Nampoothiri village, a handful of elders still lived in tiny wooden huts. The elders had become severely kyphotic (hunched over) from going in and out of such small huts. The elder women of the tribe were still dressed in traditional pre-colonial garb, which was topless. This was a shocking scene in India—a culture that greatly values modesty.
The Nampoothiri were unwilling to conform to British rule, maintaining a cultural safehaven in the mostly inaccessible backwaters of Kerala. What a rare and special treat it was to visit this traditional Ayurvedic village!
When the Ayurvedic vaidyas, or doctors, and nurses found out that my wife back home was pregnant, they enthusiastically made sure I had enough shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) to bring to her. They gave it to me in root, pressed pill, and powder form. They even gave me a wine made from shatavari root and kept forcing me to drink more!
In addition to being a tonic for women’s health and reproductive strength, Shatavari is also considered a rasayana, or longevity tonic. As a rasayana, it was traditionally used to lessen the effects of aging, increase longevity, impart immunity, boost mental function, add vigor and vitality to the body, and support the nervous and digestive systems, as well as liver and respiratory health.3
Shatavari and Women’s Health
The Nampoothiri were emphatic that shatavari was the one herb that would carry a women throughout her entire reproductive life. They suggested I give it to my daughters at the onset of puberty to help them start menstruating without any problems. They suggested using it before, during, and after pregnancies, as well as before, during, and after menopause, and at the first sign of any menses-related concerns, as a reset rather than hormonal replacement.
(Note: While this was the traditional use for shatavari, I always suggest that women stop taking all herbs once they become pregnant. It is always best to let the pregnancy itself restore health and wellbeing first, before administering additional supplements—prenatal vitamins excluded.)
Shatavari translates to “100 Spouses,” denoting its use to increase fertility and vitality. In Ayurveda, it’s considered both a general tonic and a female reproductive tonic. This amazing herb is also known as the “Queen of Herbs,” because it promotes love and devotion.
Studies on shatavari show it boosts sex drive in both men and women, while also combating vaginal dryness and balancing menstrual concerns.2
Shatavari and Adrenal Health
In a study published in the Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, shatavari was shown to enhance physical stamina and endurance in mice, as well as increase the weight of fatigued adrenal glands after exercise stress, suggesting it provides adaptogenic support for adrenal health. In turn, taking the stress off of the adrenals allows shatavari to effectively play its role as a reproductive tonic.3
Stress and depleted adrenals will classically usurp the reproductive hormone progesterone in order to help the adrenals manufacture more stress hormones. Under chronic stress, progesterone is commonly depleted as the body converts it into cortisol. This is why progesterone hormone replacement is the holy grail of hormone replacement therapies in the West. Shatavari can help replenish and produce progesterone.
Shatavari, a natural adaptogen, also balances the production of cortisol.4 Shatavari contains estrogenic steroid saponins, such as sarsaponin, protodioscin, and diosgenin. It is commonly thought that shatawari only supports healthy levels of estrogen, but studies suggest that it can also support a healthy balance of estrogens and progesterones. The diosgenin found in shatawari has been found to increase the natural secretion of progesterone.2,4
In a study published in the International Journal of Reproductive BioMedicine, shatavari was used as a reproductive tonic and it boosted the production of Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estrogen, and progesterone hormones.4
As the Nampoothiri elders were teaching me, and as the modern science supports, shatavari is a powerful reproductive tonic that supports hormonal balance at any age.