Sex, Love, and Shatavari—Ayurveda’s Sacred Reproductive Tonic (For Women and Men)

Sex, Love, and Shatavari—Ayurveda’s Sacred Reproductive Tonic (For Women and Men)

In This Article

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.

Shatavari is the main Ayurvedic rejuvenative tonic for females, and Ashwagandha fills that role for males, although both are effective for either gender.2

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.

We recommend "Top 5 Herbs to Stabilize Energy + Nourish Adrenals":

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.

Learn more about shatavari here.

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Dr. John



17 thoughts on “Sex, Love, and Shatavari—Ayurveda’s Sacred Reproductive Tonic (For Women and Men)”

  1. Nambudiri is not a tribe but a caste and is commonly coming under Brahmins.I belong to that caste and we are not isolated etal that is a colonialist view point. There was a time when the general culture among keralites were that of women being topless. This was a side effect of the brahmins being landlords and exercising that power over other caste women. There was a revolt and things changed. Please read up in detail when you write other wise please do not write glowing accounts of one sided understanding….

  2. Hi John, thanks for articulating the varied benefits of Shatavari, especially its stress relieving properties related to the adrenals. I’m back on it, thanks to you!
    Also, related to ila’s comment above: I too travelled to India in the late 70’s, and it was a much different place than it is now. I had the wonderful fortune to go to South India with a great artist – dancer – and her family – and through them, met extraordinary people, from elderly holy men and women; country folk to great scientists and environmentalists.
    Underlying everyone was a deep spirit of hospitality, caring and graciousness. Thanks for sharing the power of that spirit and the ancient knowledge of Ayurveda.

  3. As was touched on a little in the article, men need not be concerned about the effects of this herb (or really most herbs) on their hormone levels. I’ve experienced too many cases where men have health issues that they cannot overcome because they’re habituated to the feeling of their own hormonal fires. These types will avoid nearly everything that could be good for them or counterbalance their problems, as a result of attachment, discomfort, impatience, or refusal to change or temporarily feel less enthusiastic or driven. And I do mean temporarily; there’s really no herbal medicine that will change a man into a woman, and any such medicine would need to be taken indefinitely – along with long term psychological therapies and many other things – in order to have a chance of affecting a significant degree of change to one’s true gender.

    So for those who have counted out herbal or food therapies because of current scientific findings, please reconsider them! No amount of sage essential oil, licorice root, shatavari, etc will take away your ability to feel manly. You will almost certainly notice a temporary change of mood, energy level/enthusiasm, etc – as this is almost essential to any healing therapy for adults. The end result of your courage to change will be a stronger metabolism and immunity, and at the end of things, a far greater ability to produce the hormones you need to feel strong and enthusiastic. The few men I’ve helped who finally decided to take take a chance on this promise had temporary mood problems, but ended up transforming from fat grouchy alpha males into the images of athletic male youth, -despite- the fact that they were -still- consuming what science would call estrogenizing herbal preparations. This is because little to nothing can override a healthy body’s preference for hormone balance. An unhealthy man struggles to maintain testosterone and other “manly” hormone levels, because his cells are dirty, acidic, and unreceptive, his liver is sluggish, and his (pardon me Dr. D) testicles and prostate are starved for blood and nourishment. (In this case, infertility is actually very common, as the man’s – pardon me once more for this medical truth – ejaculate is primarily coagulated puss and disorganized proteins, water, and over-alkaline or acidic prostatic excretion. Of course, they’re usually quite unaware.) Because of these chronic health problems, every little thing seems to alter their hormone production and maintenance. After proper therapies, regardless of whether they’re “feminizing” or not, these systems are usually capable of maintaining healthy hormone levels regardless of influence from herbs, soy, beer, plastics, etc.

    Sorry for the long (graphic) message! But hopefully it helps some of the men out there.

  4. Great article, would you please add the story of your wife and how she felt or is doing with taking Shatavari. Maybe you could show a picture of her once in a while, because as a woman I like to see another woman thrive on your recommendations. Hope you understand 🙂

  5. Dear Dr John Doulliard.
    Thank you very much in deed for the wonderful story and useful information regarding Shatavari. It was fascinating.

    I have found a little Shatavari powder wonderful to take along side Ashwangandha in my Golden milk tonic drink that I take every second day while breast feeding. I try to not thing anything 7 days a week just incase.
    I did have foundation Ayurvedic training from the UK Pukka company and the product manual did highlight these herbs before and after pregnancy. So that’s why I took them. They also didn’t want to recommend them during pregnancy. I can feel a huge difference to my energy levels and wellbeing as a busy new mother. For anyone reading this
    I am of course extremely careful and read up in my holistic pregnancy book what herbal teas, foods,herbs ect… to avoid while breastfeeding.

  6. Well, sulfur boosts milk production for cows, and eggs in chicken (the ones tried out by the seller) so I presume it would do wonders to humans!

  7. I first read it as: woman with 100 horses, then I read the topless! And I remembered how the future will be like! naked, shameless reprobates roaming the streets with orgies! and the well dressed running away from them in around a dozen to forests or mountains!

    • Answer to vacheslav:- A dirty mind imagines dirty situations. Western world is filled with STDs , promiscuity multiple marriages, drugs, alcohol, mental disease, chemically contaminated food, alzeimers and depression-have you imagined why? Eastern cultures have satisfying family life and sex life and don’t have to move from one man to another looking for physical happiness thus have one husband for life.Will the future of western world be worse than 2019? Not if the world is filled with eastern philosophy of living one with nature and focusing on loving, sharing and inclusiveness. Christianity and Islam focus on materialism and personal happiness. What world needs is Indian philosophy of oneness. Why are you in the blog when you have nothing intelligent to offer. Take your everyday ramblings elsewhere.

      • These conditions that you mentioned are very prevalent in the western world but all civilizations have had these issues including eastern civilizations. I do appreciate that eastern cultures focus more on the collective than individualism and that’s a plus. However true Christiananity focuses on loving the almighty Jah with your whole might and soul and loving your neighbor as you love yourself. If this truly practiced , then this puts emphasis on the spiritual and that translates to a healthy mental and physical being. Truly living and seeking Gods kingdom and love encourages us to put righteousness first. This also means putting others first.

  8. Hello! Curious about using this while also taking a hormone replacement (progesterone and testosterone). Would this be okay?

  9. Hi. In a young woman in the reproductive age,(30s) who developed amenorrhoea due to chemotherapy, will treating with Shatavari further worsen the condition by suppressing natural ovarian production of Estrogen & thus natural menstruation??? Or can it help the ovaries to have a return of menstruation?

  10. “The diosgenin found in shatawari has been found to increase the natural secretion of progesterone.2,4.”

    The references given don’t support this statement. Diosgenin does not convert to progesterone in humans, only in a lab.

    Reference 4 refers to an entirely different species, asparagus officials, which has a different set of properties from asparagus racemosus (shatavari). This is sloppy work, filled with misinformation and should be revised.

  11. What would you recommend for “male menopause”, i.e., when the 4 major hormones of thyroid, adrenal, testosterone and pituitary are in decline?



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