Herb Profile: Shatavari
It’s time to meet the Queen. You may remember in our rhodiola and reishi herb profiles that these diverse and powerful adaptogens are considered “Kings” of their class. At first, this gets us a little defensive (what about the QUEENS?!), but we then remember the true queen in our formula: shatavari.
Traditionally referred to as the “queen of herbs,” shatavari stands her ground next to the other “herbal kings” in our formula for different reasons that are just as powerful (Yance, 2013). As a nourishing adaptogen, fertility tonic, and nervous system restorative, we feel lucky to have the Queen grace us with her presence in our daily cup of Rasa. Read on to learn more about an herb that lives up to its royal title.
In case you haven’t caught on yet, we are all about balancing stimulation with nourishment in the Rasa formula (remember reading about this in our codonopsis herb profile?). After years of abusing coffee and other stimulants, we recognize the need to balance them out in one cup (rather than stimulating first then scrambling to nourish ourselves when we start dragging later on).
This is what shatavari looks like in the Rasa Koffee blend 👇👇👇
Nourishment is a specialty of shatavari. It is a queen who also takes on the role of a mother-figure. Shatavari supports and nourishes the entire body while restoring depleted vitality stores. Plus, shatavari promotes fertility and restories essential reproductive functions. Nourishing adaptogens like shatavari are definitely an underused but important class of herbs.
The Yin To Our Yang
Remember back in our ashwagandha herb profile when we broke down the yin-yang balance in our bodies (and took you on a little ‘90s flashback)? Now it’s time to meet the yin component in our formula: shatavari. Shatavari tonifies, strengthens and nourishes our fluid, feminine and resting energies (Tierra, 1988). Remember that we have both masculine and feminine energies circulating in our bodies, regardless of gender or sexual identification. So before you put this queen back on the shelf as strictly for the “qualified” feminine folk out there, take note that everyone has feminine elements within.
One condition that shatavari is noted to help with is kidney yin deficiency, which commonly presents as lower back pain. Our kidneys are largely associated with fluids that are connected to our yin energy. Thus, shatavari naturally nourishes and rejuvenates our inward kidney Qi (Yance, 2003). While our yang is all hot and acting up, yin-nourishing herbs like shatavari come in to cool everything off inside and settle all the restless, unnecessary activity down.
Shatavari is demulcent in nature. It offers soothing support for dry, inflamed membranes in not only the kidneys but also the lungs, stomach and sexual organs (Lad & Frawley 1986). Shatavari also works as a fabulous emollient externally, making it ideal for creaky joints, stiff neck and general muscle spasms (Lad & Frawley, 1986).
Root of 100 Husbands
The word “shatavari” literally translates to “one hundred roots.” Its actual root structure has an abundance of thick white roots bursting from it. As the properties of the root became understood and put into herbal practice, shatavari also came to be known as “one hundred husbands” or “who possesses a hundred husbands” (Lad & Frawley 1986).
Yes, you heard that right. Shatavari enhances your juicy feminine fertility and sexuality so much that, in theory, you can satisfy the demands of as many husbands. Shatavari is also known to increase semen (the fluid-nourishing quality we were talking about earlier), so perhaps another title for this nourishing adaptogen could be “one hundred wives!”
We have yet to hear the story of the woman who has met the high standard that shatavari sets, but we know for a fact that it’s fertility boosting properties are top-notch. As a uterine tonic and menstrual regulator, shatavari helps support healthy cycles and clears the uncomfortable symptoms that tend to tag along (period pain anyone?!) (Pole, 2006). Shatavari also nourishes the ovum and cultivates energies of love, devotion and compassion (Lad & Frawley, 1986).
Chinese herbalists are known to taste their newest shipment of shatavari root first, and then reserve the sweetest roots for themselves. The sweeter the root, the stronger the feelings of spiritual compassion that are cultivated (Tierra, 1988). But don’t worry - we’re not holding out on the sweetness in the Rasa formula like these herbalists might have!
The Honey Pot
We can’t talk about juicy, fluid-nourishing shatavari without talking about ojas, aka our secret honey pot. Ojas is one of the 3 essences of nature and is believed to be “the seed behind all nourishment and creativity” in Ayurveda (Pole, 2006). Shatavari plays a BIG role in building up and maintaining our ojas.
When our sweet honey pot of ojas is running low, we tend to have a poor complexion and feel more weak, worried and fearful (Pole, 2006). Shatavari directly nourishes the ojas, restores and calms the nervous system and nourishes the brain. All of these actions help stabilize our endocrine system and overall emotional body, resulting in boosted fertility as well as feelings of strength, courage and general vitality. Although this might sound too good to be true, this is essentially how we are meant to live and feel as humans!
When Not To Cross The Queen
Although shatavari is considered a quite safe and gentle adaptogenic herb, there are a couple instances to be aware of when one should not engage with the queen. For instance, if you deal with excessive mucus and congestion in your system, shatavari could aggravate your symptoms (Lad & Frawley, 1986). Shatavari can also cause delayed cell-mediated and IgE-mediated reactions in sensitive folks. This means that our body’s protective warning signs to severe allergies could become delayed when we need them most (Caldecott, 2006).
Since shatavari is a member of the asparagus plant family, avoid using it if you have a known allergy to asparagus. Additionally, shatavari is considered a phytoestrogenic herb, meaning that it could modulate estrogenic activity in the body. For people dealing with estrogen-sensitive tumors or general estrogen sensitivities, take extra caution when using shatavari.
A Royal Farewell
This nourishing adaptogen is truly in the class of herbal Queendom. With its fertility-tonifying, yin-supporting and nervous system-restoring qualities, shatavari helps nourish the body in more ways than one. Although it’s a royal farewell to Queen shatavari for now, stay tuned for more information on its virtues and benefits.
About the Author
Heather is a Certified Clinical Herbalist and Nutritionist, Medical Anthropologist, Writer, Whole-Body Wellness Coach, and Holistic Educator. Connect with her on her personal website www.heathersaba.com and Instagram (@heathersaba)
Alok, S., Sanjay, K.J., Verma, A., Kumar, M., Mahor, A., & Sabharwal, M. (2013). Plant profile, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Asparagus racemosus (shatavari): A review. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease. 3(3), 242-51. doi: 10.1016/S2222-1808(13)60049-3.
Caldecott, T. (2006). Ayurveda: The divine science of life. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
Lad, V. & Frawley, D. (1986). The yoga of herbs: An ayurvedic guide to herbal medicine. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.
Pole, S. (2006). Ayurvedic medicine: The principles of traditional practice. Philadelphia, PA: Singing Dragon.
Tierra, M. (1988). Planetary herbology. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.
Yance, D. (2013). Adaptogens in medical herbalism: Elite herbs and natural compounds for mastering stress, aging, and chronic disease. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.