Shatavari is a medicinal plant with a range of health benefits for women. Shatavari benefits for women include its potential to improve menstrual health (alleviate PMS, cramps, and excessive bleeding), regulate cycles, reduce symptoms of menopause (i.e. hot flashes, insomnia, etc.), improve fertility, and increase milk production while breastfeeding. Although Shatavari is still a lesser known herb in the Western world, it’s a familiar plant remedy in Ayurvedic practice. Records of its use dates back over 2,000 years and it’s a common ingredient in many Ayurvedic formulations.
Table of Contents
- What is Shatavari?
- How does Shatavari work?
- Clinical Trials: Shatavari benefits for women
- Potential Shatavari benefits for women
- Is Shatavari safe?
- Can men take Shatavari?
- How to take Shatavari?
- How much Shatavari to take?
What is Shatavari?
Shatavari, or its Latin name asparagus racemosus, is a species of asparagus which has been used for over 2,000 years in Ayurvedic medicine to treat a range of health issues. Its health benefits may be attributed to its phytoestrogenic and adaptogenic properties, as well as the saponins present in the plant. The roots, either dried or extracted, are used for medicinal purposes.
Shatavari is a species of asparagus, asparagus racemosus. It’s a “woody climber”, meaning the stems wrap around trees as they grow upwards. The name Shatavari refers both to the plant as well as the medicinal substances derived from the plant. The plant favors tropical and subtropical areas. It’s common throughout India, the Himalayas, and northern Australia, but grows elsewhere as well.
The roots of Shatavari are used for medicinal purposes, after they’ve been dried and powdered (and sometimes extracted). These tuberous roots grow to approximately 30-100cm in length and 1-2cm in thickness. They are silvery white or even ash in color and white within. Asparagus racemosus has white flowers and bright red berries [Bopana 2007].
Unfortunately, because of the serious demand for Shatavari products and excessive wild-harvesting, the plant has become endangered in its natural habitat [Alok 2013].
Ayurvedic background of Shatavari
Shatavari has been used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine (the traditional Indian medicine system) for over 2,000 years. The earliest written record of its use dates back to the Charaka Samhita, a Sanskrit text on Ayurveda. The Charaka Samhitaone of two surviving ancient texts on Ayurvedic practices, was based upon an even older text, the Agnivesha Samhita, an Ayurvedic text from the eighth century BCE. Shatavari is also referenced in the Ashtanga Hridayam Samhita, written in the 7th century ACE. In both these texts, Shatavari is referenced as a component in treating women’s health issues [Alok 2013].
Shatavari is considered to be a rasayana, meaning it promotes general wellbeing by increasing cellular vitality and resistance [Bopana 2007]. As a rasyana, its believed to prevent aging, increase longevity, boost immunity and mental function, and treat a range of health problems like tumors, inflammation and nervous disorders. In addition to its use as a general health tonic, it also serves as a female reproductive tonic, and has many names indicating this use. Shatavari itself means “who possesses a hundred husbands”. Classical Ayurvedic literature recommends Shatavari in cases of “threatened abortion” (presumably this alludes to miscarriage) and as a galactagogue (to enhance milk production in lactating mothers) [Alok 2013].
Shatavari is used in about 64 Ayurvedic formulations, where its concentration ranges from 10-110mg of root extract in a tablet. Of course, Ayurvedic use is not limited to tablets, but this gives us perspective as to how widespread its use is for a range of general health and female-specific remedies [Bopana 2007].
How does Shatavari work?
Shatavari has phytoestrogenic properties, meaning it acts like estrogen in the body, which may explain its health benefits for women (menstruation, menopause, etc.). Shatavari is also an adaptogen, meaning it helps the body to better handle stress. Saponins are the main active ingredient in Shatavari, and are believed to also be responsible for its beneficial effects.
Shatavari benefits for women may be explained by several of its properties and biological activities. It is a phytoestrogen, which means it helps regulate estrogen hormones in the body. It is considered an adaptogen, which means it helps the body to better handle stress (when taken long-term). Shatavari has also been investigated at the molecular level to better understand what active ingredients may contribute to its effectiveness. The most critical ingredients it contains are saponins, a particular kind of chemical in plants that may also contribute to Shatavari’s influence in reproductive health.
Active ingredients responsible for Shatavari benefits for women
Steroidal saponins (known as shatavarins I-VI) are the major active ingredients in Shatavari, believed to be at least partially responsible for its therapeutic effects [Alok 2013]. It also contains oligospirostanoside, referred to as immunoside, which functions as an immunomodulor [Hayes Jahidin 2006].
Saponins are naturally occurring glycosides that have the notable characteristic of foaming in water. They are common in many plants, both those we commonly eat in the Western world and those traditionally used in herbal medicine. Foods which contains saponins include legumes (soybeans, peas, navy beans, lentils, etc.), cauliflower, garlic, onions, leek, spinach, apsaragus, millet, oats, quinoa, sesame, and mustard [Oleszek 2020]. Saponins are beneficial for overall health because they help decrease blood lipids, lower cancer risks, and lower blood glucose response. Scientific evidence supports the idea that a diet high in saponin-rich foods can provide numerous health benefits [Shi 2004].
Steroidal saponins, in particular, are associated with several biological activities including cytotoxic activity against cancer cell lines and antifungal activity [Sahu 2008].
The saponins may explain Shatavari’s effectiveness in treating reproductive health issues, although the evidence is yet unclear. Shatavari contains several steroidal saponins, Shatavarins I-VI [Hayes Jahidin 2006]. The saponins in Shatavari hinder oxytocic activity, and because oxytocin stimulates uterine contractions, this allows Shatavari to reduce cramping pain during menstruation [Oladosu 2020] [Sharma 2011]. In fact, this activity has been observed in rats, guinea pigs, and rabbits both in vitro and in vivo for Shatavarin I [Hayes Jahidin 2006] [Satyavati 1976].
Shatavari: a phytoestrogen
Shatavari’s phytoestrogenic activity in the body may explain its use as a treatment and aid in reproductive health (to help increase milk production, improve fertility, and to treat symptoms of menopause or menstrual pain).
Many of the Shatavari benefits for women may be attributed to the phytoestrogens it contains. Phytoestrogens are plant-derived estrogens. Because they are generally functionally or structurally similar to estrogen, they affect the body similarly to estrogen, thus influencing ovarian cycles and other aspects of reproductive health [Bopana 2007]. Phytoestrogens bind directly to estrogen receptors in the body, but don’t enhance endogenous estrogen levels [Choudhary 2012]. This is an important distinction because increased levels of endogenous estrogen are linked to breast cancer [Walker 2011].
Asparagus racemosus is known to have phytoestrogenic properties and the capacity to regulate hormones [Bopana 2007]. Its activity as a phytoestrogen explain its anti-tumor activity in the body, its ability to stimulate milk production during lactation and to treat symptoms of menopause (hot flashes, insomnia, etc.) and menstruation (particularly, PMS).
Shatavari: an adaptogen
Shatavari is an adaptogen, according to both modern medicine and Ayurvedic medicine. In Ayurveda, it’s considered a rasyana.
The term adaptogen was first introduced in 1947 by the Soviet toxicologist and pharmacologist Nikolai Lazarev. He assumed adaptogens increased the nonspecific resistance (endurance, stamina, performance, etc.) of organisms under conditions of stress [Capasso 2003]. Adaptogens are considered to be their own class of drugs. They work in different ways to modulate stress, either by modulating mediators like corticosteroids, catecholamines, and nitric oxide or functioning as antioxidants or immunomodulators [Singh 2009].
Asapargus racemosus demonstrates several characteristics of being an adaptogen, as evaluated by its activity in rats. It reduced mortality due to abdominal infection, reduced stress-induced leakage in gastric tissue, and produced immunostimulation [Rege 1999].
From the perspective of Ayurveda, Shatavari has long been known as a rasayana. It’s in many Ayurvedic formulations, particularly to enable development of the body and to increase energy [Puri 2002].
Rasyana Tantra is one of the eight branches of Ayurvedic medicine. This branch deals with the science of adaptation. Rasayanas are herbs, medicines, or substances which help people cope with day-to-day stress. Rasayana itself means “the path that rasa takes”, where rasa refers to tissue or plasma, and ayana refers to path. Rasayana herbs offer a range of biological activities, they function as adaptogens, immunostimulants, immunomodulators, probiotics, and anti-mutagenics. The concept of adaptogens has long been recognized and studied in Ayurveda [Puri 2002].
Clinical Trials: Shatavari benefits for women
Studies demonstrate that Shatavari may provide several benefits for women. It may alleviate menstrual disorders like dysmenorrhea (painful cramps) or menorrhagia (excessive bleeding) and regulate cycles. Clinical trials show it can alleviate symptoms of menopause and increase the production of breast milk for lactating mothers.
Shatavari provides many health benefits for women, as evidenced by the fact that it’s the traditional Ayruvedic herb intended to treat and improve women’s health. As an adaptogen (rasayana), it promotes overall wellbeing.
Below, we discuss those benefits of Shatavari that are evidenced by scientific studies. Randomized, double-blind clinical trials have demonstrated its effectiveness as a method to increase breastmilk production for lactating mothers and its ability to alleviate symptoms of menopause. We also find evidence (although no double-blind studies yet exist) for its ability to alleviate menstrual disorders and to improve fertility.
We have reviewed both the Ayurvedic literature and scientific studies behind Shatavari to understand the potent healing benefits of this plant from both perspectives.
Shatavari for menstrual health
Shatavari may be an effective remedy for several menstrual disorders including painful cramps, PMS, and cycle irregularity. Although there are no double-blind clinical trials yet on its effectiveness, existing studies suggest that 2 tsp of Shatavari ghrita (a ghee-based mixture) [Sharma 2021] or 128mg of Shatavari extract [Umarji 2015] daily may be effective in alleviating menstrual disorders.
Shatavari is used a remedy for menstrual disorders such as dysmenorrhea (painful cramps) and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It’s also useful for irregular bleeding or irregular cycles (similar to its utility for PCOS and fertility). One explanation behind Shatavari’s effectiveness is that its saponins hinder oxytocic activity. Oxytocin stimulates uterine contractions in nonpregnant women and may be responsible for pain associated with dysmenorrhea [Oladosu 2020]. The saponins within Shatavari may hinder the oxytocic activity, thereby reducing pain from these cramps during menstruation [Sharma 2011].
One study found that taking 10ml Shatavari ghrita twice daily for 3 months helped alleviate symptoms of dysmenorrhea. Unfortunately, this study is inaccessible and so additional details and data cannot be gleaned. It’s unclear what biases exist, the presence of a control group, and the type of Shatavari used (just root powder or extract) [Sharma 2021].
Note, the Shatavari used in [Sharma 2021] is Shatavari ghrita. Ghrita refers to an Ayurvedic method of preparation wherein the medicine is mixed with oil or ghee. Herbs are mixed with ghee, heated and then decocted until all the water evaporates. The fat insoluble materials are filtered out and the remaining fat is used as the medicine [Puri 2002]. Traditional Ayurvedic uses of Shatavari for regulating menstruation and treating dysmenorrhoea recommend a mixture of Shatavari ghrit (with several other herbs as well), taken as 1-2 tsp in the evening [Puri 2002].
EveCare, a proprietary herbal remedy which contains Shatavari, is effective in treating a range of menstrual disorders including menorrhagia (excessive bleeding) and oligomenorrhea (inconsistent cycles) [Umarji 2015]. The clinical study evaluating EveCare was large-scale (421 women) and of significant duration (8 trials over 3 months). Although it lacks a control group, the study still offers some interesting results. Overall, the women had significant improvements for dysmenorrhoea, menorrhagia, menstrual flow (less flow), menstruation duration (shorter), and hemoglobin (increased, especially for those with severe anemia). The participants took 1-2 EveCare capsules or 10-15 ml of syrup twice daily, for 2-3 months [Umarji 2015].
Another study found EveCare to be an effective treatment for dysmenorrhoea and PMS for 40 women after 3 months of treatment (two teaspoons twice daily). Unfortunately, this study is outdated and generally inaccessible, so additional data and details are not available. It also lacks a control group [Swarup 1998].
EveCare contains 32mg of Shatavari extract per 5ml (about 1 tsp) of syrup [Bopana 2007]. So, the above studies used roughly 128mg of Shatavari extract per day, split into two doses.
Shatavari for fertility
Infertility, or difficulty conceiving, is often a result of cycle irregularity. Both the scientific evidence from Western studies and Ayurvedic practices show that Shatavari helps improve cycle regularity and improve menstrual health. For this reason, Shatavari may help promote fertility, because with more regular cycles and ovulation come higher chances of conception. Additionally, some studies indicate that Shatavari may be effective in treating PCOS, a common cause behind infertility in women.
Seed cycling is also a natural practice often cited as method to improve fertility.
Shatavari for milk production (most popular of all Shatavari benefits for women)
Shatavari is traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine as means to increase milk production in lactating mothers. One clinical study found it can enhance prolactin significantly at only 60mg/kg/day [Gupta 2011] and one recent study found just supplementing with Shatavari for five days after giving birth can boost milk supply [Birla 2022]. However, from a Western medical perspective, additional, large-scale studies are needed to validate the right dosage at which Shatavari can provide these benefits.
Using Shatavari as a galactagogue (i.e. a method to enhance milk production in breastfeeding mothers) is a recommended practice in Ayurvedic medicine [Alok 2013] [Bopana 2007]. Reliable scientific studies provide additional evidence to support this application of Shatavari. Out of all the Shatavari benefits for women, its use as a method to enhance milk production is one of the most widely recognized.
A 30-day double-blind, randomized clinical trial evaluated the efficacy of Shatavari for 60 lactating mothers. After 30 days, those who took Shatavari (60mg/kg of body weight, root powder via capsules) had a significantly greater increase in their milk production than those in the control group. Mothers who took Shatavari had three times greater increase in their prolactin levels, a hormone responsible for promoting milk secretion from the mammary glands. Additionally, the researchers considered secondary, subjective measures of success, according to the mothers themselves. Those who took Shatavari were significantly more satisfied in their milk production and felt they had happier babies [Gupta 2011]. This study is surprising, mostly because the amount of Shatavari administered is relatively small compared to traditional Ayurvedic use. The participants took only 60mg/kg of dried, pulverized roots (not extracted in any way). This is roughly 2,700mg/day for a 100lb woman. Traditional therapeutic uses of Shatavari rely on extracts or significantly larger quantities of dried root.
A recent study provides further evidence for Shatavari’s use in stimulating milk supply. In this randomized, double-blind experiment, women in the treatment group were given a granola bar containing Shatavari for five days (starting on the second day after they had given birth). These women experienced breast fullness earlier and had more breast milk than those in the control group [Birla 2022]. The granola bar itself is proprietary, so the exact amount of Shatavari administered is unknown. We do know that each bar is 15 grams, and the first ingredient listed is Shatavari.
It’s worth mentioning a conflicting study which did not find Shatavari to be effective in enhancing milk production. In this 4-week double-blind, randomized clinical trial of 64 breastfeeding mothers, those who took Shatavari (2 tsp/day of mixed powder, roughly 3g/day of Shatavari) did not have a greater increase in prolactin. In fact, both groups experienced a decrease in prolactin. There are several opportunities for bias in this study, such as the fact that women were supplementing with other milk and that the supplement administered was a mixture including 6 other herbal medicines (although all at very low quantities compared to the Shatavari) [Sharma 1996].
Traditional Ayurvedic preparations used to increase milk yield use a capsule consisting of 200mg of Shatavari extract, 100mg of ashwagandha extract, 50mg of glycyrrhiza (licorice) extract, 50 mg of trigonella (fenugreek) extract and 20mg of garlic. The recommended use is taking three such capsules a day [Puri 2002].
It’s theorized that the steroidal saponins in Shatavari may produce the hormone-like effects of the herb and these directly contribute to its lactogenic effect. Additionally, another study administering an alcoholic extract of Shatavari on pregnant adult rats found that it had an estrogenic effect on the mammary glands and genital organs [Pandey 2005]. Several other studies exist evaluating (and validating) its galactagogue activity in different animals including cows, buffalos, and goats [Gupta 2011].
Shatavari for menopause
Shatavari (potentially in combination with other medicinal herbs) can help relieve side effects of menopause such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. The studies which found it effective used 100mg extract, taken twice daily for 12 weeks [Steels 2018] or 3 grams of root powder twice daily for 8 weeks [Farzana 2015].
Using it as a treatment for symptoms of menopause is one of the most underrated Shatavari benefits for women. Many women don’t treat their menopausal symptoms, although the side effects (hot flashes and resulting unrest, as well as mental changes) can be severe and disrupt daily life. Thus, Shatavari’s potential to alleviate these side effects offers a promising natural remedy to relieve theses symptoms.
One peer-reviewed, randomized, double-blind experiment found that a combination of herbs which included 200mg of Shatavari per day helped alleviate hot flashes and night sweats in menopausal women. The study included 117 women, 40-65 years of age, all of whom were experiencing these symptoms of menopause. At the conclusion of the 12-week trial, those in the supplemented group scored better on their psychsocial, physical, and sexual menopausal symptoms. The Shatavari used was a spray-dried aqueous extract of the dried root. Altogether, the supplement used contained (per capsule): 75mg Guduchi (tinospora cardifolia), 100mg Shatavari (asparagus racemosus), 100mg Ashwagandha (withania somnifera) and 225mg Guggul (commiphora mukul). Participants took two capsules per day [Steels 2018].
Another peer-reviewed, double-blind and randomized clinical trial evaluating 60 post-menopausal women also found that Shatavari (combined with licorice root) to be effective in treating their menopausal symptoms. After 8 weeks, those who took 6g/day (3g twice per day) of the mixed powder had significantly greater improvements in their hot flashes, insomnia, anxiety, and depression as compared to the control group. The study doesn’t elucidate the type or quantity of Shatavari, but it may be reasonably assumed that they used basic, dried root powder and in equal proportion to the licorice root, meaning that participants took 3g/day of Shatavari [Farzana 2015].
One 6-month clinical study found that Menosan (contains 110mg of Shatavari root extract per tablet [Bopana 2007]) alleviated symptoms of menopause, although it did not alter hormone levels. This study has the notable drawbacks of not being a double-blind experiment and lacks a control group. Nonetheless, the study found significant improvements in menopausal symptoms: 90% had relief from depression, 83% from insomnia, 50% from irritability, and 37% from hot flashes [Singh 2002].
Potential Shatavari benefits for women
Shatavari is associated with several additional health benefits (in addition to those above), although these benefits haven’t yet been demonstrated via any double-blind studies.
Ayurvedic medicine uses Shatavari for leucorrhoea. By improving menstrual health Shatavari also promotes fertility, which is why it may be a promising area for further research as a treatment for PCOS.
Shatavari may also improve mental wellbeing. Studies on rodents indicate that Shatavari has anti-depressive properties, which need to be further explored to understand how Shatavari may be used to treat depression.
Shatavari for leucorrhoea
Ayurvedic remedies recommend taking 5-10 grams of Shatavari twice per day with equal parts ghee to treat leucorrhoea [Puri 2002]. Although treating leucorrhoea may be one of the Shatavari benefits for women, there aren’t yet any scientific studies examining this application.
Using Shatavari to treat leucorrhoea is one of the lesser known Shatavari benefits for women. There have no been scientific studies to date on the efficacy of its use for leucorrhoea, but traditional Ayurvedic practices and folk medicine suggest that it is an effective remedy for this issue.
Leucorrhoea refers to unusual vaginal discharge. Although some discharge is normal, an unusual color or odor which persists for a significant period of time may be indicative of an imbalance.
Traditional Ayurvedic preparations to treat leucorrhoea recommend 5-10 g of powdered Shatavari with equal parts ghee, twice daily for 40 days [Puri 2002]. Using Shatavari juice (combined with sugar) is also a folk medicine remedy in central eastern India [Hemadri 1983].
Shatavari for PCOS
Some evidence indicates that Shatavari may be effective in treating PCOS, or at least in alleviating the symptoms associated with it [Kumarapeli 2018] [Siriwardene 2010]. However, no randomized, double-blind clinical trial yet exists to provide reliable estimates for treatment.
A recent study compared the effectiveness of different modes of Shatavari for the treatment of PCOS in pre-menopausal women. This study has the notable drawback of lacking a control group. 60 participants were randomly divided into three treatment groups. Group differed by how they took their Shatavari daily: one group did so orally, one through enema, and one using both methods. The oral dosage contained 2.5 grams of Shatavari roots (combined with 2.5g of Satapuspa seeds) mixed with 10ml cow ghee. Those who took the Satapushpa Shatavari powder (SSP) orally had, after 2 weeks, an increase in endometrial thickness (the lining of the uterus), increased blood loss and a longer duration of menstruation. All of these are desirable outcomes in the case of treating women with PCOS. The group which took both oral and enema saw the most significant improvements across all measures [Kumarapeli 2018].
An Ayurvedic clinical study examined the efficacy of Shatavari (among other herbs) for the treatment of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). This study lacks several ideal characteristics to minimize bias: it is not randomized nor double-blind and lacks details on the participants and data on the final outcomes. Nonetheless, the findings indicate that the herbs supplemented greatly improved menstrual health and alleviated symptoms of PCOS, such that “after the four month of duration 90% were cured”. Among the 40 patients treated for infertility, 75% has relief from dysmenorrhea (painful cramps during menstruation) and 75% of patients conceived. The herbal remedy used improved menstrual bleeding and regularity, and the overall cycle for most participants [Siriwardene 2010].
Shatavari for depression
No clinical trials have yet determined Shatavari’s effectiveness in treating depression on people. Tests on rodents have demonstrated antidepressant activity of the methanolic extract of Shatavari.
Fertility-related phenomena are all common Shatavari benefits for women, but what about mental difficulties, such as depression? Although no clinical trials on people have yet been conducted on Shatavari’s effectiveness in treating depression, rodent studies indicate it may be a potential remedy.
In one study, the methanolic extract of Asparagus racemosus roots showed significant antidepressant-like activity in mice who had taken it daily (200mg/kg) for two weeks [Dhingra 2007].
Another study found that rats who took 400mg/kg of methanolic extract of Asparagus racemosus daily for one week performed better on tests designed to measure their response to stress (forced swim test and learned helplessness test). The researchers concluded that the extract has significant antidepressant activity [Singh 2009].
Additionally, it appears that Shatavari may be effective in treating depression in menopausal women. Menosan (in which Shatavari is a main ingredient, 110mg of extract per capsule) significantly alleviated the depression in menopausal women in one study [Singh 2002].
Is Shatavari safe?
Shatavari is generally considered safe for women.
In Ayurveda, Shatavari is considered safe, irrespective of age or pregnancy status. However, modern medicine may prescribe caution in taking Shatavari during pregnancy.
Even at large doses, Shatavari did not result in any abnormal behavior in rodents. However, the studies on the toxicology of Shatavari are generally inaccessible and thus difficult to validate [Jetmalani 1967] [Narendranath 1986]. Nonetheless, its continued use in Ayurvedic medicine is indicative of its safety.
Is Shatavari safe during pregnancy?
There are conflicting opinions on whether Shatavari is safe during pregnancy. Ayurvedic medicine deems it safe and even beneficial to take daily for the first eight months of pregnancy. On the other hand, a 2006 study on rodents indicates potential teratogenicity, and so modern medicine recommends against its use in pregnancy.
Although Ayurvedic medicine finds Shatavari safe for pregnancy, some may recommend against it. This caution is mainly due to a 2006 study where rats given 100mg/kg of methanolic extracts of A. racemosus roots daily during gestation delivered smaller fetuses and smaller litters than the control group [Goel 2006]. For this reason, Western physicians may recommend avoidance during pregnancy [McGuire 2018].
In Ayurvedic medicine, Shatavari is assumed to be safe and even beneficial during pregnancy. Ayurvedic use prescribes Shatavari powder orally for the first eight months of pregnancy to promote breast development, embryonic growth, and genital health. During the ninth month of pregnancy, its recommended to be applied topically to the vagina [Puri 2002].
Is Shatavari safe while breastfeeding?
Shatavari is safe to take while breastfeeding. Ayurvedic medicine and contemporary studies suggest that it is beneficial for milk production and serves as a galactogogue.
Can men take Shatavari?
No clinical studies yet exist evaluating the effects of Shatavari on men’s health. Studies on rodents demonstrate Shatavari’s ability to improve sperm count and increase the weight of testes. In Ayurvedic medicine, Shatavari is used for its aphrodisiac benefits and to promote reproductive health in men.
Shatavari is prescribed both to men and women in Ayurveda to enhance fertility. In particular, Shatavari ghrit is a recommended remedy for men’s fertility. It is considered to be spermatogenic and can increase the retention time of ejaculation [Puri 2002].
One clinical trial (not double-blind) prescribed 8-10 g/day of a mixture of herbs, including Shatavari, for men with sperm issues (low sperm count, dead semen upon ejaculation, or unhealthy sperm). Researchers report that after three months of treatment, 80% of patients were remedied [Puri 2002]. However, this study is inaccessible and is thus difficult to validate [Samanta 1992].
One study found that 800mg/kg of root extract daily for eight weeks helped to restore sperm count in rats (compared to control) [Shree 2019]. Another study found that 0.5g/kg of root powder for 21 days increased the weight of rat testes (compared to control) [Ghumare 2003] [Velavan 2007].
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How to take Shatavari?
Shatavari is most often available in root powder form or an extract within capsules. The root powder can be mixed with water or milk, or prepared in an Ayurvedic fashion using ghee or oil. There are even granola bars on the market containing Shatavari.
Based on the research and Ayurvedic practices, both the extract and root powder are effective in treating a range of health issues. However, the dosage and duration of treatment vary.
How much Shatavari to take?
A significant dose of powdered root (3g/day or greater) for 30 days seems to be an effective dose to improve milk production. For menstruation issues or menopausal symptoms, 100-200 mg/day of extract (or EveCare) taken for 2-3 months is associated with effective results. An Ayurvedic practitioner is likely the best resource to help you determine the right dosage of Shatavari for you.
The recommended dosage and method of ingestion to realize Shatavari’s benefits varies based on the health concern being addressed.
For menopause, clinical studies indicate Shatavari may be effective at the following dosages: 100mg extract, taken twice daily for 12 weeks [Steels 2018] or 3 grams of root powder taken twice daily for 8 weeks [Farzana 2015]. Note that both of these did not use Shatavari alone, and incorporated other herbs.
To improve menstrual health, existing studies suggest that the following doses may be effective: 2 tsp (10ml) of Shatavari ghrita (a ghee-based mixture) daily for 3 months [Sharma 2021] or 128mg of Shatavari extract (1-2 EveCare capsules or 10-15 ml of syrup twice daily, for 2-3) for 3 months [Umarji 2015]. Note that EveCare contains 32mg of Shatavari extract per 5ml (about 1 tsp) of syrup [Bopana 2007]. In these studies, these treatments appeared to help regulate cycles, treat dysmenorrhoea and menorrhagia, and improve duration of menstruation. However, these studies are biased in that they offered no control group. As of yet, there are no double-blind clinical trials to provide guidance on the best dosage of Shatavari for menstrual health.
To increase milk production in lactating mothers, 60mg/kg/day (roughly 4g/day for a 150 lb woman) of powdered root for 30 days may help enhance prolactin [Gupta 2011]. Shatavari may also be effective post-partum in short-term usage as well, as indicated by [Birla 2022], where mothers given Shatavari granola bars for five days after birth produced more milk faster. Additional, larger-scale studies are necessary to validate the effective dosage from a scientific perspective.
To treat PCOS, one study used an oral dosage of 2.5 grams of Shatavari roots per day (combined with 2.5g of grams of Satapuspa seeds and pulverized) mixed with 10ml cow ghee. The participants had improvements in their side effects of PCOS after two weeks of this treatment. However, this study lacked a control group and so the significance of the results for this treatment group are difficult to determine [Kumarapeli 2018].
From an Ayurvedic perspective, there are several different methods of preparation and usage for Shatavari, ranging based on the condition you are attempting to treat. To regulate menstruation, treat dysmenorrhoea, reduce pain or inflammation from vaginal diseases, or as a fertility aid, a mixture of Shatavari ghrit is recommended. This is particular mixture of Shatavari (juice or powder) with other herbs and ghee that is heated and processed into a thick paste before adding sugar or honey. The paste is prescribed as 1-2 tsp in the evening [Puri 2002].
To enhance strength (for both men or women), Ayurveda recommends a preparation of Shatavari Pak. This is similar to Shatavari ghrit but with additional herbs, dried fruits, and nuts. This method prescribes 20g of the resulting mixture each morning with milk [Puri 2002].
For leucorrhoea, Ayurveda recommend taking 5-10 grams of Shatavari twice per day with equal parts ghee for 40 days [Puri 2002].
To enhance milk production, Ayurveda recommends 5-10g of root powder followed by warm milk, while lactating.
How long to take Shatavari?
Take Shatavari for a significant period of time (1-3 months) before expecting changes to health. Short-term effects are possible at high doses [Birla 2022], but most treatments tend to focus on long-term change.
Shatavari’s mechanisms as an adaptogen and phytoestrogen are, by their nature, not immediate. Thus, one can only expect to see health changes after taking Shatavari for an extended period of time.
Most studies evaluating the effectiveness of Shatavari prescribe the herb for at least 30 days, and more often for 3 months. Ayurvedic preparations of Shatavari recommend taking it for 40 days. Many of the studies considered here evaluated the full effects after three months.
Shatavari has a range of benefits for women, ranging from improving fertility, to alleviating unpleasant symptoms during menstruation or menopause, to increasing milk supply in lactating mothers. There are yet unknown benefits of Shatavari, such as its ability to treat unusual vaginal discharge or depression. No matter your use of Shatavari, be sure to consult an appropriate practitioner who can guide you on the correct dosage and usage of Shatavari for your health concerns. An Ayurvedic practitioner or herbal specialist are likely the best resources to consult if you are interested in using Shatavari.