The Queen of Herbs Shatavari- An Ancient Female Tonic
One with hundred husbands is the literal meaning of this ancient medicinal herb Satavari. In Sanskrit, Shat means hundred and var means husband. Do you wonder why Shatavari or Asparagus racemose is called by this name? It is believed to be a powerful female tonic that can help with all those monthly period-related problems, fertility issues, and is a strong galactagogue. And that is the reason it is known as the Queen of herbs. Let's find out more about this ancient medicine. Let's begin.
Even though now, it is one of the popular cash crops and raw materials to make ayurvedic medicines, it is originally a wild plant that grew throughout India, the Himalayas, and Australia.
It is famously known by the names Satavari/ Shatavari and Satmuli/ Shatmooli. I have already mentioned what Shatavari means but Shatmuli means one with hundred roots. It is probably due to its extensive root system. These roots make these plants so valuable. The powder of the roots is used in various health products for both men and women. But other than being a female tonic, it also has several other uses as traditional medicine.
I remember in India Shatavari was commonly used for a healthy female reproductive system.
- As a traditional medicine, Shatavari is believed to cure women’s fertility problems,
- The root extracts are used as galactagogue which means to increase milk supply.
- Taking ayurvedic formulations containing Shatavari roots is believed to relieve period-related pain and reduce PMS symptoms.
- Some of the general health benefits are as follows
- The root powder is also known to heal gastric ulcers without inhibiting acid secretions and improve digestive health.
- Root extract is believed to be effective in reducing cough.
- According to some researchers Shatavari is believed to boost immunity. There are many more perceived health benefits of Shatavari.
And most importantly all these benefits are claimed to be without any side effects.
However, I also found some contrasting claims. According to a former organic chemist, Martinez from Yale University, the chemical composition of Shatavari is similar to steroids and could possibly have a negative effect on the immune system. But then I also found that there are researchers who are willing to believe in some of these health benefits of this ancient herb. For hundreds and thousands of years, Shatavari has managed to stay as a popular traditional medicine so I think it must have some medicinal properties. Now, the way the herbal medicines are prepared and dispensed also could affect the effectiveness of the drugs made from Shatavari. That definitely needs more research.
Like many other medicines, it is possible to get allergic reactions or rashes if this medicine doesn’t suit you.
Appearance-wise Shatavari plants look very similar to asparagus vegetable and some other decorative plants such as asparagus ferns. Unlike some other asparagus ferns, Shatavari has thorns on the stems. I have these two Shatavari plants and both have thorns. I purchased the seeds from two different sellers and you can see the leaves are slightly different. One of these plants is growing vigorously.
Satavari plants grow well in a hot humid tropical climates. However, they are pretty hardy and can tolerate temperatures between 5 -40 °C or 41–104°F. I’m growing these plants in zone 8 and they were unaffected by the hot temperatures of summer which is good because summer in my region is always extreme.
As these plants are grown mainly for their roots the soil should be a well-draining loamy mix. The optimal pH is between 6–8. That way the roots will grow uninhibited. But the plant is not at all demanding. It survives even in poor soil.
Growing Shatavari in Ground vs in Containers
If the weather allows it is better to grow these plants directly in the ground. The approximate spacing is 2ft. I started these plants in late summer so for now I’m planning to keep them potted so that it is easy to protect them during harsh winter months. This is the first time I’m growing these plants so I’m not sure how bad the weather will get during winter and how the plants will react to that.
As I mentioned earlier Shatavari plants grow well in hot climates. They are hardy in USDA zones 9 and above. If you stay in a colder climate then you can start the seeds indoors 6–8 weeks before the last frost date and transplant the seedlings in prepared soil outdoors as the spring season starts.
is approximately 10–20 days.
The leaves are thready and the plants show excessive branching that starts from the bottom. The plant is a creeper and needs support or falls down. The stems are slender. Shatavari flowers are tiny white in color. Flowers bloom in the month of July. They grow in groups and when fertilized produce tiny red berries similar to that of ashwagandha. Seeds are tiny black in color and smooth.
A regular application of a well-balanced fertilizer will help the plant grow bigger roots.
In India, these plants are started between June-October and the harvest is after 2 years in the months of April-May. This long seed to harvest time is similar to other garden asparagus vegetables.
Shatavari plants are propagated mainly from seeds. It is very easy to grow them that way. You can soak the seeds in water before sowing or direct sow them. Usually, seeds germinate without any problem. I’m not sure if one can grow the plants from roots alone. But I have an asparagus-like houseplant and I split it to grow more plants. So I guess you can do that with Shatavari too.
The roots of the Shatavari plant grow in clumps. They are 15–20cms in length. The roots are harvested after 20–24 months. They are boiled, peeled, and then dried to get the dried roots. These roots are then used in various medicinal formulations. I still have time to see the blooms and harvest these medicinal roots. I hope you find this information useful.