Biological name: Asparagus racemosus
Root Powder: 1-2 tsp stirred into warm milk once or twice a day
Capsule: Two 500mg capsules two times per day
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Shatavari, or shatawari, comes from the Ayurvedic tradition of healing. Also known as “hundred husbands” for its beneficial effects in women and reproductive function, shatavari is also very popular as a galactogogue in India and China. Shatavari is considered to rejuvenate female function and is used for infertility. One older study found that shatavari “increased the weight of mammary tissue and milk yield in estrogen-primed rats” while inhibiting involution of glandular tissue and maintaining milk secretion,(1) while another found shatavari to increase milk production in buffaloes.(2) In contrast, a more recent human study reached the conclusion that it had no real effect (baseline prolactin levels in both groups declined at the same postpartum rate) even though the mothers using shatavari had a greater decrease in necessary supplemental milk for their babies at the end of the study than did mothers who took a placebo.
Shatavari has also been used for gastric problems and has even been tested against metoclopramide, where it was found to have a comparable ability to accelerate gastric emptying.(3) Another study using an alcoholic extract of shatavari found that it caused an increase in serum prolactin levels.(4) The mechanism for increasing milk production seems to parallel that of metoclopramide. Shatavari can be purchased in capsule form and is also an ingredient in Lactare, a galactogogue product, which also contains licorice, fenugreek, ashwaganda and other ingredients.
One rather perplexing fact is that shatavari is also reputed to be able to block oxytocin receptors in the uterus,(5) which may be why it is considered useful for preventing miscarriage or premature labor in the Ayurvedic tradition. This raises the question as to whether it could possibly interfere with oxytocin and milk ejection during lactation. Nevertheless, multiple anecdotal reports have attributed milk production increase to shatavari.
(1) Sabnis, P., Gaitonde, B., Jetmalani, M. Effects of alcoholic extracts of Asparagus racemosus on mammary glands of rats. Ind J Expt Bio 1966; 6:55-57.
(2) Patel, A. and U. Kanitkar. Asparagus racemosus willd. form bordi, as a galactogogue, in buffaloes. Indian Veterinary Journal 1969 46(8):718-21.
(3) Sharma, S., Ramji, S., Kumar,i S., et al. Randomized controlled trial of Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari) as a lactogogue in lactational inadequacy. Indian Pediatr 1996;33:675-7.
(4) Dalvi, S., Nadkarni, P., Gupta, K. Effect of Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari) on gastric emptying time in normal healthy volunteers. J Postgrad Med 1990;36:91-4.
(5) Sabnis, P., Gaitonde, B., Jetmalani, M. Effects of alcoholic extracts of Asparagus racemosus on mammary glands of rats. Ind J Expt Bio 1966; 6:55-57.
(6) Goyal, R., Singh, J., Lal, H. Asparagus racemosus--an update. Indian J Med Sci [serial online] 2003 [cited 2005 Aug 3];57:408-14.
Shatavari is not well-known outside of India,so it is not likely to be available in local health food stores. However, it may be in local ethnic grocery stores. It is sold as plain shatavari capsules and also as a product called Lactare. Another option is to buy it online; if you search on Google, you'll see ads for places that sell it in the right hand column where all the paid advertisers pop up.
WARNING: Be extremely cautious about obtaining shatavari or any herb from Asian sources because they carry a higher risk of containing toxic metals.
One company named Ayurceutics recently contacted us to say that they sell Shatavari online and are pleased to ship to addresses in North America. Their products do NOT contain toxic metals. We agreed to provide a link to their site, but note that we do not accept any financial compensation for doing so; providing this link does not constitute an endorsement of their product.
NOTE: If you do not live in the US and are ordering from a US supplier, it is often much less expensive to choose the US Postal Service (USPS) for your carrier than the United Parcel Service (UPS).
Click here to purchase Shatavari from Ayurceutics.