Common Name : Shatavari
Plant Parts Used : Roots and Leaves
The plant is a climber growing to 1-2 m in length. The leaves are like pine-needles, small and uniform. The inflorescence has tiny white flowers, in small spikes. The roots are finger-like, and clustered.
Characteristics and Constituents :
Saponins are present in all species of Asparagus. In a comparative study, various members belonging to this plant species, including A. racemosus, have been investigated for the presence of alkaloids, proteins, starch and tannin. Chemically, the variants from the southern part of India differed from the ones obtained from northern India, in having the A, fraction of the Asparagus glycosides. This fraction was absent in the North Indian species. Mucilage is also present in roots. Diosgenin was shown to occur in A. Racemosus leaves.
Actions and Uses :
The plant's action as a galactogogue has been reported. In a study by Sahnis et al it was shown that in the estrogen-primed rats A. racemosus could cause both increase in the weight of mammary lobulo-alycolar tissue and the milk yield. It was attributed to the action of released corticosteroids or an increase in prolactin. Gaitonde and Jethmalani have observed antioxytocic and anti- ADH activity in the saponin fractions isolated from the roots of A. racemosus.
In a recent study by Sharma et al. Shatavari was shown to possess anabolic properties viz. growth promotion. The authors also consider the plant as an adaptogenic substance.
The plant has been used in ayurveda for various conditions.Its main use has been as a galactogogue (Stanya) to increase milk secretion during lactation. Bhavmishra mentions this use particularly. It is also used as a general tonic, and as an aphrodisiac.
In the doses of the root powder used clinically no adverse reactions have been reported. The bark of the plant is reported to be toxic.