USE OF SHATAVARI (ASPARAGUS RACEMOSUS) AS A
GALACTOPOIETIC AND THERAPEUTIC HERB- A REVIEW
Santosh Kumar, R. K. Mehla and A.K. Dang*
Dairy Cattle Breeding Division, * Dairy Cattle Physiology Division
National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, Haryana- 132001, India.
Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari) is recommended in the Ayurveda for the prevention and
treatment of reproductive disorders of women such as sexual debility, ammenorrhea, dysmenorrhea,
dysfunctional uterine bleeding, endometriosis, gonorrhea, prolapse of uterus etc. It is also
recommended as a galactogogue in case of lactational inadequacy. Asparagus racemosus has been
successfully used by some medical practitioners as an anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and
immunomodulator for many infectious diseases. Asparagus racemosus can also improve the milk
production and reproduction capacity of dairy animals. The use of Asparagus racemosus can also
boost the immune system and consequently prevent the infection of the udder and reproductive
organs of cows. It can also be effectively used to reduce the stress of dairy animals and improve their
productivity thus producing clean and healthy milk from them.
The ancient history of India is very rich
in herbal medicine and one of the oldest
surviving system of health care in the world
and known as Ayurveda derived from its
ancient Sanskrit roots ‘ayur’ (life) and ‘ved’
(knowledge). It offers a rich, comprehensive
outlook to a healthy life.
Originated from India around 5000 years ago
it has now spreaded its essence across the
globe and has occupied a prime position in
health care systems. The Ayurveda is a natural
remedy and totally based on herbs. These herbs
are being used from Pre-Vedic times because,
they are safe to use, cheap and easily available,
have no side effect and no residual effect in
milk (Krishna et al. 2005). As the demand of
clean milk production increases, there is a need
to exploit the use of these herbs, which not only
improve milk yield but also has beneficial effect
on the health of consumers.
Apart from animals several important
benefits in human being especially in women
haw been reposed. Hawever, Very few attempt
have been made to explore the importance of
this herb in the dairy animal to improve the
productive and reproductive performance as it
has been reported in women. This review
describes various pharmacological properties
of the root extract of Asparagus racemosus
evaluated/reported so far in dairy animals.
Characteristics of Asparagus racemosus:
Asparagus racemosus is a woody
climber growing to 1-2 m in height. The leaves
are like pine needles, small and uniform and
the flowers are white and have small spikes.
This plant belongs to the genus Asparagus
which has recently moved from the subfamily
Asparagae in the family Liliaceae to a newly
created family Asparagaceae. Its habitat is
common at low altitudes in shade and in
tropical climates throughout India, Asia,
Australia and Africa. Out of several species of
‘Asparagus’ grown in India, Asparagus
racemosus is most commonly used in
indigenous medicine. Locally this plant is called
shatawar in Hindi; in Central Himalayan region
this plant is called Satmuli (shata means
hundred and muli means roots). In Sanskrit this
plant is called shatavari which means ‘able to
have one hundred husbands’ and in Ayurveda
this amazing herb is known as the “queen of
herbs” because it promotes love, special affinity
to women health and devotion and as it
increases the capacity for lovemaking (Simon,
1997). Shatavari is mentioned under six
important Rasayana in Ayurveda and
Agric. Rev., 29 (2) : 132 - 138, 2008
Vol. 29, No. 2, 2008
Rasayana are those plant drugs which promote
general well being of an individual by increasing
cellular vitality or resistance. (Goel and Sairam,
2002) and this herb is very important herb for
women’s overall health and vitality and as an
Asparagus racemosus has been widely
used in folk medicine and is today a highly
commercially important target species. It has
been indicated as uterine tonic, thus it cleanses,
nourishes, and strengthens the female
reproductive system and so is traditionally used
for PMS and sexual debility (Frawley, 1989),
A, ammenorrhea, Dysmenorrhea,
Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding (Swarup and
Umadevi, 1998; Chopra and Simon, 2000),
menopause and pelvic inflammatory disease
like endometriosis (Hemprabha et al. 2001;
Prasad et al. 2002) and gonorrhea (Thomsen,
2002). It also supports deeper tissue and builds
blood and so it helps to remove infertility,
prepare the womb for conception, prevents
miscarriage and acts as a post-partum tonic
where it helps to increase lactation and
normalize the uterus, prolapse of uterus and
the balancing reproductive hormones level
(Tirtha, 1998). The other traditional uses is in
arthritis (Chaudhary and Singh, 1965),
diarrhoea, dysentery (Roy et al. 1971), edema,
rheumatism, chronic and common fevers,
aphrodisiac, cooling tonic, antispasmodic
(Nadkarni, 1976; Singh and Ali. 1994),
dyspepsia, indigestion (Dalvi et al. 1990), thirst,
sunstroke (Kapoor, 1990), rejuvenator,
promoter of strength, breast milk and semen
(Dash, 1991), long-term treatment of diabetes,
cough (Mandal et al. 2000b), and peptic ulcers
(Sairam et al. 2003; Dharmani and Gautam,
2006). Shatavari is also used for enhancing milk
production in the freshly parturient and
lactating woman (Chopra and Simon, 2000).
The general pharmacology of shatavari are
galactagogue and mammogenic, it enhance the
blood prolactin level and stimulates the cellular
division of mammary gland (Jetmalani et al.
1967; Sabins et al. 1968; Pandey et al. 2005),
estrogenic (Mitra et al. 1999; Pandey et al.
2001; Prasad et al. 2002), immunostimulant
and immunomodulator (Dahanukar and Thatte
1997; Rege et al. 1999; Muruganandan et al.
2000), anabolic (Sharma et al. 1986), antistress
(Rege et al. 1989; Kamat et al. 2000),
hypoglycemic (Kar et al. 1999), antibacterial,
anti-amoebic, antifungal (Bhatnagar et al.
1961; Mandal et al. 2000a; Nair and Chanda,
2006), cancer and chemopreventive (Dhar et
al. 1968), antitumor activity (Seena et al. 1993;
Dhuley, 1997), gastroprotective /anti-
ulcerogenic (Sairam et al. 2003), antiviral
(Rajbhandari et al. 2001), antioxidant (Kamat
et al. 2000; Wiboonpun et al. 2004; Visavadiya
et al. 2005).
Shatavari having more than 50
organic chemical compounds of different
groups such as steroidal saponins, glycosides,
alkaloids, polysaccharides, mucilage,
racemosol and isoflavones that possess wide
range of medicinal properties (Thomsen,
Asparagus racemosus and Dairy Animals:
Attempts have been made to explore
the importance of this herb in the dairy animals
to improve the productive and reproductive
performance as it has been reported in women,
is to be describes in this review.
Asparagus racemosus as galactogogue:
The galactopoietic effect of satawar
has been reported since long back and it has
been reported that the supplementation of fresh
root of shatavari at the rate of ½ kg per day at
the time of milking with concentrate increase
milk yield of buffaloes significantly (p<0.01)
(Patel and Kantikar, 1969). Similar result have
been also reported in case of freshly calved
crossbred cattle that oral supplementation of
root powder of Satawar (Shatavari) @ 100 gms
per animal at alternate day improved milk
production significantly (p< 0.05) (Berhane
and Singh, 2002).
Asparagus racemosus as Feed Supplement:
Asparagus racemosus may constitute
a very important component of as feed
supplement in the animal diets because of their
higher availability of nutrients. Crude protein,
crude fiber, ether extract, nitrogen free extract
and ash content have been analyzed and found
that this herb is very rich in nitrogen free extract
and minerals like Ca, Mg, Fe, Cu, Zinc etc which
is described in the Table1.
Asparagus racemosus and digestive system:
Asparagus racemosus strengthens the
digestive system it prevents from many digestive
system related disorders. Asparagus racemosus
is one of the sitavirya drugs and has been cited
in treatment of peptic ulcer diseases by
Chakradutta, a connotation on Charaka
samhita (Goel et al. 2006) and susrutha samhita
(Muralidhar et al. 1993). The anti-ulcerogenic
activity of methanolic extract of roots of A.
racemosus (100mg/kg BW p.o. 15 days) has
been reported that it significantly reduce the
ulcer index, volume of gastric secretion, free
acidity and total acidity (Bhatanagar et al. 2005;
sairam et al. 2003)
Asparagus racemosus and Digestive system
and digestibility in Dairy Animals:
The powdered dried root of A.
racemosus is used in Ayurveda for dyspepsia,
indigestion and dysentery. In Ayurveda, A.
racemosus has also been mentioned for the
treatment of ulcerative disorders of stomach
and Parinama Sula, a clinical entity akin to the
duodenal ulcer diseases (Goel and Sairam
2002). Oral administration of powdered dried
root of A. racemosus has been found to
promote digestibility and dry matter intake in
healthy as well as in problematic animals
without disturbing rumen parameters with
decreasement in protozoan counts which work
as a predator for beneficial bacteria (Pradhan
1995; Barhane and Singh 2002).
Plant DM CP EE CF Ash NFE Reference
A. racemosus 91.0 3.85 0.66 8.32 13.15 74.02 Berhane M. (2000)
Plants Macro-minerals g/100g Micro-minerals micro-g/g Reference
A. racemosus Ca Mg K Fe Cu Zn Mn Co Cr Kar & Choudhary, (1994)
0.22 0.4 2.5 0.005 5.29 53.15 19.98 22 1.81
Mineral contents in different part of Asparagus racemosus (Dry plant material figures in g/100gms): are given below in
we Table 2
Element Root Stem Leaves Twigs Flowers Seeds
Ca 0.192 0.115 0.115 0.417 0.424 0.022
Mg 0.100 0.043 1.300 0.430 0.340 0.050
K 2.06 1.63 1.29 3.47 4.79 1.78
Fe 0.004 0.002 0.010 0.004 0.007 0.003
Figures in microgram/gm
Cu 3.28 3.45 3.13 4.33 13.03 4.55
Zn 39.17 30.04 64.95 36.38 117.97 30.39
Mn 9.73 5.50 48.29 21.82 28.14 6.41
Co 12.41 18.40 29.46 17.91 43.46 10.41
(Choudhary and Kar, 1992)
Vol. 29, No. 2, 2008
Asparagus racemosus and Reproductive
Satavari (A. racemosus) is known as
“hundred husbands” in Sanskrit for its
beneficial effects in women and reproductive
function. Asparagus racemosus is well known
for its effects on the female reproductive system
and used in all female related problems such
as PMS and sexual debility (Frawley, 1989), ,
ammenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, dysfunctional
uterine bleeding (Swarup and Umadevi, 1998;
Chopra and Simon, 2000), menopause and
pelvic inflammatory disease like endometriosis
(Hemprabha et al. 2001; Prasad et al. 2002)
and gonorrhea (Thomsen, 2002). It also
supports deeper tissue and builds blood and
so it helps to remove infertility, prepare the
womb for conception, prevents miscarriage and
acts as a post-partum tonic where it helps to
increase lactation and normalize the uterus,
prolapse of Uterus and the balancing
reproductive hormones level (Tirtha, 1998;
Swarup and Umadevi 1998; Mitra et al. 1999;
Hemprabha et al. 2001; Prasad et al. 2002).
Asparagus racemosus also works as stimulant
of Endometrium and Ovarian Tissues,
regulating menstruation and ovulation, balance
hormonal level (TSH, ESTROGEN, FSH, LH)
and improved the Conception rate
(64%vs28%) in women (Kumar et al. 2001).
The alcoholic extract of Asparagus racemosus
did not show any anti fertility effect and all
treated animals delivered normal litter in rat
(Roy et al. 1971).
This amazing herb is not fully explored
scientifically in dairy animal to improve the
reproduction. However, it has been reported
that supplementation of Asparagus racemosus
(100 g at alternate day) led 100% estrus and
75% conception in crossbred cattle within 90
days of calving. (Berhane, 2000)
Asparagus racemosus and Udder Health:
Asparagus racemosus are helped in
division of lobuloalveolar tissue which are
destroyed after every let down of milk. The
effects of intramuscular administration (250mg/
kg) of the crude alcoholic extract of the root
were studied in post partum, estrogen-primed
and non-primed rats. The extract increased the
weight of mammary glands in post partum and
estrogen-primed rats and the uterine weight in
estrogen-primed group. The increase in the
weight of adrenals coupled with the depletion
of ascorbic acid suggested the release of
pituitary ACTH. Estrogen- primed rats receiving
the extract showed well-developed
lobuloalveolar tissue with milk secretion. The
mechanism of action of the extract may be
through a direct action on the mammary gland
or through the pituitary or pituitary adrenal axis
due to the secretion of prolactin and ACTH
(Jetmalani et al. 1967; Sabins et al. 1968). A.
racemosus can also be helped in the mastitis
prevention through its anti-microbial properties.
The main causal organisms of mastitis are
streptococci, Coliform (E. coli), Klebsiella,
Pseudomonas, Proteus sp. etc (Singh 1991)
and alcoholic extract of the root was found to
possess in vitro antibacterial activity against
mentioned mastitis causing bacteria such as
streptococci, Coliform (E. coli), Klebsiella,
Pseudomonas (Bhatnagar et al. 1961; Ahmed
et al. 1998).
Asparagus racemosus and immune system:
Asparagus racemosus is a strong
immunomodulator and it stimulates the
macrophages and neutrophils (Thatte and
Dahanukar 1989). The effect of the
pretreatment of the decoction of the root 100
mg /kg/day for 15 days orally was evaluated
against E. coli induced peritonitis in mice and
results indicated 50 % mortality at 16hrs as
compared to 100 % in the control animals, thus
suggesting an immunomodulating property
(Thatte et al. 1987).
The immunotherapeutic modulation
of intraperitoneal adhesions induced by caecal
rubbing by the plant 200 mg/kg as total extract
administered orally for l5days in experimental
rats was studied. The peritoneal macrophages
obtained from normal rats exhibited 32 ± 1.77
% phagocytosis while those receiving the plant
extract showed a significant increase in
phagocytic activity 53 ± 5.78 % of
macrophages (Rege et al. 1989).
Immunoadjuvant potential of Asparagus
racemosus aqueous root extract was evaluated
in experimental animals immunized with
diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP) vaccine.
Oral administration of test material at 100 mg/
kg per day dose for 15 days resulted significant
increase (P = 0.0052) in antibody titers to
Bordtella pertussis as compared to untreated
(control) animals (Ray Sahelian, 2004; Gautam
et al. 2004)
Asparagus racemosus as an Antioxidant:
Antioxidants are intimately involved in
the prevention of cellular damage - the
common pathway for cancer, aging, and a
variety of diseases. Asparagus racemosus
possess antioxidant properties. Methanolic
extract (100mg/kg BW p. o.) given to orally for
15 days and it increase the antioxidant defense,
that is, enzymes superoxidase dimutase,
catalase and ascorbic acid, increase significantly
whereas a significantly decrease in lipid
peroxidation (Bhatanagar et al. 2005). The anti
oxidant properties was found due to presence
of Isoflavons specially racemofuran,
asparagamine A and racemosol (Wiboonpun
et al. 2004).
Asparagus racemosus as Adaptogen:
Adoptability is probably the most
distinct characteristics of the life in animal
kingdom. Dr. Hans Seyle define stress as a the
sum of all non specific response of the body to
any external stimuli acting up on it. Perhaps
adoptability is the single most important
property of animals and it found naturally in
all the animals more or less. (Azmathulal et al.
2006). The dairy animals are directly more
exposed to the environment and suffer severely
to environmental stress. Some time it increase
beyond the limit and consequently reduction
in productivity and reproductivity in terms of
quality and quantity both. There are few places
in the world and none in India where the natural
climate continuously remain optimum for dairy
animals. Therefore, it is a dire need that some
herbal supplementary measure should be
adopted with stress remover managemental
practices to overcome the stress effect
effectively. Asparagus racemosus one of the
best adoptogenic herb, which can be easily
used in dairy animal. As it proved that
supplementation of standardize extract of
Asparagus racemosus along with some other
herbs (EuMil 100mg/kg BW p.o. 14 days)
normalized the perturbed regional nor-
adrenaline, dopamine, and 5-
hydroxytryptamine concentration, induced by
chronic stress (Bhattacharya et al. 2002;
Muruganandan et al. 2002; Azmathulal et al.
Asparagus racemosus and Anabolic Action:
The decoction of the Asparagus
racemosus root in a dose of 100 mg/kg BW for
a varying period of 4 week to 8 months showed
growth promoting effects in rats. The decoction
treated animals also showed a better weight
gain 81.19 % as compared to the control
animals 67.9 % in rat. It however, had no
adverse effect on the progeny of treated
animals. The growth promoting effect was
indicative of its anabolic effect and ascribed to
its adaptogenic substances (Sharma et al.
Ayurveda has been practiced for
thousand of years in India with great success.
Uses of Asparagus racemosus for human being
is already well documented and support its
therapeutic use as a multi-purpose medicinal
agent. But, only a few studies have been done
on dairy animals of this herb which are of
pharmacological and chemical type. But,
Vol. 29, No. 2, 2008
growing human awareness and demand of
chemical residues free and clean milk, there is
a need to carry bio-chemical work and more
detailed studies on dairy animals (K. Santosh,
2007). Utilization of this herb will not only
improve the reproductive efficiency and health
of our animals but also support the farmer’s income
through production of more milk per animal.
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