This amazing adaptogenic tonic herb isn't one that I speak much about, but it really ought to be! I wanted to put Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) in the limelight a bit, because it can be tremendously useful and supportive.
I was sat having a coffee in a local cafe some time back, listening to two people sat chatting about the menopause and various herbs: the two that came up were Ashwagandha and Shatavari. Seeing as I've mentioned Ashwagandha previously, I thought it was time to put the spotlight on Shatavari!
The plant can be found across India and the root is a traditional Ayurvedic tonic for hormone health. It means 'she who possesses a hundred husbands' because of its benefit on female hormones and reproduction, but like many herbs it has a multitude of uses, including for digestion, the immune system, mood and as an adaptogenic tonic which is useful during physical and emotional stress.
It's considered a cooling, nervine tonic herb - cooling being a particularly useful property if we are working with hormonal hot flushes! This wonderful herb falls into the category of phytoestrogens, which is a class of herb which contain constituents which behave a bit like oestrogen does in the body. It's important for me to point out that this isn't oestrogen: the constituents have a very similar molecular make up to oestrogen though and so what they are able to do is to bind weakly to our body's oestrogen receptors. If we have a relatively low level of our own body's (endogenous) oestrogen, then these constituents bind weakly to our oestrogen receptors and exhibit an oestrogen-like effect. If we have a relative excess of endogenous oestrogen, then the phytoestrogens exhibit an effect which is weaker than oestrogen. This can help to support regular cycles and potentially have an impact on the perimenopause, too (1).
Not just the phytoestrogenic element, but the adaptogenic tonic element of Shatavari means that it may also have an impact on the physical effects of stress on the body and the resultant disturbance of hormones as a result (2, 3). And you know how much I love anything that helps dial down our stress response!
It's also traditionally used to support milk production post-birth (4): if you've followed me for any time you'll know that my take on galactagogue herbs is that they are often a sticking plaster solution at best and that there are other really important elements in establishing and maintaining the breastfeeding relationship: namely positioning and attachment (boring but so SO important) and decent support to call on for help, guidance and a professional ear if there are underlying issues and reasons which may be impacting breastfeeding (5, 6). Aside from the galactagogue properties, the fact that the herb is a nutritive tonic, means that it's well received at times in your life, like the postpartum, when you need to be nourished, and is in fact often used in South East Asia to help provide nutriment to children.
It's a herb that I love for all of these reasons and more: it's such a nurturing tonic, that I included it in my own range. I created my Nurture powder blend around this superstar, because I wanted to add another power-house adaptogenic tonic to my repertoire. Like Nourish, this is a cacao base (so, sorry to those of you who don't like chocolate) but this also has Moringa and Ginger in. Cacao is rich in iron, magnesium and other minerals, so really restorative in times of depletion, the ginger is added not just for taste, but also for its impact on supporting circulation, digestion, and hormone balance with specific focus on oestrogen (7), and Moringa is chock full of antioxidants and nutrients. Add to this the Shatavari and you have a perfect blend to help balance and support the hormones, and to nourish and nurture the body and mind when you most need it, including for fertility, in the postpartum and for the perimenopause.
For a real supercharged boost, I will often recommend both the Nourish powder AND the Nurture powder bundle, using them on alternate days. I love them as a hot chocolate drink, but I've also had patients mix them into a porridge, yoghurt, or a smoothie. This is a really lovely way to incorporate the power of these tonic herbs into your daily routine, whether you're trying to regulate your cycles, optimise fertility, recover from birth or strengthen and support during the perimenopausal years.
You can also buy refills for the jars (the packaging for these can then be composted!) to make this a more cost effective and sustainable way to get your supplies!
Just like Nourish, Nuture is free from dairy and refined sugars, and is a delicious way to support your wellbeing with herbs. I'd love for you to let me know how you're finding it! If you wanted more tips on reducing stress then please check out my previous post on this, and if you have a complex situation or think you may benefit from working 1:1, then drop me a line and we can chat.
Hoping that you feel wrapped in a hug with Nurture!