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ASPARAGUS (Shatavari) as Multi target Drug in Women
Botanical Name:
                Asparagus racemosus
Kingdom   :Plantae
clade        :Angiosperms
clade        :Monocots
Order        :Asparagales
Family      :Asparagaceae
Subfamily  :Asparagoideae
Genus       :Asparagus
Species     :A. racemosus
Sanskrit     :Shatavari
English      :Indian Asparagus,
                 Hundred Roots,
                 Asparagus roots
Effect on the Doshas:
                Vata: - Pitta: - Kapha: +
Rasa (Taste) :
        Madhura (sweet) ,Tikta (bitter)
Virya (Energy):
        Shita (cold)
Vipak (Post-Digestive Action):
        Madhura
Parts Used:
        Roots (Rhizomes),
        Shatavari root powder and
        Leaves
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy            85 kJ (20 kcal)
Carbohydrates 3.88 g
Sugars            1.88 g
Dietary fiber     2.1 g
Fat                  0.12 g
Protein            2.20 g
Thiamine (Vit. B1)  0.143 mg (11%)
Riboflavin (Vit. B2)  0.141 mg (9%)
Niacin (Vit. B3)       0.978 mg (7%)
Pantothenic acid(B5)0.274 mg (5%)
Vitamin B6              0.091 mg (7%)
Folate (Vit. B9)       52 ?g (13%)
Vitamin C               5.6 mg (9%)
Calcium                 24 mg (2%)
Iron                       2.14 mg (17%)
Magnesium           14 mg (4%)
Phosphorus           52 mg (7%)
Potassium            202 mg (4%)
Zinc                     0.54 mg (5%)
Manganese          0.158 mg
Asparagus racemosus Willd (Liliaceae) known as 'Shatavari' in Ayurveda has the earliest mention of the use of plant in medicine is found in the Rigveda which was written between 4500 and 1600 BC. Shatavari means "who possesses a hundred husbands or acceptable to many". In Ayurveda this amazing herb is known as the "Queen of Herbs" because it promotes love and devotion. [36]. Shatavari is the main Ayurvedic remunerative tonic for the female, as is Withania (Aswagandha) for the male. Shatavari is however, used for sexual debility and infertility in both sexes. It is also used for menopausal symptoms and to increase lactation [37].

Shatavari is a medicine for long time invited by the western population as food, produces odorous urine from asparagus was a universal human characteristic. White asparagus, known asspargel, is cultivated by denying the plants light while they are being grown. Less bitter than the green variety, it is very popular in the Netherlands, France, Belgiumand Germany where 57,000 tones (61% of consumer demands) are produced annually.[23] Purple asparagus differs from its green and white counterparts, having high sugar and low fiber levels. Purple asparagus was originally developed in Italy and commercialized under the variety name Violetto d'Albenga [24]. Asparagus is grown extensively prefers a loose, light, deep, sandy soil; the depth should be 3 ft, the plants are grown in equidistant rows 3 to 4 ft. apart. It is used even in veterinary medicine. A trial on broilers express, Hb, total serum protein, albumin and globulin revealed significant (P< 0.01) with the use of SRP (shatavari root powder) [32]. Asparagus gonoclados Baker, an important medicinal plant belonging to the family Liliaceae (sensu lato) is a substitute of Shatavari. Presence of Shatavarin IV in the alcohol and aqueous extracts is reported in this species for the first time. [35].

Asparagus racemosus (Asparagaceae) is an important medicinal plant of tropical and subtropical India. Its medicinal usage has been reported in the Indian and British Pharmacopoeias and in traditional systems of medicine such as Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha. It is a well known Ayurvedic Rasayana which prevents ageing, increase longevity, impart immunity, improve mental function, vigor and add vitality to the body. It is also used in nervous disorders, dyspepsia, tumors, inflammation, neuropathy and hepatopathy. [1] The plant finds use in about 64 Ayurvedic formulations which include traditional formulations such as 'Shatavari kalpa', 'Phalaghrita', 'Vishnu taila', etc. In Ayurveda, A. racemosus has been described as absolutely safe for long term use, even during pregnancy and lactation. LD [50] of the product lactare has not been assessed since it did not produce mortality even up to the oral dosages of 64 gm/kg [3]. Asparagus racemosus remains a species with tremendous potential and although considerable work has been done to exploit the biological activity and medicinal applications of this plant, countless possibilities for investigation still remain in relatively newer areas of its function. In nature, the species is propagated through seeds in March-April. The plant is now considered 'endangered' in its natural habitat. Therefore, the need for conservation of this plant is crucial [22].

The major active constituents of Asparagus racemosus are steroidal saponins (Shatavarins I-IV). Isoflavones, Asparagamine (an alkaloid substance similar to aspirin), Racemosol, Polysaccharides, mucilage, vitamins A, B1, B2 , C, E, Mg, P, Ca, Fe, and folic acid present in roots. Other primary chemical constituents of Asparagus are essential oils, asparagine, arginine, tyrosine, flavonoids (kaempferol, quercetin, and rutin), resin, and tannin, Steroidal saponins, known as shatavarins I-IV. Shatavarin I is the major glycoside with 3 glucose and rhamnose moieties attached to sarsasapogenin, Isoflavones including 8-methoxy-5,6,4'- trihydroxyisoflavone 7-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, Asparagamine, a polycyclic alkaloid, a cyclic hydrocarbon (9,10- dihydrophenanthrene), [2].
In Gastrointestinal tract, decreased volume and increased pH of the secretions in drug treated rats suggest a reduced responsiveness of the gastric parietal cells to secretogogues and narcotizing agents [4,5]. Cytoprotective effect has been suggested to be due to increased output of mucus. It contracts the smooth muscles of stomach without affecting peristaltic movement. These actions were found to be similar to that of acetylcholine and were blocked by atropine.

Neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, excitotoxicity and oxidative stress are the major mechanisms of neuronal cell death.[21] Extract of A. racemosus roots against kainic acid (KA)- induced hippocampal and striatal neuronal damage in mice showed an enhancement in GPx activity and GSH content, and reduction in membranal lipid peroxidation and protein carbonyl.

Methanolic extract of roots of Asparagus racemosus wild (Liliaceae) was investigated for its reversal effect on memory deficits in mice. Two doses the extract (75 and 150 mg/kg, i.p.) were administered for seven consecutive days. Scopolamine (0.4 mg/kg, i.p.), sodium nitrite (75 mg/kg, i.p.) were used to induce memory deficits (amnesia). Elevated plus maze (EPM) and Morris water maze (MWM) were employed to evaluate short and long term memory respectively. Scopolamine and sodium nitrite treatment produced significant impairment of elevated plus maze and Morris water maze performance indicating impairment of memory. The methanolic roots extract (150 mg/kg, i.p.) significantly (p<0.05) improved EPM and MWM performance of scopolamine and sodium nitrite treated mice. There sults indicated potential of the plant in relieving memory deficits [38].

Immunomodulatory activities reveal to produce leucocytosis and predominant neutrophilia along with enhanced phagocytic activity of the macrophages and polymorphs. It has reported the revival of macrophage chemotaxis and interleukin-I (IL-I) and tumor necrosis factor a(TNFa). The extract has been found to enhance both, humoral and cell mediated immunity [10]. Adaptogenic or Rasayana effects studied using a model of cisplatin induced alterations show significant (p < 0.05) adaptogenic activity in that it was able to reverse chronic stress-induced biochemical, physiological and behavioural perturbations and was qualitatively comparable to Panax ginseng.
A. racemosus root at higher concentration (400 mg/kg body weight) showed significant aphrodisiac activity on male wistar albino rats, on the other hand, hydro-alcoholic extract at lower dose (200 mg/kg. body weight) and aqueous extract (400 mg/kg body weight) showed moderate aphrodisiac property. [20] The parameters observed during the study were mount frequency, mount latency, intromission frequency, intromission latency, ano-genital sniffing and genital grooming.

In spite of being a rejuvenating herb it is beneficial in female infertility, as it increases libido, cures inflammation of sexual organs and even moistens dry tissues of the sexual organs, enhances folliculogenesis and ovulation, prepares the womb for conception, prevents miscarriages, acts as post partum tonic by increasing lactation and normalizing the uterus and the changing hormones [29]. Asparagus racemosus extracts also inhibited contraction, induced by spasmogens [8]whereas alcoholic extract was found to produce a specific block of pitocin induced contractions, confirming that shatavari can be used as uterine sedative. Further, a glycoside, Shatavarin I, has been found to be responsible for the competitive block of oxytocin-induced contraction of rat [9].

Feed supplementation with 5 g% and 10 g% Asparagus racemosus resulted in a significant decline in plasma and hepatic lipid profiles [27]. Amylase and lipase activities are found in the root of Asparagus racemosus. Oral administration of ethanolic extract of Asparagus racemosus (EEAR) 200 and 400 mg/kg/b.w for 21 days significantly decreased the blood glucose level, fluid intake and considerably increased the body weight of diabetic induced rats [33].

Asparagus racemosus has an antimicrobial activity against common pathogens, but when it is combined with Antibacterial drug like Roxythromycin, Cefixime and Levofloxacin the combinations help in - inhibiting growth of Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermis, Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis. The medicinal importance of the Asparagus racemosus in the prevention of aerobic and anaerobic bacterial infections is obvious considering the growing number of these developing resistance organisms to conventional antibiotics. [34]. Different concentrations (50, 100, 150 mcg/ mL) of the methanol extract of the roots of Asparagus racemosus showed considerable in vitro antibacterial efficacy against Escherichia coli, Shigella dysenteriae, Shigella sonnei, Shigella flexneri, Vibrio cholerae, Salmonella typhi, Salmonella typhimurium, Pseudomonas putida, Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus. The effects produced by the methanol extract were compared with chloramphenicol [39].  The antimicrobial activity may be due to 9,10-Dihydrophenanthrene [40].

It has Antihepatotoxic [10], Antineoplastic [11] and produce positive ionotropic and chronotropic effect [12]. It cause dilatory effect on bronchial musculature [13] and found to have slight diuretic effect in rats and hypoglycemic effect in rabbits [14]. A study substantiates in many methods Ayurveda said treatment of diarrhoea and dysentery with A. racemosus [16].  The extracts also significantly inhibited the PGE2 induced intestinal fluid accumulation (enteropooling). PGE2 also inhibit the absorption of glucose, a major stimulus to intestinal absorption of water and electrolytes (17). In some cases, it has been found that anti-diarrhoeal activity is associated with the antimicrobial (18). A. racemosus root exhibited significant anti-microbial activity against Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium and Vibrio cholerae. (19). Acetone extracts of A. racemosus is active against A. hydrophila, P.fluorescens and K. pneumonia. Acetone and chloroform extract of A. racemosus showed minimum inhibitory zone (0.6 cm/200?l) and chloroform extract of A.racemosus showed higher inhibition (1.9cm/200?l) against [15].
Effect on Women
It has been shown to increase milk production in females complaining of deficient milk secretion [6]. Gradual decrease in milk secretion, on withdrawal of the drug suggested that the increase in milk secretion was due to drug therapy. However, Sharma et al [7] did not observe any increase in prolactin levels in females complaining of secondary lactational failure with A. racemosus suggesting that it has no lactogenic effect.

Phytoestrogenic effects are found as Mammotropic and/or lactogenic influence rendering the mammary epithelium refractory to the carcinogen Action of released corticoids or prolactin in Breast cancer, Increases the serum oestrogen and Phytoestrogen binds directly to the oestrogen receptor without enhancing the endogenous oestrogen levels. Apart from it makes local healing of the endometrium stimulated by endometrial microvascular thrombosis. In testes diameter of all germ cells except spermatids was found to increase. 'U-3107' or EveCareŽ (containing 32 mg A. racemosus extract per 5ml syrup) is a herbal preparation formulated by the Himalaya Drug Co., Bangalore, to treat various menstrual disorders and threatened abortion. Rats fed on a 2% Asparagus racemosus diet showed a significant (p < 0.05) decline in both tumour incidence and mean number of tumours per tumour bearing animal. It is found good for the Women undergoing menopause.  The flip side in the use of phytoestrogens is corroborated by a study conducted by which indicated certain teratogenic effects in rats after the administration of methanolic extract of Asparagus racemosus (ARM) [28].

Methanolic extract of A. racemosus roots (ARM; 100 mg/kg/day for 60 days) showed teratological disorders in terms of increased resorption of fetuses, gross malformations e.g. swelling in legs and intrauterine growth retardation with a small placental size in Charles Foster rats [31].ARM administration manifested as delay of various pre- and post-natal developmental disorders. Prenatal study satisfies first 3 criteria of teratogenicity i.e. fetal resorption and stunting in size, malformations manifested only on gross examination. Post-natal study confirmed the fourth criterion i.e. functional or behavioral disorders15. ARM though safe in young or adult rats, had produced teratological effect in pre-natal and post-natal study [30].

(Uses described in folk medicine, not supported by experimental or clinical data)
1] Abdominal discomfort: Burn the tuber of Asparagus racemosus. Grind this burnt tuber along with seven numbers of black pepper and make powder of it. Take this powder orally with a glass of water once only. (Or) Extract 10g juice from a tuber of Asparagus racemosus and mix 10 g honey to this juice. Take this orally once only.
2] Acidity: Grind the tubers of Asparagus racemosus to make paste. Take this paste orally with a glass of water in empty stomatch thrice a day until cured. (or) Grind together the tubers of Asparagus racemosus along with two numbers of fruits of Emblica officinalis to make paste. Take this paste orally once a day with a glass of cold water.
3] Aneuria: Extract juice from the tuber of Asparagus racemosus. Mix this juice with a glass of water (in which sugar candy is already dissolved). Take one glass of this water orally twice a day until cured.
4] Bile vomiting: Grind 50 g tuber of Asparagus racemosus and make a paste. Apply this paste on the head. Again grind 10 g tuber of this plant, make a paste and take this paste orally with a glass of water. Continue this process four times a day for three days.
5] Burning sensation while urinating: Grind the tubers of Asparagus racemosus and make paste. Take this paste orally with 50 g sugar twice a day until cured.
6] Diabetes: Grind together the tuber of Asparagus racemosus with the roots of Elephantopus scaber, fruits of ipomoea digitata and 50 g sugar candy to make a paste. Take this paste orally with a glass of water once a day for seven days.
7] Dropsy: Grind the tuber of Asparagus racemosus and make a paste of it. Take this paste orally with a glass of water twice a day until cured.
8] Fever: Burn the tuber of Asparagus racemosus. Grind this burnt tuber along with 7 nos of black pepper and make a paste. Take this paste orally once a day with a glass of boiled water until cured. (or) Grind together the tuber of Asparagus racemosus with 20 g raw turmeric to make a paste. Extract juice from this paste. Take one teaspoonful of this juice orally once a day until cured.
9] Headache: Grind tubers of Asparagus racemosus and make a paste. Warm this paste. First massage castor oil on the forehead, then apply this lukewarm paste on the forehead once a day. (or) Extract juice from the entire plant of Asparagus racemosus. Massage this juice on the forehead twice a day for two days.
10] Lactation: Grind together 5 g tuber of Asparagus racemosus with 21 black pepper to make a paste. Take this paste orally with a glass of water in empty stomatch twice a day for three days to increase lactation.
11] Memory power: Grind the tubers of Asparagus racemosus and make a paste. Take this paste orally with a glass of cow's milk twice a day for three days to increase memory.
12] Menstrual disorder: Grind together the roots of Asparagus racemosus with 25 g of parboiled rice to make a paste. Prepare a pancake out of this paste. Take this cake orally (one cake each time) twice a day for three days. N: B: Take this medicine one or two days after the menstrual cycle starts.
13] Pyorrhea: Keep three tubers of Asparagus racemosus inside three unripe bananas. Burn these bananas in fire. Take these burnt bananas (one at time) thrice a day for one day only.
14] Scrotal hydrocele: Extract juice from the tuber or Asparagus racemosus. Take one teaspoonful of this juice orally twice a day for three days. Pediatric dose: one teaspoonful of this juice once a day for three days
15] Spermatorrhoea: Grind the tubers of Asparagus racemosus to make paste. Take this paste orally with a glass of water (in which sugar candy has already been dissolved) twice a day for three days. (or) Grind together the tubers of Asparagus racemosus with the root of Smilax zeylanica and make a paste. Make small pills out of this paste and sundry them. Take one tablet orally (each time) thrice a day for a month.
16] Stone formation in kidney: Grind the tubers of Asparagus racemosus and make a paste. Take this paste orally with a glass of water twice a day for five days.

Shatavari Side effects [25]
1. Sensitivity to asparagus may cause skin reactions and pulmonary allergic reactions in some people.
2. Patients with edema due to kidney disorder or impaired heart function should not be using shatavari.
3. One should keep watch on possible weight gain while using Shatavari.
References
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[3] P. C. Sharma, M. B. Yelne, T. J. Dennis, Data base on medicinal plants used in Ayurveda. Delhi: Documentation & publication Division, Central Council for Research in Ayurveda & Siddha, 2000, Vol. I, p.no.- 418-430.
[4]P. Kishore, P. N. Pandey, S. N. Pandey, S. Dash, Treatment of duodenal ulcer with Asparagus racemosus Linn. J. Res. Indian Med. Yog. Homeo., 1980, 15: 409-415.
[5] S. A. Dahanukar, S. G. Date, S. M. Karandikar, Cytoprotective effect of Terminalia chebula and Asparagus racemosus on gastric mucosa. Indian Drugs, 1983, 21: 442-445.
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[8] M. H. Jetmalani, P. B. Sabins, B. B. Gaitonde, A study on the pharmacology of various extracts of Shatavari- Asparagus racemosus (Willd). J. Res. Ind. Med., 1967, 2: 1-10.
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[13] R. N. Roy, S. Bhagwager, S. R. Chavan, N. K. Dutta, Preliminary pharmacological studies on extracts of Root of Asparagus racemosus (Satavari), Willd, Lilliaceae. J. Res. Ind. Med., 1971, 6: 132-138.
[14] A. K. Nadkarni, Indian Materia Medica. Bombay: Popular Book Depot, 1954, Vol I, pp.153-155.
[15 M.Sithi Jameela et.al. Antibacterial Activities of three medicinal plant extract against Fish Pathogens, International Journal of Biological Technology (2011) 2(2):57-60.
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[17] Jaffe, B.M., Prostaglandins and serotonin: Nonpeptide diarrhoeogenic hormones. World J Surg, 3: 565-578, 1979.
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Republic of Congo (DRC). Phytomedicine, 7: 167-172, 2000.
[19] Mandal, S.C., Nandy, A., Pal, M. and Saha, B.P., Evaluation of antibacterial activity of Asparagus racemosus Wild root. Phytother Res, 14: 118-119, 2000.
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[22] Nishritha Bopana et.al., Asparagus racemosus Ethnopharmacological evaluation and conservation needs, Journal of Ethnopharmacology 110 (2007) 1-15
[23] Molly Spence. "Asparagus: The King of Vegetables" (DOC). German Agricultural Marketing Board. Retrieved 2007-02-26.
[24] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asparagus_racemosus
[25] http://www.gits4u.com/agri/agri5shatavri.htm
[26] http://www.gits4u.com/agri/agri5shatavri.htm
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[28] V. Ashajyothi, et.al. ASPARAGUS RACEMOSUS - A PHYTOESTROGEN, IJPT | December 2009 | Vol. 1 | Issue No.1 | 36-47
[29] Komal Sharma et.al. Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari): A Versatile Female Tonic,  International Journal of Pharmaceutical & Biological Archives 2011; 2(3):855-863
[30] Singh S, Teratogenic mechanisms involved in producing birth defects, J Anat Soc India, 31 (1982) 66.
[31] R K Goel et.al.  Teratogenicity of Asparagus racemosus Willd. root, a herbal medicine, Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, Vol. 44, July 2006, pp 570-573
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[33] Ramachandran Vadivelan et.al. Hypoglycemic, antioxidant and hypolipidemic activity of Asparagus racemosus on streptozotocin-induced diabetic in rats, Advances in Applied Science Research, 2011, 2 (3): 179-185
[34] M.R. PRAJAPATI AND P.J. VYAS, EFFECT OF MIXING ANTIBIOTICS WITH ASPARAGUS RACEMOSUS AND THEIR ANTI-BACTERIAL ACTIVITY, Life sciences Leaflets 13:443 - 448, 2011.
[35] V Madhavan et.al. Pharmacognostical studies on the root tubers of Asparagus gonoclados
Baker -Alternate source for the Ayurvedic drug Shatavari, Indian Journal of Natural Products and Resources,Vol. 1 (1), March 2010, pp 57-62
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[37] Thakur R.S., Puri H.S., Hussain A.: Major medicinal plants of India. 78 and 81 . Pub. Cent Inst Med. Arom. Plant. Res.pp531 ( 1989).
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(Liliaceae) Root extract on Memory deficits of Mice", Int J. Drug Dev. & Res., April-June 2011, 3(2): 314-323
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The Author, Dr. K. Shiva Rama Prasad is working as Vice-Dean, Ayurveda in MAHATMA GANDHI AYURVED COLLEGE HOSPTIAL & RESEARCH CENTRE, SAWANGI (Meghe), DATTA MEGHE INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL SCIENCES, Wardha, Maharastra