In Ayurveda, the traditional Indian science of medicine, anxiety and menopause have something in common: they are characterized by increased “vata,” or the air element in our bodies. Ayurveda suggests that the fall season is a time of elevated vata, which might explain why we tend to feel a little blue during this time of year.
What’s more, the ending of summer and hormonal changes can mean elevated “pitta,” or the fire element in our bodies. Menopausal symptoms like hot flashes are also characterized by increased pitta. Luckily, Ayurveda proposes many solutions that help to bring our bodies back into balance. One medicinal herb called shatavari is particularly powerful when used to treat both vata and pitta imbalances, especially for women and our (ahem) unique challenges.
Otherwise known as asparagus racemosus, shatavari is a species of asparagus that grows natively in India. Shatavari is one of the most notable herbs in Ayurvedic medicine and has been used for hundreds of years to treat female reproductive imbalances (which are characterized by increased pitta) and stress-related conditions (characterized by increased vata) like anxiety and depression.
When it comes to the female reproductive system, things can get tricky in more ways than one. In Ayurveda, conditions like PCOS and other hormonal imbalances are treated with shatavari, and some modern research backs this up. Shatavari (among other herbs) was tested for efficacy in treating symptoms of menopause during a small 2018 study. By the end of the 12-week study, the women taking shatavari reported significant reductions in hot flashes and night sweats, which coincides with the Ayurvedic idea that shatavari reduces heat in the body. Interesting, right?
Anxiety can be a symptom of menopause or a problem all its own. Regardless of the cause, it can take a real toll on your life. Shatavari has shown to have a calming effect on the body. In one animal study, taking shatavari showed to have antidepressant effects by affecting neurotransmitters in the brain. Another study suggested that taking shatavari affected gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and serotonin levels, both of which play a role in anxiety.
So whether you’re ready to kiss night sweats goodbye or to welcome some more peace into your days, shatavari could be a great supplement to add to your routine. As always, talk to your doctor before starting with any new supplement. Some things to note first: shatavari has also been used traditionally to boost fertility, so be sure to use contraception during sex if you don’t intend to get pregnant and are of child-bearing age. It’s also possible to be allergic to shatavari (though this isn’t common), so if you experience breathing difficulties or other adverse reactions like dizziness or a rapid heart rate, seek medical attention.
Otherwise, shatavari is considered harmless when taken in appropriate doses, beginning at 500 milligrams. In Ayurveda, the traditional way to take this herb is in powder form, mixed with water and a little honey for flavor, if desired. Tasting the shatavari in the mouth begins the digestive process and helps your body to release the proper enzymes which activate the herb. If you’re not so big on tasting it, you can also take shatavari in pill form. Whichever way you choose, make sure to read your supplement labels to ensure proper dosing. For shatavari supplements we love, try them from Banyan Botanicals in the powdered version ($10.99, Amazon) or the tablet version ($17.99, Amazon).