Skip to Content

Wild Asparagus

Scientific Name(s): Asparagus racemosus (Willd.)
Common Name(s): Abhiru, Satavari, Shatavari

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Sep 1, 2018.

Clinical Overview

Use

Limited clinical data exist regarding use of A. racemosus as a galactogogue and for use in gastric emptying. A. racemosus is often used in polyherbal formulations, making observed effects in studies difficult to attribute to a single product. Clinical studies are lacking to support any use.

Dosing

There are no quality clinical trials to provide dosage recommendations.

Contraindications

Information is lacking.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information is lacking. Shatavari is regarded as safe for use during pregnancy and lactation by Ayurvedic practitioners, but the plant is not listed as having "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) status by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Limited studies have been conducted evaluating the galactogogue effect of A. racemosus

Interactions

A. racemosus may interact with drugs dependent on cytochrome P450 (CYP-450) 3A4 enzymes for metabolism.

Adverse Reactions

Clinical studies and case reports are lacking to provide information regarding adverse effects. The plant is considered safe by Ayurvedic practitioners. At higher than recommended dosages, adverse cardiovascular effects may occur (based on limited animal studies).

Toxicology

No data.

Scientific Family

  • Liliaceae (lily)

Botany

The climbing A. racemosus plant grows wild, reaching 2 m in height, and is cultivated in India and other tropical and subtropical Asian and African countries. It has also been found in the Himalayan Mountains. It is extensively branched with needle-like leaves, and bears fragrant small white flowers and berries. The tuberous roots and rootstock are of primary interest, and the plant is sometimes eaten as a vegetable.Singh 2016, Williamson 2002

A. racemosus should not be confused with Stemona plants that have similarly shaped tuberous roots.Kumeta 2013 See also the related Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) monograph.

History

Shatavari is considered one of the more important Ayurvedic medicines, and is included in several multi-ingredient preparations or "rasayanas." It is used in reproductive health; as a galactogogue; in GI conditions (ulcers, dehydration, and diarrhea); for cough, fever, and infections among other conditions; and to promote general wellbeing by increasing cellular vitality and immunity.Dhar 2016, Pandey 2018, Singh 2016, Williamson 2002

Chemistry

More than 50 organic compounds have been described.Pandey 2018 Major chemical constituents identified include steroidal saponins, alkaloids, and flavonoids (including quercetin and rutin). Characterization of the steroidal saponins (such as shatavarin and asparanin) have been described based on spectroscopic and spectrometric methods.Sharma 2011, Sharma 2009, Singh 2016

Presence of the alkaloid asparagamine A in the roots has been debated; previous isolation of asaparagamine A from materials suggested to have originated from A. racemosus was possibly due to misidentification of the plant species.Kumeta 2013, Williamson 2002

Uses and Pharmacology

A. racemosus is often used in polyherbal formulations, making observed effects in studies difficult to attribute to a single product.

Cancer

Animal and in vitro data

In vitro studies in human cancer cell lines and experiments in rodents describe apoptotic and antioxidant activity of A. racemosus root extractBhutani 2010, Karuna 2017, Kongkaneramit 2011, Smita 2017, Verma 2014. Antioxidant activity was also considered to play a role in prevention of isoniazid-induced hepatotoxicity in an animal study.Palanisamy 2012 Furthermore, pretreatment of rats with an aqueous root extract of A. racemosus in one study prevented hepatocarcinogenesis,Agrawal 2008 while in another experiment, reductions were observed in viable tumor cell counts.Mitra 2012

CNS

Animal data

Studies in rodent models have been conducted to assess effects of A. racemosus on stress and learning and memory, primarily using the methanolic extract of A. racemosus root.Garabadu 2014, Ojha 2010, Singh 2009

Evaluation of levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and other monoamines suggest a centrally acting mechanism,Garabadu 2014, Krishnamurthy 2013, Ojha 2010, Pahwa 2016, Singh 2009 possibly related to the saponin content of the extract.Meena 2011 In one animal experiment, flumazenil attenuated the effect of A. racemosus extract.Garabadu 2014

Diabetes

Animal data

In a study in rats with induced type 2 diabetes, ethanol extracts of A. racemosus roots administered over 28 days decreased serum glucose and increased pancreatic insulin, plasma insulin, liver glycogen, and total oxidant status.Hannan 2012

Diuretic effects

Animal data

A diuretic effect, with increased excretion of potassium, phosphate, and chloride, was demonstrated in a study in rats.Kumar 2010

Endocrine (estrogen/prolactin) effects

Animal data

Studies in rodents suggest estrogenic effects of A. racemosus extracts on female mammary glands as well as genital organs in adult pregnant rats.Pandey 2018, Singh 2016 Increases in plasma prolactin and milk production have been demonstrated in a study in buffaloes, suggesting a galactopoietic role.Singh 2012

Clinical data

Limited clinical studies have been published in peer-reviewed literature. One study reported no effect on follicular growth, development, or ovulation with use of shatavari compared with clomiphene citrate.Pandey 2018

Another clinical study (N=60) evaluated A. racemosus as a galactogogue and reported increases in prolactin in addition to positive findings for secondary outcome measures (satisfaction of the mother regarding the state of lactation and infant well-being and happiness).Gupta 2011

Gastric emptying

Clinical data

An older, small clinical study (N=8) compared A. racemosus (2 g of powdered root) to metoclopramide (10 mg tablet) with respect to gastric emptying time, with no difference reported.Dalvi 1990

Hypercholesterolemia

Animal data

In hypercholesteremic rats fed powdered A. racemosus, lipid profiles were improved and increases in hepatic hydroxymethylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase activity and bile acid were observed.Visavadiya 2009

Immunomodulatory activity

Animal and in vitro data

In in vitro and animal studies, A. racemosus extracts have demonstrated effects on proinflammatory cytokines and other immune factors (eg, interleukins, tumor necrosis factor [TNF], immunoglobulin G).Pise 2015, Sidiq 2011, Singh 2016, Thakur 2012, Tiwari 2017 Immune stimulation was demonstrated in a study of immunosuppressed animals,Sharma 2011 and proinflammatory cytokines were inhibited in mice with swimming-induced stress.Kanwar 2010 TNF-alpha was inhibited by a liposomal preparation of A. racemosus, with greater anti-inflammatory action at 0.1 mcg/mL than at higher concentrations.Plangsombat 2016

Infections

Animal and in vitro data

In vitro tests and screening studies suggest that A. racemosus possesses antifungal activity, including against Candida and Malassezia yeasts.Onlom 2014, Panghal 2011, Uma 2009 However, screening studies have produced equivocal results for antibacterial effects (possibly dependent on the extraction method), with one study reporting A. racemosus had the least antimicrobial activity against human uropathogens,Narayanan 2011 and another study finding activity against all clinical isolates tested.Panghal 2011 In one screening study, activity in human CD4 T-cell lines infected with HIV was reported for saponins from A. racemosus.Sabde 2011

Toxicity of A. racemosus to mosquitoes (larvae and adults)Govindarajan 2014 and in leishmanial infections has been reported.Kaur 2014, Sachdeva 2017, Sachdeva 2014

Osteoclast inhibition

In vitro data

Limited inhibition of osteoclasts has been demonstrated in vitro.Di Pompo 2014

Dosing

There are no quality clinical trials to provide dosage recommendations.

In an older study, 2 g of powdered A. racemosus root was given to healthy volunteers to evaluate gastric emptying time.Dalvi 1990 In a small study evaluating effects on lactation, lactating mothers received 60 mg/kg/day of A. racemosus root powder orally for 30 days.Gupta 2011

Higher than product-specified doses should be avoided due to the potential for cardiac effects.Singh 2016

Pregnancy / Lactation

Information is lacking. Shatavari is regarded as safe for use during pregnancy and lactation by Ayurvedic practitioners,Singh 2016 but the plant is not listed as having GRAS status by the FDA.Forinash 2012 In rats, teratogenic effects have been reported for the methanol extract.Singh 2016

Limited studies have been conducted evaluating the galactogogue effect of A. racemosus.Gupta 2011, Sharma 1996

Interactions

Case reports of interactions are lacking. An in vitro experiment suggests the possibility of interactions with drugs dependent on CYP3A4 metabolic pathways.Patil 2014

Adverse Reactions

Clinical studies and case reports are lacking to provide information regarding adverse effects. The plant is considered safe by Ayurvedic practitioners.Singh 2016 In frogs, an alcoholic extract was reported to have positive ionotropic and chronotropic effects, with cardiac arrest occurring with high doses.Singh 2016

Toxicology

Studies in rats suggest dosages of 3,200 mg/kg of aqueous extract of the roots is nonlethal. Subacute, long-term toxicity studies show no changes in physiological or biological measures in rats.Kumar 2010, Singh 2016 In rats, teratogenic effects have been reported for the methanol extract.Singh 2016

Index Terms

  • Asparagus
  • Shatavarin

References

Agrawal A, Sharma M, Rai SK, Singh B, Tiwari M, Chandra R. The effect of the aqueous extract of the roots of Asparagus racemosus on hepatocarcinogenesis initiated by diethylnitrosamine. Phytother Res. 2008;22(9):1175-1182.18729252
Bhutani KK, Paul AT, Fayad W, Linder S. Apoptosis inducing activity of steroidal constituents from Solanum xanthocarpum and Asparagus racemosus. Phytomedicine. 2010;17(10):789-793.20176464
Dalvi SS, Nadkarni PM, Gupta KC. Effect of Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari) on gastric emptying time in normal healthy volunteers. J Postgrad Med. 1990;36(2):91-94.2097375
Dhar A, Maurya SK, Mishra A, Singh GK, Singh MK, Seth A.. Preliminary screening of a classical Ayurvedic formulation for anticonvulsant activity. Anc Sci Life. 2016;36(1):28-34.28182033
Di Pompo G, Poli F, Mandrone M, et al. Comparative "in vitro" evaluation of the antiresorptive activity residing in four Ayurvedic medicinal plants. Hemidesmus indicus emerges for its potential in the treatment of bone loss diseases. J Ethnopharmacol. 2014;154(2):462-470.24786575
Forinash AB, Yancey AM, Barnes KN, Myles TD. The use of galactogogues in the breastfeeding mother. Ann Pharmacother. 2012;46(10):1392-1404.23012383
Garabadu D, Krishnamurthy S. Asparagus racemosus attenuates anxiety-like behavior in experimental animal models. Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2014;34(4):511-521.24557501
Govindarajan M, Sivakumar R. Ovicidal, larvicidal and adulticidal properties of Asparagus racemosus (Willd.) (Family: Asparagaceae) root extracts against filariasis (Culex quinquefasciatus), dengue (Aedes aegypti) and malaria (Anopheles stephensi) vector mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae). Parasitol Res. 2014;113(4):1435-1449.24488078
Gupta M, Shaw B. A Double-blind randomized clinical trial for evaluation of galactogogue activity of Asparagus racemosus Willd. Iran J Pharm Res. 2011;10(1):167-172.24363697
Hannan JM, Ali L, Khaleque J, Akhter M, Flatt PR, Abdel-Wahab YH. Antihyperglycaemic activity of Asparagus racemosus roots is partly mediated by inhibition of carbohydrate digestion and absorption, and enhancement of cellular insulin action. Br J Nutr. 2012;107(9):1316-1323.21899804
Kanwar AS, Bhutani KK. Effects of Chlorophytum arundinaceum, Asparagus adscendens and Asparagus racemosus on pro-inflammatory cytokine and corticosterone levels produced by stress. Phytother Res. 2010;24(10):1562-1566.20564504
Karuna DS, Dey P, Das S, Kundu A, Bhakta T. In vitro antioxidant activities of root extract of Asparagus racemosus Linn. J Tradit Complement Med. 2017;8(1):60-65.29321990
Kaur S, Chauhan K, Sachdeva H. Protection against experimental visceral leishmaniasis by immunostimulation with herbal drugs derived from Withania somnifera and Asparagus racemosus. J Med Microbiol. 2014;63(pt 10):1328-1338.25082945
Kongkaneramit L, Witoonsaridsilp W, Peungvicha P, Ingkaninan K, Waranuch N, Sarisuta N. Antioxidant activity and antiapoptotic effect of Asparagus racemosus root extracts in human lung epithelial H460 cells. Exp Ther Med. 2011;2(1):143-148.22977482
Krishnamurthy S, Garabadu D, Reddy NR. Asparagus racemosus modulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and brain monoaminergic systems in rats. Nutr Neurosci. 2013;16(6):255-261.23485433
Kumar MC, Udupa AL, Sammodavardhana K, Rathnakar UP, Shvetha U, Kodancha GP. Acute toxicity and diuretic studies of the roots of Asparagus racemosus Willd in rats. West Indian Med J. 2010;59(1):3-6.20931905
Kumeta Y, Maruyama T, Wakana D, Kamakura H, Goda Y. Chemical analysis reveals the botanical origin of shatavari products and confirms the absence of alkaloid asparagamine A in Asparagus racemosus. J Nat Med. 2013;67(1):168-173.22529051
Meena J, Ojha R, Muruganandam AV, Krishnamurthy S. Asparagus racemosus competitively inhibits in vitro the acetylcholine and monoamine metabolizing enzymes. Neurosci Lett. 2011;503(1):6-9.21843599
Mitra SK, Prakash NS, Sundaram R. Shatavarins (containing Shatavarin IV) with anticancer activity from the roots of Asparagus racemosus. Indian J Pharmacol. 2012;44(6):732-736.23248403
Narayanan AS, Raja SS, Ponmurugan K, et al. Antibacterial activity of selected medicinal plants against multiple antibiotic resistant uropathogens: a study from Kolli Hills, Tamil Nadu, India. Benef Microbes. 2011;2(3):235-243.21986363
Ojha R, Sahu AN, Muruganandam AV, Singh GK, Krishnamurthy S. Asparagus racemosus enhances memory and protects against amnesia in rodent models. Brain Cogn. 2010;74(1):1-9.20594636
Onlom C, Khanthawong S, Waranuch N, Ingkaninan K. In vitro anti-Malassezia activity and potential use in anti-dandruff formulation of Asparagus racemosus. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2014;36(1):74-78.24117781
Pahwa P, Goel RK. Ameliorative effect of Asparagus racemosus root extract against pentylenetetrazol-induced kindling and associated depression and memory deficit. Epilepsy Behav. 2016;57(pt A):196-201.26970996
Palanisamy N, Manian S. Protective effects of Asparagus racemosus on oxidative damage in isoniazid-induced hepatotoxic rats: an in vivo study. Toxicol Ind Health. 2012;28(3):238-244.21724661
Pandey AK, Gupta A, Tiwari M, et al. Impact of stress on female reproductive health disorders: Possible beneficial effects of shatavari (Asparagus racemosus). Biomed Pharmacother. 2018;103:46-49.29635127
Panghal M, Kaushal V, Yadav JP. In vitro antimicrobial activity of ten medicinal plants against clinical isolates of oral cancer cases. Ann Clin Microbiol Antimicrob. 2011;10:21.21599889
Patil D, Gautam M, Gairola S, Jadhav S, Patwardhan B. Effect of botanical immunomodulators on human CYP3A4 inhibition: implications for concurrent use as adjuvants in cancer therapy. Integr Cancer Ther. 2014;13(2):167-175.24105360
Pise MV, Rudra JA, Upadhyay A. Immunomodulatory potential of shatavarins produced from Asparagus racemosus tissue cultures. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2015;6(2):415-420.26283842
Plangsombat N, Rungsardthong K, Kongkaneramit L, Waranuch N, Sarisuta N. Anti-inflammatory activity of liposomes of Asparagus racemosus root extracts prepared by various methods. Exp Ther Med. 2016;12(4):2790-3796.27698785
Sabde S, Bodiwala HS, Karmase A, et al. Anti-HIV activity of Indian medicinal plants. J Nat Med. 2011;65(3-4):662-669.21365365
Sachdeva H, Kaur S. Cisplatin along with herbal drug treatment reduces the percentage of regulatory T cells and decreased the severity of experimental visceral leishmaniasis [published online ahead of print June 8, 2017]. J Microbiol Immunol Infect.2865557410.1016/j.jmii.2017.03.001
Sachdeva H, Sehgal R, Kaur S. Asparagus racemosus ameliorates cisplatin induced toxicities and augments its antileishmanial activity by immunomodulation in vivo. Parasitol Int. 2014;63(1):21-30.24103199
Sharma P, Chauhan PS, Dutt P, et al. A unique immuno-stimulant steroidal sapogenin acid from the roots of Asparagus racemosus. Steroids. 2011;76(4):358-364.21172369
Sharma S, Ramji S, Kumari S, Bapna JS. Randomized controlled trial of Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari) as a lactogogue in lactational inadequacy. Indian Pediatr. 1996;33(8):675-677.8979551
Sharma U, Saini R, Kumar N, Singh B. Steroidal saponins from Asparagus racemosus. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2009;57(8):890-893.19652422
Sidiq T, Khajuria A, Suden P, et al. A novel sarsasapogenin glycoside from Asparagus racemosus elicits protective immune responses against HBsAg. Immunol Lett. 2011;135(1-2):129-135.21035507
Singh GK, Garabadu D, Muruganandam AV, Joshi VK, Krishnamurthy S. Antidepressant activity of Asparagus racemosus in rodent models. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2009;91(3):283-290.18692086
Singh R. Asparagus racemosus: a review on its phytochemical and therapeutic potential. Nat Prod Res. 2016;30(17):1896-1908.26463825
Singh SP, Mehla RK, Singh M. Plasma hormones, metabolites, milk production, and cholesterol levels in Murrah buffaloes fed with Asparagus racemosus in transition and postpartum period. Trop Anim Health Prod. 2012;44(8):1827-1832.22544434
Smita SS, Raj Sammi S, Laxman TS, Bhatta RS, Pandey R. Shatavarin IV elicits lifespan extension and alleviates Parkinsonism in Caenorhabditis elegans. Free Radic Res. 2017;51(11-12):954-969.29069955
Thakur M, Connellan P, Deseo MA, et al. Characterization and in vitro immunomodulatory screening of fructo-oligosaccharides of Asparagus racemosus Willd. Int J Biol Macromol. 2012;50(1):77-81.22001723
Tiwari N, Gupta VK, Pandey P, et al. Adjuvant effect of Asparagus racemosus Willd. derived saponins in antibody production, allergic response and pro-inflammatory cytokine modulation. Biomed Pharmacother. 2017;86:555-561.28024292
Uma B, Prabhakar K, Rajendran S. Anticandidal activity of Asparagus racemosus. Indian J Pharm Sci. 2009;71(3):342-343.20490311
Verma SP, Tripathi VC, Das P. Asparagus racemosus leaf extract inhibits growth of UOK 146 renal cell carcinoma cell line: simultaneous oncogenic PRCCTFE3 fusion transcript inhibition and apoptosis independent cell death. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014;15(5):1937-1941.24716915
Visavadiya NP, Narasimhacharya AV. Asparagus root regulates cholesterol metabolism and improves antioxidant status in hypercholesteremic rats. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2009;6(2):219-226.18955232
Williamson EM. Major herbs of Ayurveda. Edinburgh, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2002.

Disclaimer

This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Hide