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Asparagus racemosus

asparagus racemosus natural

English: Wild asparagus, sparrow-grass
Hindi: Shatavari, satavari
Sanskrit: Shatavari, abhiru

The plant has been used medicinally for centuries and the common name shatavari means 'she who possesses a hundred husbands', referring to the rejuvenative effect of the herb on the female reproductive organs. It is characterised in Ayurveda as a powerful rasayana and is sometimes used as a vegetable.


Habitat

It grows wild and is cultivated throughout tropical and subtropical parts of India, including the Andamans, and other Asian and African countries.


Botanical description

It is a climber, growing up to 2 m in height and extensively branched (Plate 9). The leaves are reduced to needle-like, suberect, soft spines. The rootstocks are tuberous, bearing numerous fusiform, succulent tuberous roots 30-100 cm long and 1-2 cm thick and the stem is woody, pale grey or brown in colour and armed with strong spines. Flowers are tiny, white in colour, fragrant and profuse, in simple or branched racemes.


Parts used

Root and leaves.


Traditional and modern use

The roots are used mainly to promote milk secretion and as a demulcent, diuretic, aphrodisiac, tonic, alterative, antiseptic and antidiarrhoeal. It is also used to treat debility, especially in women, and infertility, impotence, menopause, stomach ulcers, hyperacidity, dehydration, lung abscess, haematemesis, cough, herpes, leucorrhoea and chronic fevers.


Ethnoveterinary usage

The fresh roots are fed to buffaloes in order to increase the milk yield and to promote lactation after the death of a calf,1 and also for maggots in wounds, constipation and as a demulcent.


Major chemical constituents

Steroidal glycosides and aglycones Shatavarins I-IV; ?-D-Glc-(1-4)-?-D-Glc-(1- 2) a- L-rha(l- 2)sarasapogenin,2 arasosapogenin,3 sterols and diosgenin have also been isolated from the roots.


Alkaloids

Asparagamine A has been isolated from the roots.


Flavonoids

The ripe fruits yielded quercetin, rutin, hyperoside, cynidin-3-galactoside and cynidin-3-glucorhamnoside. Quercetin-3-glucuronide has been isolated from the leaves.


Medicinal and pharmacological activities

Anticancer activity: An alcoholic extract of the aerial parts of Asparagus racemosus exhibited anticancer activity in human epidermal carcinoma of the nasopharynx in tissue culture.


Adaptogenic activity: Aqueous extracts administered orally to experimental animals, in a dose extrapolated from the human dose, protected against a variety of biological. physical and chemical stressors. A model of cisplatin-induced alterations in gastrointestinal motility was used to test the ability of extract to exert a normalising effect, irrespective of direction of pathological change. The extract reversed the effects of cisplatin on gastric emptying and also normalised cisplatin-induced intestinal hypermotility.


Antibacterial activity: A methanolic extract of the roots at 50,100 and 150 Ilg/ml showed significant in vitro antibacterial efficacy against Escherichia coli, Shigella dysenteriae, Shigella sonnei, Shigella flexneri, Vibrio chOlerll?, Salmonella typhi, Salmonella typhimurium, Pseudomonas putida, Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus. Chloramphenicol was used for comparison.


Antitussive activity: The methanolic extract of the root, at a dose of 200 and 400 mg/kg PO, showed significant antitussive activity on sulphur dioxide-induced cough in mice. The cough inhibition of 40% and 58.5%, respectively, was comparable to that of 10-20 mg/kg of codeine phosphate, where the inhibition observed was 36% and 55.4%, respectively.


Antiprotozoal activity: An aqueous solution of the crude alcoholic extract of the roots exhibited an inhibitory effect on the growth of E. histolytica in vitro.


Antiulcer activity: Efficacy of Asparagus racemosus was evaluated in 32 patients by administering the root powder 12 g/day in four doses, for an average duration of 6 weeks. Shatavari was found to relieve most of the symptoms in a majority of patients. The ulcer-healing effect of the drug was attributed to a direct healing effect, possibly by potentiating intrinsic protective factors as it has neither anti secretory activity nor antacid properties, by strengthening mucosal resistance, prolonging the lifespan of mucosal cells, increasing secretion and viscosity of mucus and reducing H+ ion back diffusion. It has been found to maintain the continuity and thickness of aspirin-treated gastric mucosa with a significant increase in mucosal mucin. As A. racemosus heals duodenal ulcers without inhibiting acid secretion, it may have cytoprotective action similar to that of prostaglandins. Other possible mechanisms may be deactivation and binding of pepsin or binding of bile salts.


Galactagogue activity: The roots exhibited a galactagogue action in buffaloes, the milk yield being significantly increased after administration of the drug. In another study the aqueous fraction of the alcoholic extract of the roots at 250 mg/kg, administered intramuscularly, was shown to cause both an increase in the weight of mammary lobulo-alveolar tissue and in the milk yield in oestrogen-primed rats. This activity was attributed to the action of released corticosteroids or an increase in prolactin.


Immunomodulatory activity: A. racemosus protected rats against mixed bacterial abdominal sepsis induced by caecal ligation. It also produced polymorphonuclear leucocytosis and prevented cyclophosphamide-induced neutropenia. A. racemosus also protected mice against E. coli-induced abdominal sepsis via immunomodulation. The effect of A. racemosus was studied on the functions of macrophages obtained from mice treated with a carcinogen, ochratoxin A (OTA). The chemotactic activity of murine macrophages was significantly decreased by 17 weeks of treatment with OTA compared with controls. Production of interleukin-l (IL-l) and tumour necrosis factor (TNF) was also markedly reduced. Treatment with A. racemosus significantly inhibited OTA-induced suppression of chemotactic activity and production of IL-l and TNF-a by macrophages and also induced excess production ofTNF-a when compared with controls. This has implications for the treatment of intraabdominal sepsis, which continues to be a major cause of morbidity and mortality following trauma and abdominal surgery for bowel perforations. Treatment of this condition has always been focused on appropriate surgery, supplemented with antibiotics and good nutritional support. An important factor influencing recovery from any infective process is the host's defence mechanisms and the approach of fortifying the cellular immune functions in order to increase resistance against infection. A. racemosus exhibits protective effects against myelosuppression induced by single doses of cyclophosphamide. A comparative study was done between Asparagus racemosus, glucan and lithium carbonate against the myelosuppressive effects of single and multiple doses of cyclophosphamide in mice. Cyclophosphamide was administered as a single dose of 200 mg/kg subcutaneously to one group of mice, while a second group received three doses of 30 mg/kg of the same compound intraperitoneally. Both the groups received racemosus and lithium orally, for 15 days before cyclophosphamide. Glucan was given intravenously in three doses before cyclophosphamide in the first group and together with cyclophosphamide in the second group. Peripheral and differential white blood cell counts were done before and after drug treatment and serially after cyclophosphamide injection. All the drugs were found to produce leucocytosis and neutrophilia. When compared to the control group, all four drugs prevented leucopenia produced by cyclophosphamide to varying degrees; it was therefore concluded that A. racemosus is an immunostimulant with effects comparable to those of lithium and glucan.


Molluscicidal activity : Aqueous and ethanlic ethanolic extracts of Asparagus racemosus exhibited a high mortality rate (100%) against Biomphalaria pfeifferi and Lymnaea natalensis. The LCso was found to be 0.1, 5, 5, 10 and SO mg/ml for Biomphalaria pfeifferi and 0.5,5,1,10 and 10 mg/ml for Lymnaea natalensis. The activities were attributed to the presence of terpenoids, steroids and saponins in the extracts.


Safety profile

No adverse effects due to the use of the root powder have been reported and the plant is also consumed as food. The maximum tolerated oral dose of the 50% ethanolic extract of the whole plant (excluding roots) was 1000 mg/kg body weight in adult male albino rats:


Dosage

  • Infusion: 12-20 ml Decoction: 56-112 ml Powder: 20-30 g

Ayurvedic properties

  • Rasa: Madhur (sweet), tikta (bitter)
  • Guna: Guru (heavy), snigdha (unctuous) Vipaka: Madhur (sweet)
  • Veerya: Shita (cold)
  • Dosha: Pacifies pitta and vata, promotes kapha

Naari Kalayan Churna - Alternative Treatment for Menopause

naari kalayan

Menopause is a natural physiological syndrome which can sometimes cause which can sometimes cause too much discomfort for females who suffer from it. Menopause is a stage where menses are going to stop, and the fertile period of a woman is going to end.When the female completes her reporductive age, the flow of menstration stops. This period where there is more menses is called menopause.


Menopause may be accompanied by such things as hot flashes, night sweats, irritibility, bloating, weight gain and mood swings. Menopause usually arrives when a woman is between 40 and 50, but not always.


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