Adaptogens like shatavari can help you get to ‘cool, calm and collected’.
In the best of times, it can be a challenge to maintain a balanced outlook, modern life often not being conducive to optimal mental health. Our attention and emotions often feel pulled in too many conflicting directions, leaving us feeling frazzled and off-kilter. Our stress response is on a feedback loop with our hormones, so it’s no wonder many of us are currently finding mental and physical equilibrium elusive. Specific herbs can be a valuable tool to add to our ‘survival kit,’ helping our bodies restore balance to all systems.
For women in particular, hormones play a significant role in mental health and mood regulation. All throughout her life, the balance of a woman’s hormones-or lack thereof- largely determine her quality of life. The burdens of cramps and PMS, fertility challenges, the demands of pregnancy, and the changes of menopause can be life-interrupting, taking their toll on a woman’s mental health.
Shatavari (or sitawari), Asparagus racemosus, has been used in Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. Considered by many to be the ‘Queen’ of tonic herbs, it brings moist, cool nourishment to all hot, dry or depleted conditions. In Ayurveda, it is considered the premier herb to help with a broad spectrum of women’s health concerns. Let’s take a look at the many benefits of this long-respected plant ally.
As an adaptogen, shatavari acts upon the HPA (the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis, which controls stress reactions, regulates digestion, the immune system, and mood and energy usage in the body. In this system, the nervous system and hormones are in constant ‘communication,’ influencing mental health profoundly. Shatavari helps modulate cortisol levels and regulate the stress cascade throughout the body, fostering an oasis of calm, rather than the feeling of swinging between 'wired’ and ‘tired.’
The key constituents in shatavari help to modulate hormones, particularly estrogen, allowing a woman’s body to find its own best balance. When hormones are in balance, the symptoms of PMS are eased, including mood swings and the ‘scattered’ feeling that often accompanies the start of a woman’s cycle. Shatavari is also excellent at helping decrease cramps--a big mood-improver, in and of itself!
A healthy sex life is linked to better mood, and shatavari’s ability to keep hormones balanced, as well as increase the sensitivity, integrity and lubrication of a woman’s tissues has earned the herb its reputation as a major enhancer of pleasure.
Concerns over one’s fertility can have a major impact upon a woman’s life, as well. The tonic effects of shatavari help nourish and strengthen the uterus for both healthy conception and pregnancy. Once the baby is home, a woman’s fluctuating hormone levels and a sense of being overwhelmed can strain both her mood balance and mental health. Once again shatavari lends its help in rebalancing new-mom hormones and promoting healthy milk production, easing concerns for those nursing.
Menopause, and the years leading up to it, bring a shifting hormonal landscape that shatavari can help a woman navigate with grace. Its ability to regulate estrogen levels can help reduce hot flashes and restore libido, and its cooling moisture helps replenish dry skin and vaginal tissues. Shatavari can also help strengthen the body and increase vitality, tools invaluable to women looking forward to remaining active through the coming years.
Adaptogenic Properties for Balanced Health
For those whose stress tends to manifest in stomach issues, shatavari can help there, too. Ever notice how hard it is to feel calm or focused when your stomach hurts? Shatavari can ease stomach cramps and its demulcent properties can help soothe sore, ‘hot’ mucus membranes.
Adaptogens, with their ability to balance and regulate the connections between the brain, nervous system and hormones, can give a powerful boost to our mental health. When stress hormones (like cortisol) are regulated, the body is able to maintain the health of nerve cells, conferring a much-needed resilience to the entire nervous system.
Shatavari shines as an adaptogen with a special affinity for the needs of women, helping ensure a more harmonious relationship with their hormones, bringing strong nourishment to the whole reproductive system throughout life. Caring for your mental health can feel pretty daunting, sometimes. When hormonal ‘storms’ are quieted, and the nervous system is supported by herbal tonics like shatavari, the outlook can be much brighter.