Asparagus Racemosus Roots
Asparagus racemosus: a female health tonic
Asparagus racemosus Willd. or “Shatavari” is a medicinal plant belonging to the family Asparagaceae mainly known as a female reproductive tonic for its phytoestrogenic properties. Its medicinal use has been reported in the British and Indian pharmacopoeias as well as in the traditional Indian systems of medicine such as Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha. This shrubs grows in tropical and subtropical India and its fasciculate tuberous roots are traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat disorders affecting women’s health like postmenopausal syndrome (PMS), amenorrhea, dysmenorrheal and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) like endometriosis (1, 2).
   
Chemical Compounds
Shatavari roots contain steroidal saponins known as shatavarins that are divided in four types (I-IV). Shatavarin I is the major glycoside with 3-glucose and rhamnose moieties attached to the aglycone sarsapogenin. Polycyclic alkaloid like aspargamine A, a new isoflavone (8-methoxy-5,6,4’-trihydroxyisoflavone-glucopyranoside), racemosol (9,10-dihydrophenanthrene), flavonoids, sterols and polysaccharides are also isolated from the roots (3).
 
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Effectiveness-clinical study
Menopause is a difficult stage in a woman’s life characterized by a estrogens deficiency with a series of symptoms like feeling of heat, dizziness and headaches, sweating, heart palpitations and emotional sensitivity. In addition, systemic change occurs, including cardiovascular diseases and progressive osteoporosis. A common practice to relieve menopausal symptoms is the estrogen supplementation known as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) which is not free from adverse effects: numerous clinical studies provide evidence that synthetic hormones increase the risk of endometrial cancer, breast cancer, venous thromboembolic events and gallbladder disease in women. The awareness that HRT is associated with undesirable effects has increased an interest in phytoestrogens, i.e. plant-derived estrogens (1). Because of their preference for binding to the β form of the estrogen receptor (ER-[β]), phytoestrogens in women preferentially express estrogenic activities in central nervous system, blood vessels, bone and skin without causing stimulation of breast or uterus (3).
   
Conclusions
A. racemosus, as sourceof phytoestrogens can be effective in reducing adverse menopausal symptoms. This plant possesses many other properties like adaptogenic, cardioprotective, immunological, antibacterial, antioxidant e antispasmodic. Shatavari is also suggested for its soothing and emollient actions upon systemic dryness, which is part of the natural aging process. It is a calming that promotes positive emotions and also helps with restless sleep and bad dreams (1, 2).
   

Bibliography

   
1) M. Tuszynska. Pharmacological and therapeutic application of Asparagus racemosus Willd. Herba Polonica. 2010, 56(2): 92-104.
2) Aarti Khulbe. Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari): a multipurpose plant. European Journal of pharmaceutical and medical research. 2015, 2(3): 599-613.
3) M.Dwivedi, S. Giri, SA. Kolhapure. Evaluation of the efficacy and safety of Menosan in menopausal syndrome: a prospective, randomized, double bind, placebo controlled, phase III clinical trial. Indian Journal of clinical practice. 2005 15 (8): 26-41.

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