Monthly Archives: August 2013

Shatavari: The Indian Tonic Herb For Men And Women

The roots of Asparagus racemosus – or shatavari, as it is known in Ayurvedic medicine – are used to treat reproductive disorders in women, and are also valued for their rejuvenative and aphrodisiac properties. Perhaps, a lesser known fact is that their aphrodisiac activity extends also to males (although, so far, this has been demonstrated mainly in mice: 19139984). Shatavari also possesses multiple other benefits, including adaptogenic, antidepressant, immunomodulatory, hepatoprotective, hypoglycemic, antioxidant, and anticarcinogenic actions.

Administration of a methanolic extract of the root to rats for 7 days decreased systemic levels of corticosterone and norepinephrine (23485433). The effects appeared to level off at the dose of 100 mg/kg of the extract per day (equivalent to approximately 1 g of the extract for a regular, normal-weight human). This substantiates the use of shatavari as an adaptogen. The treatment also increased levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the hypothalamus, which may be relevant to the purported antidepressant effects of the root (18692086). Similar stress-reducing activity of shatavari was demonstrated in mice with ethanolic extracts (22734253).

In support of the herb’s potential as a nootropic, shatavari was reported to possess an anti-acetylcholinesterase activity (20594636). Proper activity of this enzyme is essential for cognitive and nerve function (Wiki). An alcoholic extract of the root exhibited acetylcholinesterase-, butyrylcholinesterase- and monoamine oxidase-inhibitory activities (21843599). Furthermore, significant improvements in memory retention were achieved with administration of Asparagus racemosus roots to mice with induced amnesia (20594636, 20795365).

Ethanolic extracts of shatavari have been shown to improve glucose tolerance in normal and diabetic rats (21899804) and to have a beneficial effect on the kidneys, preventing diabetic nephropathy in rats (22822526). The preparations also have a potential of preventing urinary stone formation (23112416).

Shatavari possesses significant antioxidant, hepatoprotective (21724661, 23305030), and antimicrobial (21599889), including anticandidal (20490311), activities. Shatavarins, the constituents of the root,  in particular shatavarin IV, are considered to be potent anti-cancer agents (23248403). Anti-cancer, pro-apoptotic activity has also been demonstrated for other compounds from shatavari (20176464). And to top it off, polysaccharides from shatavari were found to enhance the activity of natural killer (NK) cells (22001723).

On the downside, wild shatavari is considered endangered in its native India (17240097).


The Miracles Of Pu-erh

Dima holding a tea cup

Heartfelt thanks go to Steev Odell, a tea MC-extraordinaire and pu-erh expert, for his vision and the insightful comments he provided. MC Steev has been working with the West China Tea Company to make rare and high-quality varieties of pu-erh known to more people.

Little known to the majority of Western people, pu-erh (also written as pu’er or puer) is a favorite among many tea enthusiasts. Technically, pu-erh is a type of post-fermentation teas, which are produced by allowing tea leaves to ferment before drying. A jewel in the tea crown, it is highly valued by connoisseurs.

Traditionally, making of pu-erh required at least 10 years of fermentation (and the more the better), but since the 1970s means of accelerated fermentation have been developed. These methods of production make pu-erh more affordable for most consumers, who can now drink it with more abandon. Some concerns regarding quality and even safety of modernly produced pu-erh are often unfounded (see more on safety below). The pu-erh produced by modern methods is called “advanced-aged” or “ripe,” while the traditionally aged pu-erh is called “raw.” When the traditionally aged pu-erh is old enough to be drinkable in that dark and earthy sense, it is considered “Mature Raw pu-erh.” However, the terms “raw” and “ripe” are often confused and may be misleading.

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