Any new mom will tell you that breastfeeding can be one of the most intimate bonding experiences between a mother and her child. But they may also tell you that it can be one of the most difficult aspects of new motherhood. Challenges from latching to lactation can make breastfeeding especially hard for new moms and their newborns.
Known the world-over as the “queen of herbs,” shatavari belongs to the asparagus family and is best known for promoting women’s health, especially as it relates to reproductive health and hormone production. Shatavari can also be a big help for nursing mothers, as it helps with both the quality and quantity of milk production. Read on to learn more about this amazing herb and how it can help new moms make nursing easier.
Although shatavari belongs to the asparagus family, in its natural state, it actually looks more like a pine tree. Its thin trunk and narrow branches often sprout green pine needles, white flowers and even dark berries throughout the year. And while the entirety of the shatavari plant can be used for medicinal purposes, it’s in the roots where the its true power is found. Shatavari plants produce more than 100 roots when they are fully grown, with each being about 3 feet long and looking like pale sweet potatoes. As the roots mature over time and grow deeper into soil, they absorb more nutrients that give shatavari its ancient healing properties.
Most often taken as a liquid or powder extract, shatavari roots are used mainly for female health, including lactation as noted above, as well as conception and reproduction. In fact, some translations say that shatavari means “she who possesses 100 husbands,” as a nod to the herb’s ability to rejuvenate libido and enhance fertility! But while this wonder herb is most often used to give women a boost, it also has a wide range of potential benefits for both women and men, including antioxidant support, brain and mood support, as well as gastrointestinal tract and digestive health support.
The shatavari herb has played a pivotal role in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Ayurvedic medicine is a 3,000-year-old medicinal practice that originated in India and continues to be used all over the world as one of the most popular forms of traditional medicine. The term “Ayurveda” combines the Sanskrit words for life (“ayur”) and science (“veda”), with key concepts of its medicinal practice including universal interconnectedness between humans, health and the universe, the body’s constitution called “prakriti” and life forces called “doshas.”
The doshas are where shatavari comes in. In Ayurvedic medicine, all living things contain space, air, fire, water, and earth, and these are the building blocks that correspond to three doshas: pitta, vata, and kapha. According to Ayurveda, the pitta dosha can influence an individual’s well-being – both in the moment and over the course of life – but it can also fluctuate in the face of multiple conditions such as weather, emotional state, and stress. If the pitta dosha is out of balance, shatavari may be an ideal herb to help bring it back in line with the four elements of space, air, water, and earth.
Now that you know a little bit about Ayurvedic medicine and shatavari’s role in this ancient medicinal practice, there are some pretty cool ways that this queen of herbs can help mothers who are breastfeeding. Shatavari works, not just to improve the amount of breast milk your body can produce, but also the quality of it. The herb is known to stimulate two key hormones in balanced lactation, called prolactin and corticoids. In fact, shatavari is considered so safe and effective that many pediatricians in India recommend the herb for nursing mothers.
Using shatavari to help with lactation and breastfeeding is pretty simple. Add the dry root to a cup of milk (dairy, almond, or whatever you like!) and heat for 10 minutes or until it reaches a temperature you like. Filter out the root and any residue and drink early in the morning to promote lactation. As a good rule of thumb, start with one or two small roots, then add additional roots over time until you find what works best for you.
In addition to this DIY shatavari recipe, there are also a host of shatavari supplements you can try. Whether you want a pill, a powder or a liquid, you can find the shatavari remedy that works best for you!
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