If we trace history of man we find that thousands of years ago before its switching over to so called becoming civilized there used not to exist multispeciality hospitals, kidney or liver transplantation, by pass surgeries or chemo therapy for cancers. Still, man lived disease free life. It was due to his living close to nature.
Charak Samhita the original classical text of Ayurveda mentions that when man started deviating from natural living and switched over to living in villages, starting cultivating and dairy farming, diseases started erupting. Hence a need for medical system, Ayurveda got evolved. Now one can well imagine the effect of living in present day civilized way of metro living and its effect on our body i.e. emergence of diseases like cancer, diabetes, thyroidism, heart and brain strokes, etc. etc. So what to do? Should we again start living in forests? No, not at all. Let us explore nature and find out remedies in her only and switch over to yoga, meditation (Kriya yoga) and herbal medicine.
Present article on Asparagus gives detailed use of this plant for curing and preventing many diseases.
Description: Asparagus having many species grows almost all over the world ranging from ordinary planes to hills upto an altitude of 5 to 6 thousands feet above sea level. One of its species Asparagus recemosa is found in Indian hills and Himalayas and has been mentioned in Vedas. Ayurveda and Nighantu’s (book on medicinal plants) as SHATAVARI bearing dozens of 4 -8 inches long tuberous roots with thickness about 2 cm. and having creamish white colour. It has needle like leaves with whitish stem.
It blooms in February and bears red berries in April. Shatavari is Sanskrit name with two roots i.e. Shat & Vari, where Shat means hundred and Vari means diseases i.e. useful in hundred (many) diseases. More varieties are found in other countries. Ayurveda, Unani, Chinese & Tibetian medical system recommended use of roots of Asparagus racemosa while western herbal system of medicine has described use of tender fresh shoots and roots of another species called Asparagus officinalis. Greeks and Roman used to eat wild Asparagus as vegetables, whereas it is now being widely cultivated and finds its place in stores as fresh as well as canned.
CURES MANY DISEASES: Because of unnatural, defective and so called “civilized or modern” life style and food, we see emergence of non communicable, life style, autoimmune and stress related diseases at global level forming great challenges to medical fraternity and scientists. Asparagus has great healing and preventive qualities for such diseases. It is because of antioxidant, diuretic, lactagogue, laxative, stone crushing (lithotripsy) properties. Antioxidants are those compounds which neutralize disease causing free radicals which are produced in our body because of various factors. Diuretic is a property which produces increased urination and elimination of toxin from body, laxative is a property that causes increased defecation and elimination of toxin from intestine whereas lithotripsy is an act of breaking stones into sand and its expulsion from body. Ayurveda considers Asparagus (Shatavari) roots useful both for women and men. For women who have problem of producing scanty lactation after child bearing 05 gm. Powder of Asparagus roots three times a day improves lactation within 2-3 days. For women suffering from infertility due to non specific reasons use of Asparagus roots powder enhances production of ovum and preparing uterus for conception. Once conception has taken place use of this herb prevents abortion or miscarriage because it acts as uterine sedative. Another important use of it is for women approaching menopause. During this phase women suffer from mood swings, hot flashes, restlessness, irritability excessive menstrual bleeding, muscular cramps etc. because of decreased levels of female hormone called oestrogen. But nature has provided phyto(plant) oestrogen activity to Asparagus hence its appropriate use during menopausal period relieves women of these symptoms and they achieve peaceful menopause. It is useful in women for painful and irregular menstruation also, hence a perfect herb for women.
For men also use of Asparagus improves sperm count, motility and acts as aphrodisiac. Use of Asparagus roots juice or powder has been found very useful for hyperacidity and it has duodenal ulcer healing properties. Also it helps in constipation because of laxative properties. Asparagus can be used for relieving mild to moderate high blood pressure.
It has been seen that our body naturally produces a mood elevator called serotonin which is required for sound sleep and many other body activities, but because of sedentary life style and other mental stresses secretion of serotonin is decreased causing depression and many other diseases but serotonergic effect of Asparagus relieves depression and other mood related problems.
Chemicals, pesticides, preservatives, synthetic foods, alcohol, excessive intake of fats adversely produces toxicity in liver, but Asparagus a gift from mother nature protects and cures liver toxicity.
We can also use Asparagus for pain and swelling of ankle, knee, shoulder, elbow joints and cervical or back. It is because of its anti inflammatory and pain killer effect.
For the patients suffering from cancers it provides a great hope and cure. U.S. National Cancer Research Institute has reported that Asparagus contains highest levels of GLUTATHIONE an anti cancerous and anti oxidant agent. Presence of protein called HISTONES has also been reported which has cells growth (tumors) controlling property. Another cancer journal has reported relief from Hodgkin’s disease with its one year use. Cancer of bladder with three months use, lungs cancer with 4 months use, women skin cancer with 3 months use. Also in elements of Materia medica a professor of university of Pennsylvania reports its use for kidney stones.
Scientists have observed that it increases secretion of insulin and helps in diabetes. Its soothing and cooling effect on brain and improving memory and relieving anxiety has also been observed.
Because of its multi utility in various diseases it has been termed as Queen of herbs. Now a question comes in the mind of readers how to use it and where it is available? For those living in areas where it grows naturally or cultivated, its fresh shoots or roots juice or paste (pulp) gives the best results. But powder of dry Shatavari roots is also very useful. For the diseases where its shoots are recommended it can be used as Salads, soups crushed paste dissolved in water or it can be added to curries even cooked like beans, potatoes, lady fingers etc. Ayurvedic preparation of Shatavari includes Supari pak, Shatavari Ghritam, shatavari Choornam.
Himalaya Drug Company has produced a product called 'Eve Care' from this plant. There is a principle in herbal medicine that “what cures prevents also”. So even if a person is not suffering from any diseases for which Asparagus has been recommended in this article, its continuous use or as a part of food will prevent those diseases. When used as a medicine it is always recommended that it should be used under supervision of a qualified Ayurvedic doctor or a herbalist.
Dayanand Ayurvedic College,