Hatavariya — helps prepare the womb for conception

by Namini Wijedasa
Hatavariya (Asparagus racemosus) is known in Sanskrit as Shatavari and in Tamil as Kilavari while its English name is asparagus root. There are three varieties: large leaves, small leaves and the thornless. The creeper is found in most parts of Sri Lanka and is eaten most commonly as kola kenda or cunjee. Both the tuber and the leaves are used as medicine and alleviates vatha and pitta humours. There is much written on the herb but emphasis is laid on its uses to women, particularly those who are pregnant or lactating.

The web site <www.niam.com> says that hatavariya promotes vigour and endurance and is widely used for treatment of depression brought about by pitta imbalance.

It says that hatavariya’s pharmacological action includes galactogogic, antispasmodic, demulcent, aphrodisiac, refrigerant, antibacterial, tonic, antiparasitic and antitumor. It reiterates that its main use is to increase milk secretion during lactation.

The site <www.vedicare.net> notes that the tuber is rich in vitamin A and nutritious starches. It tones, cleanses, nourishes and strengthens the female reproductive organs and is traditionally used to treat pre-menstrual stress, ammenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, leuchorrhoea, menopause and pelvic inflammatory disease. It supports deeper tissue and builds blood. Therefore, it helps prepare the womb for conception, prevents miscarriage and actions as a post-partum tonic — increasing lactation, normalising the uterus and changing hormones. This is because hatavariya contains phyto-oestrogens or hormones that normalise oestrogen levels and play an important role in preserving women’s long-term health. Clinical studies suggest that plant oestrogens are better than drugs for hormone balancing since they do not provide negative side effects such as uterine cancer.

Externally, the leaves reduce burning sensation and heals ulcers, said Lakshmi Senaratne, chief scientist (Ayurveda) at the Bandaranaike Memorial Ayurveda Research Institute. The tuber is applied for arthritis.

Internally, hatavariya increases appetite, digestion, is laxative and is effective all sorts of pain. It soothes haemorrhoids and piles and is given in instances of malabsorption, Senaratne said. For gastritis, a decoction prepared with milk called kiri kasaya is given to the patient. Normally, a decoction is prepared with eight glasses of water reduced to one. In this instance, take once cup of milk and seven cups of water, add hatavariya and reduce to one.

Hatavariya is good for the heart, Senaratne elaborated. It reduced bleeding and oedema, increases strength of the nerves as well as brain capacity. It is diuretic and used in treatment of disurea (difficulty in passing urine).

The herb nourishes the unborn baby, or foetus, Senaratne explained. "When pregnant mothers come to us, we recommend that they take hatavariya cunjee in order to strengthen the baby and promote its healthy growth," she said. Several Ayurveda texts and web sites stressed hatavariya’s value in increasing breast milk and body strength. It also enhances sperm count and is an aphrodisiac. For impotence, take both tuber cunjee and leaf cunjee.

For those suffering from habitual miscarriages, take hatavariya cunjee. It is also good for excessive bleeding during menstruation, for leucorrhoea (vaginal discharge) and when men pass sperms with urine.

For eye diseases, too, drink the cunjee, this time prepared without salt and administered with ghee and jaggery.

The tuber increases immunity to disease and pregnant women are specially requested to take the tuber cunjee so that the child’s strength to resist disease increases.

For night blindness, fry leaves with ghee and eat. For disurea, take half-a-teaspoon of the powdered tuber twice a day with cool water. For bleeding and infertility, take half-a-teaspoon of powdered tuber with ghee twice a day. For patients passing blood with urine, take hatavariya tuber and gokatu and prepare a decoction with milk as explained above.

"It is also said that if you take the leaf cunjee over a long period of time, you retain a youthful look," said Senaratne. "We give hatavariya to lean and weak patients and also recommend it for those suffering from epilepsy and nervous disorders."

For burning sensation in the body and increased pitta, take juice of tuber with bee’s honey every morning. For haemorrhoids, take half-a-teaspoon of powdered tuber with twice a day with milk while the same dosage with cow’s milk is given to lactating mothers.

For men, hatavariya is a nutritive tonic similar to ginseng and an aphrodisiac. It is calming and recommended for children. For post menopausal woman, take hatavariya taken with cup of saffron milk. It has a rejuvenating, nurturing and stabilising effect on excessive air, gas, dryness and agitation in mind and body. As such, it is traditionally used for nervousness, anorexia, insomnia, hyperactive children and people who are underweight. It promotes positive emotions while calming airy sensitivity and fiery emotions such as irritability, anger, jealousy, resentment and hatred. It helps with pain and agitated sleep.

The site <www.ayurveda.com> says that it is used in stomach spasms, pyritis, nausea and insomnia during pregnancy, heat burn, osteoporosis, broken bones, ulcers, herpes, chronic fevers, dehydration, cystitis, prolapse of the uterus, heartburn, broken bones and tumours.