An All-Purpose Beauty Herb

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By Sheela Sheth, Food Expert

Known as the Asparagus-fern and Mang Tay, this plant has bell-shaped scented white flowers with a pink tinge which generally bloom from June to July. Its name signifies hundreds of roots that are succulent, tuberous and spindle-shaped.

Its flowers have three-lobed globose berries that are initially green when raw, but turn blackish – purple as it ripens-it has an unusual bitter-sweet taste. The seeds embedded within are brittle and black in colour. The leaves are pine-like needles which are shiny green in colour and the stem is woody.

Clinical properties: This herb has positive effects on stress levels and female fertility supporting a healthy hormone balance. It stabilises the Vata (the space and air in Indian medicine-Ayurveda) and Pitta (meaning fire and water), a symbolic body type. It regulates metabolism in the body which in turn maintains the serotonin level and helps reduce various symptoms of anxiety, cold hands and feet.

The flavonoid property also helps to maintain body weight. In addition, it serves as an anti-viral agent and boosts the immune system. It is available in many forms from capsules and powders to tinctures and teas. There is no standard dosage per day, but it is best to follow the instructions on the label. The powder is usually mixed with warm water or milk before serving. The root produces antioxidants including asparagmine, responsible for the synthesis of proteins.

Beauty Boost: This asparagus tuber is known as an all-purpose beauty herb as it clears heat and moistens the skin proving it to be a natural moisturiser. It is rich in potassium, vitamin A, folate and glutathione. The root, known to be a rich anti-oxidant, protects the body, skin and hair from free radicals. It is also used to improve overall vitality and is a powerful anti-ageing agent. It prevents collagen breakdown by maintaining your skin elasticity. Some studies show it is a safe anti-ageing skin care product. It has also been known to effectively help in hair growth.

Culinary contribution: It is most often consumed in powder form with milk and honey. A mixture of ½ teaspoon shatavari root boiled in a mixture of water with honey or sugar is the best way to make tea as it is herbal and caffeine-free. The powder is sold commercially in health stores.

Did You Know
This herb is obtained from the roots of the Asparagus tree
It belongs to the Liliaceae family and is known by many names
The plant is native to Australia, Africa, Asia, China and India
It is a woody climbing shrub that grows to a height of 1 to 2 meters. It thrives well in rocky gravelly soil. The plant is also found in moist places, shady and shrubby jungles, forest borders and hilly slopes

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