June 5, 2024

Shatavari Supports Muscle in Postmenopausal Women

Promising findings from a small clinical trial
Supplementation with Asparagus racemosus may enhance muscle function through modulation of proteomic pathways.


O’Leary MF, Jackman SR, Bowtell JL. Shatavari supplementation in postmenopausal women alters the skeletal muscle proteome and pathways involved in training adaptation. Eur J Nutr. 2024;63(3):869-879. 

Study Objective

The objective of this study was to investigate the molecular effects of shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) supplementation on the skeletal-muscle proteome and associated signaling pathways in postmenopausal women. The aim was to understand how shatavari might influence muscle-protein expression and contribute to enhanced muscle function and adaptation in this demographic.

Key Takeaway

Shatavari supplementation may support muscle adaptation to resistive exercise in postmenopausal women by modulating proteomic pathways related to muscle adaptation and metabolism.


Randomized, double-blind clinical trial


The study recruited 20 postmenopausal women, with 12 women (average age 68.5 ± 6 years) evaluable at the end of the study (6 weeks).


Participants received either placebo (magnesium stearate, 1,000 mg total) or shatavari supplementation (1,000 mg powder, equivalent to 26,500 mg/day fresh weight) per day for 6 weeks.

Investigators took biopsies from participants 30 minutes after a bout of moderate resistive exercise. Specifically, the exercise involved a warm-up, 3 sets of maximal eccentric and concentric contractions, and 3 maximum voluntary contractions with the knee joint at 90 degrees flexion, with 1 minute of rest between sets.

Study Parameters Assessed

The study used global proteomic analysis to evaluate changes in protein expression and signaling pathways in muscle tissue (vastus lateralis).

Notably, investigators used 2 bioinformatic systems (Reactome’s Pathway Analysis with Down-weighting of Overlapping Genes [PADOG] and Correlation Adjusted MEan RAnk gene set test [CAMERA] algorithms) to analyze differential gene expression, and they were not always in agreement.

Primary Outcome

The study aimed to identify changes in the skeletal-muscle proteome and associated signaling pathways that occur when participants supplement with shatavari 30 minutes after an acute bout of resistive exercise.

Key Findings

In muscle-protein analysis, investigators detected 4,411 proteins, with 3,121 of these in all 12 samples. They did not observe significant changes in the expression of any singular proteins, with both groups expressing nearly identical proteins. 

Both bioinformatic algorithms (CAMERA and PADOG) found that there was upregulation of muscle-supportive “pathways related to (1) Integrin/MAPK signaling, (2) metabolism/insulin secretion; (3) cell proliferation/ senescence/DNA repair/cell death; (4) hemostasis/platelets/fibrin; (5) signal transduction; (6) neutrophil degranulation and (7) chemical synapse function.” Only CAMERA found downregulated pathways, including several related to translation/amino-acid metabolism, viral infection, and muscle contraction.


Pukka Herbs Ltd, a company that produces Ayurvedic herbal products, funded the study. The authors did not report any conflicts of interest. The study states that the funder did not influence the study design, data collection, or interpretation.

Practice Implications

The findings from the study by O’Leary et al (2024) provide important insights into the potential benefits of shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) supplementation for supporting muscle function in postmenopausal women. Understanding the molecular mechanisms through which shatavari exerts its effects on skeletal muscle can help us, as practitioners, make informed recommendations to our patients, particularly those who are experiencing age-related muscle decline.

The study demonstrated that shatavari supplementation significantly affected pathways related to muscle adaptation to resistive exercise, including integrin/MAPK signaling and metabolism. These pathways are critical for muscle growth, repair, and overall function. For practitioners, this suggests that shatavari could be a valuable addition to treatment regimens aimed at improving muscle health and strength in postmenopausal women, who are particularly vulnerable to sarcopenia and muscle weakness due to hormonal changes.

One of the major limitations of the study is the small sample size (12 participants), which limits the generalizability of the findings.

With the increasing preference for natural and nonpharmacological interventions among patients, shatavari offers a promising alternative to conventional treatments such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which, although effective, comes with a range of potential side effects. Shatavari’s potential to improve muscle function without the adverse effects associated with HRT could make it an attractive option for many women seeking to maintain or enhance their muscle health as they age.

In addition to its potential benefits for muscle function, shatavari has been traditionally used in Ayurveda for various health benefits, including improving digestion, boosting immunity, and balancing hormones. The presence of bioactive compounds in shatavari, such as steroidal saponins, antioxidants, and phytoestrogens, may provide a multifaceted approach to health, addressing not just muscle strength but overall well-being. This holistic benefit aligns well with integrative and functional medicine practices, which focus on treating the whole person rather than just isolated symptoms.

Practitioners can consider recommending shatavari supplementation to postmenopausal women as part of a comprehensive approach to managing age-related muscle decline. The dosage used in the study (equivalent to 26,500 mg/day fresh weight) can serve as a reference point, but practitioners should adjust that based on individual patient needs and responses. A truly integrative approach to longevity and good quality of life includes several interventions, including lifestyle medicine. As was done in this study, incorporating resistance training alongside shatavari supplementation could amplify the benefits, as physical activity is known to synergize with nutritional supplements to enhance muscle strength and function.


One of the major limitations of the study is the small sample size (12 participants), which limits the generalizability of the findings. Larger studies are needed to confirm these results and provide more robust evidence for the use of shatavari in enhancing muscle function in postmenopausal women.

The 6-week duration of the study is relatively short. Longer-term studies are required to evaluate the sustained impact of shatavari on muscle function and to determine whether the observed benefits persist over time​​.

While pathway analysis revealed significant alterations, no individual proteins showed statistically significant changes. This raises questions about the sensitivity of the proteomic analysis and the specific proteins involved in the observed effects. Future research should aim to elucidate these details to better understand the molecular mechanisms of shatavari.

The study focused exclusively on postmenopausal women. While this is a relevant group for understanding age-related muscle decline, it limits the applicability of the findings to other populations, such as perimenopausal women. Future research should explore the effects of shatavari across diverse age groups to broaden the understanding of its preventative benefits.

A follow-up consideration is how to show the synergistic effect of shatavari’s components while not falling prey to the tendency to isolate specific constituents to substantiate the outcomes. As mentioned in the study, shatavari contains multiple bioactive constituents that likely work together to produce its beneficial effects. Focusing solely on individual proteins might overlook the complex interactions and synergistic effects that contribute to overall muscle health. Future studies should explore these synergistic relationships to provide a more comprehensive understanding of how shatavari functions as a whole. This information will help with determining contraindications in specific conditions and medications.

In summary, this study by O’Leary et al provides promising evidence that shatavari supplementation can enhance muscle function in postmenopausal women through modulation of key proteomic pathways. While the findings are encouraging, the study’s limitations highlight the need for further research with larger sample sizes, longer durations, and diverse populations to fully understand the potential of shatavari as a therapeutic intervention for muscle health.

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