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Breast milk is considered the optimal food source for newborns through 1 year of age. Many factors influence overall maternal production, including maternal pain, illness, balance of time when returning to work, anxiety, or emotional stress. Although a variety of herbal and pharmaceutical options have anecdotal evidence of their ability to improve breast milk production, peer-reviewed studies proving their efficacy are lacking. Metoclopramide, oxytocin, fenugreek, and milk thistle have shown mixed results in improving milk production; however, the trials were small and had a variety of limitations.
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Therapeutic approaches to addressing insufficient lactation are available but remain poorly understood. Current trends in maternal health, such as increasing rates of obesity, delayed age at childbearing, and high rates of cesarean section, may be associated with physiological challenges for lactation that cannot be managed by counseling alone. Women who have not had success with counseling alone, including adoptive mothers seeking to induce lactation, may use galactagogues (pharmaceutical and herbal compounds used to increase lactation). We present a review of selected studies of galactagogues and data indicating popular demand for such products.
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Ten dry and pregnant Murrah buffaloes were selected to investigate the effect of Asparagus racemosus feeding on hormones, metabolites, milk yield, and plasma cholesterol levels. The treatment groups of buffaloes were fed with A. racemosus (shatavari) @ 150 g/day/animal during prepartum and @ 300 g/day/animal during the postpartum period. Blood samples collected on -6, -4, -2-week, day of parturition (0), and +2, +4, and +6-week postpartum were analyzed for plasma total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, low-density lipoproteins (LDL), prolactin, cortisol, and blood metabolites. Milk samples collected at weekly intervals (+1, +3, +5, and 7 weeks) were analyzed for total milk fat cholesterol. Prepartum plasma cholesterol concentrations were significantly higher in treatment group over the control (P < 0.05). Mean plasma triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, glucose, and nonesterified fatty acid (NEFA) levels varied nonsignificantly between groups. Plasma prolactin and cortisol concentrations were significantly (P < 0.01) more in treatment group than in control group. On day of parturition, plasma prolactin, cortisol, LDL, and plasma total cholesterol were higher (P < 0.01) in treatment group buffaloes in comparison to control group. A. racemosus feeding significantly (P < 0.01) increased plasma prolactin, cortisol (P < 0.01), and milk fat cholesterol (P < 0.05) without affecting total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, glucose, and NEFA concentrations. The buffaloes of treatment group produced more milk (@ 0.526 kg/animal/day) suggesting thereby that A. racemosus is galactopoietic. It was concluded that feeding of A. racemosus increases plasma prolactin and cortisol and decreased plasma total cholesterol and LDL concentration.
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Indomethacin plus PL-induced gastric ulceration model was used in the study.
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Asparagus racemosus was found to be an effective antiulcerogenic agent, whose activity can well be compared with that of ranitidine hydrochloride. The results of this study suggest that Asparagus racemosus causes an inhibitory effect on release of gastric hydrochloric acid and protects gastric mucosal damage.
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Medicinal properties of Asparagus racemosus (vernacular name: Shatavari) are attributed to its steroidal saponins called shatavarins. This plant is facing the threat of being endangered due to several developmental, seasonal constrains and malpractices involved in its collection and storage. To support its conservation, a tissue culture protocol is standardized which produces 20 fold higher levels of shatavarin. Here we evaluate the bioactivity and immunomodulatory potential of in vitro produced shatavarins from cell cultures of AR using human peripheral blood lymphocytes. In vitro produced shatavarin stimulated immune cell proliferation and IgG secretion in a dose dependent manner. It stimulated interleukin (IL)-12 production and inhibited production of IL-6. It also had strong modulatory effects on Th1/Th2 cytokine profile, indicating its potential application for immunotherapies where Th1/Th2 balance is envisaged. Our study demonstrating the bioactivity of tissue cultured AR extracts supports further in vivo evaluation of its immunomodulatory efficacy.
Treatment with Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari) crude extract (100 mg/kg/day orally) for fifteen days significantly reduced ulcer index when compared with control group. The reduction in gastric lesions was comparable to a standard antiulcer drug Ranitidine (30 mg/kg/ day orally). Crude extract also significantly reduced volume of gastric secretion, free acidity and total acidity. A significant increase in total carbohydrate (TC) and TC/total protein (TP) ratio of gastric juice was also observed. No significant change in the total protein was noted.
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Cross-sectional and prospective study.
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Treatment with ARE (100mg/(kg b.w.p.o.)) resulted in significant increase of CD3(+) and CD4/CD8(+) percentages suggesting its effect on T cell activation. ARE treated animals showed significant up-regulation of Th1 (IL-2, IFN-g) and Th2 (IL-4) cytokines suggesting its mixed Th1/Th2 adjuvant activity. Consistent to this, ARE also showed higher antibody titres and DTH responses. ARE, in combination with LPS, Con A or SRBC, produced a significant proliferation suggesting effect on activated lymphocytes.