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Ashwagandha and PCOS

Ashwagandha and PCOS: What to Know

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Last modified on January 9th, 2023

Ashwagandha for PCOS can be beneficial. Ashwagandha is an herbal powerhouse with a long history in Ayurvedic and other traditional forms of medicine. Below, we specifically delve into what to know about ashwagandha and PCOS and the benefits.

What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb. Ayurveda is a traditional form of medicine based on natural healing, and Ayurveda comes from India.

For thousands of years, ashwagandha has improved energy levels, increased concentration, and relieved stress. Other names for ashwagandha include Indian ginseng and winter cherry.

Ashwagandha Benefits

There are numerous benefits of ashwagandha, including:

  • Stress and anxiety reduction
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Reduces symptoms of mental health conditions like depression
  • Boosts testosterone
  • Increase male fertility
  • Reduction of blood sugar levels
  • Inflammation-reducer
  • Improved brain function and memory
  • Better sleep

Ashwagandha is also seen as a widely safe herbal supplement, and it’s readily available.

Does Ashwagandha Balance Female Hormones?

Below, we’ll answer the question, “does ashwagandha help with PCOS,” more specifically, but broadly, does ashwagandha balance female hormones?

Many women struggle with hormonal issues, and ashwagandha can promote balance. We know that women’s bodies are likely more sensitive to stress hormones, and women’s hormones fluctuate more than men’s.

Cyclical changes to women’s hormones occur because of our monthly menstrual cycle, and there are also significant shifts during pregnancy and menopause. Because of the complexity of women’s hormones, our systems can be more easily disrupted by imbalances.

When stress hormones like cortisol flood our bodies, they disrupt the balance of other hormones. Hormones then influence many bodily processes, including energy levels, moods, sleep cycles, and metabolism. Since the hormones work together in complex ways, one imbalance can have a ripple effect.

To stop this ripple effect, there has to be a reduction of stress and a restoration of hormonal balance.

Balance is critical for women’s health, which is why medicine like Ayurveda can be so helpful.

Ashwagandha also contains compounds that are called withanolides. Withanolides are like hormone precursors in our bodies; they convert into human hormones and regulate our physiological processes. That, combined with the stress reduction that ashwagandha can help with, is why ashwagandha restores hormonal balance, including in women with conditions like PCOS.

What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a condition where your ovaries produce an abnormal amount of androgens. Androgens are male sex hormones found in women in small amounts usually. Many women with PCOS have insulin resistance, and there are a broad set of symptoms of the condition, including:

  • Missed or irregular periods
  • Larger ovaries
  • Cysts on the ovaries
  • Excess body hair, known as hirsutism
  • Weight gain, particularly around the abdomen
  • Oily skin
  • Acne
  • Thinning hair
  • Infertility
  • Skin tags on the armpits or neck
  • Dark skin patches or thick skin on the back of the neck, under the breasts, and in the armpits

PCOS treatment usually includes a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. Your doctor may recommend that you change your physical activity level and your diet, and if you’re trying to become pregnant, you might be prescribed medications that can cause ovulation.

If you don’t plan to become pregnant, your PCOS treatment plan can include diabetes medicine, birth control pills, lifestyle changes, and medicines to target other symptoms like acne and hair growth.

Ashwagandha for PCOS

Ashwagandha for PCOS is something that can be beneficial for some women.

Specific ways that ashwagandha helps PCOS include:

Weight Reduction

If you take ashwagandha for PCOS, one way it can help symptoms is by regulating your cortisol levels, which can help reduce weight gain related to stress.

Cortisol is a hormone also known as the stress hormone. Cortisol helps prepare your body to deal with perceived threats and danger, but when your cortisol levels are chronically elevated, it can cause adverse effects. For example, consistently elevated cortisol levels trigger a hunger response in your brain that can lead to overeating. High cortisol levels can also stimulate the production of glucose.

Ashwagandha is one of the best natural cortisol blockers. Ashwagandha for PCOS helps regulate your stress response, and it can reduce cortisol to help with weight management.

Balances Hormones

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that can restore your body to balance and homeostasis. Taking ashwagandha for PCOS can correct imbalances in your hormone levels and neuroendocrine system.

Helps with Anxiety and Depression

Many women with PCOS struggle with co-occurring mental health conditions. Ashwagandha has a calming effect, and it contains tryptophan. Tryptophan is considered a serotonin building block, and serotonin is a hormone that improves mood.

Ashwagandha can also activate the brain’s GABA receptors, which can help reduce stress and anxiety.

Reduced Insulin Resistance

You need high levels to maintain regular blood sugar when your body is insulin resistant. If you have PCOS, high insulin can cause your ovaries to make more androgen hormones, including testosterone. This androgen production results in increased acne, body hair, and irregular or missed periods.

Insulin resistance also increases the potential of developing diabetes.

Ashwagandha can help reduce your insulin resistance, reversing your PCOS symptoms.

Infertility and Irregular Periods

When you have PCOS, one of the effects is suppression of ovulation, a primary cause of female infertility. Ashwagandha can help.

Ashwagandha can reduce stress. Stress plays a role in regulating your hormones, and cortisol increases during periods of stress. Cortisol reduces progesterone levels, and that negatively affects your menstruation and fertility.

Using ashwagandha to reduce cortisol can positively affect your menstrual cycles and your libido and reproductive system.

Fatigue and Insomnia

When you’re experiencing stress, it disturbs your sleep, and it can lead to lethargy. Ashwagandha helps combat stress, helps your sleeping patterns, and, in turn, will help with fatigue.

You also have to remember that PCOS often leads to thyroid imbalance, which can also trigger lethargy and fatigue. Ashwagandha can balance the effects of your thyroid because it’s an adaptogen.

Ashwagandha can balance your central nervous system, reducing cortisol levels and balancing your thyroid hormones.

ashwagandha for pcos
ashwagandha for pcos

Which Ashwagandha Should You Take For PCOS?

I love ashwagandha personally, and I’ve tried quite a few types.

Some of my favorite ashwagandha for PCOS include:

  • Toniq 52,000 mg Concentrated Ashwagandha Extract
  • Himalaya Organic Ashwagandha
  • Pukka Inner Calm Ashwagandha, Chamomile, and Lavender
Ashwagandha+ Benefits
Ashwagandha+ Benefits
Organic Ashwaghandha
Organic Ashwaghandha
Best Ashwagandha for PCOS
Best Ashwagandha for PCOS


Toniq 52,000 mg Concentrated


Himalaya Organic Ashwagandha


Pukka Inner Calm Ashwagandha

How Much Ashwagandha Should I Take for PCOS?

The dose of ashwagandha you take for PCOS will depend on the brand you use and the manufacturer’s instructions. Ashwagandha is considered a safe herb for most people, although you should speak to your healthcare provider with any questions you might have.

The general recommendation of dosage of ashwagandha for PCOS is 250-500 mg daily. Some people find a dose of 500-600 mg daily works best for them.

Ashwagandha isn’t going to have an effect like a pharmaceutical drug instantly, so it’s important that you take it for long enough to see the benefits. Give it at least a month before deciding how it works for you.

Ashwagandha and PCOS—Final Thoughts

PCOS is a condition that can cause symptoms that are devastating to the lives of women affected by them. PCOS affects hormones during the childbearing years, and it affects the ovaries in particular, and Ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone. Common symptoms include irregular periods, heavy bleeding, hair growth, acne, weight gain, headaches, and more.

Because ashwagandha has hormone-balancing benefits and is considered an adaptogen, which helps balance your body, it has the potential to help with many of the symptoms of PCOS.

Sources:

https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/ashwagandha

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4543599/

https://journals.lww.com/md-journal/fulltext/2019/09130/an_investigation_into_the_stress_relieving_and.67.aspx

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