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what does ashwagandha do for women

What Does Ashwagandha Do for Women?

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(Last Updated On: August 10, 2022)

If you’re wondering what does ashwagandha do for women, you aren’t alone. This supplement is an adaptogen, and it’s incredibly popular right now. While it may seem trendy, ashwagandha has been used medicinally for thousands of years.

Below we talk about the benefits of ashwagandha for women and everything else you should know before trying the supplement.

What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is also known as Withania somnifera. This is one of the most utilized Ayurvedic herbs. Ayurveda is traditional medicine based on natural healing.

For thousands of years, ashwagandha has been used to improve concentration and energy levels and relieve stress. Ashwagandha is known as Indian ginseng and winter cherry as well.

The plant is a small shrub native to Southeast Asia and India.

The extracts or powders from the root and leaf of the plant are used to treat many conditions, including fertility issues and anxiety.

Benefits of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha has powerful benefits for anyone, including both women and men. In general, some of the benefits include:

Reduces Anxiety and Stress

Ashwagandha supplements can reduce anxiety and stress. The herbal remedy is an adaptogen. Adaptogens help your body deal with stress.

There’s evidence ashwagandha may help control mediators of stress, such as cortisol. The herb reduces the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA), which is a system in your body responsible for regulating your stress response.

In one small study, participants who took 250 or 600 mg of ashwagandha extract for eight weeks had significantly lower perceived stress and levels of the cortisol stress hormone than people who took a placebo. The participants taking ashwagandha also improved sleep quality compared to the placebo group.

May Help with Some Mental Health Conditions

There’s evidence that ashwagandha may help with mental health conditions aside from anxiety, including depression. In people with bipolar disorder, some evidence shows it might help with cognitive impairment.

In a 2012 study, adults who took 600 mg of ashwagandha per day for 66 days reported a 77% reduction in depression symptoms, compared to a 5% reduction in the placebo group.

Testosterone and Fertility Booster for Men

We’ll talk more about what ashwagandha does for women below, but it has some potential benefits for men. Ashwagandha supplements have been linked to male fertility and higher testosterone levels in men.

Reduced Blood Sugar

There’s a limited amount of evidence indicating that ashwagandha may help people with diabetes or those with high blood sugar levels. In a review of 24 studies, which included five clinical studies assessing people with diabetes, treatment with ashwagandha significantly improved blood sugar, insulin, hemoglobin A1c, and oxidative stress markers.

One component, withaferin A, is believed to have a potent antidiabetic benefit. Withaferin A may help stimulate cells to take in glucose from the bloodstream.

Less Inflammation

The compounds in ashwagandha, including withaferin A, can help reduce inflammation. Withaferin A specifically targets the body’s inflammatory pathways. The compound may also reduce levels of inflammatory proteins.

Memory and Brain Function

If you take ashwagandha, it can help improve your cognitive function. In particular, cognitive functions that may be improved by ashwagandha include attention, executive functioning, reaction time, and performance on cognitive tasks.

Better Sleep

In a study of adults taking 600 mg of ashwagandha a day for 12 weeks, participants had significantly improved sleep quality and alertness when they woke up compared to placebo treatment. Several other studies have shown that ashwagandha has a significant, positive effect on sleep quality. Ashwagandha may also help reduce anxiety levels and help you feel more alert when you wake up.

What Does Ashwagandha Do For Women?

So, what does ashwagandha do for women in particular?

  • Menstrual cycle irregularities: If you deal with delayed or irregular periods, cramps, physical changes during menopause, fertility issues, or the growth of facial hair, ashwagandha may help you. Hormonal imbalance is the main issue behind female reproductive symptoms and issues. Ashwagandha helps with hormonal imbalance and strengthens the function of the adrenal glands. A woman who has balanced hormones can improve fertility and stabilize the period.
  • Sexual stimulation: For women, ashwagandha may help with sexual arousal, lubrication, and orgasm. There are a few ways it can achieve this. One is by reducing mental stress and improving mood. Ashwagandha can also improve blood flow. In at least one clinical study, ashwagandha helped improve sexual dysfunction in women.
  • Vaginal infections: Since it has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, ashwagandha may help with vaginal infections, including yeast infections.
  • Blood sugar regulation: When women have imbalances or problems with blood sugar, it can contribute to PCOS and similar problems. Ashwagandha has a balancing effect on blood sugar. It can also help reduce triglycerides.
  • Weight loss: One of the primary reasons for weight gain in women is stress, with hormonal imbalance coming in at a close second. Ashwagandha can lower stress, reduce cortisol, and even help eliminate food cravings.
  • Menopause symptoms: Women experience high levels of hormonal imbalance because of menopause. Ashwagandha positively affects the endocrine system and can help reduce menopause symptoms in women.
  • Fertility: Ashwagandha may positively affect many of the hormones that are part of reproduction. When your hormones are in balance, it supports healthy fertility.
  • Heart health: Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death for women. Ashwagandha can help improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and also cholesterol.
  • Cancer: Recent studies show that ashwagandha could potentially benefit people with breast cancer, especially ER/PR positive breast cancer and triple-negative breast cancer.
  • Thyroid health: Thyroid problems affect women much more than men. Hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid, can cause symptoms like irregular periods, constipation, hair loss, weight gain, and fatigue. Ashwagandha can promote thyroid health. In one study of hypothyroid patients, taking 600 mg of ashwagandha every day for eight weeks led to significantly higher thyroid-stimulating hormone levels (TSH) and T3.
  • Skin health: There are a lot of properties of ashwagandha that can make it beneficial for the health and appearance of the skin. For example, it has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties. These can help combat free radicals, so your skin looks smoother and healthier.
  • Hair health: If you take ashwagandha, it can help you have a healthy scalp. It may also prevent premature graying because it has tyrosine. Tyrosine is an amino acid that stimulates the production of melanin. In Ayurveda, ashwagandha is used to help with postpartum hair loss, and it’s thought to help promote healthy hair growth by stimulating DHEA, an androgen hormone.

Will Ashwagandha Increase Testosterone in Women?

When answering “what does ashwagandha do for women,” a common question people have is whether it will boost testosterone. The testosterone-boosting effects of ashwagandha are why it’s a popular supplement among men.

With that being said, it’s not likely a cause for concern.

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen. That means it works based on what your body requirements are. Rather than strictly raising testosterone levels, ashwagandha can bring your body’s hormone levels back into balance. In men, that might mean restoring optimal testosterone levels, but in women, it could mean regulating estrogen levels.

Are There Women Who Shouldn’t Take Ashwagandha?

While it’s considered a safe supplement, ashwagandha might not be right for every woman. First, if you have an autoimmune condition, talk to your health care provider before you take it. Ashwagandha can improve the immune system and increase white blood cells, but you may not want that if you already have an overactive immune system.

If you’re pregnant or nursing, avoiding ashwagandha is best unless your healthcare provider tells you otherwise.

Talk to a doctor before trying ashwagandha for women with low blood sugar or blood pressure because it can lower both.

What Does Ashwagandha Do For Women—Final Thoughts

Ashwagandha has a lot of potentially powerful benefits for women. Benefits include helping with hormone balance, weight management, anxiety, and mental health.

 

Sources

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “Ashwagandha.” March 8, 2022. Accessed August 10, 2022.

Chandrasekhar, K. et. Al. “A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults.” Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, July-September 2012. Accessed August 10, 2022.  

Lopresti, Adrian Ph.D. et al. “An investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.” Medicine, September 2019. Accessed August 10, 2022.

Speers, Alex B. et al. “Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) on Stress and the Stress-Related Neuropsychiatric Disorders Anxiety, Depression and Insomnia.” Current Neuropharmacology, September 14, 2021. Accessed August 10, 2022.

Lopresti, Adrian L. “A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Study Examining the Hormonal and Vitality Effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in Aging, Overweight Males.” American Journal of Men’s Health, March 2019. Accessed August 10, 2022.

Cleveland Clinic. “What Is Ashwagandha.” May 5, 2021. Accessed August 10, 2022.

Gopal, Sriram, et al. “Effect of an Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) root extract on climacteric symptoms in women during perimenopause.” NIH National Library of Medicine, December 2021. Accessed August 10, 2022.

Sharma, Ashok Kumar, et al. “Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Subclinical Hypothyroid Patients: A Double-Blind, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial.” NIH National Library of Medicine, March 2018. Accessed August 10, 2022.

Gopukumar, Kumarpillai, et al. “Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract on Cognitive Functions in Healthy, Stressed Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study.” Hindawi, November 11, 2021. Accessed August 10, 2022.

Panossian, Alexander and Wikman, Georg. “Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress-Protective Activity.” NIH National Library of Medicine, January 2010. Accessed August 10, 2022.

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