12 Ashwagandha Benefits For Women 2023: How To Enjoy It?
Ashwangandha’s ability to balance hormones makes it ideal for women. Photo: Eskymaks/Shutterstock
The ashwagandha herb comes from India as well as other areas in Southeast Asia and has gained popularity all over the world due to its many benefits. Among them is stress reduction and hormone balance, thanks to its adaptogenic properties (it has the ability to reduce stress and help the body relax). This makes ashwagandha helpful for other, related functions including reducing anxiety, improving sleep, and decreasing systemic inflammation. Women, in particular, may benefit from ashwagandha because women are more prone to stress and sleep disturbances caused by their unique hormonal makeup. Ashwangandha’s ability to balance hormones makes it ideal for women seeking natural remedies for their ailments.
12 Ashwagandha Benefits For Women
- Reduces Stress
- Improves Memory
- Increases Energy
- Enhances Fertility
- Aides in Better Sleep
- Improves Mental Health
- Boosts Libido
- Relieves PMS and Menopause Symptoms
- Supports a Healthy Heart
- Safe and Accessible
- May Have an Anti-Aging Effect
- Regulates Menstrual Cycles
12 Ashwagandha Benefits For Women
1. Reduces Stress
As an adaptogen herb, ashwagandha is able to neutralize physical and emotional stress. Similar to how pain relievers are able to detect pain, wherever it may be in the body, and minimize it, adaptogens like ashwagandha can locate stress in the body and mediate the chemical reactions that would otherwise heighten stress. These effects can be measured by a reduction of specific stress-related symptoms including high blood pressure and accelerated heart rate, both of which have been said to be reduced in individuals who took ashwagandha compared to those who took placebos.
2. Improves Memory
Memory and cognition, including reaction and response time, have been shown to improve after taking ashwagandha. This has been shown in experiments where individuals were asked to perform tasks while also responding to verbal commands. Additionally, a person’s memory, attention span and alertness were significantly enhanced by taking the herb. The ability to ingest and understand new information was also improved after taking ashwagandha for several weeks.
3. Increases Energy
Is it any wonder that ashwagandha can increase energy, given that it helps to reduce stress (stress makes the body tired)? When looking at women with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), it was shown that ashwagandha helped improve energy levels, which in turn can also help increase exercise performance. With more exercise, comes more energy.
4. Enhances Fertility
Fertility is another component of health that is positively affected by ashwagandha. Higher rates of pregnancy have been reported in “infertile” women who take ashwagandha for a few months, compared with infertile women who don’t. For women looking to get pregnant, it’s helpful to know that ashwagandha helps male fertility, as well, since it does take two to tango. It helps males improve the quality, count and motility of their sperm. While there are direct impacts on fertility, it’s theorized that by just reducing stress, lowering cortisol and balancing hormones in general, ashwagandha is able to assist in boosting fertility as well.
5. Aides In Better Sleep
If better sleep is what you’re after, ashwagandha can help with this, too. Studies on ashwagandha and sleep indicate that the herb helps individuals not only fall asleep faster, but sleep longer and more deeply. It’s thought that the naturally-occuring compound in ashwagandha, triethylene glycol, may induce sleepiness, as well as other compounds that may positively influence GABA receptors (which play a major role in our stress and sleep cycles).
6. Improves Mental Health
One thing ashwagandha is known for is its positive influence over mental health, particularly, the reduction of anxiety and depression. Ashwagandha is used frequently as either an addition to, or replacement for antidepressants and anxiety medications, because it’s been shown to be as effective in many individuals. Ashwagandha aiding in better sleep factors into better mental health, too, since poor sleep quality can fuel anxiety and depression. This makes ashwagandha a valuable asset for women, particularly during perimenopause and menopause, when hormonal changes may bring about sleep disturbances and mood changes.
7. Boosts Libido
A loss of libido is a common symptom for women going through hormonal changes. Studies have shown that ashwagandha can help boost libido in women, at any age and has also been shown to increase libido in men. For women taking ashwagandha, they may experience heightened arousal and vaginal lubrication and more satisfying orgasms.
8. Relieves PMS And Menopause Symptoms
Ashwagandha’s ability to gently nudge hormones back into balance makes it ideal for reducing the hormonally-related symptoms of PMS and menopause. These symptoms can include hot flashes, night sweats, and insomnia (menopause), and menstrual cramps, cravings and mood swings (PMS). Women who took ashwagandha for a few months reported fewer symptoms, with less frequency, as well as less severity of symptoms.
9. Supports A Healthy Heart
Heart disease is one of the many chronic diseases which can threaten the lives of women. It’s thought that ashwagandha can help prevent heart disease by reducing overall inflammation in the body, which could otherwise create danger for the heart. However, it may also serve women’s hearts well by increasing the levels of oxygen one can take in during physical exercise, an important element in cardiovascular health. Studies have also indicated that ashwagandha has positive influences on cholesterol, namely, lowering LDL cholesterol and raising HDL cholesterol.
10. Safe And Accessible
Another benefit of ashwagandha is that it’s not particularly hard to find, nor is it likely to be dangerous (with a few exceptions for those on certain medications, or women who are pregnant or have hormonally-related serious health conditions). It may seem like a small thing, but having the peace of mind that ashwagandha is safe, as well as effective, can make a positive difference for women who are in need of herbal support, but don’t want to risk dangerous side effects that can come with other herbs or medications.
In addition to being safe for most individuals, ashwagandha is readily available in many health food stores, online, and is a staple in the medicine cabinets of most TCM, Ayurvedic, Functional Medicine and Naturopathic practitioners. This means women, even in remote areas, should not have difficulty finding various versions (powders, tinctures, etc.) of ashwagandha to purchase.
11. May Have Anti-Aging Effects
Ashwagandha works in a variety of ways and through several pathways to curb inflammation, reduce cortisol, and take stress and tension off the mind and body. This alone can do wonders for the outward appearance, however ashwagandha contains extracts that may also increase telomerase activity, which protects the skin. Ashwagandha can delay the signs of aging, as well as reduce unsightly dark spots and inflamed skin.
12. Regulates Menstrual Cycles
A woman’s menstrual cycle can easily get thrown off by stress, hormone imbalances, poor diet, and certain medications. This can present as late periods, skipped periods, or even completely absent periods (amenorrhea). It may also present as excessively heavy or light periods. This, in turn, can cause other complications including trouble conceiving. Adding ashwagandha to your daily regime (as a tea or mixed with plant-based milk) can help to alleviate these issues by rebalancing hormones and regulating the menstrual cycle.
What Is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is a popular adaptogen herb (it relieves stress in the body) used all over the world, though its origins stem from India and other parts of Southeast Asia. Ashwagandha has long-been used in traditional medicine, especially Ayurveda, to help heal illness, ease a variety of symptoms and improve overall health. Also known as “Indian Ginseng” and “Winter Cherry”, ashwagandha can be found in powder, pill, gummy, tea, or tincture form and is available over-the-counter in many health food stores, but can also be prescribed in specific dosages by an experienced TCM, naturopathic or Ayurvedic practitioner.
Ashwagandha contains phytocompounds such as alkaloids, flavonoids, and glycosides, among others, as well as antioxidants which are largely responsible for the anti-inflammatory effects it provides. In addition to containing its own antioxidants, ashwagandha has the ability to help the body produce more antioxidants, namely glutathione, the body’s main antioxidant, which is necessary for solid immunity.
How To Take Ashwagandha
Though ashwagandha is generally safe and available in most health food stores, it’s best to consult a practitioner on dosings, especially so that it can be tailored to your health concerns. Dosing will generally fall between 250–500 milligrams (mg) per day, but only your healthcare provider can say exactly.
Once you start taking ashwagandha, its effects will take some time to kick in. You can expect to notice differences in your symptoms in 4-6 weeks, or possibly a little longer. However, some people are able to take ashwagandha in a single dose for acute relief. Ashwagandha is generally safe to take daily, but may be better tolerated when taken with food.
Many people find swallowing pills the easiest method for taking supplements. For those people, ashwagandha can be found in capsule form. Consult your practitioner for dosage and frequency.
Ashwagandha is also available in powder form, which makes it easy to stir into liquids, add to smoothies, or stir into cereal. Consult your practitioner for dosage and frequency.
Ashwagandha can be taken as a tincture, or a liquid in which a specified number of drops are placed in the mouth (usually under the tongue). Consult your practitioner for dosage and frequency.
You can enjoy ashwagandha in gummy form as well – the convenience of a pill that you chew instead of swallowing whole. Consult your practitioner for dosage and frequency.
Ashwagandha can be dried and used as tea leaves. Many people consume their ashwagandha this way, as a relaxing hot beverage before bed. Consult your practitioner for dosage and frequency.
Possible Risks Of Ashwagandha
Though ashwagandha is considered generally safe, it may not be for everyone and there are possible risks to consider when starting any new supplement. Stomach upset and other digestive symptoms, including diarrhea and vomiting may occur in some individuals. It may also be contraindicated for those who need to take a thyroid test, so it is better to hold off on taking ashwagandha until after the thyroid test is performed. For those on blood thinning, blood pressure, thyroid, or anxiety medications, it may be unsafe to take ashwagandha. Additionally, if you are already taking other supplements that enhance relaxation, such as GABA or valerian, it may not be safe to add ashwagandha into the mix. Ashwagandha may also be unsuitable for pregnant women or those with serious hormonally-related health conditions.
Ashwagandha, originally from India, is an ancient herb with powerful medicinal properties that is now used worldwide for numerous reasons. Classified as an adaptogen or stress-relieving herb, ashwagandha is a common go-to supplement to help women balance their hormones, reduce PMS and menopause symptoms, reduce their anxiety, and get better sleep. However, the benefits extend into heart health, immunity, and male reproductive health as well. Ashwagandha is available in many forms, making it convenient to take, whether you prefer tea or tinctures, pills or powders, but should be taken under the supervision of a qualified medical provider.
Frequently Asked Questions
Not at all. Men can reap many benefits from ashwagandha, including many of the same benefits it offers women. However, women’s health is more nuanced due to hormone activity and therefore ashwagandha can be especially helpful for women.
Studies have indicated that ashwagandha can be just as effective in reducing anxiety and depression as some medication, however, this is bio-individual and needs to be overseen by your doctor. Do not stop or make any changes to your current medication without first consulting with your doctor.
Ashwagandha is a powerful, medicinal herb, so it should not be over-consumed, as you might with some other teas (such as ginger or camomile). Ask your medical provider for a safe recommended amount for you.
Ashwagandha hasn’t been studied to the extent that it’s established if it’s more beneficial for one or the other, added to which, everyone will respond differently to it. If your doctor recommends it for you, try it for yourself.