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A lot of folks have been talking about Ashwagandha recently, and sometimes it is difficult to separate the hype from the science. So let’s take a good look at Ashwagandha benefits for women. There is a lot of ground to cover so first we’ll have a peek at the plant’s origins from both a cultural and biological perspective, and then investigate its therapeutic uses to separate fact from fiction.
1. What is Ashwagandha?
Before explaining in detail the most relevant Ashwagandha benefits for women, we will introduce you its ingredients and origin.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), is also widely known as Indian Ginseng and sometimes Winter Cherry. It is part of the Withania, or Nightshade, genus. The great news is that it has an array of potential benefits for women. There is no such thing as a wonder drug, but Ashwagandha boasts complex and subtle effects on the individual physiology and works on a subtle but measurable way on many of the body’s systems, giving wide ranging benefits which we’ll explore in more detail below. Think of Ashwagandha as your little helper. It is renowned as an adaptogen. Adaptogens are nature’s allrounders and can either stimulate or calm you down, depending on your need at the time. They respond to what your body needs in any given moment. Through these adaptogenic effects Ashwagandha promises hormonal balance above all, with subsequent benefits for women in particular, both mental and physical. The plant’s biology is complex, and on being consumed it releases a wad of antioxidants, and a cocktail of health boosting phytochemicals. Ashwagandha is well established in the Ayurvedic medicine tradition, and it is even said that it gives you “the strength of stallions”.
Just take a look at the cast list of Ashwagandha ingredients, there are so many antioxidants! Ashwagandha is full of good stuff like iron, fatty acids, glucose, nitrates, potassium, and tannins. The plant’s active compounds have some steroid effects too, and include anferin, sominine, somniferine, and withanolides. There are also a whole host of flavonoids.
The name Ashwagandha is derived from the Sanskrit word for horse, Ashva, hinting at the plants potent energising effects. Root, leaf, and berry all carry the active compounds, and these can be used therapeutically as an oil, or more commonly as a powder which is traditionally eaten when mixed with ghee, but there is nothing stopping you from whipping up a smoothie, tea, or a latte with Ashwagandha instead, if that is more your bag. Ashwagandha can be infused in a Sugar Cane alcohol tincture too, but to avoid taking too much or too little, and to ensure, the recommended dose, many people prefer to take capsules. There are some really high quality organic Ashwagandha capsules available on the market.
2. Therapeutic uses of Ashwagandha- Benefits for Women
First up an explainer: until relatively recently the West did not take Eastern traditional medicine very seriously, and it is only now that top scientists and medical professionals have got really excited about the how Eastern Medicine works, and treat these cultures with respect. The first rule of science being, after all, to keep an open mind. This means that research into Ayurvedic treatments like Ashwagandha are still in their infancy, and there is lots of research still to do. So while the Ashwagandha benefits for women are real, and tangible for thousands of women worldwide taking Ashwagandha regularly, and have been known about for centuries in India, never use Ashwagandha as a replacement for any medical treatment, unless advised to do so by a medical professional you trust. Here is what we can say with certainty about ashwagandha benefits for women:
- Ashwaghanda the Menopause Balancer
The menopause, of course, affects women as their fertility cycle shifts down gears. Hormone levels can really peak and trough and this can spark psychological as well as physical changes. If approaching the menopause you may want to consider taking Ashwagandha regularly. The plant targets the endocrine system to balance hormone secretion, and also boost circulation, and reduce stress. These help counter the effects of the menopause, such as mood swings, hot flushes, sleep disturbance, and sexual issues. A study in India concluded that Ashwagandha can be used to mitigate against the effects menopause, with the vast majority if study participants reporting benefit and the alleviation of symptoms after following Ayuervdeic treatments.
Ashwagandha’s potency during the menopause comes from its stress reducing properties, while it promotes hormonal equanimity, and it is suggested to take it early and regularly when the menopause hits.
- Ashwagandha the Mood Booster
Let’s face it, life can be really tough sometimes. There are the demands of work and family life, and loads of often unrealistic expectations projected onto us. This all leads to stress. Modern science recognises implicitly the damage that stress can do, upon the heart and nervous system. Medical conditions aside no-one needs reminding that stress is yuck. We know it. It makes real dents on the mood, as well our productivity. Not everyone knows however that stress actually has a hormonal foundation. It is all down to the hormone called cortisol, which you’ve probably heard of. This is where Ashwagandha benefits for women women, who lead such busy and complex lives. The plant targets cortisol production and stops it spiking. With cortisol balanced, energy and mood improve and this has a knock on effect on everything else. Don’t just take our word for it, the benefits of Ashwagandha on stress reduction were reported in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine.
If you are suffering from depression or anxiety, then Ashwagandha may be of benefit too. And it is a good idea to discuss with your GP the benefits supplementing any treatment with Ashwagandha.
- Ashwaghanda the Energizer
Sometimes in life you just need a little bit of support, a boost to get you over that line as you juggle work and family, and struggle with that urgent deadline. There are stacks of solutions for this, but many of us don’t really like stimulants, flooding the body with caffeinated or sugary drinks which can be detrimental to health and quite unsettling if taken too much or relied on too often. As an adaptogen Ashwaghanda boosts energy and revitalises, but without the artificial highs. It boosts circulation, and studies have shown that it may even boost blood cell production. All of this is great news, as Ashwaghanda helps stimulate the body’s natural energy levels.
- Ashwagandha for a balanced hormones and thyroid
The thyroid gland is essential for the normal functioning of the body. It is an endocrine gland in the neck, just by the Adam’s Apple. It produces the essential T3 and T4 hormones which need to be balanced in order for all the cells in the body to work and perform as they should. The biology behind this is complicated, but basically an overactive thyroid will lead to problems associated with weight loss and mood, and an underactive thyroid will lead to weight gain and lethargy. There are very depleting conditions associated with both underactive and overactive thyroids too. In order to keep the thyroid working smoothly in a good rhythm Ashwagandha targets the endocrine system and helps regulate hormonal balance by preventing excessive hormone secretion. If suffering from established thyroid complaints then it is a good idea to discuss taking Ashwagandha with your GP first.
- Ashwagahanda the aphrodisiac
Ashwagandha is mentioned as a powerful aphrodisiac in no other than the Kama Sutra. It has very well documented and potent effect on the male sex drive and fertility. But there are also some big benefits for women too. Studies have shown that taking Ashwagandha regularly enhances levels of female desire,stimulation, lubrication, and satisfaction.
- Ashwagandha for blood sugar
Healthy and balanced blood sugar levels are really important to health. In humans’ blood sugar, glucose specifically, is the body’s main source of energy. The human brain will suck up 60% of the body’s glucose alone, which might go some to explaining why we sometimes crave sugars quite as much as we do. If blood sugar is too high we risk symptoms ranging from excessive thirst through to coma in diabetic disorders. Ashwagandha helps regulate blood sugar, and keep it on the lower side. A study has shown it to be as effective as certain oral medicines at reducing blood sugar. Never replace prescribed medicine without consulting with a medical professional.
- Ashwagandha the anti-inflammatory
Whenever you get ill or hurt the body leaps into action to with fight off pathogens or repair itself. One of the side effects of this is inflammation. There is also lower level inflammation that you may not notice, as the body deals with the stresses it faces daily. Ashwagandha has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, to aid the body’s natural healing. Studies have shown that Ashwagandha helps the body produce more ‘killer cells’ that fight infection and reduce proteins that cause unhelpful levels of inflammation.
- Ashwagandha for healthy heart and circulation
Ashwagandha is great for a healthy and happy circulatory system. It has been shown to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides associated with heart disease, and while more effective at this in animals than humans more research is needed. Alongside a healthy diet and exercise there is real promise of Ashwagandha supplementation as a preventive measure against heart disease. Ashwagandha also boosts blood cell production, of both red and white blood cells, which can improve a number of disorders. This has led to Ashwagandha being investigated as a potential treatment for Anemia. Ashwagandha has also been proved in studies to improve the natural performance of elite athletes.
- Anti-oxidising Ashwagandha for a healthy mind
The brain is a complex organ, and researchers have shown oxidisation has a negative effect on brain nerve performance. Just as an iron bar oxidises in the rain, elements in the brain can oxidise too. We all know the feeling of feeling ‘a bit rusty’, this is kind of literal as far as the brain is concerned. Ashwagandha releases a wad of antioxidants on consumption, and these reduce level of oxidising stresses on the brain, which operate on s seriously micro-level. In this way Ashwagandha improves memory and circulation. This is great news for for skin and anti-ageing too. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24497737
2.2 Ashwagandha benefits for women- Skin
We’ve talked about some of the medical uses for Ashwagandha, but what about the cosmetic uses? With all this adaptogenic biology going on whenever you take Ashwagandha there are some great benefits for the skin. And if DIY cosmetics are your thing you can make even make your own toner using Ashwagandha.
We’ve already talked about Ashwagandha’s anti-oxidising effects, and these a great for anti-aging too, as antioxidants smash the free radicals and agents caused by the Sun’s UV radiation that go on to that cause wrinkles and other signs of aging, like fine lines. You can apply Ashwagandha topically as well, to get all the benefits of antioxidants absorbed transdermally. Just mix a little Ashwagandha, about a teaspoon, or the powder from 4 capsules, with deionised water, or rose water. Add the water slowly until you get a fine paste that can be applied as as mask. After 15 mins rinse off- and voila- transdermal absorption complete.
The anti-oxidising effects of Ashwagandha, when combined with the subtle steroidal effects, can assist healing of wounds. Just make up a regular poultice using water and around a teaspoon of Ashwagandha to make a paste. Remember to use the polutice and do not apply direct to open wounds.
- Ashwagandha for healthy skin
Ashwagandha has a range of anti-inflammatory properties that can help stave off infections, keeping skin healthy. When used daily in a water solution it also removes Keratin, when this has built up on the skin. This has been used as part of Ayurvedic medical practice. As already mentioned Ashwagandha is a hormone balancer too- so can boost flagging levels of estrogen and collagen, which gives skin that feminine glow. Stress also leads to wrinkles and dry skin, and as Ashwagandha reduces the stress hormone cortisol, to help keep you at your best. These positive effects just keep layering up.
We recommend keeping your skin toned and tip-top by using Ashwagandha as a toner- just infuse citrus fruits and a couple spoons of Ashwagandha powder in a cup of water, and keep in an airtight bottle. Use daily.
2.3 Ashwagandha benefits for women. Hair
- Healthy hair
Ashwagandha reduces stress by nixing the so called stress hormone cortisol, and it can also boost blood cell production, and reduce inflammation and the effects of oxidisers. This all does wonders for your hair. When used regularly Ashwagandha can not only see-off hair loss and premature greying, but dandruff too. And that circulatory boost makes its way up to your scalp, to boost hair growth, and help your hair maintain natural oils.
- Hair loss
As we have seen Ashwagandha reduces stress by zapping the so called stress hormone cortisol, and it can also boost blood cell production, and reduce inflammation and the effects of oxidisers and free radicals. All these factors play a part in hair loss, with stress, poor health and circulation, and the effects of toxins on the body, all contributing to incipient baldness in men, and hair loss in women. Ashwagandha can be used to prevent hair-loss, and Ashwagandha also has a range of cosmetic benefits for women.
Other information about Ashwagandha benefits
3. Extra ashwagandha benefits for women: Absorbing Ashwagandha - Ghee in Ayurveda
In Ayurvedic practice Ghee is way more than a high class cooking oil. The preparation of herbs and spices using ghee, and consumption of medicines with ghee, is highly recommended. This is because Ghee is a ‘catalytic agent’, and increases the efficacy of medicines taken with it, as the body loves the healthy fatty acids present in ghee, and therefore absorbs the nutrients alongside it in higher quantities. Think of it as your spoonful of sugar helping the medicine go down.
We recommend taking Ashwagandha with ghee. Making a dairy smoothie, or latte, could have similar effects, but this is not the Ayurvedic way. Get more information about Ghee and Ayurvedic Medicine.
4. Ashwagandha benefits for women vs Ashwagandha benefits for men
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, which in means that the way it works on me will be different from how it works on you. It can boost energy, or calm, depending on your requirements. Similarly the effects on men and the effects on women are different. Some women have been concerned that as Ashwagandha boosts testosterone it may also boost the same hormone in women. It is important to remember that ultimately Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic hormone balancer- that targets the endocrine system, to get it firing on all cylinders. This helps stabilise hormone levels based on where they should be, so while it raises testosterone in men that need that, it can similarly raise estrogen in women that need it too. Ashwagandha is beneficial to both men and women, but the form those benefits take is different. This is the beauty of this powerful plant.
Check here more information about Ashwagandha benefits for men
5. Ashwagandha for women. Dosage and Precautions
Although we have seen many Ashwagandha benefits for women before, it’s important to consider the dosage and precautions.
It is recommended to take around 700mg of Ashwaganda daily. That is about a teaspoon of Ashwagandha powder or two capsules. It is possible to take up to 1200mg daily, but only over short periods, so we prefer to stay well within the limits of safety, while still dosing enough to see the benefits.
If taking Ashwagandha as a tea just prepare it with one to two teaspoons, in hot not boiling water.
Pregnant women and lactating women should only ever take Ashwagandha under medical supervision and advice. There is risk of abortion when taking Ashwagandha when pregnant.
Anyone waiting for an operation should avoid Ashwagandha.
It is not recommended to those with HIV, or multiple sclerosis.
Any supplement should be taken as part of a regular diet. Regular diet and exercise are the healthiest way to live, and healthy bodies process Ashwagandha the best, so eat well and exercise.
Never use Ashwagandha as a replacement for prescribed medicine, and discuss the supplement with your GP before hand if suffering from a chronic condition.
6. Where to buy Ashwagandha?
As a powerful and effective supplement Ashwagandha is widely available online or in health food stores, but not all sources are good quality. It is really important to ensure you are taking pure Ashwagandha from a good ethical source, with no non-organic toxins that may find their way in during the manufacturing process. We recommend finding a supplier with a sustainable supply chain, who can provide organic production certification for the product.
If you have any question about specific Aswagandha benefits for women or other questions related to this product, don’t hesitate to contact us.