Ashwagandha is a medicinal plant that has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic herbal medicine.
Ashwagandha is well known for its adaptogenic effects. It strengthens our body and calms our mind. However, the usage of this medicinal plant is not limited to this. Ashwagandha can do much more.
This article focuses on the impact of Ashwagandha for women.
1. Ashwagandha promotes sexual libido and virility in women
Ashwagandha was mentioned as a potent aphrodisiac in Kama Sutra, one of the oldest writings about human sexuality. So there is already a long experience to the stimulating effect of Ashwagandha.
The research confirms the positive effects and has found that the Indian medicinal plant promotes sexual desire by promoting the circulation of the genitals – both in males and females. But the stress-relieving and thus relaxing effects of Ashwagandha also indirectly increase the sexual desire and satisfaction of sex among women taking Ashwagandha.
In study from 2015, 50 female participants between the ages of 21 and 50 who had sexual dysfunction were selected. The women were divided into two groups: a treatment group and a placebo group.
The treatment group received 300 mg of Ashwagandha root extract twice daily for 8 weeks. The placebo group received only starch powder in capsule form (1).
The improvement in sexual function was assessed by two standardized questionnaires and the number of sexual contacts (successful vs. total). The evaluation took place at the beginning of the study as well as every 4 and 8 weeks.
The study came to the following conclusion:
- The sexual desire increased by taking Ashwagandha.
- Sexual arousal rates were also significantly higher after 4 and 8 weeks than in the placebo group.
- Moisture of the vagina increased by 43% within 4 weeks and by 56% within 8 weeks. This means lubrication, the ability to moisturize, has improved significantly.
- The women who took Ashwagandha reported more intense orgasms and a generally higher sexual satisfaction.
- The number of sexual contacts increased, so the women had more sex.
Conclusion: Taking Ashwagandha capsules can help women with sexual dysfunction have a more satisfying sex life without causing any side effects. But even women without sexual dysfunction benefit from the “pleasure-increasing” effect of Ashwagandha.
2. Ashwagandha can increase female fertility
There are many different factors that affect women’s fertility. These include e.g. stress, certain illnesses, hormonal disturbances, but also some nutritional deficiencies.
If the fertility of the woman is reduced or limited, it can happen that it is difficult or impossible for the woman to get pregnant. For many women, the unfulfilled wish for children is an enormous psychological burden.
Ashwagandha could help increase women’s fertility through the following two effects:
- Ashwagandha can help improve thyroid function. And the thyroid gland is significantly involved in the hormonal regulation of our body.
- Furthermore Ashwagandha can reduce our stress levels by suppressing the increased release of our stress hormone cortisol. By reducing stress, a situation can be created that is optimal for the woman’s fertility.
However, in contrast to the increase in male fertility that has been demonstrated in several clinical trials, further studies are needed on women’s fertility to investigate the extent to which Ashwagandha actually helps women to conceive.
An indication that this could indeed be the case is provided by the following study (2):
An animal study provided evidence that Ashwagandha extract can affect the neurons of the hormone GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone).
These neurons are important for the regulation of gametogenesis (genital cell formation) and sexual steroidogenesis in both sexes. In women, the increase in GnRH neurons is important in inducing ovulation (3).
Conclusion: Ashwagandha has the potential to affect female fertility by acting on the GnRH neurons. However, the absence of human clinical trials does not provide sufficient evidence to guarantee the improvement of fertility in women.
3. Ashwagandha can protect against breast cancer
In vitro and animal studies indicate that the Ashwagandha extract, in particular its component Withaferin A, may be useful for the treatment of breast cancer. These studies came to the following conclusions:
- Ashwagandha inhibits tumor activity by affecting cell division in certain breast cancers, such as ER +, ER- and so-called triple negative breast cancers (4, 5, 6, 7).
- Ashwagandha prevents the spread of cancer to other body parts by affecting its invasiveness and metastasis capacity (8).
So far, however, only one study has been published in humans. The main study reviewed Ashwagandha’s efficacy in improving fatigue and quality of life in breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
In the study, 100 breast cancer patients were divided into two groups: the first group received chemotherapy and Ashwagandha, the second group received only chemotherapy (9).
Patients in the Ashwagandha group were asked to take 4 capsules every 8 hours during the entire 6-cycle chemotherapy regimen, totaling 2 g/day.
The quality of life and fatigue of the patients were measured at the beginning, during and after the chemotherapy.
The study came to the following conclusions:
- The degree of fatigue was significantly lower in the Ashwagandha group.
- Overall, the Ashwagandha group had a better quality of life than the control group without Ashwagandha.
- The side effects caused by chemotherapy were lower in the Ashwagandha group.
- The side effects of chemotherapy included e.g. Insomnia, loss of appetite, constipation and pain.
Conclusion: If you undergo breast cancer chemotherapy, taking Ashwagandha daily can help alleviate some side effects of chemotherapy medications. In addition, your quality of life can be greatly improved during and after your chemotherapy.
Note: Although several studies have provided evidence for the anti-tumor and anti-metastatic capacity of Ashwagandha, there are not enough studies in humans to validate these findings. That’s why you should not think taking Ashwagandha could replace chemo. All natural anti-cancer treatments should always be used in combination with conventional medical treatment (such as chemotherapy, radiation, surgery) and never as a replacement.
4. Ashwagandha can help with osteoporosis
Osteoporosis (bone loss) is a disease that often occurs in elderly women. Although it can affect both sexes, women are increasingly affected by osteoporosis. This is related with the level of estrogen being decreased after menopause.
Some animal studies show that Ashwagandha extract may be useful in the treatment of osteoporosis (10, 11, 12):
- Ashwagandha strengthens bone formation by stimulating osteoblasts (bone-forming cells).
- It prevents bone loss by reducing so-called osteoclastic genes.
- Ashwagandha strengthens bone strength.
Conclusion: Ashwagandha is a potential agent for the treatment of osteoporosis, especially in women who suffer from estrogen deficiency (such as after menopause). However, further human studies are needed to prove efficacy.
5. Other effects of Ashwagandha – not just in women
Ashwagandha is a medicinal plant with a very broad spectrum of health benefits. Here are some more ways you can benefit from taking Ashwagandha:
- Ashwagandha can improve thyroid function. #
- Ashwagandha can protect against free radicals. An excessive amount of free radicals can cause DNA damage to their cells and accelerate their body’s aging process. The antioxidant effects of Ashwagandha protects you from these free radicals and thus from damaging the cell DNA.
- Ashwagandha relieves stress, anxiety and depression. Both anxiety and depression are closely related to stress. Due to its stress-reducing and sleep-promoting effect, Ashwagandha tackles one of the most important causes of these stress disorders.
- Ashwagandha can improve memory and concentration. It also has a neuroprotective effect by protecting our brain cells from free radical damage. It thus acts preventively against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, dementia or Parkinson’s.
- Ashwagandha can protect against hair loss.
Ashwagandha is popular with men and is known for its potency-increasing effects.
But, as you have seen, Ashwagandha also offers a lot for women. It can be used as an aphrodisiac to enhance sexual pleasure and satisfaction.
It also has the potential to improve women’s fertility, protect from breast cancer, and it may be useful in the treatment of osteoporosis – although more clinical trials on humans are needed.