8 Incredible Benefits of Ashwagandha Root for Women’s Health

August 11th, 2018 by Loretta Lanphier

8 Incredible Benefits of Ashwagandha Root for Women’s Health

Women are often on the lookout for natural modalities, herbs and supplements that can help with certain women’s health issues without needing to take prescription medications. It is commonly known among natural health practitioners that using ashwagandha root for women’s health can provide much needed support for those wanting a more natural approach. The 8 incredible benefits of ashwagandha root for women’s health listed below some of the very best benefits found in using ashwagandha root.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) root, an adaptogenic herb prevalent in Ayurvedic medicine and in use for more than 2,500 years is the most frequently used and highly researched adaptogenic herb. Adaptogens are a distinctive class of healing plants. They aid in balancing, restoring and protecting the body. Naturopath Edward Wallace describes adaptogens in the following quote: “An adaptogen doesn’t have a specific action; it helps you respond to any influence or stressor, normalizing your physiological functions.”

Scientific research on the plant indicates that ashwagandha root has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidizing, thyroid modulating, anti-stress, sleep-inducing, neuroprotective, anti-anxiety, anti-depressant and drug withdrawal properties. Many formulations made from Ashwagandha root improve musculoskeletal issues such as arthritis and rheumatism. It also acts as a tonic that boosts energy and improves overall health and longevity.

As true for all adaptogenic herbs, ashwagandha helps the body to uphold homeostasis, especially during times of emotional or physical stress. This powerful herb shows incredible results for lowering cortisol levels and helping support thyroid health. Ashwagandha has also been used for mood issues and in the prevention of degenerative diseases.

Let’s take a closer look at how ashwagandha root can support women’s health.

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8 Incredible Benefits of Ashwaganda Root for Women’s Health

1. Supports Thyroid Function

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a 2017 pilot study evaluating the benefits of ashwagandha for helping patients with subclinical hypothyroidism. The 50 participants were diagnosed with thyroid disorder; however, they didn’t display obvious symptoms of thyroid deficiency.

Over a period of eight weeks, the treatment group were given 600 milligrams of ashwagandha root extract every day with the control group receiving starch as the placebo. Researchers determined that ashwagandha improved serum thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroxine (T4) levels considerably compared to placebo. The study concluded there is a possibility that ashwagandha is beneficial for normalizing thyroid levels in patients with hypothyroidism.

The Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine published a study finding that ashwagandha has thyroid-enhancing properties. Patients with bipolar disorder took ashwagandha to improve cognitive function for an eight week period. Lab testing concluded that some of these patients experienced T4 increases during the treatment period, even though was not the original purpose of the study.

2. Supports Adrenal Function

According to research ashwagandha may be valuable in supporting adrenal function and helping to overcome adrenal issues. The adrenals are endocrine glands responsible for releasing hormones, specifically cortisol and adrenaline, in response to stress.

If the adrenals are already stressed due to an overabundance of emotional, physical or mental stress, this can lead to a condition referred to as adrenal fatigue. When the adrenals become stressed, this can also upset other hormones in the body, including progesterone, which can cause infertility and lower levels of DHEA, a hormone that’s tied to longevity and maintaining a strong body.

A word of caution. The use of herbs definitely has a place in adrenal recovery. Their use must be sensible respected to avoid over stimulation, addiction, and withdrawal issues. Short-term use in very mild cases is acceptable; however, if adrenal weakness is pronounced, it’s best to be under the supervision of an experienced adrenal expert. One should continually be alert for paradoxical or unusual reactions such as excessive stimulation, excessive fatigue, cardiac palpitation, unstable blood pressure, insomnia, anxiety, and irritability. These are warning signs of inappropriate use, which is a very common mistake in adrenal recovery.

3. Improves Memory

The Journal of Dietary Supplements published a 2017 study that indicated ashwagandha effectively enhances both immediate and general memory in those with mild cognitive impairment. The herb also improved attention, information processing speed and mental skills. The study involved 50 participants who received 300 milligrams of ashwagandha root extract or placebo for an eight week period. Researchers came to the conclusion that ashwagandha treatment was able to boost memory and other cognitive skills.

4. Boosts Energy Levels & Increases Stamina

Mahatma Ghandi University published in August 2010 a study indicating that ashwagandha has the capability to restore energy to the body – particularly energy lost from disease. For example, it can restore energy to a system worn out from diseases such as syphilis and rheumatic fever. Also, it is often given to seniors to restore energy to the various systems of the body.

Ashwagandha may also provide an energy boost to the heart. According to a study published in 2009 in the “World Journal of Medical Sciences,” ashwagandha has been found to increase the myocardial energy substrate. The myocardial energy substrate is the energy that keeps the heart functioning healthily and prevents heart failure.

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5. Mood Stabilizer for Depression

Not only does ashwagandha benefit people who deal with anxiety and chronic stress, but it can also be helpful for people who exhibit signs of depression. Ashwagandha betters our resistance towards stress and studies show that it thereby improves people’s self-assessed quality of life. As stress is a known cause of depression, as is hormonal imbalances, ashwagandha can potentially work as a natural remedy for depression.

In a 2000 experimental study involving rats, the benefits of ashwagandha was compared to the antidepressant medication imipramine. According to researchers, ashwagandha displayed antidepressant effects that were similar to imipramine when rats were exposed to “behavioral despair” and “learned helplessness” tests. It was determined that ashwagandha can be used as a mood stabilizer in clinical conditions of depression.

6. Provides Menopausal Support

Ashwagandha acts on the endocrine system by helping with hormone balance. A study of 51 menopausal women supplementing with ashwagandha observed a considerable reduction in menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, anxiety, and mood.

7. Supports Graceful Aging

Stress, metabolic, physical and emotional, significantly affects aging. The body’s stress hormone, cortisol, when out of balance, promotes muscle loss and weakness, wrinkles, and cognitive impairment. As we have seen, research continues to underline how ashwagandha improves resistance to stress, possibly decreasing cortisol production.

8. Promotes Healthy Blood Sugar

In several studies, ashwagandha has been shown to lower blood sugar levels.

One test-tube study found that it increased insulin secretion and improved insulin sensitivity in muscle cells. Also, several human studies have confirmed its ability to reduce blood sugar levels in both healthy people and those with diabetes.

In one four-week study in patients with schizophrenia, those who took ashwagandha had an average reduction in fasting blood sugar levels of 13.5 mg/dL, compared to 4.5 mg/dL in those who received a placebo.

Also, in a small study in six patients with type 2 diabetes, taking an ashwagandha supplement for 30 days lowered fasting blood sugar levels as efficiently as an oral diabetes medication.

Ashwagandha Contraindications

I am often concerned when articles addressing the health benefits of herbs do not contain possible cautions or contraindications when using the herb(s). Herbs can be very powerful and as such you should not take ashwagandha or any other herb without knowing the possible contraindications. And, as always, please take the time to consult with a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner or pharmacist.

Pregnant Women

Ashwagandha may induce abortion if used during pregnancy. For this reason, expectant mothers should avoid taking this herbal supplement.

Stomach Ulcers

Treatment with ashwagandha supplements may cause mild to moderate stomach irritation. Adults with a stomach ulcer should avoid taking ashwagandha, as this supplement may exacerbate symptoms associated with this health condition.

Autoimmune Disease

Increased immune system activity may occur following treatment with ashwagandha. Consequently, adults with any type of autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis or lupus, should not take this supplement. Improper use of ashwagandha may make your disease symptoms worse.

Certain Prescription Medications

Certain prescription medications may be contraindicated when taking ashwagandha. Simultaneous use of ashwagandha and immunosuppressants, such as prednisone, azathioprine, cyclosporine and basiliximab, should be avoided. Ashwagandha may cause drowsiness and should not be used in conjunction with sedative medications, including lorazepam, alprazolam, zolpidem or phenobarbital. People taking diabetes medications, blood pressure medications, medications that suppress the immune system, and medications for thyroid issues should not use ashwagandha root unless they’ve first consulted with a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner or pharmacist. Since ashwagandha also works to modify these health conditions, there may be adverse interactions.

Before any surgery that requires anesthesia, stop taking ashwagandha at least two weeks before the surgery in case the herb further slows down your central nervous system.

In conclusion…

You know that a cookie or a piece of cake is usually comforting. However that feeling that you get is always short-lived. Most importantly, it can have a lasting effect on your health – often with undesirable outcomes. Your health is impressionable and will always react to what you put into your body. Because of this, it’s important to support and nurture your health every day with a healthy diet. Some of the beginning signs that your brain is running low on nutritional support is changes in energy production and mood. This may be seen as being easily stressed, anxiety, irritability, and even bad moods. Even your sleep can be disrupted with brain stress and not enough rest, relaxation, and nutritional vitality (healthy diet). Be good to yourself and give yourself the time needed to decide what you what you really want. Weight loss? Clear, vibrant skin? Increased energy levels? Mental alertness? Better mood? Less stress? Better sleep? Better overall health? Disease prevention? The ability to watch your children or grandchildren grow up? All of the above? I encourage you to write down your goals and read them out loud every day during your quiet time. (Yes, you should have a quiet time every day.) Watch for those opportunities when you’re presented with a chance to choose a healthy way of eating or living that will help you move forward in achieving your goals. Take some time to think about how purposely choosing a healthier route is going to serve your most desired health and wellness goals. Just about anyone can achieve good health and well-being…I’ve seen it happen over and over when we make a determined choice to change our lifestyle. It’s time to write down your goals and begin walking toward them…today.

RESOURCES & RESEARCH

Chandrasekhar, Jyoti Kapoor, Sridhar Anishetty. 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 J Psychol Med. 2012 Jul-Sep; 34(3): 255–262. doi:  10.4103/0253-7176.106022 PMCID: PMC3573577. PMID: 23439798.

Thakur, R.S., Puri, H.S., Husain, A., (1989) Major medicinal plants of India. Central

Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, India, 531.

Bhattacharya SK, Bhattacharya A, Sairam K, Ghosal S. Anxiolytic-antidepressant activity of Withania somnifera glycowithanolides: an experimental study. Phytomedicine. 2000. Dec;7(6):463-9.

Sharma AK, Basu I, Singh S. Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Subclinical Hypothyroid Patients: A Double-Blind, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2018 Mar;24(3):243-248. doi: 10.1089/acm.2017.0183. Epub 2017 Aug 22.

Jessica M. Gannon, Paige E. Forrest and K. N. Roy Chengappa. Subtle changes in thyroid indices during a placebo-controlled study of an extract of Withania somnifera in persons with bipolar disorder. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2014 Oct-Dec; 5(4): 241–245. doi:  10.4103/0975-9476.146566 PMCID: PMC4296437 PMID: 25624699.

Kathleen A. Head, ND, and Gregory S. Kelly, ND. Nutrients and Botanicals for Treatment of Stress: Adrenal Fatigue, Neurotransmitter Imbalance, Anxiety, and Restless Sleep. Alternative Medicine Review Volume 14, Number 2 2009.

Choudhary D, Bhattacharyya S, Bose S. Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal) Root Extract in Improving Memory and Cognitive Functions. J Diet Suppl. 2017 Nov 2; 14(6):599-612. Epub 2017 Feb 21.

R Archana, A Namasigayam. Antistressor effect of Withania somnifera. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Volume 64, Issue 1, 1 January 1998, Pages 91-93.

Nava E, Landau D, Brody S, Linder L, Schächinger H. Mental relaxation improves long-term incidental visual memory. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. 2004 May;81(3):167-71.

Modi MB1, Donga SB, Dei L. Clinical evaluation of Ashokarishta, Ashwagandha Churna and Praval Pishti in the management of menopausal syndrome. Ayu. 2012 Oct;33(4):511-6. doi: 10.4103/0974-8520.110529.

Hypoglycemic activity of withanolides and elicitated Withania somnifera.Phytochemistry. 2015 Aug;116:283-289. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2015.02.029. Epub 2015 Mar 18.

Hypoglycemic, diuretic and hypocholesterolemic effect of winter cherry (Withania somnifera, Dunal) root. Andallu B, Radhika B. Indian J Exp Biol. 2000 Jun; 38(6):607-9.

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-953/ashwagandha

Loretta Lanphier is a Naturopathic Practitioner (Traditional), Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Holistic Health Practitioner and Certified Clinical Herbalist as well as the CEO / Founder of Oasis Advanced Wellness in The Woodlands TX. She studies and performs extensive research in health science, natural hormone balancing, anti-aging techniques, nutrition, natural medicine, weight loss, herbal remedies, non-toxic cancer support and is actively involved in researching new natural health protocols and products.  A 17 year stage 3 colon cancer survivor, Loretta is able to relate to both-sides-of-the-health-coin as patient and practitioner when it comes to health and wellness. “My passion is counseling others about what it takes to keep the whole body healthy using natural and non-toxic methods.” Read Loretta’s health testimony Cancer: The Path to Healing. Loretta is Contributor and Editor of the worldwide E-newsletter Advanced Health & Wellness
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Oasis Advanced Wellness/OAWHealth does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Oasis Advanced Wellness/OAWHealth are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician of choice.

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