Few evergreen shrubs have garnered the world's attention as much as ashwagandha. This medicinal herb's origin is intricately interlaced with traditional Ayurvedic practices for thousands of years and continues to be a notable choice for wellness. In this guide, we'll dive into ashwagandha benefits for females that don’t only nurture their physical health but also bolster their mental clarity.
What is Ashwagandha?
Derived from the Sanskrit words “ashwa,” meaning horse, and “gandha," meaning smell, this potent evergreen earned its moniker for the plant roots' scent similar to a horse. It's a small shrub with white and red flowers. Its roots, leaves, and flowers are used for medicinal purposes. Ashwagandha has made its name in traditional medicine and is revered for its broad spectrum of benefits, particularly for the unique needs of the ladies.
It’s a multifaced healer considered an Ayurvedic herb and adaptogen. Ashwagandha can grapple with period cramps, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), and issues during menopause.
Scientifically known as withania somnifera, ashwagandha is also called amukkara, winter cherry, poison gooseberry, or Indian ginseng. It primarily grows in India, Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.
12 Ashwagandha Benefits for Females
Ashwagandha has many benefits to offer. But the top 12 are as follows:
- For a Healthy Body Composition
Body composition is the body's distribution of fat, bone, and muscle. It’s an important element in determining if one is at a healthy body mass index. Being at a healthy weight, no matter what stage in life, is crucial to avoid health problems.
Ashwagandha is a wonder in helping women manage their weight by increasing muscle mass while reducing body fat levels. It also aids in dealing with hunger through the primary stress hormone, cortisol. Keeping cortisol at healthy levels lessens our want for comfort foods that are generally brimming with fat and sugar.
- For Emotional Wellness
Updated studies, like this 2021 research, concluded the effectiveness of ashwagandha's leaf and root extract against stress, anxiety, insomnia, and depression. This wonder plant also has a calming effect that some medicine specialists believe is caused by suppressing dopamine receptors that work overtime when we’re stressed or anxious.
But don’t be misguided and think that ashwagandha dampens our positive emotions. It’s quite the contrary, actually. It stabilises our neurochemistry and thus can help us in achieving a healthy emotional state.
- To Balance Hormones
Now, this one is especially vital for women. Ashwagandha is known to balance female hormones, including regulating reproductive and thyroid hormones. This feat is critical to aid women experiencing irregular menstruation, period cramps, and PCOS.
- To Avoid Cancer
You read that right – one of the many benefits of ashwagandha for females is its contribution to reducing the probability of cancer. Although there are still limited studies proving its effectiveness, several researchers are ready to back up this claim.
- Widodo et al.'s study, for instance, suggests that ashwagandha has anti-tumorigenic properties that can interfere with healthy cells turning into cancerous ones.
- Zhang et al.’s work found that the major phytochemical withaferin A in ashwagandha’s leaves and roots induces apoptosis, or the process of ridding damaged, irreparable cells in the breasts and ovaries.
- The plant can also lessen skin carcinogenesis through antioxidant enzymes, as Davis and Kuttan’s research discovered.
- To Improve Cognitive Function
There are several studies supporting Ashwagandha’s effect on cognitive performance. For instance, a 2021 study determined that the plant’s root extract significantly improved participants’ recall memory, attention span, and concentration. Another 2022 research showed better visual memory, reaction time, and executive functioning results.
- To Regulate Blood Sugar Level
Did you know having high sugar intake leads to premature aging? There’s a reason why health professionals always ask us to keep our blood sugar levels in check. It doesn’t only improve our mood and gives us more energy. Most importantly, it will keep us away from long-term health complications like diabetes.
Although the most common diabetes, Type 2, is more common in men, women are more prone to issues and deaths related to it. For older women, high blood sugar means a failing kidney, lost vision, or a weak heart.
Some clinical studies claim ashwagandha can assist in reducing blood glucose and blood fat by controlling sugar cravings. An important note: Those with diabetes should be cautious of taking ashwagandha. Since they are already taking medications that lower their blood sugar, adding ashwagandha on top of that can make their levels too low.
- For Skin and Hair Health
Ashwagandha is a nutrient-rich plant that can promote glowing skin and healthy hair. It has iron, calcium, beta-carotene, and vitamin C, making it an excellent moisture provider and preventing aging. Plus, ashwagandha has antimicrobial properties that heal skin damage, reactions, or infections. It's also been recommended to be effective in handling vitiligo for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
- For Better Sleep
A 2020 actigraphy study revealed that 72% of its participants fell asleep faster and slept better with Indian medicinal herbs, including ashwagandha. This may be attributed to an active component in ashwagandha called tri-ethylene glycol. This extract, combined with ashwagandha's ability to mitigate stress and anxiety, is great for inducing sleep, so much so that it can help people with chronic insomnia.
- To Reduce Inflammation
In general, ashwagandha has been an excellent immune-boosting herb for centuries. Aside from being a great shrub for muscle recovery, it also has anthelmintic properties to treat parasitic infections. Ashwagandha's withanolide phytochemicals are the primary reason it's an effective solution for reducing swelling and irritation.
- To Improve Sex Drive
Women who are in the later part of their lives often grapple with sexual problems. Female sexual dysfunction, or FSD, is a common disorder that comes with lower libido, vaginal dryness, and pain during sex. It’s one thing to deal with issues that affect only your body. But these problems spill over into women’s intimate relationships and impact their partners as well.
That’s why research about herbal medicine aiding women in getting their sexual prowess back, no matter the age, is important. One such study involves Dongre et al.’s discovery that ashwagandha’s root extract can help cure FSD with no adverse side effects.
It’s also worth noting that the legendary ancient book about courtship, marriage, and love-making, Kama Sutra, referenced ashwagandha as a powerful sexual stimulant. In fact, various studies already confirmed it as a superb aphrodisiac herb.
- To Protect Against Vaginal Infection
It's not uncommon for women to experience frequent yeast infections during or after menopause. The seesaw of hormones usually causes this phenomenon, plus their subsequent effects, like a compromised immune system or illnesses like diabetes. Using antibiotics can also throw the vaginal flora for a loop. Aside from balancing the hormones, ashwagandha has antimicrobial and antifungal properties that can protect women from yeast infections.
- For Female Fertility
Ashwagandha improves the endocrine system responsible for metabolism, growth, and a woman's ability to conceive. It balances the reproductive hormones while strengthening her reproductive organs. Moreover, ashwagandha can help treat endometriosis, a disease that makes it hard to get pregnant.
Ashwagandha and Menopause
There isn't a specific timeline for when women enter climacteric. Sure, there are answers to the question, "When does menopause start?" but it's not the only query women should focus on.
Although there are many possible ways to prepare ourselves for this significant life transition, there can always be surprises, welcomed or not, along the way. To deal with what women's bodies go through during this time is a headache, to say the least. That's why many are still looking for every possible solution that can alleviate these aches. Speaking of solutions, HRT has been recognized as a great fix, but what if you can't use it? There are also many who are not sure how to spot if HRT isn’t working.
Ashwagandha for menopause has entered the scene and stayed in the spotlight for a reason. For menopause, these are the specific ways this shrub can help:
- Restores female hormones, thus alleviating hot flashes, night sweats, bone loss, etc.
- Mitigates anxiety, mood swings, and stress
- Improve sexual function
- Helps with thyroid issues
- Has anti-inflammatory properties and is helpful for infections, arthritis, etc.
- Improves sleep quality
- Supports mental alertness and focus
Do you want to be the better you during this life stage? Try our daily menopause supplement now.
How to Consume Ashwagandha
Here are the various ways you can take ashwagandha:
- Take 2x a day or as prescribed by a doctor
- Can add warm water or milk
- After eating
Via root powder
- Use ¼ to ½ teaspoon or as prescribed by a doctor
- Can add honey or milk
- Add a teaspoon of root powder to 2 cups of water
- Bring to a boil
- Can add honey or milk
- Heat 4 tablespoons root powder to clarified butter or ghee
- Optional: Add honey
- Add one teaspoon of the mixture to a glass of cold milk
- Blend and consume
Via shrikhand (strained yogurt)
- Prepare 250 grams of thick curd
- Drain the water from the curd with a muslin cloth
- Remove the now-hung curd from the fabric and refrigerate
- Next, separate the hung curd into four portions
- Add sweetener (sugar, honey, or jaggery)
- Optional: Add dry fruits
- Add one tablespoon of root powder to each portion
- Knead each part until smooth
- Return to refrigerator
Via laddu (sweetened round balls)
- Use two tablespoons of root powder
- Mix it with a tablespoon of jaggery powder
- Add a pinch of black salt and pepper
- Knead to make the mixture even
- Turn the mixture into spherical shapes using your palms
- Optional: Refrigerate for at most four days
Via paste (for face)
- Use ½ tablespoon powder
- Mix with water until pasty
- Apply on area/s and let dry
- Wash with water and pat dry
Ashwagandha: Side Effects and Other Risks
Ashwagandha is usually safe to take. Still, you must take precautions before including it in your diet for various reasons. For instance:
- You’re taking other medications. In this case, it's best to speak with your doctor first. This is because ashwagandha can increase or weaken your other med’s effects.
- You have health conditions. The herb may be unsafe for pregnant, breastfeeding, or immunocompromised people. This group includes anyone prepping for surgery or has a thyroid condition.
Some side effects include:
- Upset stomach
Merging ancient wisdom and modern needs, it’s little wonder that ashwagandha benefits for females became a recurring topic over the years. This powerful herb’s prowess aids stress management, hormonal balance, reproductive support, and improved cognition. And yet, individual variations necessitate professional guidance. Ashwagandha's synergy of tradition and science opens a path towards empowered, well-rounded female wellness.
What are the benefits of ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha offers various benefits, including stress reduction, hormonal balance, enhanced immunity, and cognitive support. It aids in managing energy levels, promoting overall vitality, and fostering emotional well-being.
What happens when you take ashwagandha daily?
Taking ashwagandha daily can lead to reduced stress levels, improved mood, better sleep quality, and enhanced cognitive function. It may also contribute to hormonal equilibrium and bolstered immune responses.
Is Ashwagandha FDA approved?
While ashwagandha is considered safe for consumption and has a history of traditional use, it is classified as a botanical dietary supplement. Compared to FDA-approved treatments and meds, ashwagandha is not supported by the US FDA to treat specific medical conditions.
Does Ashwagandha help with sleep?
Yes, ashwagandha's calming properties can help improve sleep quality by reducing stress and anxiety. It may facilitate relaxation and contribute to a more restful night's sleep.
Who cannot take Ashwagandha?
Individuals with autoimmune diseases, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and those taking certain medications should consult a healthcare professional before using ashwagandha. It's crucial to ensure compatibility with individual health conditions and medication interactions.