Ashwagandha Benefits For Women
Native to India, the middle east, and north Africa, ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb that is very important in Ayurveda. The ashwagandha plant is small, has velvety leaves and bell-shaped flowers. It is also known as “Indian ginseng” or “Indian winter cherry” due to its appearance which is similar to the tomato shrub.
Today, ashwagandha is used to treat a very wide range of ailments and conditions. Its applications range from managing stress, anxiety, sleep, and depression to promoting sexual wellness and fertility to improving memory, reducing weight, managing hair loss, and controlling diabetes and blood pressure.
Ashwagandha benefits for women are numerous. Ashwagandha has apoptogenic properties, meaning that it relieves stress. It also has an aphrodisiac nature and antioxidating properties which make it a “wonder herb”. Here, we look at some of the major ashwagandha uses for females, how to use ashwagandha, and possible side effects.
Health Benefits of Ashwagandha For Female
The roots of the ashwagandha plant have been historically used in treating a variety of ailments and conditions such as insomnia, constipation and other gastrointestinal issues, diabetes, nervous breakdowns, and stress. Apart from the roots which are used to prepare ashwagandha churna, the leaves and fruits have also been used in relieving various conditions. Here, we look at some of the main ashwagandha benefits for females.
Cortisol is a hormone that is secreted in response to stress by the adrenal glands. When you are suffering from chronic stress, the cortisol levels become very high causing high blood sugar and abdominal fat storage. Ashwagandha can help you adapt to a variety of physical and mental stress. It helps in reducing cortisol levels and stress since it is an adaptogen herb.
Since it is effective in reducing cortisol levels, ashwagandha powder can help you in dealing with stress-related conditions such as anxiety and depression. The apoptogenic herb calms your mind and soothes your nerves giving you a relaxed and focussed state.
Ashwagandha calms the nerves and helps you sleep better. You can thus use ashwagandha as an alternative to sedatives for help in sleep-related disorders such as insomnia. Ashwagandha is apoptogenic and also reduces stress, thus improving sleep quality.
Since ashwagandha is effective in reducing stress and cortisol levels in the body, it reduces hair fall by reducing stress and promotes better growth of the hair.
Ashwagandha controls cortisol levels, reducing chances of weight gain due to stress. It also eliminates the chances of putting on weight due to stress eating. Due to its antioxidant properties, ashwagandha speeds up metabolism, lowers inflammation, and removes toxins from the body, helping weight loss and preventing weight gain.
Ashwagandha helps in increasing the testosterone level in males. Due to this and its antioxidant properties, ashwagandha can make your workouts more effective, helping in building muscle mass. It also promotes focus and concentration. This improves the quality of the workout due to improved coordination of muscles.
Ashwagandha reduces the cortisol levels in the body, thus reducing stress and helping reduce problems that are associated with increased stress such as high blood pressure.
Ashwagandha promotes insulin production and improves the insulin sensitivity of the cells. Thus, it can be used to manage risks during diabetes as it helps manage the blood sugar levels
Ashwagandha contains components that balance thyroid hormones in the body. It also reduces oxidative stress in the thyroid gland due to its antioxidant properties and improves thyroid activity overall.
Ashwagandha roots and leaves contain a compound that stimulates the production of pain mediators. This helps reduce pain associated with arthritis.
Due to its apoptogenic property, ashwagandha helps in reducing stress-related infertility in males and females. Its antioxidant nature fights free radicals and improves the health of sperm cells in males. In females, it promotes menstrual health. Ashwagandha is also an aphrodisiac and enhances libido.
How Women Can Use Ashwagandha?
Today, ashwagandha is available for consumption in various forms. The ashwagandha extract is used to prepare tablets and capsules that can be used normally. The other most common way to consume ashwagandha is in the form of ashwagandha powder which is also known as ashwagandha churna. This is prepared simply from the roots of the plant. Apart from the roots, the leaves, seeds, and fruits of the ashwagandha plant can also be used for a variety of purposes. The herb can be used by consumption as well as by applying directly. In this section, we look at the various ways to use ashwagandha.
You can consume ashwagandha orally. This can be done either as a supplement in the form of tablets and capsules or as ashwagandha tea and in many other combinations. Some of these main ways to use ashwagandha churna by consumption are –
Consuming in Solution or as a Beverage
Ashwagandha churna can be used by mixing it in milk or water or by making tea from it.
- Ashwagandha churna with warm milk – You can mix a quarter to a half teaspoon of ashwagandha churna in a cup of warm milk and drink it before going to sleep. If you want you can add honey to this.
- Ashwagandha churna with warm milk – If you prefer vegan, then you can skip the warm milk and simply add a quarter to half a teaspoon of ashwagandha churna to a cup of warm water, mix it and drink this solution.
- Ashwagandha churna with cold milk – You can also consume ashwagandha churna with cold milk by following a milkshake approach. Take four tablespoons of ashwagandha churna and roast it in one cup of ghee. Once roasted, add two tablespoons of honey and mix thoroughly. Add one teaspoon of this to a glass of cold milk and blend into a milkshake. Make sure that this shake is consumed immediately. This mixture can be stored in a refrigerator and be used as per need.
- Ashwagandha Tea – This is also a very popular way to use the ashwagandha churna. Boil one teaspoon of ashwagandha powder in two cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil and keep the flame on till the solution is reduced to half its volume. Now strain the liquid. You can add some honey for taste. Milk can also be added if you prefer milk tea.
Consuming as or in Edibles
You can make edible preparations with ashwagandha churna and consume the prescribed amount of these very tasty preparations.
- Ashwagandha Churna Laddoo – You can make very tasty ladoos using ashwagandha churna. For this, you will need two tablespoons of ashwagandha churna, one tablespoon of jaggery powder, and a pinch of pepper and black salt. Mix all the ingredients, add a little ghee and knead evenly. From this, you can prepare small ladoos by rolling them into balls between palms. These ashwagandha laddoos can be stored in the refrigerator for three to four days.
- Ashwagandha churna Shrikhand – You would be surprised to learn that you can infuse the goodness of ashwagandha powder into shrikhand! Shrikhand is a very popular Indian sweet preparation that is made from curd. First, we prepare the shrikhand. For this, you will need 250 gm of thick curd. Put this curd in a muslin cloth and drain all the water by tying the curd in a cloth and hanging the cloth pot. Once all the water has drained, remove the curd from the cloth and keep it aside in the refrigerator. Add sugar or honey as per your taste. You can also add crushed cardamom to enhance the taste, dry fruits can also be added. Add four tablespoons of ashwagandha churna to this mixture and mix all the ingredients thoroughly by kneading it evenly to make its texture smooth. Once you attain this texture, you are done! You can store the ashwagandha shrikhand in the refrigerator for about three to four days.
Ashwagandha as tablets or capsules
- Many tablets and capsules made from ashwagandha extract are available in the market. You can take a 400-500 mg capsule made from the standardized root extract once or twice a day. It is recommended that you also consult with your doctor before using any of these supplements available in the form of capsules or tablets as it can impact your existing medications.
When to consume Ashwagandha?
Now that you know how to consume ashwagandha, let us look at what the best time to consume ashwagandha is. Though the best time to consume ashwagandha is at night, you can also consume it in the morning.
- Consuming Ashwagandha powder before sleep
You can mix ashwagandha powder in warm milk or warm water and consume it before sleeping. This practice has a very good effect on calming the nervous system and can be helpful after a long and tiring day. If you consume ashwagandha just before going to bed, you will have a very calm and peaceful sleep and will wake up energized. This is a good way to reap ashwagandha benefits for women.
- Consuming Ashwagandha powder after waking up
Taking ashwagandha powder in the morning can help you kickstart the day on an energetic note. Morning consumption of ashwagandha will make sure that you have a good amount of energy to face the day. For mornings, you can either consume ashwagandha laddoos or have ashwagandha tea.
Ashwagandha powder can be applied to the scalp and the hair. This is also one of the methods by which the benefits of the herb can be transferred to the hair and the scalp directly. You can easily do this at home. Make a paste by mixing ashwagandha powder and warm water. Now apply this paste to your hair and scalp. For best application, section your hair and apply the paste on each section, one at a time. Also, massage the scalp and hair with your fingertips once this paste has been completely applied. Cover your hair with a shower cap and keep the paste applied for about forty minutes. After this, you can rinse off using normal water.
You can also add ashwagandha to your daily hair care products such as shampoos and avail the benefits of the herb for the hair and the scalp. Just add some ashwagandha powder to your shampoo. You can also use a few drops of ashwagandha oil instead of powder. Add this to the shampoo just before going for a hair wash. Washing with added ashwagandha will help in reducing the inflammation and irritation in the scalp. This will also benefit the hair by improving the blood circulation in the scalp. Improved circulation delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the scalp and the hair follicle, promoting hair growth.
Ashwagandha Powder Benefits for Female
Ashwagandha benefits for women and men are plenty as we have seen in the section above. In this section, we look at the benefits of ashwagandha for women that are especially useful in promoting reproductive and sexual health. Here we look at such benefits of ashwagandha for ladies.
- Most of us today lead a stressful life. The levels of stress in our bodies affect hormones that influence fertility, menstruation, and libido. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen and has a very effective role in reducing stress. Thus, women can use ashwagandha for improving their reproductive health.
- Ashwagandha Benefits for Women in strengthening the endocrine system – consumption of ashwagandha reduces cortisol and strengthens the adrenal glands. The regulated hormones help in improving fertility, enhance menstrual health and libido.
- Ashwagandha Benefits for Women in relieving menopause-related issues – When a female goes through menopause, her body experiences major hormonal imbalances. These imbalances can lead to anxiety, depression, and sleeping trouble. Ashwagandha is an excellent remedy to deal with such situations. It improves communication with the endocrine system and relieves these symptoms. If you are about to reach menopause, we suggest you start using this herb
- Ashwagandha Benefits for Women in promoting sexual wellness – Ashwagandha improves your mood by reducing stress and improves the production and flow of blood. These actions act as a sexual stimulant. Thus, one of the ashwagandha benefits for ladies is improved libido and overall improved sexual health.
Does Ashwagandha Help in Female Infertility
Ashwagandha benefits for women extend to fertility and reproductive health. Let us first contextualize this. Today’s lives are marred by stress. Stress decreases fertility. If you are looking to get pregnant, a decreased fertility may lead to more stress thus turning this into a vicious cycle. If you want to break this cycle, you have to manage your stress very effectively. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen and it can help relieve stress that persists in females, especially those trying to conceive. The reduced levels of stress and cortisol also have a positive impact on the reproductive hormones which can get imbalanced under stress. Thus, you can use ashwagandha for female infertility treatment. This is one of the major ashwagandha benefits for women.
Side Effects of Ashwagandha For Women
Ashwagandha is an herbal medication that has a lot of references in Ayurveda. As with any other natural herb, the side effects are very limited. If you are consuming ashwagandha in the right and prescribed dosage, its usage is safe. For continued and long-term usage of ashwagandha as well, no severe cases of any side effects have been detected. Though ashwagandha benefits for women are many, more research is needed to study the long-term effects of ashwagandha consumption.
General side effects of Ashwagandha Consumption
Before you go avail of ashwagandha benefits for women, it would help to know a few general side effects of ashwagandha consumption. Though, the consumption of the herb is safe, do lookout for any of these –
- Consuming ashwagandha can cause irritation in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Ashwagandha consumption may increase stomach acid production.
- If consumed in large doses, you may experience vomiting or diarrhoea.
- Consuming ashwagandha may cause dizziness, a heavy sensation in the head, and blurry vision.
- Ashwagandha can increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases as it causes the immune system to be more active.
- Consuming ashwagandha may increase testosterone levels.
The side effects may differ from person to person. If you observe any of the side effects, you must stop consuming ashwagandha and consult your doctor for a better picture of the situation. Based on the existing side effects, existing medications, or underlying medical conditions, the doctor may decide the appropriate dosage for you or recommend stopping the usage of ashwagandha.
Points to Remember before you go for Ashwagandha Consumption
If you have decided that you want to go for consumption of ashwagandha, you can keep the below pointers in mind. This will help you in making an informed decision.
- Consult with your doctor once before going for ashwagandha consumption. If your doctor okays the usage after studying your underlying conditions and existing medications, you can freely use ashwagandha and avail of its benefits for the nervous system, hair, and sexual wellness.
- If you are taking medications for some specific ailment and you wish to treat the same using natural options such as ashwagandha, do not stop your ongoing medications. We suggest you take consultation with your doctor once for deciding the best way to incorporate ashwagandha into your medication scheme.
- The dosage of ashwagandha should always be in the proper and prescribed amount. The recommended dosage itself depends on the format in which you are consuming ashwagandha. Ashwagandha extract is more effective and potent as compared to the powder made from the root or the leaves. We strongly suggest that you follow the instructions on the label of your product before going for consumption.
Ashwagandha Consumption and Underlying Body Condition
Ashwagandha is useful in lowering blood sugar, blood pressure, and regulating hormonal levels. Due to this action, it may adversely affect the body during certain specific conditions, such as pregnancy or during an autoimmune condition. Let’s look at these underlying conditions which you should be careful about before going for ashwagandha consumption.
- During Pregnancy and breastfeeding – Pregnant women are advised to not take ashwagandha. Although no effect is studied on lactating women, if you are breastfeeding, avoid ashwagandha for the time being just to be safe.
- During an autoimmune condition – If you are suffering from any autoimmune condition, you must not start ashwagandha consumption before consulting your doctor as ashwagandha affects the body’s central nervous system.
Ashwagandha Consumption and Existing Medication
If you are taking any medications for some existing underlying medical conditions, then you have to be careful before going for the consumption of ashwagandha. Below, we look at some such medications.
- Thyroid medications – Consumption of ashwagandha may increase the levels of thyroid in some people. Thus, if you are taking medicine for thyroid dysfunction, you must avoid taking ashwagandha.
- Blood-thinning medications – If you are suffering from a bleeding disorder or are taking any blood-thinning medicine, you must check with your doctor to decide the accurate dosage.
- Medications affecting cortisol levels – Ashwagandha reduces the cortisol levels in the body. Thus, if you are taking any medication that affects your cortisol levels, do consult your doctor to decide the accurate dosage that would not disturb this situation of managing cortisol levels.
- Medications for blood sugar and blood pressure – Consuming Ashwagandha decreases your blood sugar levels and your blood pressure. This makes it useful in treating these conditions. However, if you are taking medications to manage your blood pressure and blood sugar, you may need to adjust the dosage of ashwagandha. We recommend you consult your doctor to decide the dosage best suited for your condition and need.
- Medications affecting the nervous system – Consuming ashwagandha can increase the potency of sedatives and medications that are taken for anxiety. Be careful of ashwagandha consumption if these medications are inside your body.
An ancient herb with a variety of benefits, ashwagandha deserves a place in your healthcare routine. It has been used in traditional medicine for centuries across many civilizations and cultures. We have looked at ashwagandha powder benefits for women and the various forms and preparations that you can take in. Making Ashwagandha a part of your life will give you a more energetic lifestyle that is free of stress.
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Dr Shailendra BAMS Ayurveda
A modern day Vaidya with 11 years of experience. A BAMS graduate from Pune, Dr. Chaubey is also a pancha karma practitioner and a spiritual healer. He has spent years perfecting his preventive hair loss all-natural treatment.