How It Helps to Restore Hormone Balance in Women
Ashwagandha is a superstar herb that relieves many hormone problems in women. Find out how it works and how to take it for maximum benefits.
Hormone imbalance is a major cause of many disorders in women. For example, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), abnormal thyroid functions, adrenal issues, fertility problems and sexual dysfunction. Ashwagandha, an age-old herb, is a highly effective remedy for most of these problems. The health benefits of Ashwagandha come from its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and hormone-balancing properties.
Common names: Indian ginseng or winter cherry (not Physalis alkekengi).
Ashwagandha might be new to you (or you may know it only as an adaptogen!). But did you know the people of the Indian subcontinent have been using this wonderful herb for more than 3,000 years? In Ayurveda, a traditional medicine system that originated in India, it is considered a panacea of female health. In addition to boosting hormone balance in women, it calms the excited nerves and may also help to prevent certain cancers from spreading to other body parts.
The good news is: Currently, a wealth of study supports the benefits of Ashwagandha for treating PCOS, female sexual dysfunction, and fertility problems.
Ashwagandha and Its Bioactive Chemicals: Things to Know
The scientific name of Ashwagandha is Withania somnifera. It belongs to the nightshade family of plants. Its roots and leaves are loaded with the goodness of alkaloids and steroidal lactones. For this reason, it is a powerful anti-stress, antioxidant and adaptogenic herb.
In addition, it enhances:
- Hormone balance. Therefore, it is a highly effective supplement for improving fertility and maintaining female reproductive health.
- Immune function. Ashwagandha causes the release of certain types of white blood cells in response to an invasion by a harmful microorganism. As a result, it suppresses infection.
- Anti-inflammatory processes in the body. According to a 2017 study involving female rats, Ashwagandha (along with Tinospora cordifolia) causes a significant reduction in brain inflammation. Particularly, the women in their 40’s are most likely to be benefitted from this property as they often have problems falling asleep and dealing with stressful situations.
Know the Bioactive Chemicals in Ashwagandha
While there are numerous biochemicals in Ashwagandha, the majority of the health benefits come from:
- Withaferin A. This is one of the most active biochemicals found in Ashwagandha. It is a potential anticancer molecule as it prevents cell multiplication and promotes the death of cancer cells.
4 Common Hormone Balance Problems in Women and How Ashwagandha Can Help
It is caused by abnormally high levels of male hormone, testosterone. A common disorder in the women during their reproductive years, it may also be associated with infertility. The symptoms include hormonal acne, excessive hair growth, menstrual irregularities and high blood sugar levels.
Extracts of Ashwagandha and another common herb Tribulus terrestris can significantly reduce the symptoms of PCOS. Specifically, this combination helps to lower the blood levels of testosterone. In addition, Ashwagandha helps to:
- Reduce blood glucose and blood cholesterol levels.
- Decrease weight of the ovaries and womb.
- Increase the ability of the cells to utilize available insulin. Meaning, it increases insulin sensitivity.
Female sexual dysfunction (FSD)
FSD is a collective term for the problems with arousal, orgasm, and lubrication that occur in women. While it is a common female sexual health problem, still, many women do not report the symptoms, most probably due to the fear of embarrassment. However, you can expect to get a considerable relief with Ashwagandha.
Various studies have shown that 300 mg Ashwagandha root extract twice daily for at least 2 months can restore your sex life. In essence, Ashwagandha supplement improves all the parameters of a healthy female sex life. These include arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and sexual satisfaction. Even better, the root extract is very safe and is very less likely to cause any severe side effects.
In hypothyroidism, your thyroid glands do not produce enough thyroid hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). An underactive thyroid function causes problems with metabolism and sleep. The symptoms include:
- Weight gain.
- Excessive tiredness.
- Irregular periods.
- Memory problems.
- Loss of hair.
An extract prepared from the root of Ashwagandha is a potent thyroid stimulant. The extract increases the production of T3 and T4 by:
- Increasing the activity of an enzyme in the liver, Glucose-6-phosphatase.
- Protecting the cells from damages by the free radicals.
- Preventing the degradation of fats.
For a significant improvement in the symptoms, you should take the extract for at least 20 days.
Nonclassic congenital adrenal hyperplasia (NCAH)
This genetic disorder causes an imbalance in the production of many hormones. Most notably, testosterone and the hormones that regulate glucose metabolism. Consequently, the patients have menstrual problems, fertility issues, and excess body or facial hair. Note that the symptoms of NCAH are similar to those of PCOS.
In some women with NCAH, Ashwagandha may be more effective than conventional therapies that include hormones. What makes Ashwagandha a potentially superior treatment option is that hormonal therapies have various severe side effects. For example, irregular vaginal bleeding, nausea, vomiting, migraine, and depression. In fact, many women discontinue the therapy because the side effects are too severe to bear. On the other hand, Ashwagandha has no severe effects.
Ashwagandha works to relieve NCAH by two mechanisms. These include:
- Anti-inflammatory effects.
- Increased insulin sensitivity. Meaning, the cells can use available insulin more efficiently.
The recommended dose for NCAH is 400 mg twice daily for up to six months. However, your dose and duration may vary depending on your response.
Tips to Maximize the Benefits of Ashwagandha
So, you decided to take Ashwagandha for your health? Before you take it, you should follow certain dietary guidelines that not only make it more effective but also improve your general well-being.
- Take a diet rich in fiber.
- Eat enough healthy fats such as fatty fish, nuts, and fortified milk products.
- Limit the intake of sugar and processed foods.
How Much Ashwagandha You Should Take for Full Benefits
Well, the effective dose depends on your weight, general health status, and unique individual needs. To find the exact dose that best meets your needs, you should consult a qualified physician.
The normal dose ranges from 450 mg to 2 g per day. Ashwagandha is available in the form of powder, tablets, extract, and capsules. Make sure to read the label on the supplement to know the amount present in it.
Consult your doctor if you have any chronic disease of the liver and kidneys before taking the supplement. Also, DO NOT use it if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
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- Kalani, A., et al. “Ashwagandha root in the treatment of non-classical adrenal hyperplasia” BMJ Case Reports 2012; 2012: bcr2012006989.
- Witchel, SF., et al. “Nonclassic Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia” International Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology 2010; 2010: 625105.
- Yang, Z., et al. “Withania somnifera Root Extract Inhibits Mammary Cancer Metastasis and Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition” PLoS One 2013; 8(9): e75069.
- Saiyed, A., et al. “Effect of combination of Withania somnifera Dunal and Tribulus terrestris Linn on letrozole induced polycystic ovarian syndrome in rats” Integrative Medicine Research 2016 Dec; 5(4): 293–300.
- Singh, H., et al. “Intermittent fasting combined with supplementation with Ayurvedic herbs reduces anxiety in middle aged female rats by anti-inflammatory pathways.” Biogerontology 2017 Aug;18(4):601-614.
- Dongre, S., et al. “Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Improving Sexual Function in Women: A Pilot Study.” BioMed Research International 2015;2015:284154.
- Panda, S., et al. “Withania somnifera and Bauhinia purpurea in the regulation of circulating thyroid hormone concentrations in female mice.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology 1999 Nov 1;67(2):233-9.