7 Ways Ashwagandha Benefits Women’s Health
From stress reduction to menopause, breast cancer reduction to memory improvement, ashwagandha (aka Indian ginseng) is a gentle yet potent medicinal herb that offers many benefits for women’s health.
You’ve likely heard of ashwagandha recently. It goes by multiple names, such as Indian ginseng and winter cherry, but its scientific name is Withania somnifera. It’s a small bush with little greenish-yellow flowers and bright reddish fruit. It’s native to certain areas of Africa, India, and the Middle East and has been used in some traditional medicines for centuries.
While there is no scientific clinical research proving the results of taking this medicinal herb, many women have recognized the many uses and benefits and continue to take it today. These benefits are many, especially for women.
One of the most interesting uses for ashwagandha is its power to reduce stress. Continued and high levels of stress are harmful to almost every aspect of one’s health, both mental and physical. It can lead to heart disease, exasperate depression and anxiety, and trigger digestive problems among many other symptoms. Women especially are more likely to feel overly stressed. Prioritizing our management of stress is something we all know we should do, but this is much easier said than done.
Ashwagandha helps to lower stress by reducing the cortisol levels in the body when taken as a supplement. A double-blind study published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine involved giving one group a placebo and the other group 300 mg of high-concentration full-spectrum ashwagandha extract to 64 adults with a history of stress. They found that those taking the ashwagandha extract had a reduction in the stress hormone, cortisol.
Women with arthritis or other chronic conditions will understand how much inflammation can impact the way they feel. It’s meant as a form of protection for your body, accumulating white blood cells and other methods of attacking infection and attempting to heal injuries. However, inflammation also affects women who have many chronic conditions and can make the problem worse.
Many people have been prescribed steroids to help with inflammation, but long-term use can have highly negative side effects. Ashwagandha has a natural steroidal effect on the body and is able to be used for longer periods. There have been multiple studies showing this benefit and it has been used for this purpose in both modern and ancient medicines.
High cholesterol is one of those phrases that you never want to hear your doctor say. Cholesterol is a thick substance in your blood that helps your body produce healthy cells, but too much will cause a build-up in your arteries that can lead to heart attack, stroke, and other serious health problems.
In order to test the ability of ashwagandha to reduce cholesterol, scientists performed an experiment with albino lab rats, adding ashwagandha root powder to their diets. They found that it reduced cholesterol up to 53%. It also found that a type of fat called triglycerides were also reduced greatly by almost 45%. Human studies didn’t show this steep of a reduction, but it still reduced both of these potentially harmful substances, improving overall health.
Blood sugar reduction
Many women struggle with their blood sugar levels and conditions such as diabetes are on the rise. Ashwagandha has been shown to help with blood sugar management because it increases the production of insulin and insulin sensitivity. Insulin is needed to help your body process the glucose, or sugars, you consume. When someone has a problem with the way their body produces and uses its insulin, it causes sugars to build up, which leads to high blood sugar.
High blood sugar can also make you feel weak, tired, and lightheaded. It can affect your ability to concentrate and make you feel thirsty all the time. If it reaches the point of developing diabetes, your symptoms only worsen from there. It can lead to slower healing, circulatory issues, and lower resistance to illness. This is only a small part of it. There are more symptoms involved, both less and more serious, as well as some unpleasant treatments, such as regular injections.
Breast cancer reduction
Cancer is a devastating and multifaceted condition that has left its mark on many people from all over the world. Some cancers are more likely to affect those who have a family history of cancer, and cancer can happen in almost every part of the body. Some types are more dangerous than others, some growing faster and some harder to find.
Studies involving ashwagandha have shown the medicinal herb may have the ability to reduce cancer cells and work as a preventative in women who have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Most of these legitimate studies were conducted in animals and showed positive results with certain types of cancer, but there still needs to be more research done on the matter.
To move on from all the negative health issues ashwagandha may be able to reduce, let’s look at what it can improve. Taking ashwagandha supplements may increase your memory and brain function. In one animal study, it was found that ashwagandha increased the regeneration of the nerve cells in the brain.
This could go a long way in helping those with Alzheimer’s and other diseases that affect the mind and may work to prevent them.
It can help with menopause
Ashwagandha is growing in popularity for women nearing menopause because it’s a natural way to alleviate some of the symptoms involved. We’ve already covered how it helps to reduce stress and menopause is certainly a stressful point in a woman’s life, but it also helps to balance out the hormonal fluctuations that happen. Since it’s a source of antioxidants and boosts collagen, which is great for the skin and hair, it can help women who are worried about aging gracefully as well
How to take ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is usually found in the vitamins and supplements aisles at health foods and grocery stores as a stand-alone supplement in capsule form. It is also often blended with other herbs and adaptogens like maca (aka Peruvian ginseng), rhodiola, reishi mushroom powder, and B vitamins to deliver a more potent effect.
Ashwagandha is also available as a tea and you can buy the dried or fresh root pieces or powder to make a tea yourself. Food and beverage companies have also developed several products with ashwagandha as a featured ingredient. Goli gummies, ashwagandha lollipops and several herbal mocktail brands and botanic waters like Kin Euphorics and Elements are flavorful, inventive ways to get your ashwagandha fix.
Please consult your doctor before taking ashwagandha and to discuss which supplements and brands may be best for you and your body. Like many natural medicines, ashwagandha hasn’t been studied enough to determine if it’s a definite method of improving health, but as more women look to less invasive and gentler methods of improving their wellbeing, there is little doubt that more will be discovered about the plant’s ability to heal.