Ashwagandha for menopause: 7 Reasons to use it
If you’re looking for an excellent support for your menopause symptoms, experts recommend that you start with organic treatments.
Among the most popular botanical treatments used to improve menopause, Ashwagandha is a herb, which according to research, can help women tackle the less looked at concerns related to this stage of a woman’s life.
What Is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is a widely used ayurvedic herb used by Indian traditional medicine practitioners for thousands of years to manage a myriad of health problems.
In English it’s called Winter Cherry and is also called the Indian Ginseng in Ayurveda. If you’re going to read some research reviews on this herb, you may come across the term, Withania somnifera, which is the scientific name for the herb.
Traditional Indian medicine classifies ashwagandha as a Rasayana, in other words, a tonic. Traditional Indian practitioners believe this brings out youthfulness in people, especially in terms of their physical aspects.
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In addition, it’s also used to increase happiness in one’s life and also to help manage menopause symptoms.
How It Works
Ashwagandha has adaptogenic properties, which means it is a stress fighter. Menopause herbs such as red clover, red ginseng and ashwagandha have no direct effect on estrogen levels and thus, do not generate an estrogenic balance in menopausal women.
However, as mentioned before, practitioners do use it as tonic. Ashwagandha helps manage menopause symptoms by directly stimulating the central nervous system. Since it is an adaptogen, it works in your brain to reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is one of the stress hormones in your body, which in high levels causes a person to become increasingly anxious or depressed. Ashwagandha is a fabulous herb for those fighting with stress, especially menopausal women who are more vulnerable to negative emotions at this stage of their lives.
In addition, ashwagandha has a similar effect to GABA (Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid), which plays a role in calming the brain and the body. According to the Denver Naturopathic Clinic, GABA is a natural tranquilizer of the body.
Therefore, unlike most menopause treatments, ashwagandha doesn’t tackle vasomotor symptoms directly. However, since vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats are linked to stress, using ashwagandha can help relieve these symptoms too. Furthermore, adaptogens do a great job at improving sleep and treating insomnia. They can also be used to minimize mood swings and panic attacks, not only during menopause, but in all stages of a person’s life.
Using Of Ashwagandha For Menopause
Ashwagandha can help calm your mind and body down, which could lead to positive effects on unpredictable mood swings, sleep problems and insomnia, anxiety and depression and your sexual wellbeing. Read on to find out more on how ashwagandha can help you make your menopause journey more pleasant and enjoyable:
1. Boosts sexual potency
Thanks to ashwagandha, you don’t have to go through a long dry spell even after being hit by menopause. Ashwagandha has been mentioned in the Kama Sutra as a natural and powerful aphrodisiac. According to research, ashwagandha promotes sexual health by increasing the flow of blood to all parts of the body, including the genitals. And it reduces muscle tension. Women who take ashwagandha usually talk about the effect it has on their libido.
2. Elevates mood
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine assessed the effectiveness of six herbal medicines for the management of symptoms related to menopause. Researchers found that the use of ginseng for sleep problems and mood swings in menopausal women had the strongest evidence out of all the other botanical treatments. Since ginseng is also an adaptogen and has similar effects to ashwagandha on the body, it can be assumed that ashwagandha is equally beneficial in treating menopause symptoms. Of course, research has been done on ashwagandha too.
Researchers from the Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India describe the use of ashwagandha as follows:
“The roots of Withania somnifera (WS) are used extensively in Ayurveda, the classical Indian system of medicine, and WS is categorized as a rasayana, which are used to promote physical and mental health, to provide defence against disease and adverse environmental factors and to arrest the aging process.”
The researchers studied the effect of ashwagandha on rats and compared the results with benzodiazepine lorazepam, a clinical drug used for the management of stress, anxiety, insomnia and alcohol withdrawal. The rats were given a daily dose of 20 and 50 mg/kg of ashwagandha versus 0.5 m/kg of lorazepam.
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The study was published in the 2000 issue of Phytomedicine and researchers found that the effects of ashwagandha on the lab rats were comparable to those of lorazepam thus, showing that ashwagandha can be used as a mood stabilizer to manage stress, anxiety and insomnia. Menopausal women fighting mood swings and sleep problems can greatly benefit from the regular use of this herb.
3. Relieves stress and helps you age gracefully
Ashwagandha has been described as a safe and highly effective adaptogen, according to ayurvedic literature. Adaptogens are healing herbs that help treat stress and anxiety.
Both, emotional and metabolic stress can significantly affect your aging process. The stress hormone, cortisol, greatly contributes to wrinkles, poor skin health, lack of skin suppleness, weakness of the body and poor cognitive health.
Researchers at the Asha Hospital, Hyderabad, India studied the efficacy and safety of ashwagandha in relieving stress. The study was published in the July 2012 issue of the Indian Journal of Psychological medicine and included 64 participants with a history of chronic stress. They were divided into two groups and given an ashwagandha supplement or a placebo for a period of 60 days. Results showed that the serum cortisol levels were much lower in the ashwagandha group compared to the placebo, thus indicating that ashwagandha is safe to use and effective in reducing stress among individuals.
4. Improves vasomotor symptoms
Although ashwagandha doesn’t have a direct effect on your estrogen levels, studies do show that it can help in reducing vasomotor symptoms that are associated with estrogen decline. A couple of these symptoms include, you guessed it, the dreaded hot flashes and night sweats.
This is mainly because your stress levels have an effect on how frequent and intense your hot flashes are. The more you stress, the more you flush.
One study involving 51 menopausal women published in the 2012 issue of Ayurveda, showed that daily intake of ashwagandha supplement resulted in a significant improvement in symptoms of menopause syndrome, such as hot flashes, mood swings and anxiety.
5. Prevents memory impairment
According to modern research, ashwagandha may help reduce memory decline in aging and menopausal individuals. This isn’t some magic memory improvement gimmick, however. How ashwagandha works is complex yet simply put, it protects the brain from oxidative stress and thus, inhibits neuro-degeneration. You need to take ashwagandha regularly to reap its benefits and protect your brain.
One study showed that the herb relaxes the body and mind and fights stress. Stress is a strong degrader of memory and therefore, regular use of this herb has been linked to improvement in visual memory in the long term.
6. Boosts energy levels
Another troubling symptom of menopause that makes us to reach for another cup of Joe is fatigue. Fortunately, many women report that regular use of ashwagandha helps improve their energy levels too.
This was confirmed by a 2011 study published in the Journal of Traditional Complementary and Alternative Medicine which showed that ashwagandha helped improve energy levels in menopausal women while reducing issues associated with increased stress levels.
7. Helps relieve inflammation
Although many studies support the use of ashwagandha for the treatment of menopause symptoms, it is still a subject of ongoing study.
Researchers believe that ashwagandha may help fight inflammation in the body, indicating that it could be used as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, which is common among middle aged women.
In addition, ashwagandha may help improve cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels and immune system function – but further research is still needed to validate this.
Usually, experts recommend a dosage of 500 to 1000 mg, twice or thrice a day however, a recommended daily dosage has not been established yet. Therefore, it is always best to follow the instructions given on the label or instruction sheet of the supplement.
How much you should take depends on the form of the product you take too, because it’s available in powder, capsules, tea and tincture form.
Side Effects Of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha has been used for over 5000 years in Indian traditional medicine and has been mentioned in the oldest book related to sexual wellness, Kama Sutra. It’s a herb that was used years before an idea of a good dosage was developed and no side effects have been reported, except for occasional drowsiness or gastrointestinal problems.
Animal tests have been conducted with extreme doses, such as ¼ of the daily diet, which resulted in toxicity. However, this is true for almost any other herb. Too much of anything can be detrimental so it’s always best to follow instructions and not go crazy!
Women who are pregnant should avoid ashwagandha and always take supplements under their doctor’s instructions.
Ashwagandha powder may lead to some mild gastrointestinal problems so if at any point, you feel some discomfort with its use, reduce your dosage and gradually increase it to your complete daily amount. Another option if you experience side effects with the powder is to switch to tincture or supplements.
Since it has a calming effect on the body, it may lead to drowsiness in some people. If you’re sensitive to the herb’s sedative effect, try taking it to the night only and adjust intake accordingly. Some people report that the supplement makes them more energetic, in which case, you can have it during the daytime only or have a smaller dose in the night.