Ashwagandha: it’s the herb with the majestic name that’s having its moment. Promising to relieve stress, fight gloomy thoughts, and much more, it’s unsurprising that more people are jumping on the Ashwagandha wagon. We are.
Before becoming the It ingredient, Ashwagandha has for thousands of years been used as a supplement for various health purposes. This herb has long been believed to contain helpful components that can temporarily improve your stress response and bring other significant health benefits. Its core is Ayurveda, the unofficial but still very active healing system of India. In the Ayurvedic tradition, Ashwagandha is classified as a Rasayana (rejuvenative).
Now, scientific research has caught on, backed up ancient science, and the “king of herbs” is everywhere.
But what is this magical Ashwagandha? How does it help us manage stress? What else can it really do?
We’ve put together the answers to all your Ashwagandha questions in this guide. Find out why we love this herb and you should too below:
What Is Ashwagandha, Really?
Ashwagandha is a small, evergreen shrub-like plant most commonly found in Asia and Africa but is now increasingly being grown in other warm climates. Its scientific name is Withania Somnifera, but it is also known as Indian ginseng or Indian winter cherry due to its small red fruits (similar to small cherry tomatoes). The use of Ashwagandha can be traced as far back as over 3000 years ago.
Ashwagandha is categorized as an adaptogenic herb.
So What Is An Adaptogen?
You’ve seen the term floating around but adaptogens are a class of herbs (and often mycelia, or mushrooms) known to adapt with you to help you adjust inside stress. They are believed to boost stress tolerance and resistance. They dial your systems up when they need a boost and lower them when they’re running too high—especially crucial for keeping your menstrual cycle and hormonal wellness on track.
Why Women Need Adaptogens
Women are stressed. Women 40+ are super stressed and have stronger impacts on women than men. A study at Johns Hopkins shows that ongoing stress impacts women’s long-term cognitive health more than men. And ongoing stress, like that of going through a divorce, aging parents, child-raising, or all of the above—impacts our long-term memory and brain function even more than traumatic stress.
Did You Know: The Benefits Of Ashwagandha Edition
So we say stress response and stress tolerance—but what does that really mean? Well, we all experience stress differently. And that adaptogenic thing shows up in the many potential benefits Ashwagandha can bring to your particular body system.
Here are a few:
Major Win: It Counteracts Cortisol
Above all benefits that Ashwagandha can offer, the most exciting by far is its ability to reduce stress hormones.
Because of the ongoing and acute stress so many women in our world face, we consider this the “other” female hormone. And here’s what happens.
It does this by targeting cortisol—the stress hormone that is pushed through the body by your adrenal glands whenever you’re stuck in traffic or late to a client meeting. It causes major stress (and bad juju).
Between life stage and life in the world right now, our cortisol creation is off the charts. The higher our cortisol stays, the more likely we are to struggle with high blood pressure, weight gain, and other body issues. That includes our periods (or lack thereof).
With Ashwagandha, however, that’s history. Research has found that Ashwagandha naturally decreases your stress levels by reducing the amount of cortisol you produce. A study of consistently stressed-out adults found that the participants using Ashwagandha had significantly lower cortisol levels when compared to the control group.
This means it’s also a natural way to support your weight loss journey. Because it gets your stress hormones under control and suppresses cravings, you’ll feel less inclined to snack or finish the cookie packet all the way to the last crumb.
These reasons show why a vital part of our formulations is made specifically to support female health and flow.
Helping Relieve Occasional Anxiety
In controlled human studies of the effects of Ashwagandha, the results regarding anxiety relief were really promising—take this recent six-week study for example. Over 80% of the group given Ashwagandha indicated their anxiety had reduced, versus only 50% of those who took a placebo for the same time period.
Traditional medicine practitioners swear by the use of Ashwagandha for the treatment of a variety of mood problems, including worry and rumination.
It Could Help You Fight The Blues
Feeling a little down lately? You’re not alone. In fact, researchers believe that COVID-19 has affected women even more than men. Women are more likely to face economic stresses while bearing the mental load of the home. Is it any wonder we’re ready to turn into doomers?
While further clinical studies are still pending, initial results have found that Ashwagandha could help lift occasionally depressed spirits and elevate your mood. Ever heard of midlife misery? It’s a real thing, and this can help you beat it.
It Can Help You Catch Some Zzz’s
There is nothing worse than being bone tired and not being able to fall asleep. We’re all guilty of poor sleep hygiene - doomscrolling or dumbscrolling, one more episode or zapping our brains with waxing appointments or 401k worries.
Ashwagandha has had promising results when it comes to easing sleep and relaxation.
It Can Get You In The Mood
Some believe that using Ashwagandha improves blood flow including to the erogenous zones of the body, making it a natural aphrodisiac. Studies are now being conducted to see how the herb could be used to treat sexual dysfunction in women of all ages.
So next time you’re thinking about feigning sleep, try having some Ashwagandha before you get some.
It’s Good For Your Hair
We at Wile call cortisol, the stress hormone, the “other” female hormone.
And high stress really DOES make your hair go thinner. High cortisol in hair follicles has been shown to depress the hair growth cycle and synthesis.
With the stress-balancing properties of Ashwagandha, you can hold on to those strands.
It Can Boost Your Focus
Lately, there’s been a lot of nootropic talk around Ashwagandha. And at least one double-blind study did show a positive effect on cognitive ability and psycho-motor skills (doing thinking-moving tasks fast, for those lacking in Ashwagandha).
Scientists believe that taking Ashwagandha daily could lead to a significant improvement in how we handle tasks and how long our attention spans are.
It Can Balance Perimenopausal Signs
This adaptogen really packs a punch—and that includes punching menopause in the face (much as many women would like to do, at least once).
Ashwagandha interacts with your endocrine system which is linked directly to your hormones. This means that an Ashwagandha supplement can be an invaluable tool for keeping the worst signs of menopause at bay, including mood swings, low energy levels, and hot flashes.
How Safe Is Ashwagandha? And Should I Take It?
Ashwagandha is a natural supplement showing up in products in many aisles. You can be assured it's considered safe for most healthy adult women to take the recommended daily dose.
That said, there are some individuals that should speak to their primary physician about Ashwagandha first if they are concerned about experiencing adverse effects.
Ashwagandha is not recommended for:
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women
- Individuals with autoimmune diseases
- Individuals with thyroid problems
Wile <3 Ashwagandha
At Wile, we are major believers in the power of Ashwagandha for your health. This time-tested Ayurvedic herb has been used by traditional healers for centuries and now it’s finally getting the scientific acknowledgment it deserves. It’s tried, tested, and especially good for menopausal women.
From improving your skin and hair to boosting your mood and relieving stress, ashwagandha is a great addition to your daily supplement routine.
Effect of Ashwagandha on Tests of Cognitive and Psychomotor Performance, Robin DiPasquale
This article is intended for informational purposes and is not intended to replace a one-on-one medical consultation with a professional. Wile, Inc researches and shares information and advice from our own research and advisors. We encourage every woman to research, ask questions and speak to a trusted health care professional to make her own best decisions.