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Ashwagandha Menopause Relief: Embracing Adaptogenic Benefits

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

Life is a journey of seasons, and the transition into menopause marks a significant chapter in a woman's path. As women navigate the ebb and flow of hormonal changes during this phase, it's natural to seek holistic support to ease the transition.


Enter ashwagandha, an ancient Ayurvedic herb revered for its potential to alleviate menopause symptoms and promote overall well-being. In this exploration, we delve into the history, effects on the body, potential side effects, and how ashwagandha for menopause can be a nurturing companion.


A Glimpse into Ashwagandha's Past: A Herbal Wonder


Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an adaptogenic herb that has been a cornerstone of Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Originating in India, this botanical treasure has a rich history, being used for millenia for vitality, longevity, and overall wellness (Singh 2011).


The name "ashwagandha" is derived from Sanskrit, where "ashwa" means horse and "gandha" means smell, implying that the herb imparts the strength and vigor of a stallion.


Ashwagandha Menopause Relief: Embracing Adaptogenic Benefits, ashwaganda for menopause, Dr Deb Brunt, Otepoti integrative health

Understanding Adaptogens: Nature's Stress Fighters


Ashwagandha is considered an adaptogen in herbal medicine . An adaptogen is a type of herb known for its ability to help the body adapt to stress, whether physical, chemical, or biological. Herbs are often used along side a nourishing diet and lifestyle health habits to support the body.


These remarkable plants work by supporting the body's functions under stress and returning them to their normal state during periods of calm.


They do this by interacting with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathoadrenal system, both of which are involved in the body's response to stress.


Effects of Ashwagandha in the Body: A Harmonious Symphony


Hormonal Balance: Ashwagandha's adaptogenic properties make it an ally for maintaining hormonal equilibrium. During menopause, when hormone levels fluctuate, ashwagandha may help mitigate symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep disturbances by supporting the body's stress response.



Stress Reduction: Menopause can bring about heightened stress levels. Ashwagandha acts as a stress-reliever by modulating cortisol levels, helping the body manage the physical and emotional stressors associated with this phase.


Cognitive Support: Memory lapses and brain fog are common during menopause. Ashwagandha's potential neuroprotective effects may contribute to enhanced cognitive function, supporting mental clarity.


Energy and Vitality: Fatigue is a frequent companion during menopause. Ashwagandha's adaptogenic nature is believed to enhance overall energy levels, helping women navigate their daily activities with renewed vitality.


The Modern Science of Ashwagandha for Menopause Symptoms


The scientific literature exploring the effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) on menopause is still relatively limited compared to its broader health benefits.


However, several studies and preliminary research have provided insights into how Ashwagandha may impact menopausal symptoms and overall well-being.


Here's the key summary of key findings from the very first double blind placebo controlled trial of ashwagandha in perimenopausal women:


A clinical trial using a dose of 300mg of ashwagandha root extract twice per day over an 8 week period reports beneficial effects with improvements in common menopause symptoms (Gopal 2021).

The women who used ashwagandha saw improvements compared to the placebo group in these symptoms:

  • psychological symptoms such as depressed mood, irritability and impaired memory

  • Body symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, heart palpitations, chest tightness and sleep disturbances and

  • urinary and vulvo-vaginal symptoms such as vaginal dryness and urinary tract infections, low libido and urinary incontinence.

  • overall improved quality of life due to improved menopause symptoms in each of the above areas.

There were no difference in side effects between groups.


This trial and adjacent clinical trials suggest that ashwagandha is a supportive adaptogen in menopause.


Ashwagandha Menopause Relief: Embracing Adaptogenic Benefits, ashwaganda for menopause, Dr Deb Brunt, Otepoti integrative health

Hormonal Balance and Hot Flashes:

Ashwagandha's adaptogenic properties seem to help balance hormone levels during menopause.


This early evidence indicates that Ashwagandha could potentially contribute to reducing the frequency and severity of hot flashes, a common menopausal symptom.


This is exciting news for women who want to support their symptoms with herbs or who cannot use hormone replacement therapy due to medical conditions.


Stress and Mood Management:


Menopause can often bring about increased stress and mood disturbances.


Ashwagandha's anti-stress and anxiolytic effects have been studied in various contexts, showing potential for reducing cortisol, a stress hormone, and improving overall emotional well-being (Chandrasekhar 2012)


Cognitive Function:

While cognitive changes and memory lapses can be associated with menopause, Ashwagandha's potential cognitive-enhancing effects may offer support.


Other studies suggest that Ashwagandha's antioxidants and withanolides neuroprotective properties positively impact cognitive function. The above clinical trial suggested ashwagandha supports brain function in in menopausal women.


Bone Health:

Estrogen decline during menopause can impact bone health. Although research is limited, some animal studies have indicated that Ashwagandha may have a positive influence on bone density and strength (Nagareddy 2006).

This suggests potential for supporting bone health during menopause, but human studies are necessary to validate these findings.


Combating Oxidative Stress:

Oxidative stress is associated with aging and menopausal changes. Ashwagandha's antioxidant properties could play a role in reducing oxidative stress levels, contributing to overall well-being during this phase of life.


Ways of Consuming Ashwagandha: Tastes and Effectiveness


Ashwagandha root extract can be consumed in a number of ways, each with its unique characteristics:


Tea


Ashwagandha tea is made from dried roots and leaves. It has a slightly bitter and earthy taste. Steeping the tea allows you to savor its flavors while benefiting from its calming effects.


Ashwagandha tea is ideal for those who appreciate ritualistic consumption and don't mind the earthy taste.


Tincture


Ashwagandha tinctures are concentrated liquid extracts. They offer a convenient way to consume ashwagandha, often with alcohol or glycerin as a base. Tinctures are absorbed rapidly and can be added to water or juice to mask the herb's taste.


Mixing it with beverages helps mitigate the strong taste.


Capsules


Capsules contain powdered ashwagandha extract. They provide a taste-free option and allow for accurate dosing. Capsules are convenient for those who prefer a no-fuss approach.


Capsules are convenient for precise dosing and taste avoidance.


Powder


Ashwagandha powder can be added to smoothies, juices, or yogurt. It has a slightly pungent and bitter taste. Mixing it with other ingredients helps mask the flavor.


Powdered ashwagandha is great for those who enjoy experimenting with culinary creations and can incorporate the flavor into recipes.


Unwrapping Potential Side Effects: An Informed Approach


Although ashwagandha is generally considered safe, it's essential to approach its use with awareness.


Side effects are rare and mild, but include gastrointestinal discomfort, drowsiness, and interactions with certain medications.


Pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as individuals with certain medical conditions, should consult a healthcare professional before incorporating ashwagandha into their regimen.


FAQs about Ashwagandha for Menopause


What is the ashwagandha for menopause dosage?


The optimal dose likely varies between women and the type of preparation. The clinical trial data suggests that 300mg of ashwagandha taken twice each day is sufficient to improve menopause symptoms including sleep, mood and anxiety.


What are other adaptogenic herbs for menopause


Here are some other adaptogenic herbs to during the menopausal transition.

  • Ginseng: helps reduce fatigue and increase energy.

  • Rhodiola: reduces stress levels, increases mental clarity and improves mood.

  • Maca: balances hormones, eases menopause symptoms and boosts libido.

However remember with herbal supplements, more is not necessarily better. A well chosen herb or two is often better than taking 5 different herbal supplements.


Is Ashwagandha safe for women with breast cancer to treat their menopause symptoms?


There is not a lot of data on this however Sloan Kettering Cancer Center report Ashwagandha demonstrates anti-cancer properties (Maliyakkal 2015)and has been safely used in women with breast cancer to relieve chemotherapy related fatigue and improve quality of life (Biswal 2013).


When should you take ashwagandha?


The clinical trial using ashwagandha in menopause demonstrated effectiveness when it is used twice daily. It can be taken with food or on an empty stomach so I would suggest taking it with breakfast and dinner.


What Does Ashwagandha Do?


Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb. It promotes balance in the body for a wide variety of bodily processes. Ashwagandha extracts have demonstrated potent bioactivity both in the lab and clinical trials.


The phytochemicals in ashwagandha have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, promote programmed cell death of cells at the end of their life, immunomodulatory, antimicrobial, anti-diabetic, liver-protective, blood sugar stabilsing, cholesterol lowering, cardio-protective and sperm production promoting properties.


The Takeaways - Ashwagandha: Menopause Herbal Support


Ashwagandha, a time-honoured herb in Ayurvedic medicine, showing promising potential as a support during menopause, especially for women who cannot use hormone replacement therapy.


Its adaptogenic properties may help manage stress, hormonal shifts, and associated symptoms of menopause.


Ashwagandha can potentially improve sleep quality, enhance mood, promote cognitive clarity, and support bone health.


Various consumption methods, including tea, tinctures, capsules, and powders, cater to different individual preferences and needs.


Although generally considered safe, it's always advisable for individuals, especially those with specific health conditions or pregnant and breastfeeding women, to consult a healthcare professional prior to use.


Hopefully further research and clinical trials of this wonderful herb will lead to increased use of ashwagandha for a gentler menopause transition.


Hope you found this informaton helpful, I'd love to support you further.


Dr Deb Brunt @ Ōtepoti Integrative Health would love to support you through the perimenopause and menopause, supporting all aspects of your health and wellbeing.


Dr Deb Brunt is a specialist GP and menopause doctor in Dunedin, New Zealand and also provides menopause health coaching internationally to support optimal health habits for aging well so you can live your best life.

References


Singh N, Bhalla M, de Jager P, Gilca M. An overview on ashwagandha: a rasayana (rejuvenator) of ayurveda. African J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2011; 8(5 Suppl): 208.




Nagareddy PR, Lakshmana M. Withania somnifera improves bone calcification in calcium-deficient ovariectomized rats. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2006 Apr;58(4):513-9.




DISCLAIMER: As your friendly doctor, I'm here to guide and inform, but please remember that this article is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare provider before starting any herbal treatments or making changes to your health regimen. Your unique body deserves personalized care to achieve the best results.


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