Benefits of Ashwagandha for Women

Ashwagandha, Withania somnifera, is an adaptogenic herb that has been used for centuries to minimize stress, release tension in the body, and encourage sleep.   This herb is specifically supportive of …

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Written by: Siobhan Mendicino
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Medical Review by: Daniel Powers, MS
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Ashwagandha, Withania somnifera, is an adaptogenic herb that has been used for centuries to minimize stress, release tension in the body, and encourage sleep.  

This herb is specifically supportive of women for its ability to support hormone balance, soothe skin conditions, and balance the stress response.  

In this article, we’ll discuss the composition of ashwagandha, the benefits of ashwagandha for women, as well as dosage and safety.

benefits of ashwagandha for females

Ashwagandha Benefits for Women

Ashwagandha has many purported health benefits. Below are the top research-backed ashwagandha benefits for women, although ashwagandha is considered a beneficial herb for both male and female health. 

1. May Reduce Stress

Stress can significantly impact health, with over 70% of Americans claiming it affects their physical health and mental health. Stress can cause emotional exhaustion, fatigue, irritability, and sleep issues.

In a clinical trial involving stressed healthy adults, researchers found that ashwagandha root significantly reduced cortisol levels. Results were observed for doses of 250mg/day and 600mg/day, and participants reported experiencing less stress and anxiety in both groups. 

Another clinical trial discovered that ashwagandha substantially lowered cortisol levels in adults with chronic stress. Cortisol is the stress hormone that can cause increased inflammation if too much is released. After 60 days, participants reported feeling an improvement in quality of life.    

In a study involving college students, researchers found that a daily dose of ashwagandha reduced stress levels and improved overall well-being. Findings show that the ashwagandha also improved mental clarity, enhanced sleep quality, and encouraged sustained energy levels.  

A clinical trial found that daily supplementation of ashwagandha reduced morning cortisol levels and anxiety in adults with self-reported high stress. Researchers noted that the ashwagandha moderated the HPA axis, which plays a significant role in the stress response, balancing cortisol levels, and lowering stress. 

2. May Support Hormone Balance 

Menstruation, peri/menopause, lifestyle, environment, and diet can all affect a woman’s hormone levels. Hormone imbalance can cause other symptoms like fatigue, weight gain or loss, mood swings, and decreased quality of life.

A clinical trial involving women experiencing perimenopause discovered that daily supplementation of ashwagandha significantly reduced symptoms like hot flashes, mood changes, and sleep issues. Researchers noted that after 8 weeks, ashwagandha increased estradiol levels and reduced luteinizing and follicle-stimulating hormones, suggesting that ashwagandha can help to balance hormone levels. 

Another study with healthy female participants found that 8 weeks of ashwagandha supplementation significantly improved female sexual function and health. Volunteers reported an improvement in lubrication, desire, sexual satisfaction, and pain. 

A third clinical study involving healthy women discovered similar results. Ashwagandha supplementation improved the sexual health (arousal, satisfaction, and orgasm) of women participants, suggesting ashwagandha may help balance hormones. 

3. May Improve Sleep 

Sleep plays a crucial role in all aspects of physical and mental well-being, like immune system and digestive health, cellular growth and functioning, cognitive function, heart health, and hormone support.

In a clinical trial observing participants with insomnia, researchers found that after 10 weeks of ashwagandha supplementation, subjects experienced significant improvements in quality of sleep and were able to fall asleep faster.   

Another clinical study involving healthy and insomnia subjects found that ashwagandha root improved sleep length and how long it took participants to fall asleep. Researchers noted the effects were more significant in the insomnia group. 

A study observing subjects with insomnia discovered that ashwagandha root supports greater sleep quality. Participants experienced an improvement in total sleep time and how long it took to fall asleep, as well as a reduction in how many times they woke up once they were asleep. 

4. May Soothe Skin Conditions 

A recent review shows that women report having higher facial skin sensitivities than men. Topical application of ashwagandha may support moisture retention and soothe inflammation. 

In a clinical study observing adults with sun-damaged skin, researchers discovered that lotion infused with ashwagandha improved skin health greatly. Participants experienced a boost in skin elasticity and hydration, as well as a reduction in moisture loss. 

An animal study found that ashwagandha root reduced inflammation on mice skin. Researchers noted that ashwagandha’s anti-inflammatory activity resulted from its ability to reduce and balance the inflammatory response. This suggests ashwagandha could have potential health benefits for inflammatory skin conditions.  

female health benefits of ashwagandha

What is Ashwagandha? 

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an herb that grows in the dry regions of Nepal and India. The therapeutic part of the plant is the root, which takes at least 1 year to mature before use.  

The root is revered for its rich iron content and adaptogenic properties. The name ashwagandha refers to its strong horse-like odor and ability to boost libido. 

Ashwagandha is considered a Rasayna herb, which is a botanical that increases vitality by rejuvenating the body. It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for millennia.  

Some of ashwagandha’s beneficial health-supporting compounds include alkaloids like somniferine and withanine, steroidal lactones, and sitoindosides. These phytochemicals are known to have adaptogenic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. 

How Ashwagandha Works in the Body:

Ashwagandha’s active constituents help minimize stress by balancing out the stress response. The phytochemicals responsible for this stress-balancing activity are alkaloids (anaferine), steroidal lactones (withaferins), and saponins (sitoindosides). 

These constituents work with the HPA axis to regulate the release of cortisol (the stress hormone) and balance out the stress response. They also support the immune system, soothe inflammation, and boost cognitive function.  

Ashwagandha Dosage:

Tincture (1:5): 2 – 4 mL (40 – 80 drops), up to 3x per day.

Decoction: Add ½ tsp of dried root to 8 oz. water. Gently simmer for 10 minutes, then steep for ½ hour. Take 4 oz 3x per day. 

You can also add ½ tsp of dried root to 8 oz. of milk. Heat just below simmer, whisk to combine, then steep for 10 minutes. Take 4 oz 3x per day. 

The dried root starts to lose its potency after two years. 

Capsules: 400–500 mg, 2x per day.

Powder: 2-6 grams per day, divided into 1-3 doses.

Is Ashwagandha Safe? 

Ashwagandha is generally well-tolerated and has a relatively safe safety profile

Those who have sensitivities to plants in the Solanaceae family should avoid using ashwagandha. Due to the herb’s rich source of iron, those with hemochromatosis (excess iron) should also avoid using ashwagandha. 

Ashwagandha may potentiate or increase the effects of thyroid medication and barbiturates.  

Is Ashwagandha Safe During Pregnancy & Lactation?

Safety Class: 2b (not to be used during pregnancy)

Although ashwagandha is used in Ayurvedic medicine to promote lactation, due to the lack of data on its safety and efficacy, it’s best to consult with your primary care physician about supplementation. 

Read More:

Below, we’ve compiled several articles going over additional information regarding Ashwagandha for further reading.

Ashwagandha Benefits: Dosage & Safety

• Ashwagandha Dosing: How Much Should You Take Per Day?

• Ashwagandha Side Effects & Safety

• Benefits of Ashwagandha for Anxiety & Stress

• Benefits of Ashwagandha for Men

• Benefits of Ashwagandha for Sleep

Best Ashwagandha Supplements

ashwagandha may support women's health

Conclusion

Ashwagandha is a highly beneficial herb that can support women in numerous ways. Supplementing with ashwagandha may reduce stress, support hormone levels, and improve sleep. 

It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before including ashwagandha in your daily regimen. 

Ajgaonkar, A., Jain, M., & Debnath, K. (2022). Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract for Improvement of Sexual Health in Healthy Women: A Prospective, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. Cureus, 14(10), e30787. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.30787 

Deshpande, A., Irani, N., Balkrishnan, R., & Benny, I. R. (2020). A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study to evaluate the effects of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep quality in healthy adults. Sleep medicine, 72, 28–36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2020.03.012 

Chandrasekhar, K., Kapoor, J., & Anishetty, S. (2012). A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian journal of psychological medicine, 34(3), 255–262. https://doi.org/10.4103/0253-7176.106022

Cynthia Baker, Jessica B. Kirby, Jack O'Connor, Keston G. Lindsay, Andrea Hutchins, and Margaret Harris.

The Perceived Impact of Ashwagandha on Stress, Sleep Quality, Energy, and Mental Clarity for College Students: Qualitative Analysis of a Double-Blind Randomized Control Trial.

Journal of Medicinal Food.Dec 2022.1095-1101.http://doi.org/10.1089/jmf.2022.0042 

Gopal, S., Ajgaonkar, A., Kanchi, P., Kaundinya, A., Thakare, V., Chauhan, S., & Langade, D. (2021). Effect of an ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) root extract on climacteric symptoms in women during perimenopause: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. The journal of obstetrics and gynaecology research, 47(12), 4414–4425. https://doi.org/10.1111/jog.15030

Langade D, Kanchi S, Salve J, et al. (September 28, 2019) Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Insomnia and Anxiety: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Study. Cureus 11(9): e5797. doi:10.7759/cureus.5797 

Lopresti, A. L., Smith, S. J., Malvi, H., & Kodgule, R. (2019). An investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Medicine, 98(37), e17186. https://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000017186

Narra, K., Naik, S. K., & Ghatge, A. S. (2023). A Study of Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Lotion on Facial Skin in Photoaged Healthy Adults. Cureus, 15(3), e36168. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.36168

Salve J, Pate S, Debnath K, et al. (December 25, 2019) Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Study. Cureus 11(12): e6466. doi:10.7759/cureus.6466  

Sikandan, A., Shinomiya, T., & Nagahara, Y. (2018). Ashwagandha root extract exerts anti‑inflammatory effects in HaCaT cells by inhibiting the MAPK/NF‑κB pathways and by regulating cytokines. International journal of molecular medicine, 42(1), 425–434. https://doi.org/10.3892/ijmm.2018.3608 

VandeVord, P. J., Sajja, V. S., Ereifej, E., Hermundstad, A., Mao, S., & Hadden, T. J. (2016). Chronic Hormonal Imbalance and Adipose Redistribution Is Associated with Hypothalamic Neuropathology following Blast Exposure. Journal of neurotrauma, 33(1), 82–88. https://doi.org/10.1089/neu.2014.3786

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About Siobhan Mendicino

Siobhan is a herbal researcher and writer. She has a bachelor of science in communications as well as having completed a post-baccalaureate certificate in herbal studies.