Does Ashwagandha Work for Stress? (and Sex Drive)

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ashwagandha for stress

The herb ashwagandha is known for balancing women’s hormones and helping men with low testosterone. It also can help control stress and improve libido.

The best part is that ashwagandha is a natural treatment. This herb is an ancient Ayurvedic treatment to balance hormones for thousands of years.

It’s now getting more mainstream attention in the United States because of increased awareness that stress has effects across the entire body. The need to reduce the effects of stress naturally might be more critical now than it ever has been.

According to Nutritionaloutlook.com, ashwagandha sales in the United States grew 66 percent to $7.3 million in the 52 weeks ending August 11, 2019.

For years, I have recommended a supplement that contains ashwagandha for my patients with hypothyroidism, or those with normal thyroid levels wishing to maintain healthy thyroid function. Ashwagandha supports healthy thyroid function and essential hormone production. Do not use if treating Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or hyperthyroidism.

 

There is also scientific support for using ashwagandha to treat many other conditions, including:

 

  • Chronic Stress — Higher stress levels increase your blood pressure. And, increased blood pressure can potentially restrict the flow of blood to all the arteries. Ashwagandha can lower cortisol levels, regulate chemical signaling in your nervous system, and block the stress pathway in the brain, according to a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.

 

  • Problems with Low Testosterone — Low testosterone in men can contribute to a variety of problems, including Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, weight gain, and neurological decline. According to Newswire.net, ashwagandha has been found to significantly increase serum levels of testosterone and luteinizing hormone — a hormone that stimulates testosterone production. And, in 2013, a study found that ashwagandha fueled enzyme activity and improved production of reproductive hormones in infertile men. Further, there are claims that it improves male vitality and sex drive.

 

  • Menopausal Symptoms — Several studies have shown that women who took ashwagandha got better relief from menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, sleep problems, and effects of inflammation. Like men, women also note improved sex drive.

 

  • Sleep Problems – By lowering cortisol levels and reducing stress, ashwagandha also has been shown to promote restorative sleep.

 

  • High Blood Pressure and Glucose – Ashwagandha’s effects also can lower blood pressure and glucose, assisting with the treatment of hypertension and diabetes.

 

  • Depression and Anxiety – Combating stress will combat these, too.

 

Consult Your Doctor

Although Ayurvedic medicine has been around for thousands of years, U.S. consumers are just beginning to learn about ashwagandha and its best-known benefits of stress relief and hormonal balance and helping the body maintain homeostasis against physiological stressors.

Some mainstream supplement manufacturers have begun to think of ashwagandha as a key ingredient for immune-system health. Hence, some of them have begun to combine it with other key ingredients in their probiotic supplements. Interestingly, U.S. mainstream medicine only recently embraced probiotic use, when much of the immune system lives in the gut, and the benefits of probiotics have long been proven.

Before adding ashwagandha to your supplement routine, I recommend that you review your goals, health problems, and current medications or supplements with your physician. It also might be prudent to have lab work done to check certain hormone levels, before starting a new regimen.

This will ensure that ashwagandha meets your body’s needs, that you get the best results possible, and that ashwagandha will not adversely interact with anything else you are taking.

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