For many women, menopause is a time of celebration. However, the loss of female hormones during this time presents a unique set of challenges to our health. Fortunately, herbal teas such as Ashwagandha can be a natural remedy to help you tackle this problem.
Ashwagandha is highly regarded in herbal medicine. It may help relieve some issues caused by hormone changes in females during menopause, including hot flashes, bone loss and even weight gain.
Let’s take a look closer at Ashwagandha to know what it can do for your hormones.
Ashwagandha may restore Oestrogen levels
A loss of oestrogen is the main feature of menopause in women. It may cause a number of symptoms ranging from hot flashes and night sweats to bone tissue loss.
Luckily, Ashwagandha extract may be the right choice to help normalise your sex hormone levels.
As your egg count in your ovaries runs out, your production of the female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, fall.
These hormones play many roles in regulating your body’s physical functions and maintaining tissue health. Their loss leads to a long list of menopausal symptoms that may creep up on you or suddenly come crashing down.
Taking Ashwagandha can increase oestrogen levels while decreasing FSH ( Follicle-stimulating hormone) and LH (Luteinizing hormone). They are the two hormones that control ovulation.
A study of 91 women tested Ashwagandha extract as a replacement for HRT during perimenopause. The participants’ oestrogen levels rose significantly with treatment, while their FSH and LH levels fell.
It also showed that Ashwagandha significantly relieved menopausal symptoms across all categories of the Menopause Rating Scale (MRS), including hot flashes, depression, fatigue, joint pain and dryness.
Ashwagandha may safely increase your levels of oestrogen, in turn lowering your FSH and LH back to a more comfortable level. This could help to relieve symptoms such as hot flashes and depression.
May reduce stress hormones with Ashwagandha
Cortisol, the main stress hormone, spikes in the morning to wake you up, but too much of it at the wrong times can contribute to insomnia and stress. Thankfully, Ashwagandha, with its powerful effects, can help to regulate levels of cortisol.
Stress and cortisol levels feed off each other. While you may feel more stressed with higher cortisol, worsening stress raises your cortisol levels. High cortisol can, over time, cause trouble sleeping and weight gain – in all the wrong places!
It certainly won’t let you enjoy a stand-out hourglass figure or nice, strong calf muscles. In a nutshell, you’re left tired, wired, and missing your old body.
Ashwagandha can help lower cortisol, thus improving your resilience to stress. It can also prevent cortisol from impacting sex hormone production, avoiding excess fat around the belly.
A clinical study tested the benefits of Ashwagandha extract against a placebo to see how it works for self-reported stress and cortisol levels.
Ashwagandha performed really well on stress scores, with perceived stress falling from an average of 20.6 out of 40 to 11.5 over two months. Another measure of anxiety and insomnia showed an improvement from 9.7 to 2.9 out of 21. As for cortisol, levels fell from an average of 15.7 to 11.3ug/dL.
Additionally, cortisol can promote the build-up of abdominal fat while contributing to muscle loss. While this isn’t the only cause of menopausal weight gain or age-related muscle loss, keeping your cortisol in the healthy range is important.
If you want to know more about cortisol imbalance, click here to learn more tips that may help balance that hormone.
Ashwagandha soothes perceived stress and lowers cortisol back into the healthy range, which may help you sleep better and achieve your weight loss and fitness goals!
Ashwagandha may restore your thyroid hormones
Many women suffer from a loss of thyroid hormones, which further contributes to unwanted weight gain and body fat once again. It isn’t severe enough to need pharmaceutical treatment (which can have side effects), but Ashwagandha may be helpful.
Mild thyroid hormone deficiencies are common in menopause. They are not usually severe enough to be clinically recognised as hypothyroidism but are instead categorised as subclinical hypothyroidism.
Researchers estimate that between 3% and 8% of people around the world have subclinical hypothyroidism, including 6-10% of women.
Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which control the production of thyroid hormones, rises when your thyroid is underactive in an attempt to restore healthy function.
A study suggested that elevated TSH is linked to high cortisol. It means Ashwagandha can restore thyroid function by suppressing cortisol levels.
According to 2012 research on the general well-being of adults who were under stress, Ashwagandha could effectively reduce cortisol levels, also proved in the trial above.
Another trial involving almost 50 people with subclinical hypothyroidism tested an eight-week course of Ashwagandha extract against a placebo. It showed that Ashwagandha could normalise levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone and the two thyroid hormones.
If you want to learn more about thyroid hormone imbalance in females, check out this article.
Ashwagandha may rescue your thyroid function when problems start to become noticeable. Most likely through relieving inflammation and reducing cortisol levels, it can support healthy thyroid hormone production.
Drinking Ashwagandha tea may protect your bones without HRT
The main barrier to treatment for osteoporosis is the overstimulating effects that HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) has on the breasts and uterus. Ashwagandha may be an effective alternative without overstimulation.
Bone loss is one of the most concerning signs of menopause. The most severe stage of bone tissue decline is osteoporosis, where a lack of female hormones and other factors make the bones brittle and porous.
In a laboratory study, treatment with Ashwagandha extract has shown that it could protect bone tissue with roughly the same level of efficacy as oestrogen HRT. Ashwagandha did not overstimulate oestrogen pathways, so it won’t cause tissue overgrowth in your breasts and uterus.
This is different from the trial we discussed further above, showing oestrogen-boosting effects, but this study was performed on mice without ovaries.
In some measurements, Ashwagandha completely restored bone health to normal or improved it beyond its original quality. It was able to turn down bone-busting cells’ activity while boosting the function of bone-building cells, independently of oestrogen pathways.
However, there is one important difference in this study we must remember. Most other lab studies waited for animals to show signs of menopause and then used remedies such as Ashwagandha to see if they had any beneficial effects.
This study didn’t delay and started Ashwagandha right away!
For you, this means you should start taking Ashwagandha in perimenopause before bone loss begins to become a problem. If you are even younger, consider Ashwagandha as a fitness booster.
Ashwagandha extract may promote the activity of bone-building cells without any effect on the oestrogen pathways. For best results, start as early as possible, preferably in perimenopause.
Other benefits of Ashwagandha on women’s health
Ashwagandha has a range of benefits related to anti-aging and the restoration of overall health and vitality.
Through boosting cellular energy production, keeping inflammation down, stimulating immune and blood cell growth, and supporting neurotransmitter production, Ashwagandha may be one of the best anti-aging remedies currently available.
Here are some other health benefits of Ashwagandha.
- Improving cardio fitness: It is measured as oxygen-carrying capacity. Ashwagandha supplementation might improve the O2 levels in athletic and non-athletic people.
- Enhancing red blood cell production: Ashwagandha can also help to treat anaemia alongside iron supplementation. Iron only forms haemoglobin, the molecule used by your red blood cells to carry oxygen. Boosting your ability to generate more red blood cells can make iron supplements more effective if they didn’t benefit you before.
- Possible protection against brain damage: Making the right dietary and lifestyle changes are still important, but treatment with Ashwagandha extract has shown the ability to prevent the death of brain cells.
- Possible protection against environmental toxins: These, such as BPA, damage your brain through oxidative stress and other mechanisms, but Ashwagandha may prevent this. It’s important to remember that some toxins can hide in our fatty tissue for years, so don’t become complacent if the last time you were exposed to something was years ago.
- An improved ability to fight infections. Ashwagandha can help to stimulate the growth of certain immune cell types. Although this involves a temporary increase in inflammation, it can protect you from developing chronic inflammation from unresolved infection later.
- Relieve cravings for alcohol: In combination with the relaxing tonic, Shilajit, Ashwagandha can increase serotonin and GABA production, helping to lift your mood while leaving you feeling relaxed.
Ashwagandha has a wide range of benefits that can improve your health and longevity, including the ability to support cardio fitness; improved immunity; protection against environmental toxins; and a relaxing effect that relieves unhealthy cravings such as alcohol.
Taking Ashwagandha: Here’s what you need to know
Ashwagandha is a traditional herbal medicine now supported by modern research for long-term use in a range of conditions. It is not overstimulating and is safe for most people.
Clinical studies involve volunteers taking Ashwagandha every day for months on end, so it’s safe to take long-term. You can cycle on and off, for example, for two months on Ashwagandha and one month off, and see how you go. Restart taking it if your symptoms return early.
It’s safe to take Ashwagandha at any time of day. Even though the herb can improve energy, you are unlikely to find it overstimulating as it reduces cortisol. However, the sleep-promoting effects of Ashwagandha make it suitable for use at night as a relaxing sleep aid.
When it comes to the best ways to take Ashwagandha, consider its earthy flavour. Try adding it to smoothies with earthy undertones, such as those that include nut butter. You can also make spicy chai tea blends with Ashwagandha powder or simply drink it alone as herbal tea.
If you don’t like the earthy taste, you still can enjoy the benefits of Ashwagandha in the tea blend - Hormone Balance Tea Equilibre. It is accompanied by oranges, peppermint and other ingredients for a fresh flavour.
However, not everyone should take Ashwagandha. As the clinical study described above on thyroid health mentions, it may reduce dopamine levels in the brain. Low dopamine is seen not only in Parkinson’s disease but also in ADHD.
If you have Parkinson’s disease, it’s best to be on the safe side and try another energy-boosting, hormone-balancing herb. In the case of ADHD, you may try Ashwagandha, but stop taking it if you start to experience a worsening of symptoms, such as increased inattentiveness.
Ashwagandha is a safe herbal remedy for most people. With its tonic effects, you can enjoy it long-term. Add it to herbal teas or smoothies, or simply drink it alone.
Ashwagandha is an amazing herbal remedy that has been used to relieve debilitating fatigue and promote overall health and longevity. This includes during menopause.
Even though menopause isn’t a disease, it does speed up the appearance and severity of many age-related problems, including weight gain and bone tissue loss.
Ashwagandha may be a better anti-aging tool than any cosmetic treatment by supporting a more youthful level of hormone production and sometimes bypassing female hormones entirely to restore your body.