Human biology is an interesting collection of different parts working together to produce vital functions. Our hearts need blood to pump so our organs can function, and our nervous system needs our brain to send signals. Every component of our anatomy is connected to ensure proper function (though we cannot control all our organs and limbs at will).
For example, you cannot force your heart to flex on demand, and most of our internal functions are completely involuntary. While we cannot control our internal organs or functions, we can enhance our overall health to keep them functioning properly. This is accomplished by maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise, and occasionally supplementing it with specific compounds. Unfortunately, the unity of our biology is divided by an immutable factor: biological sex.
It is a scientific fact that biological males and biological females are differently built since they play different roles in our species' existence. The biggest differences are reproductive, but differing hormones are also regularly employed to keep us functioning properly. While most of these details are too complex to be consciously manipulated, it is possible to introduce certain compounds to our diet that affect our health.
One common addition to modern routines is ashwagandha, but the divergent biology of males and females means that taking it could be different for you than for your male peers.
What is Ashwagandha?
Countless species of plants and flowers have been cultivated for medicinal properties. This practice has been employed for thousands of years and goes back to ancient civilizations that predate ours. One plant that has become the subject of extensive cultivation is Withania somnifera, better known by its common name "ashwagandha" or "winter cherry."
The species is from the same family as nightshade and is native to the Middle East, India, and Africa, but has become a widespread supplement that has reached the United States. The plant is primarily associated with treating insomnia, largely since that is what it is named for. The term "somnifera" translates to "sleep-inducing," which was assigned to ashwagandha because it allegedly helped people fall asleep after consuming it.
Since then, multiple additional benefits associated with the plant have been discovered and employed by people worldwide. However, ashwagandha is not exclusively sold as a plant since most of the main nutrients are found in the root rather than the flowers. Despite this, most ashwagandha is not consumed raw.
While you can purchase raw ashwagandha root and consume it for its benefits, most people opt for the extract because it is more concentrated. Like most plant-based supplements, ashwagandha root relies on biodiversity for our bodies to absorb the benefits. Unfortunately, most raw plants have low or average biodiversity (save for a few exceptions). Insofar as ashwagandha is concerned, the biodiversity is higher when using the extract since it is more concentrated and designed to maximize the overall impact. Ashwagandha extract is simply purer than the root and requires a little extra effort to cultivate.
That hard work pays off since most people report enhanced benefits when employing ashwagandha extract compared to the raw root or plant (regardless of sex). Of course, all this begs the question of what benefits ashwagandha has and whether being a biological woman affects them.
Ashwagandha Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Considering the high-pressure professional world we have cultivated, stress and anxiety are extremely common issues in modern society. Society believes that intense professional settings make us more productive, but it really stresses people beyond their limits. Stress is a common factor in most lives, especially adults with financial responsibilities or families to care for.
Considering we are on track for one of the worst economic depressions since 1929, stress levels among the lower and middle economic classes are at an all-time high. When stress levels are elevated, it is common to develop anxiety that can prevent you from functioning properly. Extreme cases of anxiety are usually tied to an underlying psychological condition, but even common anxiety can be crippling if the cause is severe enough. Fortunately, it appears that ashwagandha provides a degree of relief.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, a compound designed to help our bodies cope with stress. While several adaptogens exist, not all are proven to work, and some are less effective; ashwagandha has been proven to reduce stress. A study with 58 participants was divided into test and control groups. The test groups were given either 250 or 600 milligrams of ashwagandha extract for 8 weeks.
Conversely, the control group was given a placebo for the entire study to determine whether ashwagandha could reduce stress in the participants. The study revealed that ashwagandha reduced the concentration of cortisol in the subjects. Cortisol is the hormone associated with stress and appears in high concentrations when we are stressed.
Ashwagandha has a proven ability to protect against stress and reduce its impact on our bodies and minds. Ashwagandha's ability to alleviate stress indirectly reduces anxiety since stress is the main contributor. As a result, addressing the former is a two-for-one deal regarding emotional and mental care. The best part is that these benefits are not restricted to biological males or females and can be enjoyed universally. The catch is that there is still more to learn about how ashwagandha affects the female body overall.
Ashwagandha Improves Sexual Function in Women
While many of ashwagandha's benefits have been studied extensively, others are still being investigated. Despite this, ashwagandha has long been associated with natural fertility kits to help couples have children. Many believe that ashwagandha directly improves fertility levels in the couple and makes it easier to conceive. Unfortunately, this is only half true since the details of human fertility involve various hormones and body parts.
The biggest caveat is that ashwagandha only directly improves fertility levels if you are a biological male. The hormone testosterone, typically associated with masculine features, is a major contributor to male fertility. Ashwagandha increases testosterone levels and sperm production, which does nothing for women suffering from infertility. In fact, there is nothing suggesting ashwagandha can directly enhance a woman's fertility. Fortunately, taking ashwagandha is still advantageous if you are trying to conceive but are experiencing "technical difficulties."
Diminished sex drives are a common ailment for men and women alike, but it is typically associated with men due to a rather toxic stereotype that men always want sex. Therefore, women whose sex drives are lower than normal are overlooked due to similar toxic sentiments. Fortunately, ashwagandha can enhance the female sex drive and improve enjoyment (for lack of a better term).
One clinical study determined that ashwagandha could help women who were experiencing sexual dysfunction and could not become aroused. Without arousal, conceiving a child is extremely difficult since the desire to have sex is a pretty important prerequisite. The study that determined the benefits found that women who consumed ashwagandha experienced improved arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and satisfaction. These benefits improved their number of successful sexual encounters with their spouses or significant others.
Enhancing the sex drive might seem like an arbitrary aspect of fertility, but proper arousal actively improves the odds of successful insemination. If the aspiring mother is not properly aroused or interested in sexual activity, the act of having sex can cause damage to the vagina and inhibit the sperm's ability to travel to the uterus. Furthermore, being motivated to have sex increases a couple's attempts in a single day.
Ashwagandha Can Treat Insomnia
Insomnia has become one of the biggest problems people have nowadays, preventing them from getting a full night's sleep. It is no secret that we must sleep to stay healthy since rest ensures proper brain function and helps the body recover from exhaustion and injury. Unfortunately, insomnia prevents us from falling asleep and makes it difficult to stay asleep.
Insomnia can be caused by stress, poor sleep habits, and even eating too late at night. Unfortunately, modern society's standards have allowed insomnia to thrive and affect a disproportionate percentage of the human population. Many people take melatonin supplements to counteract insomnia, whereas extreme cases require more intensive medications.
Fortunately, many insomnia cases can be treated with natural compounds, rendering pharmaceuticals unnecessary. Surprisingly, ashwagandha appears to have characteristics that make it a viable resource against insomnia.
As mentioned, ashwagandha can reduce stress and was named for its ability to help people sleep. Therefore, it should not be too surprising to learn that ashwagandha can treat insomnia and make it less detrimental. While its original name was created when science was not very far along, modern research has yielded evidence to support ashwagandha's effects on insomnia.
One of the main studies involved 50 adults between 65 and 80 years old. Like all studies, they were divided into a test and control group, with the former receiving 600 milligrams of ashwagandha root daily for 12 weeks. The study determined that the subjects in the test group had improved sleep quality and mental alertness compared to those in the control group. This result was corroborated by a review that assessed 5 different studies that evaluated ashwagandha's effects on insomnia. The study determined that ashwagandha provided the following benefits:
- Ashwagandha had a positive effect on the overall quality of sleep in the subjects.
- Ashwagandha reduced anxiety levels.
- Ashwagandha improved alertness during the subjects' waking hours.
Essentially, ashwagandha profoundly affects people having trouble sleeping, but this effect is not specific to women. However, it is a little-known fact that insomnia is more common in biological women than men. The exact reason for this is not understood, but ashwagandha's effect on insomnia makes it a viable tool for women with the condition and provides the previous benefits as an added bonus. Unfortunately, not all of ashwagandha's effects are beneficial for women.
What Are the Risks of Taking Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha might be a natural substance, but that does not mean it is safe for all women. There are potential risks associated with ashwagandha use that can affect men and women alike, though some are exclusive to the latter. For the most part, ashwagandha is safe for prolonged consumption for up to 3 months, though the long-term impact is unknown.
The main issue is that ashwagandha can generate immediate consequences if individuals with certain health issues consume it. The biggest warning concerning ashwagandha use comes from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). They warn that pregnant women should avoid ashwagandha completely since high doses could cost them the pregnancy. While it can enhance your sex drive and improve the odds of conception, using it during an active pregnancy causes hormonal changes that could affect the uterus.
Pregnancy causes hormonal shifts essential to protecting and nurturing the child growing inside you. If the balance shifts too far because of compounds like ashwagandha, the child could be deprived of essential developmental stages. The same principle applies to breastfeeding women since hormones affect the nutrient content in breast milk. If you are not pregnant or do not have any hormonal conditions, ashwagandha is safe to use, but the trick is finding a reliable source.
Keeping it All Natural!
Ashwagandha has become a popular addition to many holistic lifestyles, but women especially need to care for their health before introducing certain compounds to their bodies. Fortunately, there is little risk to non-pregnant women curious about ashwagandha's benefits. The only real rule for healthy women is to limit your intake to the 3-month mark recommended by the NCCIH. The problem is finding a viable source of ashwagandha you can use to reduce your stress.
We at Bella All Natural have always believed that natural solutions are the best, so we have created a catalog of natural health and beauty supplements. One of our leading products is our Golden Ashwagandha powder, which can be used to introduce it to your regimen easily. Once again, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, do not consume ashwagandha, but other women should feel free to take advantage. We encourage you to visit our website and try our product firsthand, but regardless of your decision, remember to keep it All Natural!