Herbal Remedies for Female Infertility: Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
DISCLAIMER: CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR BEFORE DECIDING ON A TREATMENT PLAN FOR ANY DISEASE OR INJURY.
NOTE: Ashwagandha should not be taken during pregnancy as there is some evidence that it can cause miscarriage.
Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb with powerful fertility and sexual health benefits for both women and men. It is also commonly known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry, and is in the nightshade (Solanaceae) family of plants along with tomato, potato, belladonna, and others. Besides being a treatment for fertility and reproductive health, ashwagandha has also been used to treat polyarthritis, vitiligo, general weakness, plague, ulcers, asthma, and more.
As a female reproductive health tonic, ashwagandha has been used for the following conditions:
- Uterine infection
- Leucorrhea (a thick white or yellow vaginal discharge)
- Hormone-related anxiety, depression, or other mood problems
- Low libido (ashwagandha is an aphrodisiac)
- Menopause-related symptoms (hot flashes, mood swings, insomnia, weight gain/loss, sexual issues, etc.)
One study in India observed that administration of 300mg of ashwagandha root extract administered twice daily after food for 8 weeks improved general scores in regard to sexual satisfaction in women. In a Saudi Arabian animal study, administration of ashwagandha root extract increased the rats’ follicle stimulating hormone levels and ovarian weight. Another Indian study on fish also observed positive results on fertility scores (note that in this study ashwagandha was combined with Mucuna pruriens and Moringa oleifera, two other nourishing, fertility-promoting plants).
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Ashwagandha is, crucially, an adaptogen, meaning that it helps the body respond better to stressors. Any kind of stress, whether it be emotional, physical, or other, causes a particular response in the body. Increased cortisol levels, decreased neurotransmitter levels due to increased usage of these, decreased nutrient levels, imbalanced pH or oxidant-antioxidant balance, and more can all contribute to a decrease in female fertility. Ashwagandha helps the body during stressful times by regulating cortisol levels and generally improving the body’s tolerance to stress.
For many women, infertility and problems related to the menstrual cycle have their root in the thyroid. Ashwagandha has special powers in regulating and supporting the the thyroid, making it a particularly good choice for women struggling with infertility due to thyroid problems. A study in India demonstrated that a dose of 600mg of ashwagandha powder administered daily over the course of 8 weeks to hypothyroid women effectively normalized thyroid hormone indices, including improvements in serum thyroid stimulating hormone, T3, and T4 levels.
To take ashwagandha powder, combine 1 tablespoon with lukewarm water and stir well to combine. Do this twice daily. This remedy may also be made with milk (preferably either from grass-fed cows or coconut milk, or another fatty, milky alternative) and/or ghee/coconut oil to increase its efficacy. If taking capsules, take 500-600mg daily with food. Note that ashwagandha combines particularly well with Mucuna pruriens, another powerful and important herbal remedy for female fertility.
Doost Azgomi, Ramin Nasimi, et. al. (2018). Effects of Withania somnifera on Reproductive System: A Systematic Review of the Available Evidence. Retrieved October 9, 2022 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5833251/
Sharma, Ashok Kumar, et. al. (2018). Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Subclinical Hypothyroid Patients: A Double-Blind, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. Retrieved October 9, 2022 from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28829155/
Nayak, Brahmanand (2020). Amazing Ashwagandha for Women – Benefits, Side Effects, and Cautions. Retrieved October 9, 2022 from: https://www.drbrahma.com/ashwagandha-for-women-benefits-side-effects-and-cautions/