Uses, Dosage and Side Effects of an Amazing Herb
There are many Ashwagandha benefits for women in menopause and beyond. Its beneficial activities include not only a hormone balancing effect but also stress relief, and a positive impact on the brain and cells.
Winter Cherry is a highly valued adaptogen. (Adaptogenic herbs help the body to adapt to changes and fight the negative effects of stress.) It has been a mainstay in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. In addition to its hormone balancing effect, it will:
- Give your immune system a boost
- Benefit the central nervous system
- Repair damages from stress and illness.
This herb is also known as Winter Cherry or Indian Ginseng. It is sometimes spelled “Ashwaganda“. We will use Ashwagandha and Winter Cherry synonymously in this article.
Ashwagandha Benefits for Menopause
Although Ashwagandha has not been tested specifically for menopause symptoms, its many benefits can ease several menopause symptoms. Because of its hormone balancing effect it may even help with some of the symptoms of Perimenopause. It is a great herb for women who suffer from:
- Menopause depression
- Mood swings and Irritability
- Fuzzy thinking and forgetfulness
Winter Cherry has a calming effect on the central nervous system and can even repair damaged nerve cells (proven in laboratory studies). Ashwagandha benefits the cognitive and mental abilities and is currently being tested for the treatment of Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
If you have problems with insomnia, take Ashwagandha at night before going to bed.
Menopause is a time of high stress – for your body and your emotional health. Winter Cherry’s active chemicals fight the negative effects of stress on the body. These chemicals destroy the free radicals that are associated with aging and numerous illnesses (from cancer to heart disease). Laboratory studies have found that Withaferin, one of the many active chemicals, stops breast, colon and lung cancer.
What is Ashwagandha?
Winter Cherry is a small woody shrub that grows to about two feet in height. It is found in India, the Middle East and Africa. Ayuvedic medicine has used it similar to Asian Ginseng but modern science has found a lot more potential uses. Over 37 active chemicals have been identified in the plant. All parts of the plant have beneficial chemicals but western medicine uses mostly the root for medicinal purposes. Medical research (mostly in the form of animal studies) have shown the following Ashwagandha benefits:
- Decreases anxiety
- Protects the immune system
- Has anti-inflammatory effects
- Improves mental and cognitive functioning
and neurological disorders
- Stabilizes blood sugar
- Lowers cholesterol
- Increases energy
- Promotes healing
Clinical trial are underway to determine the use for Parkinson’s Disease, Cancer treatments, Diabetes and Bipolar Disorder. The main groups of chemicals that have been studied are 12 alkaloids and 35 steroidal lactones (withanolides).
|Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center has a summary with the most important references about the science behind Ashwagandha benefits.|
Studies about the science behind the Ashwagandha benefits are ongoing. Animal and laboratory studies have found that the active compounds can destroy harmful free radicals and repair damaged cells. There are other actions of the chemicals in this herb and if you are interested check the link in the sidebar.
The usual recommended dose is up to 500 to 1000 mg, 2- 3 times a day. No recommended daily dosage has been established. It is best to follow the instructions on the label of your supplement. We have read recommendations as high as 6000 mg but it may be prudent to use such amounts only for brief periods to treat specific symptoms (i.e. inflammation). How much you take also depends on the form of Ashwagandha you prefer. It is available as tea, capsules, powder or tincture.
Ashwagandha Side Effects
Ashwagandha is used for over 5,000 years in Ayuvedic medicine. It is a safe herb and well tolerated. No side effects aside from some gastrointestinal problems and drowsiness have been reported. Some animal tests have been done to test EXTREME large doses (1/4 of the daily diet). At these extreme doses it has shown significant toxicity, which is probably true for most herbs. Animal studies have also found that it can induce abortions in very high doses. Women who are pregnant should avoid Ashwagandha until studies have ruled out similar effects in humans. Ashwagandha powder can have some gastrointestinal side effects. If you experience difficulties with the powder, start with smaller doses and gradually increase it until you reach the full daily amount. The other option is to switch to the supplements or tincture. Because of the mild sedative effect, there may be an interaction with barbiturates. Some people may get drowsy when they take this herb. If you find you are sensitive to the sedative effect, take it at night, and adjust the dosage during the day.
Ashwagandha benefits women in menopause in many ways. As a powerful antioxidant and anti inflammatory it fights disease and improves your overall well being. If you suffer from insomnia, menopause depression or mood swings the calming effect will help you to get your emotional balance back. Because of the potential for fighting cancer, repairing cells and boosting cognitive functioning, Ashwagandha may be a great herb for women long after they survived menopause. So give Ashwagandha a try and let us know how it works for you.