Ashwagandha Helps Balance Estrogen
Perimenopause spikes a hormonal imbalance, with more estrogen than progesterone due to fewer cycles. Though menopause lowers estrogen levels, with progesterone lacking, this imbalance continues. Ashwagandha moderates the effects of high levels of estrogen over progesterone and mitigates symptoms like heavy bleeding, mood swings, or hot flashes. It can even serve as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy.
How often have you felt low, tired, or irritable and been told, “It’s probably just hormones!” Annoying as it may be, for women, the delicate balance of hormones can indeed be a fair and significant indicator of health. This balance is often on the line with the high-strung, high-pressure lifestyle that many women lead. Swallowing pills that further mess up the hormones should be avoided, so let’s find out if ashwagandha, one of Ayurveda’s super herbs, can beat the imbalance.
Yin And Yang
Estrogen, one of the female sex hormones, is produced in plenty by the ovaries during the first half of the menstrual cycle. Also known as the growing hormone, it grows the uterus lining and helps the egg mature before ovulation. Working alongside estrogen is progesterone, known as the relaxing hormone. Its role is to balance the effects of estrogen and control the build-up and release of the uterine wall in every cycle. Women also have a low level of the essentially male hormone testosterone, which helps with muscle mass, bone strength, and general wellness. The perfect balance of these three hormones along with the healthy functioning of the pituitary gland, as it signals actions to the brain, is essential for a regular menstrual cycle and pregnancy.
So where does ashwagandha come in?
The Indian Ginseng
Ashwagandha is a herb used commonly in Ayurvedic treatments and, as its Sanskrit name suggests, this root smells like a horse! It is also believed that this herb, called the Indian ginseng, can give a man the virility of a horse. Both Ayurveda and other scientific communities agree that ashwagandha is an adaptogen, that is, it can help fight the physical and chemical effects of stress. Building on this, ashwagandha has been tried in cancer treatment, stress relief, anti-anxiety, and even Alzheimer’s.1
The Feminine Side
The dance of hormones is in full swing during the monthly menstrual cycle and also, more importantly, during menopause in women. The perimenopause phase sees a significant reduction in progesterone production in the second half of the cycle as the number of cycles itself reduces. The imbalance, with higher estrogen levels as well, leads to erratic cycles and heavier bleeding. During actual menopause, the ovaries stop producing estrogen and only a small amount is produced by fat tissue and adrenal glands. The lack of progesterone and the presence of estrogen alone, though in lower quantities, is a significant change during menopause.
Ashwagandha works with the adrenal system to help moderate the effects of high levels of estrogen as compared to progesterone. This imbalance is significant during menopause but could occur earlier also due to other health conditions. Symptoms vary widely among women but studies show that ashwagandha can help manage this significant change in a woman’s body. The severity of the symptoms – be it heavy bleeding, mood swings, or hot flashes – and the overall quality of life improve with ashwagandha treatment.2
Keep Ashwagandha Handy
Ashwagandha is in fact seen as a useful alternative to rigorous hormone replacement therapy (HRT) offered in conventional treatments for estrogen imbalance. Most menopausal women, up to 57% in fact, experience hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety and psychosomatic symptoms like osteoporosis, and insomnia. Not all of them can withstand or afford treatments like HRT.3 Further in-depth studies will help validate the efficacy of ashwagandha in treating the hormonal imbalances that ail so many women. This herb is definitely a ray of hope in this field.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Mishra, Lakshmi-Chandra, Betsy B. Singh, and Simon Dagenais. “Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha): a review.” Alternative medicine review 5, no. 4 (2000): 334-346.|
|2.||↑||Modi, Mansi B., Shilpa B. Donga, and Laxmipriya Dei. “Clinical evaluation of Ashokarishta, Ashwagandha Churna and Praval Pishti in the management of menopausal syndrome.” Ayu 33, no. 4 (2012): 511.|
|3.||↑||Vinjamury, Manjusha. “Ayurvedic medicine for peri-menopausal and menopausal syndrome–a review.” In 141st APHA Annual Meeting (November 2-November 6, 2013). APHA, 2013.|