Ashwagandha, scientifically known as Withania somnifera, is a versatile herb deeply rooted in the ancient Ayurvedic tradition of medicine. Commonly referred to as the “Indian ginseng” or “winter cherry,” ashwagandha has been valued for its adaptogenic properties. Adaptogenic herbs are a category of plants that are believed to help the body adapt to stressors and maintain balance. These herbs are thought to have the ability to regulate various physiological functions and promote the body’s natural state of equilibrium.
The ashwagandha is a rasayana’ that comes from a small shrub having yellow flowers and is native to India and Southeast Asia. The word “rasayana” means “that which supports rasa”, or life essence. Rasa, or plasma, is the first dhatu of the seven dhatus. Extracts or powder from the ashwagandha plant’s root is used for various treatments. The use of ashwagandha dates back over 5,000 years. Ashwagandha is sometimes called “Indian ginseng” due to its rejuvenating effects.
However, its specific effects are not similar to ginseng. Ashwagandha often causes relaxation instead of restless energy provided by ginseng. Traditionally, ashwagandha has been employed to enhance vitality, reduce stress, improve concentration, and promote longevity. Its name, derived from Sanskrit, translates to “smell of the horse,” suggesting that the herb imparts the strength and vigor of a horse. Modern research supports several potential health benefits of ashwagandha, including its ability to reduce stress and anxiety, boost immune function, and better sleep. The adaptogenic nature of ashwagandha makes it a popular choice for those seeking natural ways to support their well-being in the face of life’s challenges.
Infertility in both men and women has increased rapidly due to many reasons including unbalanced diet and poor lifestyle.
Many infertility treatments are available nowadays to help couples conceive. Treatments like ART (artificial reproductive technology) are expensive and have low success rates. This has made use of ayurvedic treatments quite popular both as a standalone treatment and as a supplement to ART/ IVF. Ashwagandha is one of the most popular ayurvedic herbs used in the treatment of both male and female infertility.
Some studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that ashwagandha may have potential benefits for reproductive health, including addressing certain issues like poor sex drive, sperm quality, and concentration, regularizing the menstrual cycle in females, treating PCOS, and balancing hormones.
The potential benefits of Ayurveda for infertility treatment are as follows:
Stress Reduction: Chronic Stress is known to adversely impact reproductive health by disrupting hormonal balance and affecting various physiological processes. Ashwagandha exerts its stress-reducing effects by modulating the body’s response to stressors, particularly by lowering cortisol levels, which is a key stress hormone. By doing so, it helps restore hormonal equilibrium, promoting a more conducive environment for fertility.
Sperm Quality and libido: Major issues with male fertility is because of sperm quality. Some studies suggest that ashwagandha may help improve sperm quality by increasing sperm count/ concentration, motility, and morphology (the shape of sperm). Consuming Ashwagandha improves the level of testosterone hormone and LH in the body. Luteinizing hormone (LH) plays a crucial role in the reproductive system, particularly in the regulation of testosterone production in men and estrogen production in women. In males, LH stimulates the Leydig cells in the testes to produce testosterone, which is essential for the development of male reproductive tissues and the maintenance of overall reproductive health.
In females, LH is responsible for triggering ovulation and the subsequent development of the corpus luteum. Improved testosterone level helps in improving sex drive. That is why it is consumed as an aphrodisiac too. Improvement in these parameters is generally associated with better fertility in men.
Hormonal Balance: Ashwagandha is thought to have adaptogenic properties, which means it may help the body adapt to stress and balance hormones. Hormonal balance is crucial for normal reproductive function in both men and women.
Antioxidant Effects: Ashwagandha has antioxidant properties, which may help protect sperm from oxidative stress. It contains a variety of antioxidant compounds like flavonoids and polyphenols, that contribute to its ability to combat oxidative stress. These antioxidants can help protect body cells from damage, including sperm cells thereby improving fertility.
Impact on female fertility: Ashwagandha has a positive impact on the endocrine system of the body. It may be useful in keeping the thyroid and adrenal glands healthy and regulated in the body. It is useful in improving FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) in women, which helps in improving fertility. Also, due to stress reduction properties, ashwagandha helps with mental health issues as well. Both these functions indirectly contribute to improved reproductive function in females and better regulated menstrual cycles and improve conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) that can affect fertility.
To incorporate ashwagandha into your routine, it is commonly available in various forms such as powder, capsules, or liquid extract. The recommended dosage may vary based on factors like age, health condition, and individual response, so it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.
- If you choose the powdered form, you can mix it with water, milk, or a smoothie.
- You may drink a glass of warm milk mixed with 1 teaspoon of Ashwagandha powder, honey, and a pinch of cinnamon powder at night before bed.
- Capsules are convenient for precise dosing and easy integration into your daily routine.
Some people prefer taking ashwagandha with a meal to enhance absorption. Begin with a lower dose and gradually increase as needed, paying attention to how your body responds. It’s essential to be consistent with your intake to experience the potential benefits of ashwagandha,
Ashwagandha is a powerful traditional herb that has been used for centuries to improve overall health and treat various ailments including infertility. Ashwagandha is generally considered safe for most people, still, it may cause side effects in some individuals. These can include gastrointestinal issues, changes in blood pressure, and possible interactions with certain medications. It’s important to inform your doctor to ensure there are no potential interactions.