Ashwagandha and Libido
You are probably quite familiar with this popular herb, revered for its ability to keep us calm during times of stress. Recently, however, it is been taking on a different claim to fame, that of a libido enhancer. Studies show that ashwagandha can support sexual performance via the same mechanism that can help you achieve balance in times of stress, promoting healthier hormones. It is not always easy to be on your best behavior at the drop of a hat when stress, and its attendant hormonal imbalances, are continually beating down your door.
Ashwagandha falls in a plant category known as adaptogens. Generally speaking, adaptogens are components of some plants and mushrooms that aid in coping with physical, emotional, and biological stresses to the body. They help the body adjust, so you can return to a state of balance, or homeostasis.
Ashwagandha achieves this by normalizing the level of cortisol, which increases during times of acute stress in order to help us run away from danger or resist it. When we are under chronic stress, those cortisol levels stay high, impacting immune health, metabolism, and other hormones. Ashwagandha, in essence, works to help your body move out of this fight-or-flight mode when stressed, so that you feel more at ease, while also maintaining a healthy balance. Because of the stress-relieving support that Ashwagandha can provide, people tend to report deeper sleep and increased energy when they use it.
There are also a few reports, anecdotal as well as scientific, linking it with healthier sexual desire, sperm counts, and even fertility. Heres everything you need to know about the potential sexual benefits of this herb.
Does Ashwagandha Increase Libido?
Yes, Ashwagandha has been shown to increase libido in both men and women. This could be linked to the fact that it helps lower cortisol levels, thus allowing your body to relax and not be in fight or flight mode. The antithesis to the fight-or-flight is rest-and-digest mode. This is when the body feels secure enough to digest the food, receive nutrients, and repair cells and tissues. This is also when the body feels safe to reproduce.
Essentially, keeping your stress levels, as well as cortisol levels, healthy, will make you feel more ready, or in the mood, for having sex. Another aspect that comes into play here, at least for women, is progesterone. When there is high cortisol production demand due to high stress levels, the body uses up its supply of progesterone, leading to a balance of progesterone and estrogen levels.
So, while it helps to facilitate a balanced cortisol, Ashwagandha also helps the body to keep these crucial reproductive hormones balanced. Another study, meanwhile, says the potential for all-people libido-boosting properties of ashwagandha is also tied to its ability to support healthy levels of testosterone. While testosterone influences sexual desire, sperm count and motility, and erectile function in men, it may affect women as well, increasing pre-sex arousal and lubrication.
So Does Ashwagandha Increase Libido in Females?
Yes, Ashwagandha has been shown to increase sexual arousal as well as libido, and other sexual measurements in a study conducted with women. The results were pretty stunning as after 8 weeks Ashwagandha was shown to improve sexual function, desire or libido, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and satisfaction compared to the placebo group.
But wait, there is more!
A systematic review from 2018 suggests that ashwagandha may also positively affect general fertility. In addition to supporting balanced levels of testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone, the review suggests it also supports balanced levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), two hormones that are responsible for maturing and releasing eggs from the ovaries. This study also shows ashwagandha reduces oxidative stress, the damage caused by free radicals, as well, which may contribute to overall cellular health and fertility in men, but may also have similar beneficial effects on women.
Who Should Take Ashwagandha?
Because of how Ashwagandha supports hormonal balance, it offers potential benefits in the bedroom to everyone. However, you need to take care when taking Ashwagandha if you have any specific health conditions or hormonal imbalances, or are pregnant or nursing. Traditionally, Ayurveda has considered the herb to be safe, including during pregnancy and lactation; however, I believe that not enough studies are available, so please talk to your health care provider about it if you are pregnant or nursing. It may also be unsafe for those with certain auto-thyroid conditions, including Hashimoto’s. Because Ashwagandha can increase the immune systems activity, it can worsen some autoimmune conditions, and potentially interact with some thyroid medications. In general, it is worth talking with your doctor before taking Ashwagandha, particularly if you are taking medications.
How to Take Ashwagandha to Improve Libido
The most traditional Ayurvedic method of taking Ashwagandha is as a tonic at night, since its healing properties are activated by heat, suggests Simons. Try adding a teaspoon of the powdered Ashwagandha into hot water or a nut milk, adding a favorite sweetener such as honey, and stirring the whole thing together before drinking.
You can also toss the dried, raw Ashwagandha roots into soups and broths, he added. Of course, these days, Ashwagandha is available in many different supplements as well. You can go easy on yourself with Ashwagandha capsules, indulge in a little herb-sweetness with the Ashwagandha gummies to focus on supporting your sexuality.
Ultimately, just remember that Ashwagandha is not meant to be the cure-all to stressors in your life that may impact your mood, mental health, and sexual desire. It is important to find the source of the stress and deal with it. Sometimes that can mean cutting back on engagements, making healthier food choices, improving your sleeping habits, including gentle exercises or breathing techniques, and dealing with the physical and biological stresses that are at play, such as intestinal issues.
So, there you have it. While Ashwagandha is no magic bullet, it can be quite damn strong on a variety of aspects of your health, including sexual health. You can also learn more from the following video: