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by Dr.Dave on Mar 11, 2016
The use of ashwagandha, or Indian Ginseng, in traditional Ayurvedic medicine can be traced back 4000 years. This herb is known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-stress properties, and it is believed to enhance overall health and longevity. Ashwagandha is also thought to protect against cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Studies have also demonstrated its calming effects and its role in balancing the key hormones in the body.
We often recommend ashwagandha as a stand-alone supplement or as part of a combination preparation to treat adrenal exhaustion, fatigue, depression and anxiety. There is even data suggesting that ashwagandha can improve cognition in people who suffer from bipolar disorder (Randomized placebo-controlled adjunctive study of an extract of withania somnifera for cognitive dysfunction in bipolar disorder. Chengappa KN, Bowie CR, Schlicht PJ, Fleet D, Brar JS, Jindal R. J Clin Psychiatry. 2013 Nov;74(11):1076-83).
In addition, ashwagandha has been indicated as a potent sexual stimulant as it supports sexual health by enhancing blood flow and reducing tension. The effect of ashwagandha in improving sexual function and fertility in men has been established in several studies. More recently, supplementation with high concentrations of ashwagandha root extract (HCARE) was found to enhance sexual function and satisfaction in healthy women.
The study, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot, was published by BioMed Research International in 2015. Fifty participants were placed into one of two groups and followed for a period of 8 weeks. The HCARE group received 300 mg of ashwagandha twice daily and the placebo group received a placebo capsule twice daily.
Assessment of the participants’ sexual functioning was done using the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) Questionnaire and the Female Sexual Distress Scale (FSDS), and by taking into account the total number of successful sexual encounters. Results showed greater improvement in the total FSFI score among the HCARE group, particularly in the arousal, lubrication, orgasm and satisfaction domains. The HCARE group also had more successful sexual encounters and reduced sexual distress compared to the placebo group.
There are several mechanisms that might explain the beneficial role of this ancient herb in human sexuality. For example, ashwagandha has been shown to:
This new data on ashwagandha and sexual functioning in women is welcome news indeed, because so many of my female patients and clients suffer from sexual impairment. Moreover, one of the most frequent side effects of commonly prescribed anti-depressants is sexual dysfunction.
Dr. David Scheiderer MD, MBA, DFAPA, is the Chief Medical Officer and Director of Education for Integrative Psychiatry, Inc.
An accomplished clinician, educator, and lecturer, Dr. Dave has established himself as a key opinion leader in the fields of both mainstream psychiatry and functional medicine. Dissatisfied with the patient outcomes using only conventional treatments, he began treating his patients by addressing biological imbalances with lifestyle improvements, nutrition and nutraceuticals to get better outcomes. His integrative approach provided much improved results. Dr. Dave is passionate about helping the community he serves by personalizing treatments and educating the public about mental health and healthy aging. He has formulated several of our supplements and sat on the advisory board for many others, ensuring the products we carry are based on science and experience and have the best efficacy rates and highest ingredient quality available.