Ashwaghanda or Winter Cherry is an amazing herb. It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years to boost energy, fight infections and treat many other ailments. Now modern science is discovering even more amazing Ashwagandha benefits.
For women in menopause, Ashwagandha’s calming and stress fighting properties are especially important. Many women suffer from menopause depression, wild mood swings and irritability and insomnia. Studies have proven that the active chemicals in this plant can not only maintain healthy brain functions, but even heal damaged nerve cells.
Ashwagandha can lower cholesterol levels and eliminate the free radicals that are responsible for so many illnesses and early aging. (This attribute is probably responsible for the use of Winter Cherry for skin diseases).
Due to the decline in estrogen, post menopausal women are no longer protected from heart disease. This makes herbs that will help to lower the risk of heart disease very important for women.
Ashagandha acts on the neurotransmitters and significantly lowers the stress hormone cortisol. Chronic stress, a bane for many women, not only causes increased menopause symptoms, it also leads to premature aging, increased risk of cancer and susceptibility to illness.
Animal studies have shown that chronic stress has some degenerative effect on brain cells which leads to cognitive difficulties. Memory problems and “fuzzy thinking” are two other common menopause symptoms. Ashwagandha’s ability to fight the effects of chronic stress and to repair brain cells can certainly help with these symptoms as well.
I have already alluded to the newly discovered Ashwagandha benefits that are so exciting. In a laboratory study, scientists found that one of the active chemicals in Ashwagandha called Withaferin A has powerful anti-cancer effects. In laboratory studies, this compound was able to destroy breast, colon and lung cancer cells. Another study demonstrated that is also prevents cancer cells to form new blood vessels which spread the tumor to the surrounding tissue.
Because of the effects on the nervous system and Ashwagandha compounds are currently studied for treatments for Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and degenerative neurological diseases.
As you can see, Ashwagandha benefits every system in the body – an important fact for menopausal women. Ashwagandha is safe and only minor gastrointestinal problems have been reported if taken as recommended. Daily recommended dose is about 500 – 1000 mg up to 3 times a day.
If you want more information about this exiting herb, check out the Ashwagandha benefits page on our website or go the article by the Life Extension Foundation or the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.