Ashwagandha: How This Ancient Herb Fixes Your PCOS Stress 

Learn the anti-stress benefits of this traditional medicine.

All women will experience a hormonal imbalance at some point in their lives. 


We all know that changes during puberty, menstruation, or menopause throw our hormones off balance. Unfortunately, for those of us living with PCOS, hormone-related problems are a constant. 


Luckily, there are natural remedies that can help, and ashwagandha is one of them. 

Ashwagandha has been used to help reduce inflammation, boost energy levels, and support a healthy immune system. The best thing is it is also known to be safe and well-tolerated, making it a popular choice.

In particular, tons of evidence shows ashwagandha can provide relief from stress and insomnia. These symptoms are often connected to high cortisol levels. I’ve personally used ashwagandha for this exact benefit, and it’s been life-changing. 


Below, we'll take a closer look at how this natural medicine can reduce stress and balance female hormones.


What is Ashwagandha?


Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, is a traditional Ayurvedic herb known for its calming effects. 

People have been using this herb for centuries to help reduce stress and anxiety, and it’s also believed to help promote healthy sleep patterns.

Evidence verifies these benefits.

Research has shown that ashwagandha not only helps the body cope with stress, but it also boosts your immune system by making it stronger. It’s filled with antioxidants that can defend your body's cells against damage caused by harmful substances called free radicals.

Beyond those benefits, it can regulate hormones, making it an ideal supplement for dealing with hormonal imbalances.

Ashwagandha and Female Hormones: What does ashwagandha do to the female body?


Ashwagandha is best known for its ability to bring female hormones into balance. As mentioned, it lowers cortisol levels and supports healthy thyroid function and insulin levels.


According to research, stress, lack of sleep, environmental toxins, and poor diet can all contribute to a hormone imbalance. Underlying conditions like PCOS may also interfere with your hormones.

Ashwagandha works by regulating your body's stress response by influencing the stress hormone cortisol. In this way, the ayurvedic herb combats a hormonal imbalance that could throw off other hormones like estrogen and progesterone.  


I've used ashwagandha to deal with stress and insomnia, and I can tell you it works. Previously, I'd been relying on sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication to cope and I was sick of the side-effects. Taking ashwagandha made a massive, positive difference in my mood. 


How does ashwagandha help PCOS?


For PCOS specifically, research published in the Journal of Ayurveda 2022 shows ashwagandha helps regulate a number of hormones: 


“Studies suggest that ashwagandha root reduces serum cortisol levels. Stress reduction normalizes leptin levels in the body which reduces food craving as a result of significant weight reduction in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).”

That’s all to say, it’s a pretty effective hormone-balancing herb for PCOS. 


Below, we'll get into the specific benefits of ashwagandha for PCOS - from balancing thyroid hormones to curbing stress.

Lowers insulin resistance


One review concluded that ashwagandha decreases insulin levels.


Studies show a clear association between PCOS and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is thought to be the root cause of many PCOS symptoms, including weight gain, irregular periods, and infertility. That's not all. Over time, elevated levels of insulin may lead to more serious illnesses, like type 2 diabetes.


Research shows ashwagandha may lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity in muscle cells. 

Reduces cortisol levels


One of the main ways in which ashwagandha can help balance female hormones is by keeping cortisol levels in check. That’s especially particularly important for women with PCOS; we often have raised cortisol levels.


High cortisol levels can lead to symptoms like weight gain, mood swings, and insomnia. 

And because it’s the stress hormone, it makes sense that keeping cortisol levels balanced leads to less stress. As such, there’s a body of evidence that establishes a link between ashwagandha and stress relief.


The 2021 Journal of Herbal Medicine reviewed the outcomes of 41 human trials investigating the use of Ashwagandha.


“... the strongest evidence for therapeutic efficacy of ashwagandha is the alleviation of stress and anxiety symptoms.”


Another review published in the Nutritional Medicine Institute journal found that there was an established link between ashwagandha and stress reduction. It’s believed that its anti-stress properties also promote better sleep.

According to the Innovations in Pharmaceuticals and Pharmacotherapy journal ashwagandha can also tame stress among PCOS patients. 


“Ashwagandha produces calming, anti-stress, and extremely stabilizing effects by binding to GABA receptors.”


I’ve struggled with insomnia and anxiety. Often, I relied on prescription medication to function when my stress got out of control.  After years of side-effects, I was desperate to find a natural solution that would help me get some relief. That's when I discovered ashwagandha. I started taking a herbal mixture that included ashwagandha daily and within a few weeks, I noticed a significant improvement in my mood and sleep patterns.


I felt more relaxed and calm, and I was able to fall asleep faster and stay asleep. I was finally able to manage my stress and insomnia in a more natural way.

Regulates thyroid hormones


Ashwagandha has been shown to regulate thyroid hormones, according to the Pharmaceutics 2023 journal. The thyroid gland produces hormones that control metabolism and energy levels. 


When thyroid hormones are imbalanced, it can lead to symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, and mood swings. 


Several human and animal studies show ashwagandha can normalise thyroid hormone levels.

Decreases inflammation


Ashwagandha is a powerful anti-inflammatory.


Chronic inflammation can contribute to a variety of health issues, including hormonal imbalances. By reducing inflammation, ashwagandha can help to improve overall wellness and reduce the risk of health problems associated with inflammation. Women with PCOS are more likely to have chronic, low-grade inflammation.


The Journal of Pre-Clinical and Clinical Research 2021 found topical application of ashwagandha could reduce inflammation linked to swelling or ulcers.

Improves PMS 


While there is limited research on the effects of ashwagandha specifically on PMS, some studies suggest that it may help to alleviate symptoms.


For example, a 2022 study published in the Annals of Ayurvedic Medicine found that women who took a herbal preparation containing ashwagandha experienced a reduction in PMS symptoms.


How to take ashwagandha


If you're interested in trying this ayurvedic treatment for hormonal imbalances, there are several ways to take it.


For example, some people prefer ashwagandha powder, while others take a capsule. It can also be applied topically.Personally, I used a tincture containing ashwagandha. 


Per, most ashwagandha studies used doses of 250–600 mg/day of a root extract:


“The most common dosing protocol is 600 mg/day divided into two doses, with one taken in the morning with breakfast and the other in the evening.”


Check in with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement. Ashawangda may not always be suitable for you. For example, it's not recommended during pregnancy. 

Here, it’s  important to note that some research suggests ashwagandha may increase testosterone among women. If you have PCOS, you likely already have high levels of testosterone, so you might want to check this one with your doctor if you’re concerned.

Unlock the Power of Ashwagandha: The Natural Remedy for PCOS You Need to Try


Hormonal imbalances can be frustrating and difficult to manage. If you're looking for a natural way to manage stress, consider ashwagandha. 

Remember to check in with your doctor. As we’ve seen, ashwagandha might not always be appropriate for everyone.

Featured image credit: Photo by Pille R. Priske on Unsplash