Can Ashwagandha help with anxiety in menopause
Updated: Jul 28
Ashwagandha is a herb I first became aware of when I read online that Megan Markle used it for stressful periods (this was during post-Suits days and pre-Royal Family), and I wondered what an actress could be stressed about. After researching the herb further, I incorporated it intermittently whenever I felt I was under stress usually to do with work. Ashwagandha has been used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. However, more recently it's gained popularity due to its potential health benefits, including its ability to help reduce anxiety and stress. So, I wanted to cover the topic and whether ashwagandha can help with anxiety in menopause, which if you're currently going through peri-menopause or menopause, you'll know anxiety is a common menopausal symptom. Thankfully, studies have shown that Ashwagandha may just be one answer with it effectively reducing anxiety levels in menopausal women by regulating the body's stress response system, helping to alleviate feelings of anxiety and deliver a sense of calm.
For my journey, my relationship with anxiety began later in the peri-menopause stage, becoming somewhat overwhelming and intrusive in post-menopause. Like many women heading into their forties and fifties, I've been through my fair share of very stressful and worrying situations on several occasions, but the anxiety never reared its ugly head. However, once I was well into peri-menopause, those situations that I would typically find manageable somehow became triggers for anxiety (sometimes bordering on panic). My mind was suddenly letting me down, and the once strong-minded individual was becoming someone unfamiliar to me, even to the point where I was telling myself I had somehow become weak. Of course, over the years, I've come to realise this was complete nonsense, now visualising my body and mind as two separate entities battling against each other. Indeed, I firmly blame my body for infiltrating my mind with the hormonal imbalance, thus causing the inability to cope with everyday life. Of course, this same idealogy works well for brain fog and those dementia-esque moments; I'm not inferior or weak; I'm going through menopause. I view menopause as a foreign body that requires me to keep it in its place. I do this by undertaking mounds of research and taking supplements, consistently seeking solutions to curb the intrusive and disruptive symptoms of menopause.
When women go through peri-menopause and menopause, their bodies experience a decrease in estrogen levels, leading to physical and emotional symptoms. Indeed, there are several factors in play, including:
Hormonal changes and imbalance: Fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels cause changes in the brain's chemistry, leading to anxiety and mood swings.
Insomnia and sleep disturbances: Women in menopause often experience erratic sleep and insomnia, including night sweats, which can lead to fatigue and irritability, contributing to anxiety.
Hot Flushes and other menopausal-related symptoms such as dry skin, thinning hair, slowing metabolism, and weight gain are all common symptoms of menopause that can be disruptive and worrying, piling on further distress and anxiety.
General life: As if menopause wasn't enough, this period often coincides with other significant life events such as coping with uncooperative teenagers, children leaving home or looking after elderly parents.
General stress may increase due to work, family, or financial pressures, contributing to anxiety.
Although we can try and limit our exposure to stressful situations, there are some occasions where it simply isn't possible, for example, ignoring ailing parents who need our help or worrying whether the mortgage or rent payment will be paid. However, whilst we can't avoid these life events, we can find ways and remedies to alleviate the stress and anxiety, allowing us to cope better, and Ashwagandha may just be one answer.
Ashwagandha is a herb commonly used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to promote relaxation, help reduce stress and anxiety, and improve overall well-being. Also known as Withania somnifera, Ashwagandha is a herbaceous plant that is native to the dry regions of the Middle East, India, and northern Africa and belongs to the Solanaceae family, which includes other plants like eggplants, peppers and tomatoes.
Several studies have supported the effectiveness of Ashwagandha in reducing anxiety symptoms. For example, a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study appearing in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology found that participants who took Ashwagandha extract experienced a significant reduction in anxiety levels compared to those who took a placebo. And let's not forget that quite a few celebs openly admit using the herb to help with stressful periods, including Gwyneth Paltrow, who reportedly uses Sun Potion Ashwagandha power, Meghan Markle, who favours Glow Bar Ashwagandha power and Jennifer Aniston. However, there is limited research on the effects of Ashwagandha directly on menopausal anxiety, although some studies suggest it may be beneficial. My opinion is logical (and remember, I'm no nutritionist or scientist); the herb should be as effective for menopausal-related anxiety as it may be for general anxiety because Ashwagandha works to promote relaxation and overall well-being. Just because the anxiety is attributable to dropping levels of oestrogen, leaving our bodies less able to cope shouldn't really make a difference.
You should consult your GP or another healthcare professional before beginning any new supplement regimen, especially if you’re taking other medications and have pre-existing medical conditions. Whilst Ashwagandha is a herb that's been used for thousands of years and researched for its potential health benefits, there may be potential side effects or interactions with other medications. However, if you're looking to try Ashwagandha to help support menopausal anxiety, I've used the Ashwagandha supplements below. Again, they contain no unnecessary fillers or binders, so no nasties! I started with the Sash Vitality Ashwagandha but had to switch it up when I developed tension and a constantly clenched jaw post-menopause (a new symptom I wasn't expecting!) I'm now combining one capsule each from the Dr Vegan Stay Calm with the Health is Wealth Ashwagandha, along with one capsule from Dr Vegan MenoFriend, my current menopause support supplement, which I'll cover in more detail in another article soon.
Dr Vegan Stay Calm 150mg KSM-66 Ashwagandha with Black Pepper - 60 capsules (includes other combined supplements including Cordyceps, Schisandra Berry, Rhodiola Extract, L-Tyrosine, L-Theanine, Magnesium Citrate, Selenium, Vitamin B5, Kelp Extract, Vitamin B6, Bioperine® Black Pepper Extract, Chromium)