No matter what stage of life you're in, stress can get the best of us. However, during pregnancy, we may be particularly susceptible to high cortisol levels, leading to decreased sleep, increased irritation, moodiness, and weight gain. Stress can also have a negative effect on different facets of a woman's health, such as menstruation and fertility.
Ashwagandha is a beneficial herb traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine. It has been sought after for stress relief, its ability to increase vitality and strength, and as a mood stabilizer. In modern times, studies have found that, as an adaptogen, Ashwagandha possesses many of these benefits.
Ashwagandha is finding mainstream popularity as a stress-fighter, leading expecting moms to wonder if they can consume Ashwagandha while pregnant. We'll do our best in this article to answer all your questions about Ashwagandha during pregnancy.
What is Ashwagandha? What Are the Uses of Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha's scientific name is Withania somnifera. It's a herb found in Asia and Africa, where it may be referred to as "Indian Ginseng ."This is also where it has been relied upon for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine for its health-boosting properties.
For thousands of years, Ashwagandha has been used to treat pain, inflammation, insomnia, and mood. Today we know that it is an adaptogen.
Adaptogens are substances that help your body better react (or adapt) to stress. They do this by helping your hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal glands regulate. These are the glands involved in your body's stress response. An adaptogen helps decrease the exhaustion or fatigue you feel after encountering a stressful situation by balancing out the hormones released during stress.
For this reason, stress relief is the most prominent benefit of Ashwagandha. But there are other benefits too. Here are a few of Ashwagandha's most valuable properties:
Ayurveda notes Ashwagandha's bitter, warm, and dry properties that can soothe a stressful body. Its adaptogenic qualities make it very calming without the sedation or grogginess of other stress-relief supplements.
Promotes restful sleep.
Ashwagandha is helpful for both promoting rest and helping you to fall back asleep should you wake in the night (hello, pregnancy insomnia!).
Stamina and energy
Ashwagandha is translated traditionally as the "strength of a stallion." It has been used to provide energy, strength, and stamina (usually, thanks to its great sleep-promoting qualities), which can make it excellent for pregnancy fatigue.
Reduce pain and swelling
One arthritis study found that Ashwagandha reduced inflammation and swelling.
Youth and longevity
Ayurvedic medicine has relied on Ashwagandha to promote youth, support longevity, and enhance vigor.
Stabilize blood sugar
Ashwagandha may help to stabilize and reduce blood sugar levels, improving insulin sensitivity.
Good source of nutrition
Ashwagandha has been used as a nutritional aid. It contains potassium, niacin, phosphorus, dietary fiber, iron, protein, calcium, and Vitamin C.
How Beneficial Is It In Early Pregnancy?
Many excellent properties can make Ashwagandha during early pregnancy beneficial. That being said, we always advise that you talk with your doctor before taking any supplement, especially if you are pregnant.
Ashwagandha's stress-relief qualities make it a go-to for those feeling overwhelmed or anxious; pregnancy can be pretty overwhelming. Too much stress equates to high levels of cortisol, your body's stress hormone. Increased cortisol levels can lead to headaches, fatigue, sleeplessness, weight gain, and digestive problems.
Ashwagandha is also effective at decreasing inflammation. Not only is this great for swollen and aching joints, but also for the prevention of diseases like cancer. Withanolides (compounds found in Ashwagandha) have been found to halt the inflammatory response and debilitate special enzymes involved in cancer progression.
Additionally, the above benefits, such as blood sugar stabilization and decreased insomnia, can be welcome benefits of Ashwagandha for expecting moms.
Can Ashwagandha Help in Boosting Fertility?
Ashwagandha should also be on your radar if you're hoping to become pregnant. Stress can be the enemy of conception, wreaking havoc on your reproductive system. The adaptogenic qualities of Ashwagandha can help your body better manage stress, possibly increasing fertility. Additionally, as an anti-inflammatory, it may make your womb more conducive to conception and pregnancy.
Ashwagandha is believed to help support egg development and ovulation by affecting Luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Healthy eggs and regular ovulation are essential when TTC.
Finally, Ashwagandha has long been believed to be an aphrodisiac in Ayurvedic medicine. For thousands of years, it was sought after to support healthy libido, a benefit when trying to become pregnant.
For men, Ashwagandha can also boost libido. One study found that males who supplemented with Ashwagandha for three months not only had decreased stress but improved semen quality too.
Is It Safe To Use During or Before Pregnancy?
Ashwagandha is considered safe to use before pregnancy. In fact, you'll often find it as part of fertility supplements, like our Fertility Capsules.
However, you may want to reach out to your doctor before beginning a new supplement. Those with thyroid issues should exercise caution as Ashwagandha is known to affect the thyroid gland.
During pregnancy, the safety of Ashwagandha hasn't been thoroughly studied. Much research that has been done has been carried out with animals. In these studies, scientists observed no toxicity effect on the mother or the developing fetus at levels of consumption of 2000mg/day or less.
High levels of Ashwagandha can negatively affect pregnancy, possibly causing miscarriage if taken in high doses. However, if your doctor gives you the go-ahead, many supplements and products that include Ashwagandha do not contain a high amount of the herb. They may be considered safe if taken correctly.
How to Use Ashwagandha for Female Fertility
General Potential Health Benefits of Ashwagandha
Whether you are trying to conceive or are already expecting, Ashwagandha has numerous potential health benefits.
Rich in iron. Ashwagandha contains some excellent nutrients, like iron. Iron is vital for pregnancy and postpartum. Ashwagandha also may help with iron deficiency.
Reduce swelling. Ashwagandha is believed to decrease inflammation, which can help treat swelling, aches, and pains commonly felt during pregnancy when joints soften and relax.
Endocrine regulation. Ashwagandha is believed to assist with thyroid regulation and adrenal gland balance. This can be helpful during conception, pregnancy, and postpartum when these levels fluctuate.
Relieves stress, anxiety, and brain fog. Ashwagandha is a potent stress fighter. Stress and anxiety can affect fertility, making calmness essential. Additionally, pregnancy brain can be real and really frustrating. Ashwagandha may help increase cognitive clarity and reduce brain fog.
H3- Decrease insomnia. If you suffer from pregnancy insomnia or simply an overactive mind (welcome to motherhood!) Ashwagandha can be excellent for promoting restful sleep, reducing insomnia, and helping you fall asleep when you wake in the night.
Are There Any Side Effects of Using Ashwagandha?
Side effects from Ashwagandha aren't widespread, especially when taken in proper doses. Side effects can include:
GI distress such as nausea and upset stomach
In most cases, when you cease taking Ashwagandha, the side effects will resolve quickly.
Ashwagandha during pregnancy can be a valuable part of an expecting mother's daily routine, as long as you consult with your doctor first. Additionally, Ashwagandha for female fertility is a powerful herb that has been used for centuries as Ashwagandha's benefits for female fertility and male fertility are abundant. If you're seeking less stress, better mood, improved sleep, and fewer aches and pains, Ashwagandha may be just the powerful plant-based supplement you're looking for!