Ashwagandha and Hot Flashes

In this blog, we will take a close look at Ashwagandha, a frequently used herb in Ayurvedic medicine, and its potential benefits in alleviating Hot Flashes in women. The science behind these effects and the current state of research will be discussed.
Greta Daniskova

Greta Daniskova

Greta is a BSc Biomedical Science student at the University of Westminster, London.

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What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) is a frequently used herb in Ayurvedic medicine, also known as Indian ginseng and winter cherry. This plant is native to India and grows in dry hot countries, mostly in northern Africa and the Mediterranean [1]. The root is the central part that is dried and ground into fine powder. More pleasantly, it is available in capsules and tablets, as well as liquid extracts [1].

Adaptogens are plants like Ashwagandha that help the body cope with stress. Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb traditionally known to help bring about a feeling of calmness by elevating energy. It is said to help support bodily systems that keep us balanced, leading to positive moods [1].

Ashwagandha has been reported to possess antioxidant activity, modulate neurotransmitters, inhibit apoptosis and improve synaptic plasticity. It improves cognition; attenuates indices of stress and enhances adaptogenesis in healthy volunteers; and it shows promise as an adjunct for certain neuropsychiatric conditions such as generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, substance use disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Additionally, it also improves sleep quality and exercise capacity in healthy volunteers [2].

What are Hot Flashes?

Often called vasomotor symptoms, Hot Flashes or flushes are a hallmark of the menopause transition – the time leading up to and including cessation of menstruation. Women describe their hot flashes as a sudden feeling of heat that surges up through the upper body and into the face, often with the onset of red flushing of the face and sweating. Heart rate increases as well, often by 10 beats per minute or more, for a hot flash’s typical few seconds to a few-minute duration. Hot flashes can happen any time of day or night [3, 4].

What are the Causes of Hot Flashes?

Hot flashes are known to be triggered by a decrease in hormones caused by estrogen deficiency that affects the hypothalamus (the brain region responsible for controlling the body’s internal thermostat) and makes it believe the body is overheated. To correct this ‘error’ the body initiates what is known as a vasomotor response – a complex cascade of reactions that ultimately aim to cool down by sending the blood that was in the skin back to the heart and core regions of the body. This, in turn, creates the heat sensations that are familiar to women. Meanwhile, their cheeks go red and they feel a wave originating from their abdomen up to their head [3, 4, 5, 6].

Hot flashes can be triggered by eating spicy foods, drinking coffee or alcohol, putting on warm clothes, feeling stressed or smoking. Furthermore, causal factors, include, for example, diabetes, tuberculosis or an overactive thyroid, and taking certain drugs or treatments [3, 4].

Menopausal hot flashes are just one type. They might be experienced when facing surgeries that lead to oophorectomy, the removal of the ovaries, regardless of age and sex, as well as in cancer therapies [3]. There are very few understandings of the mechanisms that drive these hot flashes. However, what is clear is that they are a widespread and common phenomenon [3, 4, 7].

Ashwagandha and Hot Flashes

Ashwagandha, a traditional medicinal herb, has been studied for its potential benefits in alleviating various symptoms in women, including hot flashes.

Does Aswagandha influence Hot Flashes?

In a randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled study of 100 perimenopausal women, Ashwagandha root extract significantly improved the quality of life and significantly decreased physical, psychological and urogenital symptoms of menopause [8]. The perimenopausal women in this study took 300 mg of Ashwagandha root extract twice per day for 8 weeks. 1 Research Gate, An exploratory, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Withania Somnifera root extract in patients with perimenopausal symptoms [1].

But, although Ashwagandha has been shown to help alleviate Hot Flashes, research is still in its early stages; the long- and short-term effects of the supplement are not yet fully understood, nor are the myriad possible side effects. Any new supplement regimen should be discussed with a health provider first.

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Greta Daniskova

Greta Daniskova

Greta is a 2nd-year student currently pursuing her Bachelor's Degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Westminster in London. Currently, in her second year of undergraduate studies, she exhibits a keen interest in the dynamic field of healthcare. With a focus on understanding the intricacies of human biology and disease mechanisms, Greta is driven by a desire to contribute to advancements in medical research and patient care.