October 30 2015. A recent article appearing in BioMed Research International reveals the outcome of a pilot study that found improvements in sexual function among women who received a highly concentrated ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) root extract.
The study included 50 women aged 21 to 50 years diagnosed with female sexual dysfunction, which included hypoactive sexual desire disorder, female sexual arousal disorder, female orgasmic disorder or combined genital and subjective arousal disorder. Twenty-five women received 300 milligrams ashwagandha twice per day with food and the remainder received a placebo for eight weeks. Sexual function (including desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction and pain), sexual distress, sexual activity, response to therapy and tolerability of therapy were evaluated before treatment, and at four and eight weeks.
Women who received ashwagandha had improved sexual function scores in the areas of arousal, lubrication, orgasm and satisfaction; improvement in sexual distress, and an increased number of successful sexual encounters by the end of the treatment period compared with the placebo group. Fifteen of the 25 women who received ashwagandha rated their response to treatment as excellent and nine rate their response as good. No adverse effects were observed.
As a possible mechanism, authors Swati Dongre and colleagues note that ashwagandha may reduce the effects of chronic stress (which interferes with sexual response) by lowering serum cortisol. In men, the herb has been shown to increase serum testosterone, which is involved in sexual function in both genders.
“The results suggest that ashwagandha root extract could be useful for the treatment of female sexual function,” the authors conclude. “The lack of adverse effects suggests that the extract is safe to consume.”