Data published in Cureus indicated that eight weeks of supplementation with KSM-66 Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) produced statistically significant improvements in measures of sexual function in 80 healthy women, including desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and sexual satisfaction, compared to placebo.
The research suggests potential natural ways to improve sexual health, with some studies suggesting that up to 40% of women may suffer from poor sexual function.
“Significant improvements in FSFI [Female Sexual Function Index] results and FSDS [Female Sexual Distress Scale] results have been seen with Ashwagandha,” report scientists from Vedanta Hospital, DY Patil University School of Medicine and Prakruti Hospital, all in Mumbai.
“Oral administration of a standardized Ashwagandha root extract for eight weeks improves female sexual health in otherwise healthy women who do not have any hormonal disturbances.”
According to a monograph from the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), the herb has a history of use in Ayurvedic medicine that dates back 4,000 years to the teachings of the renowned scholar Punarvasu Atreya and in subsequent works that make up the Ayurvedic tradition. The herb’s name derives from Sanskrit and means “horse-smelling,” referring to the strong odor of the root, which is said to smell like horse sweat or urine.
According to HerbalGram’sHerbal Market Report Ashwagandha Herbal Supplement Sales Reached $92 Million in the US Mass Multi-Outlet Channel in 2021, an increase of 226% over the previous year. This surge saw ashwagandha jump to number 7 on the mainstream channel bestseller list. In 2019, the herb was only number 33 in this channel.
An additional $16.7 million in sales was reported by the Natural Channel (a 23% increase over 2020).
The study adds to the ever-growing body of data supporting Ashwagandha’s potential benefits, which already include maintaining a healthy stress response, cognitive function, sleep, metabolic health, adrenal function, athletic performance, and more.
Ashwagandha root is a well-known adaptogen, a substance believed to increase the body’s ability to adapt to various forms of stress.
The Mumbai-based researchers recruited 80 women between the ages of 18 and 50 with “hypoactive sexual desire disorder” to participate in their prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. The women were randomly assigned to receive either ashwagandha root extract (600 mg per day) or a placebo for eight weeks.
At the end of the intervention period, data showed significant improvements in FSFI scores in women in the ashwagandha group compared to placebo, with subscale improvements also reported.
The researchers also reported that FSDS scores also improved to a greater extent after ashwagandha supplementation, although the values did not reach statistical significance.
Quality of life (QoL) was also assessed by the research team using the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28) scale, with data showing greater improvements in the ashwagandha group, but again these differences did not reach statistical significance.
“Ashwagandha has the potential to be beneficial in improving female sexual function due to being an ‘adaptogen.’ that can regulate the body’s metabolic functions in individuals under physical or mental stress,” the researchers write.
14(10): e30787. doi: 10.7759/cureus.30787
“Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) root extract to improve sexual health in healthy women: a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled trial”
Authors: A. Ajgaonkar et al.