No, ashwagandha is not an aphrodisiac for women. It won’t give them more libido if they take the stuff. But nevertheless, the Indian herb can make women’s experience of sex better, pleasanter and more satisfying, according to an article by Indian researchers at Trupti Hospital and Santati Fertility Center in BioMed Research International.
The researchers gave fifty heterosexual women aged between 20 and 52 either a placebo or two capsules each containing 300 mg ashwagandha extract every day for eight weeks. All women were in a stable relationship, but were for various reasons not satisfied with their sexual relationship.
The extract that the researchers used was KSM-66, produced by the Indian company Ixoreal Biomed. [ksm66ashwagandhaa.com] We have written previously about human studies in which KSM-66 boosted men’s testosterone levels and enhanced the effect of strength training.
The study we’re writing about here was at least partly funded by Ixoreal. The authors thank Ixoreal for “providing the extract used in the study treatment and for defraying some of the costs.”
The subjects completed a questionnaire, the Female Sexual Function Index [FSFI], before and after the supplementation period. The FSFI is a standardised questionnaire that measures women’s sexual functioning. The lowest (and worst) score is 2, the highest 36. The scores rose considerably in both groups, but sex improved significantly more among the women who had taken ashwagandha than in the placebo group.
That’s not strange; when it comes to sex, the placebo effect is pretty strong.
Both the placebo and the capsules containing ashwagandha extract increased sexual arousal during sex, but in this case too the increase in arousal was greater in the ashwagandha group, as the figure below shows.
Both ashwagandha and the placebo made reaching orgasm easier. And that effect was significantly stronger in the ashwagandha group than in the placebo group, as the figure above shows.
Ashwagandha supplementation did not result in an increase in sexual desire – or rather, the increase was not bigger than the increase in the placebo group.
Ashwagandha didn’t cause an increase in the frequency of sex per week either. The supplement did however increase the number of times that the women evaluated sexual encounters as ‘successful’.
In an interview with NutraIngredients, Kartikeya Baldwa, the owner of Ioreal BioMed, said that traditional healers have used ashwagandha for centuries as a sexual stimulant for both men and women. [nutraingredients-usa.com 11-Feb-2016]
“While there are other published studies demonstrating the effectiveness of ashwagandha in improving sexual function in men, this is the first study using a standardized, branded ashwagandha extract and demonstrating significant positive effects on sexual function in women”, said Baldwa.
“From the scientific literature, we know that the ashwagandha root is a calming agent, and promotes balance in the body to increase or decrease key hormone levels to bring them to appropriate levels. These effects are perhaps responsible for the significant effects we see in this study. Female sexual dysfunction and satisfaction is a complex phenomenon with both psychological and physiological dimensions.”
Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Improving Sexual Function in Women: A Pilot Study
Background. Many women experience sexual dysfunction where there are orgasm disorders and sexual difficulties. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a herb known to improve the body’s physical and psychological condition. Objective. The purpose of the study was to determine the efficacy and safety of a high-concentration ashwagandha root extract (HCARE) supplementation for improving sexual function in healthy females. Methods. In this pilot study, 50 study subjects were randomized to either (i) HCARE-treated group or (ii) placebo- (starch-) treated group. The subjects consumed either HCARE or placebo capsules of 300mg twice daily for 8 weeks. Sexual function was assessed using two psychometric scales, the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) Questionnaire and the Female Sexual Distress Scale (FSDS), and by the number of total and successful sexual encounters. Results. The analysis indicates that treatment with HCARE leads to significantly higher improvement, relative to placebo, in the FSFI Total score (), FSFI domain score for “arousal” (), “lubrication” (), “orgasm” (), and “satisfaction” (), and also FSDS score () and the number of successful sexual encounters () at the end of the treatment. Conclusions. This study demonstrated that oral administration of HCARE may improve sexual function in healthy women. The present study is registered in the Clinical Trial Registry, Government of India, with a number CTRI/2015/07/006045.