Written by Yoppie
31 May 2022
How does ashwagandha help PMS?
How to take ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is a traditional ayurvedic herb which has been used for thousands of years and is named after its smell. Ashwagandha literally translates as ‘smell of the horse’. It falls under the class of adaptogenic herbs. Adaptogenic herbs have a modulating and balancing effect on the body and ashwagandha is particularly beneficial for balancing moods and the stress response. Ashwagandha works via a mechanician involving 3 glands – the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands in the brain, and the adrenal glands on the kidneys. This mechanism is known as the HPA axis and directly regulates the stress response.
Mood - Due to its regulating action on the HPA axis, ashwagandha regulates the level of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body which helps to regulate moods and decreases the overall state of stress, anxiety and irritability. Chronic stress in day-to-day life leads to a higher level of cortisol production in the body which interferes with the production of progesterone and thyroid hormones. Progesterone and thyroid hormone disruption interferes with the menstrual cycle. Many women experience anxiety and irritability as part of their PMS symptoms due to the change in hormones. Regulating cortisol also has a positive effect on the regulation of other hormones including reproductive hormones which improves mood, anxiety, irritability during PMS and the normal rhythm of your monthly cycle.
Sleep – Sleep is often interrupted before menstruation begins and can be part of PMS. As hormones fluctuate, your body can become out of balance and does not produce the same level of sleep hormones. Broken and poor-quality sleep and worsen mood imbalances and trigger irritability. Ashwagandha has a calming effect on the body and decreases the level of cortisol, which then allows your body to make more of the sleep hormone melatonin, helping you to get to sleep and stay asleep. Studies have shown the benefits of ashwagandha on overall sleep quality.
Food cravings – Sweet food cravings are a common PMS symptom, and if you cave in and binge on sugary foods, you may make hormone imbalances worse. Decreasing the level of cortisol in the body with ashwagandha may improve sweet food cravings. The body typically craves sweet foods when cortisol levels are high as a prehistoric survival mechanism. Sugary foods increase the levels of inflammation in the body and increases pain. Sugar also triggers an increase in testosterone levels, leaving your whole hormonal cycle out of balance.
Ashwagandha can be taken either in the morning or at night depending on your needs. If you are struggling with sleep, taking it at night-time can be beneficial to improve sleep quality. If you struggle more with mood fluctuations and food cravings during the day, then taking it in the morning may suit you better. Ashwagandha will work throughout the day to keep you calm, balanced and in control.
Looking to sort your PMS and supplement your diet with ashwagandha? Yoppie’s Mood Food supplement contains 150mg per serving of ashwagandha and helps balance mood swings, irritability and anxiety. If you have any questions you can chat about it over in our Full Stop FB group, or get in touch directly on Instagram at @itsyoppie.
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