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Ashwagandha is a Natural Aphrodisiac

Ashwagandha has a long history in traditional medicines as an aphrodisiac.1,11 In Africa some tribes still use the herb as an aphrodisiac, and many natural Ayurvedic herbal aphrodisiac products currently on the market contain ashwagandha.20,78 Modern scientific studies suggest that ashwagandha's amorous reputation may be warranted, and that it may be a natural herbal alternative treatment for loss of libido and erectile dysfunction.45,72

Frequently referred to as the male sex hormone, testosterone is actually found in both men and women—just at lower levels in women.72 Reduced testosterone levels associated with age or conditions that cause hormonal imbalances are associated with loss of libido for both genders, and are also linked to erectile dysfunction (ED) in men.72,79

Mental stress, anxiety, and depression are all significant factors in sexual dysfunction as well. According to some data, if untreated depression can reduce libido 40-74% of cases, and cause ED in up to 50% of men suffering from depressive conditions. Anxiety disorders were associated with 33% and 46% of reduced libido for both men and women, respectively;10% of men suffering from anxiety experienced ED as well.79

How Does it Work?

Studies show that ashwagandha can stimulate production of DHEA, a precursor to testosterone.45 Ashwagandha is also a proven stress reliever, and has been found to be an effective treatment in both anxiety and depression.11,56

Evidence of Benefit

Case studies and clinical trials demonstrate ashwagandha's hormone and mood regulating properties. Given the importance of both of these factors in loss of libido and ED, ashwagandha may well be a natural herbal remedy to alleviate symptoms of sexual dysfunction and improve your love life.11,45,56,79

Results of one animal study that showed ashwagandha significantly impaired libido and caused erectile dysfunction did raise some concerns that ashwagandha might have detrimental effects on male sexuality. However, this study used extremely large doses of ashwagandha extract (3000 mg per kg of animal weight a day) administered for one week.80

These levels were so high they induced symptoms of significant psychiatric disorders, (e.g., anxiety, depression, serotonin syndrome, and even schizophrenia).80 The negative effects on sexual behavior were not due to reduced testosterone levels, and were most likely caused by the induced mood disorders (since sexual dysfunction is a known symptom of these conditions).79 The sedative effects of such large doses on the animals also may have played a role in putting a damper on the rats' mood.80

Meanwhile, the numerous clinical study data gathered on human subjects overwhelmingly supports ashwagandha's aphrodisiac effects (via mood and hormone regulation). Typical dosages in these studies, where reported, ranged anywhere from 100 to 500 mg/day—nowhere near the 3000 mg per kilogram of body weight used in the above-mentioned study.11,45,54,56,65

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Specifically, hyperprolactinemic, GABAergic, and serotonergic side effects.