April 15, 2016

Ayurveda’s Aphrodisiac—Strength of 10 Horses. {Adult-ish}


Editor’s Note: This website is not designed to, and should not be construed to, provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment. Always consult a health professional about health care changes before trying out new home therapies or changing your diet.

Ashwagandha, also called “Winter Cherry” or “Indian Ginseng”, is a well-known adaptogenic herb that has been shown to help people cope with stress.

Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce cortisol levels during stressful times and support healthy adrenal function. Ashwagandha has also been shown to balance out the fight-or-flight sympathetic nervous system, which can overreact to stress. (1)

Traditionally, it has been commonly used for boosting strength and endurance, thus keeping up with one of its nicknames, “strength of ten horses.” Beyond helping the body cope with stress and body strength, it has been used as an aphrodisiac of sorts.

Studies have shown that ashwagandha root has been used to treat sexual weakness, secondary erectile dysfunction, and performance anxiety in men and increase sexual desire in women caused by many forms of sexual dysfunction. (3-5)

In a recent study, 50 women were split into two groups. One group received 300 mg of ashwagandha root twice a day and the other group received a placebo for eight weeks. The study measured sexual function in the areas of sexual desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, sexual encounters and painful intercourse.

The women who received the ashwagandha supplementation saw significant improvements in sexual function relating to improved sexual arousal, lubrication, orgasm and satisfaction. (2)

The ashwagandha group also experienced decreased sexual distress and an increased number of sexual encounters during the eight-week supplemental period. (2,6)

They attributed these sexual benefits to two major pathways. Stress is exhausting, which decreases sexual desire, arousal and function. Stress increases cortisol levels to help battle stress, which directly depletes sexual hormone production. Ashwagandha reduces stress by reducing the production of cortisol, in turn, balancing sexual hormones. (1,2)

The second pathway is attributed to androgen deficiency syndrome or low testosterone. In both men and women, testosterone is required for a health libido and sexual function. Aging and stress can deplete testosterone and cause sexual dysfunction, decreased libido and arousal in both men and women. (2)

By raising testosterone levels, ashwagandha has been successfully used for years to boost sexual function including secondary erectile dysfunction, performance anxiety and low libido for men, but only recently has ashwagandha been shown to do the same for women. (2-5)

For women, ashwagandha provides well-documented support for healthy sexual function, enhanced libido, arousal, lubrication, orgasm and satisfaction. (2)


  1. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012 Jul;34(3):255-62. doi: 10.4103/0253-7176.106022.
  2. Biomed Res Int. 2015; 2015: 284154. Published online 2015 Oct 4. doi:  10.1155/2015/284154
  3. International Journal of Crude Drug Research Volume 20, Issue 1, 1982. DOI: 10.3109/13880208209083282
  4. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011; 2011: 576962. Published online 2011 Jun 18. doi:  10.1093/ecam/nep138
  5. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013; 2013: 571420. Published online 2013 Nov 28. doi:10.1155/2013/571420
  6. Biomed Res Int. 2015; 2015: 284154. Published online 2015 Oct 4. doi:  10.1155/2015/284154

Author: Dr. John Douillard

Editor: Sara Kärpänen

Photo: photophilde / Flickr 

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