"Natural Psychiatry" Anxiety, Adrenals, Hormones, and Herbs: Ashwaghanda!

June 24, 2024

"Natural Psychiatry" Anxiety, Adrenals, Hormones, and Herbs: Ashwaghanda!

By Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD

Scottsdale Naturopathic Doctor

Anxiety anyone? Pretty much every patient I talk to lately is experiencing anxiety for one reason or another. Which is the inspiration behind my "ANTI-RAGE LATTE" recipe. So if you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, drained, and hopeless please know that you are not alone. Life for many of us, has never been more stressful. So I am going to be writing a lot about anxiety, the adrenals glands, adrenal fatigue, and the importance of female hormone health with PMS, Perimenopause, "Hormone Rage," and Menopause until things can return to normal.

In the meantime, the Ruler of My Herbal Queendom shall be...Ashwagandha! While in Ayurvedic medicine they call it "King of All Herbs", in my women's health practice it of course shall be referred to as THE QUEEN OF HERBS! For many years my female patients have said things like "What is that ashwaghandadaddda thingy you put me on again? I need more of that immediately!"

One of my favorite anxiety disorder treatments for patients that are struggling from chronic fatigue and excess stress is Ashwagandha, formally known as Withania somnifera. With so many women feeling tired and stressed these days I am going to have to vote ashwagandha the #1 Best Herb to Help Women Cope! Which is why I put it in my "Invincible Mommy Tea." The best thing about Ashwagandha is it is gentle enough you can take it during the day while at work, it is tonifying so it helps restore you back to normal over time, and as I talk about in my "Anti-Rage Latte" Blog very much needed while everyone is extra angry, annoyed and agitated.

The root of this plant is best for those feeling very frazzled and in need of a nervous system reset. If you feel like you need to push the reboot button for your brain then this is the herb for you!

Ashwagandha is helpful especially for women that are extremely agitated. I love that it is also considered safe for women that are pregnant and breastfeeding (obviously check with your own OBgyn before starting any herbs.)

If you know someone that is annoying to be around you might want to sneak a 1/2 teaspoon in their coffee... (just kidding instead just anonymously email them this article, or print it, and leave it on their desk??)

In a 2017 Randomized Control Trial 300mg of Ashwagandha twice daily improved memory and cognition in just eight weeks. [1} Another study found it beneficial in suboptimal hypothyroidism. [2} A 2019 study found it decreased anxiety, decreased cortisol stress hormone, and increased testosterone levels in men with zero adverse side effects reported! [3] 2021 Randomized control trial found it improved sleep and was beneficial for insomnia patients! [4] 2019 research on schizophrenic patients administered 1000mg daily found it beneficial for improving their depression and anxiety. [5] In 2015 Ashwagandha was found to improve libido and lubrication in women. [6]

In 2015 ashwagandha was found to improve lean muscle mass at 300mg twice daily. [7] This is why we commonly prescribe this herbal medicine to weak patients with cachexia or muscle loss and wasting in cancer. When you are menopausal you lose your testosterone and muscle mass which causes your metabolism to slow down since the only thing really burning calories in your body is muscle! 2016 research found it beneficial to the reduction of OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms. [8] 2021 research found it to enhance and improve cardiorespiratory performance in athletes. I have since been recommending it to my Long Hauler patients that need help getting their lungs and hearts back on track. [9] 2013 research found benefits with ashwagandha to bipolar patients. [10] A 2018 study found it helpful as an adjunctive treatment for Tuberculosis patients. [11] In 2019 it helped Covid-19 patients recover faster when used in conjunction with other herbal medicines so while we are sipping it for our mental health it should be considered as a potent antiviral for further research against Covid. [12]

Because the cinnamon in my "Anti-Rage Latte" Recipe is also antiviral I like to think that maybe we can treat our crappy moods and boost the immune system at the same time! Please let's get more research on Ashwagandha!

As I have been doing a lot of marriage counseling for my patients lately because they are simply spending too much time together, perhaps if men take ashwagandha to boost their testosterone and women take it to boost their libido and vaginal hydration we may have less fighting and more exercise at home!

Ashwagandha as an added bonus supports the immune system, is anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and also helpful for those with impotence. It supports the woman that is feeling exhausted, deficient, and drained. If you are feeling somewhat like Scarlett O'hara's horse that is frothing at the mouth while she screams at it and beats it to keep going... then you probably should chat with your Naturopathic Doctor about starting some Ashwagandha or a similar adrenal adaptogen herb! As you need to work with an herbalist that knows what they are doing and some patients with Autoimmune disease such as myself do not feel good on certain immune-boosting herbs. Although I have thousands of autoimmune patients in my women's health practice and find this to be more of a myth as most adaptogen herbs are "Immune Modulating". This is why it is important to work with a Female Hormone Specialist such as myself if you have a chronic disease and are using herbs!

Otherwise, Ashwagandha is the REJUVENATOR that you need right now to pick your sad little stressed mess of life up and keep going if you have not been doing well. According to a 2011 Review article of Ashwagandha, it was found to be anti-tumor, protective to the adrenal glands, effective against tumors, fibroids, and neuro-regenerative for patients with Neuropathy, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Dementia, Huntington's, and children with ADHD and cognitive deficits. For children I divide their weight by an average adult weight of 150 pounds and that become their dose aka 1/2, 1/3 or 1/4 of a standard 500-1000mg adult dose twice daily is what I typically prescribe to my female hormone patients, as is also used in the majority of the above studies.

Ashwagandha was also found to help regenerate dendrites (the portion of the nerve cell that conducts electrical signals) which is amazing if you have neuropathy such as myself or a disease that causes nerve damage.

Studies show Ashwagandha improves energy, improves both Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis, and is an anxiolytic that mimics GABA aka "Nature's Valium." This is why it is the leading herb in my "Anti-Rage Latte" recipe that you can watch me make on my Instagram page! Don't forget to follow me for my latest herbal recipes as I don't always have time to post the random herbal medicine videos I enjoy sharing on Instagram.

According to Naturopathic healing principles, women should notice the effects of their adrenal adaptogen herbs within three days, feel a restoration of their emotional and physical well-being after three weeks, and should no longer need to take the herb after three months. Hopefully once that three-month period is up, better coping mechanisms for stress management have been implemented! Such as breathing exercises, yoga, pilates, meditation, exercise, or my favorite is...crafting!

Are you beyond an "Anti-Rage Latte"? Is it time for you to start feeling your absolute best? Then treat yourself to a Naturopathic Hormone consultation with me by popping over to my SCHEDULE page so we can work together as a team to help you feel awesome! If you don't want to come into my clinic or are not in Arizona I am happy to help you by phone consult!

Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD

(480) 837-0900

Dr. Sundene is a Naturopathic Doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is considered a Female Hormone Expert in Women's Health and Bioidentical Hormones. She specializes in Holistic Women's Health for Menopause, Thyroid, Hashimotos, PMS, Perimenopause, Autoimmune, Postpartum, Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, Food Allergies, Digestion, Dermatology, Acne, Psoriasis, Eczema, and Adrenal Hormonal Conditions. In 1999 she began working for a Hormone Doctor prior to starting Naturopathic Medical School. With over 22 years of experience in both Prescription and Natural women's health and hormones she presents to women the best integrated health solutions for their Chronic Disease. She has been an Herbalist for over 27 years and enjoys teaching women how to use herbs to balance their hormones, nutrition and optimize their health. Dr. Sundene relies on blood testing for her hormone metrics. The hormone testing is covered per the patient's insurance plan and conducted at certain points in the woman's menstrual cycle. To learn more about Hormone Testing for Women Visit: Bioidentical Hormones. Follow Dr. Sundene on InstagramTwitter and Facebook for more tips on Women's Health, Female Hormones and Naturopathy!


  1. Choudhary D, Bhattacharyya S, Bose S. Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal) Root Extract in Improving Memory and Cognitive Functions. J Diet Suppl. 2017 Nov 2;14(6):599-612. doi: 10.1080/19390211.2017.1284970. Epub 2017 Feb 21. PMID: 28471731.
  2. Sharma AK, Basu I, Singh S. Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Subclinical Hypothyroid Patients: A Double-Blind, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2018 Mar;24(3):243-248. doi: 10.1089/acm.2017.0183. Epub 2017 Aug 22. PMID: 28829155.
  3. Lopresti AL, Smith SJ, Malvi H, Kodgule R. An investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Medicine (Baltimore). 2019 Sep;98(37):e17186. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000017186. PMID: 31517876; PMCID: PMC6750292.
  4. Langade D, Thakare V, Kanchi S, Kelgane S. Clinical evaluation of the pharmacological impact of ashwagandha root extract on sleep in healthy volunteers and insomnia patients: A double-blind, randomized, parallel-group, placebo-controlled study. J Ethnopharmacol. 2021 Jan 10;264:113276. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2020.113276. Epub 2020 Aug 17. PMID: 32818573.
  5. Gannon JM, Brar J, Rai A, Chengappa KNR. Effects of a standardized extract of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) on depression and anxiety symptoms in persons with schizophrenia participating in a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Ann Clin Psychiatry. 2019 May;31(2):123-129. PMID: 31046033.
  6. Dongre S, Langade D, Bhattacharyya S. Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Improving Sexual Function in Women: A Pilot Study. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:284154. doi: 10.1155/2015/284154. Epub 2015 Oct 4. PMID: 26504795; PMCID: PMC4609357.
  7. Wankhede S, Langade D, Joshi K, Sinha SR, Bhattacharyya S. Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015 Nov 25;12:43. doi: 10.1186/s12970-015-0104-9. PMID: 26609282; PMCID: PMC4658772.
  8. Jahanbakhsh SP, Manteghi AA, Emami SA, Mahyari S, Gholampour B, Mohammadpour AH, Sahebkar A. Evaluation of the efficacy of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) root extract in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder: A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Complement Ther Med. 2016 Aug;27:25-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2016.03.018. Epub 2016 Apr 9. PMID: 27515872.
  9. Tiwari S, Gupta SK, Pathak AK. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial on the effect of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera dunal.) root extract in improving cardiorespiratory endurance and recovery in healthy athletic adults. J Ethnopharmacol. 2021 May 23;272:113929. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2021.113929. Epub 2021 Feb 15. PMID: 33600918.
  10. Chengappa KN, Bowie CR, Schlicht PJ, Fleet D, Brar JS, Jindal R. Randomized placebo-controlled adjunctive study of an extract of withania somnifera for cognitive dysfunction in bipolar disorder. J Clin Psychiatry. 2013 Nov;74(11):1076-83. doi: 10.4088/JCP.13m08413. PMID: 24330893.
  11. Kumar R, Rai J, Kajal NC, Devi P. Comparative study of effect of Withania somnifera as an adjuvant to DOTS in patients of newly diagnosed sputum smear positive pulmonary tuberculosis. Indian J Tuberc. 2018 Jul;65(3):246-251. doi: 10.1016/j.ijtb.2017.05.005. Epub 2017 May 21. PMID: 29933868.
  12. Devpura G, Tomar BS, Nathiya D, Sharma A, Bhandari D, Haldar S, Balkrishna A, Varshney A. Randomized placebo-controlled pilot clinical trial on the efficacy of ayurvedic treatment regime on COVID-19 positive patients. Phytomedicine. 2021 Apr;84:153494. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2021.153494. Epub 2021 Feb 4. PMID: 33596494; PMCID: PMC7857981.

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