Updated: Jan 26
What is ashwagandha?
Withania Somnifera known as ashwagandha, winter cherry, or indian ginseng is a evergreen shrub in the Solanaceae or nightshade family. It is native to India Africa and parts of the middle east and has been used for over 6000 years in Ayurvedic Traditional medicine as Rasayana. A Sanskrit word meaning "the path of essence" and referring to a Ayurvedic medical application for lengthening lifespans and invigorating the body.
Why is ashwagandha so popular right now?
Modern life is full of stressful stimuli. It is well documented that stress contributes to inflammation, mental illness, disease, and a wide array of other conditions. Healthy lifestyle choices including diet, exercise, meditation and sleep are essential to recovery from stress. Some people however require additional support, and herbal medicine like ashwagandha offers a natural alternative to pharmaceuticals.
Is ashwagandha safe to take?
Ashwagandha is generally excepted as safe to consume. As a natural supplement however it is not approved or regulated by the FDA. Consult your doctor as a precaution if you are breastfeeding, pregnant, have lupus, take auto-immune suppressant medication or have diabetes.
Can ashwagandha relieve stress?
Many studies have shown the effect of this supplement on stress. The findings have shown that a dose of 300mg a day for eight weeks in adults lowered anxiety and fatigue. Additionally they had an easier time concentrating compared to people who underwent psychotherapy for the same duration. It is thought that withanolides, compounds found in this plant are responsible for the stress relieving effects found in these studies. Because of its adaptogenic properties ashwagandha directly effects the way we respond to stressors by strengthening the adrenal glands with maintain homeostasis is stress by releasing cortisol.
Can ashwagandha help with weight loss?
Several clinical studies have shown ashwagandhas effectiveness in body weight management especially in conditions of chronic stress and inflammation.
Can ashwagandha help me sleep?
Preliminary research has indicated that ashwagandha may help people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, and improve overall sleep quality. Several compounds in ashwagandha may be responsible for the sleep promoting effects including triethylene glycol (5) from the leaves of the plant. Other researches propose that compounds from this plant act upon GABA receptors that regulate sleep- wake cycle patterns.
Can ashwagandha improve sex drive?
Ashwagandha is considered an aphrodisiac, a herb used to improve desire, sexual performance, and increase libido. By lowering stress, ashwagandha can lower blood pressure allowing better blood flow. Ashwagandha is also a powerful adaptogen that strengthens the adrenal glands and cortisol release which are responsible for maintaining homeostasis in stressful situations like fight or flight.
Ashwagandha is also known to increase libido in men and and as a result, increased sperm count. Trial studies have shown men who were given ashwagandha supplements had increased sperm count of up to 167 per cent!
The study has been a significant factor in the recent popularity of this supplement for men.
Ashwagandha has also shown promise in stimulating energy levels and in studies has been shown to double the endurance level of men during physical activity. It is speculated that ashwagandha's anti-inflammatory and anti-stressor property plays a significant role in these findings.
Can ashwagandha increase testosterone?
Ashwagandha has been proven to raise the levels of testosterone significantly. As men age, the production of testosterone decreases in their bodies. A rate of decrease in testosterone that equates to about 0.4 to 2 per cent per year in men after the age of 30. The symptoms of which can cause hair loss, muscle mass reduction, and decreased libido.
Is ashwagandha helpful in building muscle?
Supplementing with ashwagandha may increase muscle mass and strength. In a 8-week study, men given 500 mg of ashwagandha per day increased their muscular power by 1%, compared to the placebo group which experienced no improvements
Does ashwagandha have any side effects?
Large doses may cause upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting. Talk to a doctor before using ashwagandha if you have any health conditions, including cancer, diabetes, thyroid problems, bleeding disorders, ulcers, lupus, multiple sclerosis, or rheumatoid arthritis. Ashwagandha might interfere with thyroid tests.
Science Backed Benefits of Ashwagandha
W. Somnifera has shown a very diverse range of biological activities. Anti-inflamtory, anti-stress, antioxidant, anti-agin, diuretic, hypothyroid, immunomodulatory, anti-a;zheimers disease, antohyperglycemic, anti-hypercholesterolemic, antimicrobial, anti-feedant, cardiovascular and much more. Detailed phytochemical investigations have shown that almost all these biological activities are due to withanolides. Withanolides are steroidal lactones. Withaferin A was the first withanolide to be isolated in 1965. Since that time more than 400 withanolides have be isolated from 58 solanaceous plant species.
(1) Choudhary, Dnyanraj & Bhattacharyya, Sauvik & Joshi, Kedar. (2016). Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment With Ashwagandha Root Extract: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine. 22. 10.1177/2156587216641830.
(2) Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012;34(3):255-262. doi:10.4103/0253-7176.106022
(3) Langade D, Kanchi S, Salve J, Debnath K, Ambegaokar D. Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Insomnia and Anxiety: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Study. Cureus. 2019;11(9):e5797. Published 2019 Sep 28. doi:10.7759/cureus.5797
(4) Langade D, Kanchi S, Salve J, Debnath K, Ambegaokar D. Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Insomnia and Anxiety: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Study. Cureus. 2019 Sep 28;11(9):e5797. doi: 10.7759/cureus.5797. PMID: 31728244; PMCID: PMC6827862.
(5) Kaushik MK, Kaul SC, Wadhwa R, Yanagisawa M, Urade Y. Triethylene glycol, an active component of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) leaves, is responsible for sleep induction. PLoS One. 2017 Feb 16;12(2):e0172508. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0172508. PMID: 28207892; PMCID: PMC5313221.