Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, Indian ginseng or winter cherry, is considered the king of medicinal herbs. This herb is frequently used in Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) medicine and helps to improve energy levels and boost health and longevity.
We've put together a guide to Ashwagandha benefits and everything you need to know about the adaptogen relax factor.
Ashwagandha is a medicinal herb. In Sanskrit, Ashwagandha means "the smell of a horse" and is said to provide the power and stamina of a horse upon consumption. It is used to help the body cope with daily stress and reduce the effects of physical, chemical and biological agents (1). Ashwagandha is also known as an adaptogen which means, it can adapt to your body's needs by balancing out levels such as hormones and immune cells.
Ashwagandha has many benefits. Here are a few benefits that you should consider when adding this herb to your supplement routine.
Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain. It strongly impacts immunity, brain and sexual function. Stress can also cause an increase in the hormone cortisol, also known as the "stress" hormone.
This unique adaptogen is known to have promising effects on combating stress. Not only is it hard to mentally and emotionally deal with, but constant stress can cause wear and tear on the body and damage our vital organs and body systems. Studies have shown that Ashwagandha safely and effectively improves an individual's ability to respond to stress.
In one study, 64 people with high-stress levels were enrolled into a placebo group or asked to take one capsule of 300mg high concentration Ashwagandha plant twice per day for two months. The group that was provided with the herb showed a significant reduction in stress levels and a substantial reduction in serum cortisol levels (2).
Ashwagandha is traditionally known to have memory-enhancing and brain functioning properties.
One randomised, placebo-controlled study investigated this claim on reaction time. It found that participants provided 1000mg of Ashwagandha daily for two weeks had significant improvements in their reaction time than those who didn't (3).
Other studies have found this medicinal herb to improve memory, attention, and process information (4). The science is still emerging, but so far, Ashwagandha has shown positive effects on cognition and exerts neuroprotective properties for brain health.
Ashwagandha supplements may be a valuable addition to any exercise regime. It can help to improve speed, muscle strength and hand-eye coordination.
A study of forty healthy individuals looked at the effect on power, strength, and blood pressure. It found that Ashwagandha lowered blood pressure and improved strength and power (5).
Another study looked at the effects on endurance in elite cycling athletes. The study prescribed 500mg twice per day for eight weeks. It found that using the supplement provided significant improvements in strength and time until exhaustion on the treadmill (6).
Some early-stage research indicates that supplementation may also help to increase muscle mass (7). It is thought that this may be the result of three of Ashwagandha's biochemical effects:
Ashwagandha has been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-stress and adaptogenic properties. It's a chemical component and the alkaloids are considered to be sedative and provide a sleep-inducing potential.
Studies show that it may help to reduce fatigue related to cancer. For example, a study found that patients with a dose of 2g every 8 hours throughout the course of chemotherapy experienced reduced fatigue levels (8).
Sleep deprivation significantly disrupts sleep patterns and can cause poor quality of sleep. Ashwagandha can help decrease sleeplessness associated with stress and reduce the symptoms of restless sleep (9).
Clinical trials in animals have also shown that Ashwagandha has a sleep-promoting effect in those in a sleep-deprived state.
Some studies suggest that Ashwagandha has a beneficial influence on male fertility (10). In one controlled study, 75 infertile men took a 5g supplement each day. After three months, sperm count and motility were significantly increased (11).
Stress has also been reported as a factor linked with male infertility. Another study found that treatment with Ashwagandha resulted in a decrease in stress, improved sperm quality and pregnancy of 14% of the partners of the patients studied (12).
Ashwagandha can help to support a calm mood and relieve irritability. It has a calming anxiolytic effect. Traditionally it is used in Ayurvedic medicine as a nervous system relaxant.
Some studies even suggest that its effect is comparable to anti-anxiety drugs (13). It is thought this is due to reduced brain levels of an anxiety marker known as tribulin.
Ashwagandha is available in powder form made from the roots of the plant and teas and capsules. This traditional medicinal plant has a variety of health benefits. It can help reduce anxiety, alleviate stress, boost exercise performance and support mood balance.
Supplementing with Vitable is easy to promote rejuvenation and support your health, well-being, and longevity.
Find out more about other areas that the above supplements can help you with:
*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.