5 Amazing Ashwagandha Benefits You Didn’t Know

Withania somnifera, more popularly known as Ashwagandha has its roots back some 8,000 plus years in history. Ok, that was a bad pun. I promise there will be no more as we look into the Ashwagandha benefits.

As a natural product that has been regarded throughout history as something of a panacea, Ashwagandha is in modern times being looked at more closely. The nootropic potential of this humble root has caught the attention of many.

Joe Rogan is even reported to have spoken about its adaptogenic potential and properties that help the body deal with stress and anxiety.

5 Amazing Ashwagandha Benefits

As a popular herb in Ayurvedic medicine that is believed to address a variety of concerns, some potential Ashwagandha health benefits include:

  1. Reducing stress and anxiety
    • As an adaptogen, Ashwagandha may help reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety by decreasing the levels of cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal gland in response to stress. [1]
  2. Improving brain function
    • Some research suggests that Ashwagandha may improve memory and cognitive function. [2, 10]
  3. Lowering blood sugar levels
    • Ashwagandha may help lower blood sugar levels, which may be beneficial for people with diabetes or at risk of developing diabetes. [3]
  4. Reducing inflammation
    • Ashwagandha may have anti-inflammatory effects, which may be beneficial for people with conditions such as arthritis or asthma. [4]
  5. Improving fertility and sexual function
    • Ashwagandha may improve fertility and sexual function in men and women. [5, 11, 14]

It is important to note that while Ashwagandha may have potential health benefits, more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness and to understand the optimal dosage and duration of use. It is also important to speak with a healthcare provider before taking any new supplement or herb.

The History of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is native to India, China, and parts of Africa. Its roots and leaves have been used for their medicinal purposes for thousands of years.

The first written record of the use of Ashwagandha in Ayurvedic medicine is found in the Charaka Samhita, a Sanskrit text that is considered one of the foundational texts of Ayurveda.

The Charaka Samhita, which was written sometime between 300 BCE and 200 CE, describes the use of Ashwagandha for a variety of purposes, including as a tonic for improving strength and vitality. [6]

In addition to the Charaka Samhita, Ashwagandha is also mentioned in other ancient Ayurvedic texts, including the Sushruta Samhita and the Bhavaprakasha. These texts provide further information on the uses and potential benefits of Ashwagandha in traditional medicine.

Ashwagandha benefits are clearly detailed in Ayurveda.

In China, however, Ashwagandha is a much more recent find. During the Ming Dynasty, Chinese herbologists studied this, and named it for its smooth, white appearance.

Ashwagandha originated from the hairy, alluring milkweed that grows wild in regions throughout South Asia and is in the genus Annonaceae.

Who would have thought that way back then that we would be looking at the Ashwagandha benefits in the way we are today?

ashwagandha benefits

The Modern Day Usage of Ashwagandha

Studies into Ashwagandha have uncovered that it is very likely to have psychopathology benefits through it’s antipsychotic-like properties.

One study looked at when it was used as a standarised extract in cases of recent exacerbation of schizophrenia. The administration of 1,000mg per day for a period of 12 weeks was found to provide significant benefit. [7, 16]

Ashwagandha Benefits: A Solution to Addiction?

When coupled with Shilajit in another study, the ability of this duo to reduce the signs of alcohol dependency was assessed. Observed by way of a noticeable decrease in anxiety connected to alcohol withdrawals as a common property of Ashwagandha, and a reduction in the consumption of alcohol as an addiction reducing property of Shilajit, the subjects were assessed.

Connections between the regulating and the releasing of dopamine and serotonin in the study resulted in conclusions about the potential benefits of Ashwagandha and Shilajit in what is a serious social problem in many parts of the world today. [8]

Mental Health and the Adaptogenic Properties of Ashwagandha

The most promising of the Ashwagandha benefits we’re looking at here, in my opinion, are the mental health benefits.

In recent years, numerous pressures have stretched many men and women beyond what is in their best interests, and as a result, the dependency on various substances as a coping mechanism has increased. [9]

Connected to these stressors there may be a range of preexisting conditions and underlying factors. The properties that can be accessed through this ancient functional food, and the supporting research into Ashwagandha benefits in the field of adaptogens may light the way to reducing psychotic symptoms that can arise from stress. [12]

This application is particularly interesting when used in conjunction with other complimentary non-invasive methodologies such as meditation.

More Ashwagandha Benefits: Muscle Strength and Recovery

It is believed that there are additional Ashwagandha benefits including the supporting the body’s ability to improve muscle strength and recovery.

There is some scientific evidence to support the use of Ashwagandha for improving muscle strength and recovery. [13]

One study found that taking Ashwagandha supplements for eight weeks significantly increased muscle strength and muscle size in men who engaged in resistance training. Another study found that taking Ashwagandha supplements for six weeks improved muscle strength and endurance in women. [15]

It is thought that it may improve muscle strength and recovery by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which can contribute to muscle damage and impaired recovery. Ashwagandha may also help to improve muscle protein synthesis, which is important for the growth and repair of muscle tissue.

Ashwagandha FAQs

What happens when you take Ashwagandha Daily?

Many believe that Ashwagandha is best used as a daily part of their routine and provides benefits in the way of reducing anxiety and stress and anxiety, helping to improve cognitive function, supporting a healthy immune system, enhancing physical performance and reducing fatigue, and even improving fertility.

Regardless of the Ashwagandha benefits promoted, consideration needs to be given to the reliability of the source, and the purity of the product to avoid associated complications. [17]

What are the Disadvantages of Ashwagandha?

Some of the disadvantages, or Ashwagandha side effects, could include that for some people it may trigger allergic reactions and potentially result in an upset stomach. Depending upon any existing medication being taken, it may react in ways that limit the performance or change the effects of medications.

Researchers believe that Ashwagandha has not been studied thoroughly enough in pregnant or breastfeeding women, so it is not known if it is safe for use during these times.

What does Ashwagandha do for Females?

It is understood that for women specifically, Ashwagandha is sometimes used to improve fertility. Ashwagandha benefits have been suggested to potentially help improve ovarian function and increase the chances of pregnancy. [14]

Who Should Not Take Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha may not be suitable for everyone, and there are certain groups of people who should not take it. It is generally recommended that the following groups of people avoid taking Ashwagandha or use it with caution: pregnant or breastfeeding women, children, people with autoimmune disorders, people taking certain medications, and people with allergies to Ashwagandha.

How Quickly does Ashwagandha Work?

The speed at which Ashwagandha may work can vary depending on a number of factors, including the specific condition being treated, the dosage, and the form in which it is taken. Some people may notice the effects of Ashwagandha within a few days or weeks of starting to take it, while others may not notice any effects for several weeks or longer.

One study found that people with stress-related disorders who took Ashwagandha for 60 days reported a significant reduction in symptoms of stress and anxiety compared to those who took a placebo. Another study found that people who took Ashwagandha for eight weeks reported improved sleep quality and reduced fatigue.

Can you just Stop Taking Ashwagandha?

Depending on how long you have been taking it for, and how much of a dose you have been taking, you may need to progressively reduce the amount of Ashwagandha in your diet. Speak with your Dietitian about your needs first.

In most cases, you should be able to simply stop taking Ashwagandha with no serious impact.

Conclusion

The combination of this ancient root and complementary traditional medicines is arguably commonplace. With thousands of years of anecdotal accounts being progressively supported by more and more studies, the scope of Ashwagandha benefits is ever increasing as we improve our understanding.

References

  1. “Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Study” – J. Salve, S. Pate, K. Debnath, D. Langade, 11 December 2019 [CAREUS] [Archive]
  2. “Nootropic potential of Ashwagandha leaves: Beyond traditional root extracts” – R. Wadhwa, May 2016 [PubMed] [Archive]
  3. “Hypoglycaemic and Hypolipidaemic Effects of Withania somnifera Root and Leaf Extracts on Alloxan-Induced Diabetic Rats” – R. Udayakumar, S. Kasthurirengan, T. S. Mariashibu, M. Rajesh, V. R. Anbazhagan, S. C. Kim, A. Ganapathi, C. W. Choi, 10 May 2009 [PubMed] [Archive]
  4. “Ashwagandha root extract exerts anti‑inflammatory effects in HaCaT cells by inhibiting the MAPK/NF‑κB pathways and by regulating cytokines” – A. Sikandan, T. Shinomiya, Y. Nagahara, 2 April 2018 [PubMed] [Archive]
  5. “Effects of Withania somnifera on Reproductive System: A Systematic Review of the Available Evidence” – R. N. D. Azgomi, A. Zomorrodi, H. Nazemyieh, S. M. B. Fazljou, H. S. Bazargani, F. Nejatbakhsh, A. M. Jazani,
    Y. A. AsrBadr, 24 January 2018 [PubMed] [Archive]
  6. “An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda” – N. Singh, M. Bhalla, P. de Jager, M. Gilca, 3 July 2011 [PubMed] [Archive]
  7. “Adjunctive Use of a Standardized Extract of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) to Treat Symptom Exacerbation in Schizophrenia: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study” – K. N. R. Chengappa, J. S. Brar, J. M. Gannon, P. J. Schlicht, July 2018 [PubMed] [Archive]
  8. “Effect of Withinia somnifera and Shilajit on alcohol addiction in mice” – P. Bansal, S. Banerjee, January 2016 [ResearchGate] [Archive]
  9. “Changes in Substance Use Among People Seeking Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment During the C-19 Pandemic: Evaluating Mental Health Outcomes and Resilience” – M. Carlyle, J. Leung, Z. C. Walter, J. Juckel, C. Salom, C. A. Quinn, L. Davidson, R. Ellem, G. Newland, L. Hides, 6 December 2021 [PubMed] [Archive]
  10. “Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal) Root Extract in Improving Memory and Cognitive Functions” – D. Choudhary, S. Bhattacharyya, S. Bose, 2 November 2017 [PubMed] [Archive]
  11. “Clinical Evaluation of the Spermatogenic Activity of the Root Extract of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in Oligospermic Males: A Pilot Study” – V. R. Ambiye, D. Langade, S. Dongre, P. Aptikar, M. Kulkarni, A. Dongre, 28 November 2013 [PubMed] [Archive]
  12. “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” – K. Chandrasekhar, J. Kapoor, S. Anishetty, July 2012 [PubMed] [Archive]
  13. “Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial” – S. Wankhede, D. Langade, K. Joshi, S. R. Sinha, S. Bhattacharyya, 25 November 2015 [PubMed] [Archive]
  14. “Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Improving Sexual Function in Women: A Pilot Study” – S. Dongre, D. Langade, S. Bhattacharyya, 4 October 2015 [PubMed] [Archive]
  15. “Efficacy of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera [L.] Dunal) in improving cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy athletic adults” – B. Choudhary, A. Shetty, D. G. Langade, March 2015 [PubMed] [Archive]
  16. “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” – J. M. Gannon, J. Brar, A. Rai, K. N. R. Chengappa, May 2019 [PubMed] [Archive]
  17. “LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury” – National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 2012 [PubMed] [Archive]

About the Author

Matthew has been on an active journey towards living a healthy life from a young age. Influenced by his Grandmother, a practicing Naturopath who served her community from the 1940's to the 1980's, his views on living holistically were shaped from a young age. Growing up in different parts of Australia, his connection with the Ocean and a passion for sustainability comes through in everything he does and shares.

"I'm not a Doctor, and I don't play one on the Internet." - me

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