Health Benefits Of Ashwagandha

Get health & wellness advice into your inbox

Your privacy is important to us. Any information you provide to us via this website may be placed by us on servers. If you do not agree to these placements, please do not provide the information.

Best Milk Alternative

Overview

Ashwagandha has been widely touted for its health benefits and has lately garnered attention on social media for the very same reasons. 

Understanding ashwagandha

What is ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a low-growing evergreen herb native to India and Southeast Asia and is the source of the Ayurvedic herb. India’s traditional medical system is Ayurvedic medicine. It is a healing tradition that encourages harmony between the body, mind, spirit, and environment through diet, exercise, mindfulness techniques, and herbal remedies. Ashwagandha is also referred to as “Indian Ginseng” or “Indian Winter cherry” (Withania somnifera, family Solanaceae). 

It has been used for millennia as a Rasayana for its extensive range of health effects, making it one of the most significant herbs in Ayurveda (India’s traditional medical system). Rasayana is defined as a herbal or metallic concoction that enhances happiness and fosters a state of physical and mental wellbeing. Little children are given these medicines as tonics, and middle-aged and elderly people use them to enhance their health and life expectancy. The most important place belongs to Ashwagandha among the ayurvedic Rasayana herbs. The herb is referred to as “Sattvic Kapha Rasayana”.1

Benefits ashwagandha

Aswagandha has various health benefits, which includes:

  • Aiding in reducing stress and anxiety

The potential of ashwagandha to lessen stress is likely its most well-known use. It is categorised  as an adaptogen, a chemical that aids the body in overcoming anxiety. Heat shock proteins (Hsp70), cortisol, and stress-activated c-JUN N-terminal protein kinase (JNK-1) are among the stress mediators that ashwagandha seems to assist in regulating. Also, it lessens the activity of the body’s hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a system in your body that regulates the stress response.

Supplements containing ashwagandha may help reduce stress and anxiety, according to numerous research. In a short trial with 58 participants, those who consumed either 250 or 600 mg of ashwagandha extract daily for eight weeks experienced considerably lower levels of perceived stress and cortisol than those who consumed a placebo.2

  • Enhancing athletic performance

According to research, Ashwagandha may improve athletic performance, making it a desirable supplement for athletes. 12 trials of individuals assigned male and those assigned female at birth who took ashwagandha doses of 120 mg to 1250 mg daily were included in one academic study. The findings suggest the plant may improve physical performance, including stamina and oxygen consumption during exercise.3

  • Lessening the symptoms of some mental health issues

According to specific research, ashwagandha may aid some populations in lessening the signs and symptoms of depression and other mental health issues. In one study, 66 individuals with schizophrenia who were also dealing with sadness and anxiety were examined to see how ashwagandha affected them. They discovered that participants who took ashwagandha extract at a dose of 1000 mg per day for 12 weeks experienced more improvements in anxiety and depression than those who took a placebo.4 

  • Supporting an increase in testosterone and male fertility

Research has indicated that ashwagandha supplements can improve male fertility and raise testosterone levels. In one study, for eight weeks, 43 overweight individuals assigned male at birth (AMAB) aged 40 to 70 who had mild fatigue were administered ashwagandha extract tablets or a placebo. DHEA-S, a sex hormone involved in testosterone synthesis, increased by 18% more during the ashwagandha treatment. A 14.7% larger increase in testosterone was seen in participants taking the herb compared to those taking a placebo.5

  • Decreasing blood sugar levels

There is some evidence that ashwagandha may help those with diabetes or high blood sugar levels. Ashwagandha medication significantly lowered blood sugar, haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c, a marker for blood sugar over the long term), blood lipids, and oxidative stress markers, according to a review of 24 investigations, including 5 clinical studies in persons with diabetes. Withaferin A (WA), a component in ashwagandha, is thought to have potent anti-diabetic properties and may encourage your cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream.6

  • Decreasing inflammation

Compounds in ashwagandha, such as Withaferin A (WA), may aid in lessening inflammation in the body. According to research, WA affects the body’s inflammatory pathways, including nuclear factor kappa B (NF-B) and nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2). Interleukin-10 (IL-10) and other inflammatory proteins have been demonstrated to be affected by WA in animal studies. There is some evidence to suggest that ashwagandha may also assist in lowering inflammatory indicators in people.7

  • Enhancing brain function, including memory

Ashwagandha supplementation might enhance cognitive function. Early research suggests that ashwagandha may improve cognitive functioning in several populations, including the older persons with mild cognitive impairment and people with schizophrenia. A review which comprised five clinical investigations made this observation. It could be advantageous for a certain cognitive processes like:

  • Executive function
  • Attention
  • Reaction time
  • Cognitive task performance 8
  • Improving sleep

Ashwagandha is commonly used to encourage sound sleep, and some research indicates it may be effective for other sleep-related problems. For instance, a study of 50 persons aged 65 to 80 discovered that consuming 600 mg of ashwagandha root daily for a period of 12 weeks greatly enhanced both the quality of their sleep and their mental alertness when they woke up.9

  • Sexual wellness

For centuries, people have used ashwagandha as an aphrodisiac to promote healthy sex. Due to this extensive historical use, researchers are still researching the adaptogenic herb to learn how it could support a healthy sex life.11

Ashwagandha has been discovered to enhance sexual function in recent research on women having difficulties with their sex. The advantages affected libido, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and general sex satisfaction on a wide range of levels.10

Nutrients we can get from ashwagandha

  • Moisture (%)- 7.45
  • Ash (g)- 4.41
  • Protein (g)- 3.9
  • Fat (g)- 0.3
  • Crude Fiber (g)- 32.3
  • Energy (kcal)- 245
  • Carbohydrate (g)- 49.9
  • Iron (mg)- 3.3
  • Calcium (mg)- 23
  • Total carotene (g)- 75.7
  • Vitamin C (mg)- 3.7

How to use ashwagandha

Typically, ashwagandha comes in tablet, capsule, or powder form. Moreover, it can be found in other cosmetic items and an oil or cream. There are few studies on these different ashwagandha formulations, such as oils and creams. Most of the health advantages of ashwagandha are associated with oral supplementation rather than topically using it on the skin or hair.

When should you take ashwagandha:

The advantages of ashwagandha  take time to manifest, unlike many other supplements and treatments. Before you start to feel its effect, it may take days or weeks. For instance, compared to those in the control group, it took more than 10 weeks for the 60 participants in one study who took 300 mg of ashwagandha daily to notice its full impact on their sleep quality. As a result, the best time to take ashwagandha is primarily a matter of personal opinion.

  • Morning- You might take ashwagandha in the morning with any other vitamins or supplements if you are using it as part of your supplement regimen for general health. However, consuming ashwagandha on an empty stomach may cause some people to experience slight stomach pain. As a result, you might want to take ashwagandha after breakfast. Alternatively, consider including ashwagandha in a beverage, smoothie, or other meal
  • Night - You may consume ashwagandha powder in moon milk (A combination of dairy or non-dairy milk with spices and adaptogen herbs like ashwagandha, turmeric, and cinnamon) before bedtime to aid in relaxation if utilised to enhance sleep. If taking ashwagandha causes stomach pain, taking it at night may be preferable to taking it in the morning, especially if you prefer taking it on an empty stomach. All things considered, it’s most crucial to pick a time that both feels right for you and when you will be most consistent in taking it.

Risk and considerations

Although side effects are rare, taking excessive doses of this herb may cause sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and stomach distress in some people. Small-scale clinical studies on ashwagandha occasionally show moderate adverse effects, such as rhinitis (congestion of the nasal passages), cough and cold, constipation, and changes in appetite and libido.

Regrettably, some people may experience severe adverse effects from using ashwagandha. Those in the following categories should not use ashwagandha:

  • Those who are nursing or pregnant: Remember to see your healthcare practitioner if you are expecting or nursing before beginning any herbal supplements. Due to some evidence indicating that it may result in miscarriages, ashwagandha is probably not safe to take while pregnant. As there is insufficient trustworthy data on ashwagandha and breastfeeding to determine how it affects breast milk, it is best to take precautions and stay away from it
  • Diabetics: According to animal research, Withania somnifera may lower blood sugar levels, which is beneficial for diabetics. Nevertheless, since persons with diabetes typically take drugs to lower blood sugar, adding ashwagandha could result in unexpectedly low blood sugar levels, which can be pretty dangerous
  • High blood pressure: According to studies, ashwagandha can reduce blood pressure. For a person with high or low blood pressure, this impact may pose an issue. Individuals with high blood pressure, especially those taking prescription pharmaceuticals to treat this condition, may suffer a pharmacological interaction with ashwagandha or experience an unexpected decline in blood pressure. Ashwagandha may produce dangerously low blood pressure in those with low blood pressure
  • Those undergoing surgery: As per animal studies, Ashwagandha may have a sedative or calming effect, slowing the central nervous system. Drugs taken before, during, and after surgery may exacerbate this nervous system slowness when paired with ashwagandha. Ashwagandha should be stopped at least two weeks before surgery, and be sure to inform your surgeon of any medications and dietary supplements you are taking
  • Stomach ulcer: If you have stomach ulcers, avoid ashwagandha since it may irritate your digestive system
  • Autoimmune conditions: As research indicates that ashwagandha may promote immunological function, many people utilise it to strengthen their immune system. While some may benefit from this, others may have adverse effects,  particularly those with autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, or rheumatoid arthritis. This ayurvedic herb may make autoimmune diseases worse by stimulating the immune system
  • Thyroid disorders: Ashwagandha may raise thyroid hormone levels in persons with impaired thyroid function who do not need medical treatment, according to clinical research. The combination of thyroid hormone drugs and ashwagandha, however, may result in thyroid hormone levels that are above normal in patients being treated for abnormal thyroid activity

Summary

In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha has been used for a long time to boost energy, enhance general health, and alleviate inflammation, discomfort, and anxiety. Ashwagandha is available in many different forms including gummies, capsules, liquid drops, and powders that you can blend into beverages. It is recommended to be taken twice daily to get the results. 

Some people might experience minimal side effects like Gastrointestinal upset, diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting. Before consuming ashwagandha, pregnant women and those with pre-existing medical disorders should consult their doctor.

References

  1. Singh, Narendra, et al. “An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda.” African Journal of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicines, vol. 8, no. 5 Suppl, July 2011, pp. 208–13. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.4314/ajtcam.v8i5S.9.
  2. Salve, Jaysing, et al. “Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Study.” Cureus, vol. 11, no. 12, p. e6466. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.6466. Accessed 6 Apr. 2023.
  3. Bonilla, Diego A., et al. “Effects of Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) on Physical Performance: Systematic Review and Bayesian Meta-Analysis.” Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology, vol. 6, no. 1, Feb. 2021, p. 20. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.3390/jfmk6010020.
  4. Gannon, Jessica M., et al. “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.” Annals of Clinical Psychiatry: Official Journal of the American Academy of Clinical Psychiatrists, vol. 31, no. 2, May 2019, pp. 123–29. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31046033/
  5. Lopresti, Adrian L., et al. “A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Study the Hormonal and Vitality Effects of Ashwagandha (Withania) in Aging, Overweight Males.” American Journal of Men’s Health, vol. 13, no. 2, Mar. 2019, p. 1557988319835985. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1177/1557988319835985.
  6. Gorelick, Jonathan, et al. “Hypoglycemic Activity of Withanolides and Elicitated Withania Somnifera.” Phytochemistry, vol. 116, Aug. 2015, pp. 283–89. PubMed, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phytochem.2015.02.029.
  7. Logie, Emilie, and Wim Vanden Berghe. “Tackling Chronic Inflammation with Withanolide Phytochemicals—A Withaferin A Perspective.” Antioxidants, vol. 9, no. 11, Nov. 2020, p. 1107. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox9111107.
  8. Proven Health Benefits of Ashwagandha.” Healthline, 3 Nov. 2019, ttps://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ashwagandha.
  9. Kelgane, Sunil B., et al. “Efficacy and Tolerability of Ashwagandha Root Extract in the Elderly for Improvement of General Well-Being and Sleep: A Prospective, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study.” Cureus, vol. 12, no. 2, p. e7083. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.7083. Accessed 6 Apr. 2023.
  10. Dongre, Swati, et al. “Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) Root Extract in Improving Sexual Function in Women: A Pilot Study.” BioMed Research International, vol. 2015, 2015, p. 284154. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/284154.
  11. 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.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2772632023000181

Get health & wellness advice into your inbox

Your privacy is important to us. Any information you provide to us via this website may be placed by us on servers. If you do not agree to these placements, please do not provide the information.

Best Milk Alternative
[optin-monster-inline slug="yw0fgpzdy6fjeb0bbekx"]
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

Get our health newsletter

Get daily health and wellness advice from our medical team.
Your privacy is important to us. Any information you provide to this website may be placed by us on our servers. If you do not agree do not provide the information.

Jaya Choudhary

Bachelor of Dental Surgery, MBA-HA, India

Jaya is a Dental surgeon with MBA in Hospital Administration. She has 2 years of
experience with exposure to both clinical and non-clinical work environments and a strong
passion for medical writing and educating the public about health and wellbeing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

my.klarity.health presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
Email:
Klarity / Managed Self Ltd
Alum House
5 Alum Chine Road
Westbourne Bournemouth BH4 8DT
VAT Number: 362 5758 74
Company Number: 10696687

Phone Number:

 +44 20 3239 9818