Stress, whether chemical, physical, or biological, can leave you feeling exhausted, speed up the aging process, and send your hormones into a frenzy. But wouldn’t it be nice if you could ease your mind and give your body a biological boost? You can. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, and studies show that adaptogens can help you combat long-term physical and mental stress, ease depression, and improve sleep.
Ashwagandha has been used for centuries in Eastern medicine. In recent years, this herb has experienced an uptick in popularity in the Western world as well. In fact, it has become one of the most popular supplements on the market. People have discovered it can help with many ailments, including stress, anxiety, insomnia, athletic performance, and much more. Many people are taking it daily, while others are only taking it when they are highly stressed and/or anxious.
Due to its popularity, many manufacturers have started producing ashwagandha supplements. While it’s always nice to have options, it’s also quite challenging- especially if you really don’t know a lot about it. That is where we come in.
In this article, let’s talk more about what Ashwagandha is, and the powerful benefits it has, to get you back to feeling more like you again.
What Is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is a powerful and potent adaptogen native to India, the Middle East, and North Africa. The ashwagandha plant is small and short with velvety leaves and bell flowers that contain small fruit, similar in appearance to a cherry tomato. Ashwagandha has been cultivated for thousands of years as an ayurvedic medicine for a variety of traditional uses and benefits, most notably anxiety, energy, inflammation, and overall health and wellness. Traditionally prepared as a Rayasana; an herbal tonic for whole body rejuvenation, now you can find Ashwagandha in nearly every health food store supplement aisle.
How Does it Work?
According to research, ashwagandha is composed of chemicals that may help calm the brain, reduce blood pressure, decrease swelling, improve immune system, manage the body’s stress response, and so much more.
It is considered an adaptogen, and like other adaptogens, it is believed to change the way your body responds to biological, physical, chemical, or mental stress. It is believed to stimulate your natural stress-protection response, returning you to a state of homeostasis.
Your body has a natural “fight or flight” reaction when something stressful happens. You either fight it or flee it. Ashwagandha effects that “fight or flight” response, changing the way you respond to stress.
More specifically, it appears that ashwagandha controls stress mediators in your body. It controls Hsp70 (heat shock proteins). It is also believed to affect stress hormones such as cortisol, and is also involved in the stress-activated c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase (JNK-1). When you are under stress, the levels of these three stress biomarkers in your body increase. Studies have indicated that ashwagandha may decrease these levels, which is why it is suggested that ashwagandha helps with anxiety.
Who Should Take Ashwagandha?
There are many reasons that people use ashwagandha- from relieving stress and anxiety to increasing testosterone levels to facilitating weight loss. Following are the people who could benefit most from taking an ashwagandha supplement:
- Anyone dealing with insomnia or having difficulty sleeping
- Anyone looking for a natural treatment for their stress/anxiety
- Anyone wanting to boost strength and improve muscle recovery following workouts
- Men and women who what to increase virility, sex drive, and overall function
- Anyone wanting to improve general brain power, cognition, and memory
- Anyone wanting to reduce inflammation in their body
Ashwagandha has been used in Eastern medicine for centuries and studies indicate that it’s a complete health/wellness aid. It does not target just one aspect of your health; it promotes overall wellness in a variety of ways. This is why it can be so powerful for just about anyone.
What Are The Benefits Of Ashwagandha
So far, we’ve explained what ashwagandha is, how it works, and who should use it. Now, we’re going to take a closer look at some of the possible benefits of ashwagandha.
1. Reduces stress/anxiety
One of the most well-known benefits of ashwagandha is its ability to reduce stress and anxiety. As we mentioned, it’s considered an adaptogen, which adjusts the body’s response to stress. It appears to control the three mediators of stress: Hsp70, JNK-1, and cortisol.
Additionally, it appears to reduce HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis activity, which is a system in your body responsible for regulation of stress response.
In fact, there have been several studies that have indicated ashwagandha can effectively relieve stress and anxiety. In one small study, researchers divided 58 participants into 3 groups. One was given 250 milligrams of ashwagandha, one was given 600 milligrams, and one was given a placebo for a period of 8 weeks. At the end of 8 weeks, the groups that were given ashwagandha experienced a decrease in cortisol levels compared to the group given the placebo. Additionally, those who took the ashwagandha experienced better sleep than those who were given the placebo.
In another study, 60 participants were divided into 2 groups. One was given 240 milligrams of ashwagandha daily and the other was given a placebo. After 60 days, the group that was given the ashwagandha experienced a reduction in anxiety compared to those who were given the placebo.
Therefore, early research indicates that it may be helpful for controlling stress and anxiety- but recent reviews of studies determined that there’s not enough evidence to determine the appropriate dosage for treating neuropsychiatric disorders related to stress- such as anxiety.
In a double-blind, randomized controlled trial, 64 subjects were administered 300mg of full spectrum ashwagandha root for 60 days to evaluate the efficacy of Ashwagandha in reducing stress and anxiety. The treatment group exhibited a significant reduction in scores on all stress-assessment scales compared to placebo, improving stress levels and overall quality of life.
2. Improves Sleep
Another well-known benefit of ashwagandha is its sleep inducing effects. Research shows that ashwagandha may even be powerful enough as a proposed alternative to recommended present treatments for insomnia. Constant exposure to blue light, work deadlines, and stress can keep us up at night, disrupting sleep schedules and patterns, leading to adverse effects and sub-optimal productivity.
A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, evaluated the pharmacological effects of ashwagandha on sleep. 80 healthy participants were assessed on sleep parameters, such as sleep efficiency, sleep duration, wakefulness, and sleep onset.
In a review of 5 studies, it was indicated that ashwagandha offered a small, but positive impact on overall sleep quality. Ashwagandha is reported to reduce anxiety, which promotes restful sleep, which helps people feel more alert upon waking.
Researchers report that results are more noticeable in those who have insomnia and in those who took 600+ milligrams of ashwagandha daily for at least 8 weeks.
In both healthy and insomnia groups, ashwagandha produced a significant improvement in all studied sleep parameters, proving to help sleep quality and manage insomnia.
3. Naturally Increases Testosterone Levels
Natural testosterone levels decline as you age. Low testosterone levels in men and women can cause significant adverse effects such as irritability, fatigue, loss of muscle mass, and tank your sex drive. Evidence suggests that ashwagandha may have a significant impact on naturally increasing testosterone levels
A study published in the American Journal Of Men’s Health, enrolled 50 healthy male participants in a 16-week double blind, randomized controlled trial, to investigate the effects of ashwagandha, testosterone, cortisol, and vitality markers. The results showed an 18% increase in DHEA levels as well as a 15% increase in testosterone levels compared to placebo. Therefore supplementing with 300-600mg of ashwagandha per day, can result in elevated testosterone levels, improving overall vitality.
4. Improves Cognitive Function
Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a naturally occurring amino acid that works as a neurotransmitter in your brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers. GABA is considered an inhibitory transmitter because it blocks certain brain signals and decreases activity in your nervous system, helping calm anxiety, stress, and fear. Ashwagandha has been shown to have GABA-mimetic effects and neuroprotective phytochemicals.
Some of the cognitive functions ashwagandha may impact include:
- Cognitive task performance
- Executive functioning
- Reaction time
A review investigating the effects of ashwagandha and it benefits on brain health, revealed that recent studies do suggest extensive potential benefits on various brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Schizophrenia, Huntington’s disease, dyslexia, depression, autism, addiction, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and bipolar disorders. Through a collection of phytoconstituents called sitoindosides ashwagandha established evidence suggests ashwagandha could be a potential pharmaceutical candidate.
One study involving 50 adults indicated that taking 600 milligrams of ashwagandha daily for a period of 8 weeks resulted in substantial improvements in the following areas, when compared with a placebo:
- Immediate memory
- Speed of processing information
- General memory
5. Improves Athletic Performance
There has been some research indicating that ashwagandha is beneficial for athletes because it seems to improve athletic performance.
Upon analyzing 12 studies of male and female athletes who took 120 to 1,250 milligrams of ashwagandha daily, it was determined that it may enhance performance including oxygen use and strength during workouts.
In another review of 5 studies, it was observed that ashwagandha supplementation substantially improves oxygen consumption in athletes and healthy adults in general. It is very important for athletes and non-athletes to have optimal oxygen consumption. Low oxygen has been associated with increased mortality and high oxygen has been associated with a reduction in heart disease.
These studies also indicated that ashwagandha may improve muscle strength as well. In one study, male athletes were given 600 milligrams of ashwagandha daily and engaged in resistance training for a period of 8 weeks. Their muscle size and strength gains were substantially more than those who were given a placebo.
Ashwagandha Dosage: How Much Should You Take
Clinical evidence suggests that to elicit ashwagandha benefits and reproduce study outcomes ashwagandha dosage for anxiety, stress, improved testosterone levels, and cardiorespiratory endurance ranges from 300-600mg taken daily for a minimum of 60 days.
Side Effects of Ashwagandha
As a general rule, ashwagandha is safe. Most people who have taken it report few to no side effects. That being said, if you have a medical condition, it’s important to consult with your physician before taking this or any other supplement. Also, if you are pregnant or nursing, you need to avoid taking ashwagandha until you speak with your physician because there is no clear evidence on the effects it can have on a baby.
Some of the most common side effects associated with ashwagandha include:
- Nausea/stomach upset
As mentioned, those with certain medical conditions need to speak with their physician before taking any supplements. These conditions include:
- Thyroid issues
- Hormone sensitive prostate cancer
- Autoimmune conditions
Of course, if your physician decides that ashwagandha supplementation is right for you, it’s important to take the time to make sure that the supplement you choose is safe. This includes proof of third-party testing, customer reviews, and more.
For centuries, Eastern medicine has used ashwagandha to treat a variety of conditions and, in recent years, this has moved into the Western world. This supplement is used to treat things like anxiety, stress, insomnia, inflammation, and so much more. There are many benefits associated with ashwagandha and very few undesirable side effects. If you are looking for a natural way to promote overall health and well-being, this just might be what you’re looking for.
Unfortunately, due to the popularity, there are lots of brands and formulas on the market, making it hard to find the best one. That is why we did the work for you. We have chosen what we feel are the best ashwagandha supplements on the market. If you want to get started, try one of these. They all come with a satisfaction guarantee, so there’s no risk- if you don’t like it, contact them and they will explain the refund process.