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Ashwagandha Benefits

Ashwagandha Benefits: 18 Evidence-Based Uses + Extras

These are the top 18 ashwagandha benefits with the most profound level of evidence-based clinical trials behind them:

  1. Boost Testosterone
  2. Reduce Anxiety
  3. Decrease Cortisol
  4. Improved Athletic Performance
  5. Lower Stress
  6. Reduce Total Cholesterol
  7. Decrease Blood Sugar
  8. Fight Depression
  9. Lower Fatigue
  10. Increase Luteinizing Hormone
  11. Alleviate Knee Pain
  12. Improve Sperm Quality
  13. Stimulate Weight Loss
  14. Decrease Blood Pressure
  15. Improved Cognition
  16. Assist the Immune System
  17. Diuretic Support
  18. Fight Prostate Cancer

The main benefits associated with ashwagandha use can be summed up under 5 main categories:

  • Exercise and muscle gain
  • Mood and anti-stress
  • Cognitive function
  • Sexual health
  • General health

Ashwagandha also possesses a number of great male-specific advantages that I’ll mention below and you will find the answer to other ashwagandha-related questions as well.

Ashwagandha Benefits, man lifting dumbbells

Ashwagandha Benefits for Men

This powerful herb offers several incredible benefits for men, such as:

1. Elevated Testosterone Levels

The ashwagandha testosterone benefits are well documented.

A 2019 scientific paper published in the Medicine (Baltimore) journal examined the pharmacological effects of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha) on 60 adults for 60 days (1).

At the end of the research, scientists found that men who took 240 mg of ashwagandha extract for 60 days saw a 10.6% increase in testosterone levels.

2. Increased Muscle Strength and Growth

A randomized controlled trial from 2015 observed the impact of this plant on recovery and muscle strength (2).

There were a total of 57 young men involved and 29 of them took 300 mg twice per day for 8 weeks.

After those 8 weeks, they experienced a significant increase in muscle strength as well as greater muscle size in the chest and arms.

3. Support Against Prostate Cancer

In 2017, Indian scientists with a medical background in pathology, urology and genetic engineering found that Withania somnifera can help fight prostate cancer (3).

Prostate tissue was obtained from elderly male subjects, both with and without prostate cancer.

The results of this study show that ashwagandha may prove to be an effective supportive treatment for men with prostate cancer.

4. Improved Sperm Count, Motility and Volume

Another study conducted by Indian researchers (but from 2013) found that this powerful herb can help with male infertility and sexual dysfunctions (4).

The study involved 46 men with low sperm count who took 675 mg of ashwagandha extract daily for 90 days.

Eventually, sperm count improved by a whopping 167%, while sperm volume and motility were also improved (by over 50%).

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Ashwagandha Benefits, fit woman showing her abs

Ashwagandha Benefits for Women

These are the female-specific ashwagandha benefits:

1. Improved Sexual Function

A pilot study from 2015 examined the effects of this herb on female sexual function (5).

The test subjects were 50 healthy women who took either placebo or highly-concentrated ashwagandha root extract at 300 mg (twice daily) for a total of 8 weeks.

At the end of the study, the women who used the extract experienced a significant boost in ratings of satisfaction, lubrication, arousal and orgasms.

2. Reduced Fatigue and Insomnia

A 2013 cohort trial study published in the Integrative cancer therapies journal examined the impact of ashwagandha on breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy (6).

During the study, the women took 2 g of ashwagandha root extract (3 times/day) during 6 chemotherapy cycles.

The participants reported reduced insomnia, as well as potentially lowering cancer-related fatigue and even improving the quality of life.

Ashwagandha Benefits, man sitting under a waterfall

Top 17 Science-Based Ashwagandha Benefits

This is a list of the most well-known benefits of ashwagandha use with the relevant studies to support them:

1. Boost Testosterone

Solid research data shows that ashwagandha can increase testosterone levels, especially in men with fertility issues.

Here’s what science says:

  • There’s a 2010 prospective study courtesy of Indian scientists that examined the effects of ashwagandha root in infertile men. Eventually, they discovered a very notable increase in serum testosterone levels of the infertile patients after supplementing with this herb (7)
  • In a 2015 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, we find that men (aged 18-50 years old) who took 600 mg of ashwagandha root daily and underwent resistance training, experienced a significant rise in T levels after 8 weeks (8)

However, it’s worth noting that there’s a lack of evidence to suggest that normal, healthy men will experience the same effects without incorporating exercises or other contributing factors.

2. Reduce Anxiety

There’s enough scientific data that supports the anti-anxiety effects of this herb.

This is what studies reveal:

  • A double-blind study from 2000 published in the Indian journal of psychiatry shows that people who used an ashwagandha extract for 6 weeks reported an 88% reduction in anxiety (9)
  • Another research observing the same correlation concluded that using 300 mg extract of this herb’s root for 12 weeks leads to a significantly reduced anxiety level (10)

It’s also worth mentioning that it appears like long-term use of this herbal compound (over 6 weeks) seems most beneficial when it comes to fighting anxiety.

3. Decrease Cortisol

Another positive effect that this potent herb has is related to endocrine and adrenal glands support, which specifically release hormones like cortisol.

Relevant studies show that:

  • An Indian study from 2012 found that stressed-out individuals who took 300 mg of ashwagandha root extract for 60 days, saw a 27.9% reduction in their cortisol levels (11)
  • Another research, but this time from 2008, concluded that men and women who used 250 mg extract of the plant for 60 days, registered a 30.5% decrease in serum cortisol (12)

Ultimately,  supplementing with this powerful plant may indeed reduce cortisol levels.

Although studies suggest that people suffering from chronic stress should see the best results.

4. Improved Athletic Performance

Ashwagandha has evidence-based effects on improving athletic and exercise performance.

What science says:

  • In a 2010 study from the International Journal of Ayurveda Research, researchers found that using 500 mg of the water extract of this herb (for 8 weeks) resulted in an improvement in VO2 max, endurance, velocity and power of 40 healthy young adults (13)

As a result, it’s safe to say that this plant has very potent athletic performance-enhancing abilities, especially if you’re around 20 years old (either sex).

5. Lower Stress

There’s bulletproof scientific data behind ashwagandha’s stress-reducing effects.

This is what relevant research shows:

  • A scientific article published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine points out that after 60 days of 300 mg of highly-concentrated root extract of the herb leads to a major decrease in overall stress in people with chronic stress (14)
  • Researchers from a 2015 animal study (conducted on rats) suggest that this ayurvedic plant may block the brain’s stress pathway as a potential natural remedy for stress and anxiety (15)

As you can see, ashwagandha is apparently equally effective for humans and animals when it comes to battling stress.

6. Reduce Total Cholesterol

High blood cholesterol levels seem to be among the top health-related problems of the 21st century.

Thankfully though, ashwagandha can provide sufficient help if your levels are on the higher end of the spectrum.

This is what studies show:

  • Supplementing with a Withania somnifera root extract for 1 month has been shown to significantly reduce serum cholesterol, LDL, VLDL and triglycerides in people with diabetes and high cholesterol levels (16)
  • A scientific article published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine reveals that high doses (750 mg-1,250mg/day) of ashwagandha water extract taken for 30 days straight lower serum cholesterol, VLDL, triglycerides and LDL (17)

Thus, it’s obvious that this herb may help against heart disease by greatly reducing both total cholesterol and triglycerides.

7. Decrease Blood Sugar

Withania somnifera may also help control blood sugar levels via specific effects on insulin sensitivity and secretion.

Science says that:

  • A 2015 study courtesy of the Phytochemistry journal found that this plant has an anti-diabetic activity as it optimized insulin secretion, while also increasing the insulin sensitivity of muscle cells (18)
  • Another study that observed ashwagandha’s impact on schizophrenia patients over the course of 4 weeks, shows a very notable reduction in fasting blood sugar levels of individuals who used this supplement (19)

These scientific publications give us even more proof of Withania somnifera’s anti-diabetic properties.

8. Fight Depression

This powerful herbal compound may also work as an antidepressant, through certain mechanisms through which it helps with anxiety and stress.

Here’s what research says about it:

  • One particular study found that people who took 600 mg of ashwagandha root extract per day for 2 months, experienced a 79% reduction in severe depression symptoms (20)

Still, keep in mind that these effects aren’t as strong as the anti-anxiety impact that this plant has.

Moreover, the available research is very limited and more human trials would be required for an added layer of credibility.

9. Lower Fatigue

Not only does ashwagandha optimize exercise performance, but it can also decrease fatigue.

What science says about it:

  • Overweight, middle-aged men and women who used 300 mg of the root extract for 12 weeks enjoyed reduced fatigue, along with improved vitality and overall quality of life (21)

Based on this information, we can say that the long-term use of this herb may lower the perceptions of fatigue.

10. Increase Luteinizing Hormone

This Indian plant may also boost the levels of luteinizing hormone, which is quite important for men.

That’s because the luteinizing hormone is responsible for signaling the testicles to produce testosterone.

And here’s what studies reveal:

  • A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis shows that after 90 days of taking ashwagandha, men with fertility problems registered a 34% increase in luteinizing hormone levels (22)
  • Another research published in the International Journal of Fertility and Sterility, this time conducted on male rats, came to the conclusion that Withania somnifera boosts the production of sex hormones (including luteinizing hormone) (23)

Basically, this hormone is a crucial aspect of male fertility and hormone levels.

11. Alleviate Knee Pain

Apparently, the water extract of the roots and leaves of this plant can also improve symptoms of knee joint pain.

This is what research has to say:

  • A 2016 randomized, double-blind controlled study concluded that 125 mg and 250 mg of ashwagandha water extract significantly improved swelling, pain, stiffness and overall physical function in six patients with knee joint pain (24)

However, keep in mind that the people who used the 250 mg dose produced better results that appeared sooner (at the 4-week mark) than the 125 mg dose group.

12. Improve Sperm Quality

Withania somnifera can also be used as an effective natural method for improving the overall sperm quality of men.

Here’s what studies relevant reveal:

  • A 2010 study published in the Fertility and Sterility journal shows that infertile men who used Withania somnifera root extract experienced an improvement in their semen quality indicators such as testosterone and luteinizing hormone (25)
  • Another study conducted on infertile men, but from 2009, concluded that using ashwagandha root powder at 5 g per day for 3 months resulted in an increase in the sperm count of the test subjects (26)
  • Researchers from a 2013 scientific paper courtesy of the Journal of ethnopharmacology found that men with fertility issues who took 5 g/day (as in the previous study) registered improved sperm motility and quality (27)
  • Another study from 2013 found astonishing results related to sperm quality, as men suffering from low sperm count who used ashwagandha extract for 90 days registered a very significant boost in sperm count, volume and motility (28)

These studies also show that ashwagandha can even help you to get your girl pregnant if you’re struggling with some sort of infertility.

13. Stimulate Weight Loss

You’ll probably be happy to find out that this herbal compound can also shed inches off your waist.

This is what science says:

  1. A 2015 research observing the effects of 300 mg of Withania somnifera root extract on strength training found that it can also lower body fat percentage by a significant margin (29)

Or in other words, ashwagandha may make you both stronger and more ripped.

14. Decrease Blood Pressure

This Indian plant may also have blood pressure-lowering abilities, according to relevant scientific papers.

Here’s what studies show:

  • A 2010 study conducted in India found that ashwagandha in combination with arjuna (another herb) can reduce resting systolic blood pressure in healthy young men and women (30)

With that being said, it’s worth noting that diastolic blood pressure wasn’t affected.

Also, the blood-pressure-lowering effects of ashwagandha were only registered when it was used alongside Terminalia arjuna (Arjuna).

15. Improved Cognition

The water extract of ashwagandha roots may also help with reaction times and cognition in general.

This is what research has to say:

  • A 2014 study from the Pharmacognosy research journal examined the impact of 250 mg/twice daily of this herb (for 14 days) on the cognitive performance of 20 healthy adults. What they found is that ashwagandha can boost cognitive performance and reaction times (31)

However, although reaction times were improved, the accuracy of the people involved in the study wasn’t.

16. Assist the Immune System

Believe it or not, Withania somnifera may also give your immune system a boost.

Research shows that:

  • A 2009 research published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine discovered that 6 ml of ashwagandha root extract, consumed twice per day for 96 hours led to a major increase in immune cell activation (32)
  • There’s another study from 2010, that shows how tea fortified with 5 herbs (including ashwagandha) managed to increase the natural killer cell activity in healthy, middle-aged people, which is important for dealing with infections and staying healthy as a whole (33)

This information provides valuable evidence that you can even use this powerful herb as a helpful tool for natural immune support.

17. Diuretic Support

This plant may also work as a mild diuretic, which is one of its more uncommon benefits.

Studies reveal that:

  • A 2000 study examined the impact of ashwagandha root extract on people with high cholesterol levels for 30 days. Findings include reduced cholesterol alongside a mild diuretic effect (34)

And as you might know, diuretics are used for lowering high blood pressure by decreasing the amount of fluid (e.g. water) found in the blood vessels.

18. Fight Prostate Cancer

This very potent Indian plant also offers a bunch of amazing anti-prostate cancer benefits.

Here’s what relevant studies have to say:

  • A 2013 study published in the Journal of natural products shows that Withaferin A (the primary bioactive component of ashwagandha)  can kill prostate cancer cells (35)
  • A different study conducted by the Department of Molecular Genetics at the Osaka University (Japan) come to the same conclusion – Withaferin A is indeed able to destroy prostate cancer cells (36)
  • In 2017, Indian researchers found that even at low doses, ashwagandha can stop the growth of cancer cells and they also state that this herb can be a good addition to traditional drugs for prostate cancer (37)

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily make ashwagandha the go-to treatment method for prostate cancer.

I’d always recommend seeking expert medical advice from a certified specialist first, although this herb can be used as a natural support to conventional treatment methods.

Ashwagandha Benefits, Indian herbs and spices

What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha (also known as Withania somnifera, Indian ginseng and winter cherry) is a plant that’s primarily found across India, although it also grows in the Middle East and parts of Africa.

The roots and berries of ashwagandha have been an important part of Indian ayurvedic medicine for centuries, although it currently enjoys increased popularity in other parts of the world such as the United States.

In Sanskrit (classical Indian language), ashwagandha translates to “horse smell” (‘ashva’ means horse, while ‘gandha’ means smell) and this explains why this herb is said to give you the virility and strength of a horse.

Its root has a horsey smell (in Sanskrit, ashva means “horse” and gandha means “smell”) and is said to confer the strength and virility of a horse.

Ashawanghda is considered an adaptogen since it provides strong anti-stress effects and it has evidence-based uses for stress management.

However, this herb has a plethora of additional benefits ranging from decreasing anxiety to increasing testosterone levels and even relieving pain.

What are the Side Effects of Ashwagandha?

According to relevant studies, large doses of ashwagandha can lead to (38):

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Liver problems (rare)

Still, ashwagandha should be safe when taken by mouth for up to 3 months, even though there’s a lack of long-term studies regarding its safety protocol.

My personal advice would be to always stick to the recommended daily dose of the ashwagandha-based product that you’re taking.

Small and medium doses should prove to be side-effect-free.

Ashwagandha Benefits, different supplement capsules

How Much Ashwagandha Should I Take Daily?

Ashwagandha doses of around 500 mg daily should suffice in most cases.

However, the specific dosage will largely depend on your goals and these are the evidence-based doses for the best goal-specific results:

  • For increased muscle strength and mass – 500 mg per day
  • For improved memory – 500 to 600 mg per day
  • For reduced blood sugar levels – 250 mg to 3 g per day
  • For decreased anxiety and stress – 500 to 600 mg per day
  • For enhanced fertility – 5 g per day
  • For reduced inflammation – 250 to 500 mg per day

Nonetheless, always make sure to take ashwagandha as per the recommended dose listed on the supplement label.

Who Should Not Take Ashwagandha?

MedlinePlus (a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine) states that people with the following health status and conditions should avoid ashwagandha:

  • Pregnant women – Using this herb during pregnancy might cause miscarriages.
  • Breastfeeding women – There’s not enough solid data to confirm that ashwagandha is safe to use during breastfeeding so it’s better to be avoided.
  • Thyroid conditions – This Ayurvedic plant might elevate levels of thyroid hormones, which would be an issue if you take thyroid hormone drugs and/or have thyroid problems.
  • Scheduled surgery – Don’t take ashwagandha at least 2 weeks prior to surgery because this herb may slow down your central nervous system, which can be compounded by drugs and anesthesia that might be used during and after a scheduled surgical procedure.

Thus, always talk to your doctor if you have any health conditions before taking this Indian plant extract.

Ashwagandha Benefits, extended hand with a watch

What is the Best Time to Take Ashwagandha?

Any time of the day (or night) would be optimal.

Ashwagandha is equally effective regardless of whether it’s taken during the day or at night.

There’s a lack of specific scientific data on the subject so it all boils down to personal preference.

With that being said, there are a few things to consider when taking ashwagandha during the daytime or at night:

  • In the morning – This will probably be more convenient if you take other supplements as you’ll simply add ashwagandha to your morning supplement routine
    Note: Take this herb after breakfast or a snack to avoid potential stomach discomfort!
  • At night – This would be your go-to option if you want to take ashwagandha on an empty stomach as you would’ve already eaten plenty of food during the day

Regardless of your preferred time, always ensure that you stick to the recommended dose and you’re consistent for best results (i.e. don’t skip doses).

How Long Does it Take for Ashwagandha to Take Effect?

Some studies show that the benefits of ashwagandha can be noticed as early as 2 weeks after taking this herb (39).

The key is to be consistent and not skip any doses – the result should eventually come.

Keep in mind that the body needs time to reverse the negative effects associated with chronic stress and other conditions.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are a number of truly incredible ashwagandha benefits for men and women.

But most of them fall under 5 main categories:

  • Exercise performance and muscles
  • Sexual health
  • Anti-stress and mood
  • Cognitive function
  • Overall health

There’s plenty of scientific data to support some of the fascinating benefits associated with this Ayurvedic plant.

Over to you now – are you considering taking this herbal extract and why?

And if you have already used ashwagandha as a dietary supplement, did you notice any positive effects?

Leave your answers in the comment section below!

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