Have you ever heard of Ashwagandha?
You may have stumbled upon this supplement in health food stores or maybe read about it in other articles.
So, what is Ashwagandha, and how can it help you?
In this article, you will find out everything you need to know, including the benefits and how best to take it!
What Is It?
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), also known as Indian Ginseng or Smell of Horse, is a herb used in Ayurveda, India’s traditional medicine.
The extract of the root is commonly used as a supplement and is said to have many health benefits, including reducing stress & anxiety, while also improving men’s health.
Ashva means “horse” in Sanskrit, and gandha means “smell”. The root also has a horsey smell, which may explain the name “Smell of Horse”.
What Are The Benefits?
Adaptogenic / Anti-Stress
Ashwagandha is best known as an adaptogen, a type of herbal supplement that works to counteract the effects of stress in the body.
Stress can have a physical effect on the body, including harming your immune and endocrine systems, and adaptogens are known to contain properties that help offset these physical changes 1.
Ashwagandha appears to significantly reduce the symptoms of stress, have potent anxiolytic effects in the context of chronic stress and anxiety disorder, and also have antidepressive effects 2.
Mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and chronic stress are becoming more prevalent as the years go on, with 1 in 4 people experiencing a mental health problem of some kind each year in England 3.
There are many ways to reduce and manage feelings of stress, anxiety and overwhelm, such as mindfulness, meditation, self-care routines, and physical activity.
However, a supplement such as ashwagandha may be something to consider, including as part of your approach to improving your mental health and coping better with stress.
It has been shown that Ashwagandha may increase testosterone in infertile men and men undergoing strength training. It’s also been noted to enhance seminal quality 4.
Improvements in power output, sprint velocity, and VO2 max have been noted in trained, untrained, and sedentary individuals, meaning ashwagandha may be an effective supplement for those regularly training strength and power 5.
A decrease in total cholesterol has been shown after ingestion of ashwagandha 6. Having high cholesterol in your blood can cause further serious issues such as heart problems if left unaddressed.
Lowers Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is known as a stress hormone, which your adrenal glands release in response to stress. In some cases, cortisol levels may become chronically elevated due to stress, which can wreak havoc on the body! Ashwagandha has been shown to possibly help reduce cortisol levels in chronically stressed individuals 7.
How To Take Ashwagandha
Ingesting 300-500mg of root extract appears to be an effective dose, though more research is yet to be done on the potential benefits of higher doses. You can find ashwagandha in powder, capsule, liquid or tea form, so it’s pretty versatile.
It’s said to have a somewhat bitter, earthly taste, but there are ways to make it more palatable if you’d prefer to consume it in powdered form.
For instance, Moon Milk is a popular recipe containing ashwagandha powder and is thought to be an effective remedy for sleeplessness!
In Ayurveda (Traditional Indian Medicine), Ashwagandha is a rasayana or a plant that promotes longevity, vitality, and happiness.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Studies are yet to be conducted on the long-term ingestion of ashwagandha, though what we know so far is that it is safe for adults provided you have the green light from your GP, as with taking any new supplement!
Ashwagandha is known as the king of Ayurvedic herbs, and for good reason! The research appears to be promising so far, particularly around the benefits for stress and anxiety.
So, if you’re on the lookout for a herbal supplement to either help you cope better with stress or to potentially boost your power performance, ashwagandha may be a good pick!