Have you ever had to prioritize your mental health over your physical health? How about the other way around?
Today, people are surrounded by more vices than ever — stress, anxiety, fast food, energy deprivation. Our problems are mental and physical, but rarely do we see any remedies for both.
Until recently (or until hundreds of years ago).
Ashwagandha is arriving on the scene once more as a supplement that can help improve your daily life — physicallyandmentally. By the end of this article, you'll know everything you need to get started with Ashwagandha!
What Is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha (scientific nameWithania somnifera, also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry) is a plant that belongs to the nightshade family. It is native to India and has been used in traditional medicine (aka Ayurveda) for centuries. The name Ashwagandha means "horse's smell" in reference to the plant's distinct scent. Most supplements on the market contain ashwagandha root extract.
What is Ayurvedic Medicine?
Ayurveda is a traditional Indian system of medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years. Ayurvedic medicine considers factors such as lifestyle, diet, and mind-body type to recommend treatments. This holistic system focuses on treating the whole person, not just individual symptoms.
The Benefits of Ashwagandha
Withania somnifera yields several benefits, including:
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Boosting energy levels and vitality
- Enhancing cognitive function
- Promoting cardiovascular health
- Mitigating osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- Lower cholesterol levels
Let's take a closer look at how ashwagandha can improve your life:
Reducing Stress and Anxiety
One of the most well-known health benefits of Ashwagandha is its ability to reduce stress and anxiety. Several studies on the subject show this:
In one, adults between 18 and 64 who experienced chronic mental stress saw their cortisol levels drop by 28% after two months of ashwagandha supplementation. For context, cortisol is a stress hormone. (Chandrashekhar, Kapoor, and Anishetty).
Another study showed that counseling led to a 31% drop in symptoms for patients with anxiety disorders. Here's the kicker — supplemented with twice-a-day consumption of 300 mg of ashwagandha, patients saw a 56.5% fall in anxiety symptoms. (Cooley et al.)
Boosting Strength Levels and Vitality
Withania somnifera can also help boost your physical performance and vitality. Especially for men, ashwagandha has been tied to increased fertility and vigor.
In a study involving 75 men with varying levels of infertility, 5 g of Withania somnifera root powder (consumed daily) led to higher sperm count and motility. It also led to growth in reproductive hormone levels, like testosterone and luteinizing hormone. (Ahmad et al.)
Another placebo-controlled study put untrained men put through a strength training regime. The results showed that the group taking 300 mg of ashwagandha root extract twice a day saw bench press improvements of over 20 kg compared to the control group. (Wankhede et al.)
Enhancing Cognitive and Social Function
Evidence suggests that Ashwagandha also enhances cognitive function. Some studies have shown that ashwagandha improved motivation, social performance, and reaction time.
In a placebo-controlled study with 20 male participants, subjects took 1 g of ashwagandha extract daily for two weeks (and then another 14 days for washout). Results showed that they had significantly improved reaction times when compared to the placebo group. (Pingali, Pilli, Fatima).
In another, patients with impaired memories, early symptoms of dementia, and low scores on cognitive function tests took 600 mg of ashwagandha extract for eight weeks. Compared to the placebo group, they had significantly better performance on memory, executive function, and attention tests. (Choudhary, Bhattacharya, Bose).
Promoting Power and Cardiovascular Health
Withania somnifera can also promote power cardiovascular health. You can see this in studies that demonstrate improved power output and sprint velocity after supplementation with the Ayurvedic medicine. (Sandhu et al.)
Not convinced? Elitecyclists taking ashwagandha herbal supplements in 500 mg doses over eight weeks saw their VO2 max rise by 12.5% and grow the time it took to reach exhaustion by 7.5%. (Your VO2 max measures the maximum quantity of oxygen (O2) your body can use when exercising). (Shenoy et al.)
Mitigating osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid and osteoarthritis are some of the most common pain afflictions globally. Fortunately, ayurvedic treatment using ashwagandha has shown some signs of being able to help.
In a pilot study on rheumatoid arthritis patients, 5 g of ashwagandha powder taken twice daily for three weeks led to significant reductions in swollen and tender joint counts, and improvements in pain assessment scores. (Kumar et al.)
Another study on knee joint pain found that daily doses of 250-500 mg of ashwagandha (over three months) caused a statistically significant drop in swelling and pain. (Ramakanth et al.)
Lower cholesterol levels
Nearly 100 million American adults suffer from high cholesterol — but evidence points to ashwagandha as an exciting solution.
A study using Winter Cherry (another name for Withania somnifera) saw reductions in lipid levels and increased anti-glycemic effects in people with Type II diabetes and high cholesterol. (Andallu & Radhika).
In another study, healthy subjects taking 750 mg doses of ashwagandha for just ten days saw a 9.3% drop in total cholesterol — and increased quadriceps strength! (Raut et al.)
We haven't even gotten to the benefits for blood sugar levels, alertness, and heart rate yet! As you can see, Withania somnifera offers a variety of physical and mental health benefits that can improve your life. Consider adding ashwagandha to your supplement regimen if you're looking for an herb to enhance your overall health.
How To Take Ashwagandha
If you're interested in trying Ashwagandha, there are a few ways to do so:
- Powder. The most common way to supplement.
- Capsules & pills. Highly convenient for people on the go.
- Tea. Easy to incorporate into your daily routine.
- Essential oil. A leisurely and enjoyable option.
Whichever form you choose, be sure to consult with your doctor first to make sure it's the right choice for you. In terms of dosage, you should take Ashwagandha in300-600 mg doses alongside a meal.
Here's What You Should Know Before Taking Ashwagandha
Before taking Ashwagandha, there are a few things you should know.
- First, be sure to consult with your doctor to make sure it's the right choice for you.
- Second, ashwagandha could interact with other medications, so be sure to let your doctor know if you're taking any other prescriptions.
- Third, ashwagandha is not recommended for pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers.
Finally, be aware that ashwagandha can cause side effects like diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
How to Choose an Ashwagandha Supplement
When choosing an Ashwagandha supplement, there are a few things to look for:
First, try to make sure the supplement is organic and non-GMO. Ideally, the ashwagandha will also be fair trade.
Second, be sure that the ashwagandha is extracted from the plant’s root — this is the most potent form. Make sure the supplement contains a majority of active ingredients.
Third, choose a supplement that is easy to take. Capsules or tablets are the most convenient, but liquid and powder forms are also available.
Use Ashwagandha To Improve Your Life Today
As you can see, Ashwagandha offers a variety of benefits that can improve your life. If you're looking for an natural remedy to boost your overall health, consider adding ashwagandha to your supplement regimen!
(Be sure to get professional medical advice first to make sure it's the right choice for you.)
Want to get started with Ashwagandha today? Start shopping right away! Mantra Foods offers a wide selection of supplements to help you get started.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What does Ashwagandha do for your body?
Ashwagandha benefits the body in various ways, including lowering stress levels, fighting fatigue, boosting energy, controlling blood sugar, and improving overall health. It's also been shown to improve mental clarity and cognitive function.
Is it okay to take Ashwagandha every day?
Most studies onWithania somnifera have subjects take it daily. It is generally safe to take Ashwagandha every day. However, be sure to consult with your doctor first to make sure it's the right choice for you.