The ashwagandha plant is an ancient medicinal herb. It is a small, evergreen shrub with yellow flowers that is native to India and Southeast Asia. You may use extracts or powder from the plant’s roots or leaves to treat a variety of conditions. This includes anxiety and fertility issues.
Ashwagandha is one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda. It is an old form of alternative medicine that is based on Indian ideas about how to heal yourself naturally. In India, people often use the root and berries of the plant as Ayurvedic medicines.
For thousands of years, people have used ashwagandha to relieve stress, increase energy levels, and improve concentration. You may use it as a tonic, often referred to as “Indian ginseng.” You may also use it to improve your physical and mental health and treat a number of specific conditions.
A review of 69 studies showed that ashwagandha root seems to be safe and helpful for treating stress, anxiety, and insomnia, among other health problems. Research has shown that it is a potent adaptogen and anti-stress agent that has the potential to improve your physical performance.
Here are nine potential benefits of Ashwagandha, based on research:
Ashwagandha for reducing blood sugar levels
There is some evidence that ashwagandha may help if you have diabetes or high blood sugar levels. This happens because it changes how much insulin your body makes. It also affects how well your cells can take up glucose from your bloodstream.
According to a review of 24 studies (including 5 clinical studies) in persons with diabetes, treatment with Ashwagandha was shown to significantly lower the following:
- blood sugar,
- hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c)
- blood lipids
- markers of oxidative stress.
If you take Ashwagandha, it may help a lot with your diabetes and should help your cells take in sugar from your blood.
May help reduce your stress and anxiety
The potential of ashwagandha to lessen stress is likely its most well-known use. It is classified as an adaptogen, which is a chemical that helps your body deal with physical and mental stress. Supplements containing ashwagandha may help reduce your stress and anxiety levels.
Ashwagandha appears to help regulate stress mediators in your body, including cortisol. It also regulates your body’s reaction to stress.
In a study of 58 people, those who took either 250 mg or 600 mg of ashwagandha extract daily for eight weeks felt a lot less stress. They also had much lower cortisol levels than those who took a placebo. Those who took the ashwagandha supplements also said they slept much better than those in the placebo group.
Another study involved 60 participants. It showed that those who took 240 mg of ashwagandha extract daily for 60 days experienced much lower anxiety levels than those who received a placebo.
Ashwagandha may help reduce symptoms of some mental health conditions
Research shows that ashwagandha may help reduce signs of depression and other mental health problems.
In one study, 66 individuals with schizophrenia who were also dealing with sadness and anxiety were examined to see how ashwagandha affected them. It was shown that participants who took 1,000 mg per day of ashwagandha extract for 12 weeks experienced higher decreases in anxiety and depression than those who took a placebo.
Additionally, results from a different study pointed to ashwagandha supplementation as a potential treatment for schizophrenia that may reduce your overall symptoms and perceived stress.
Another study showed that Ashwagandha may aid in your cognitive impairment if you’re a bipolar disease sufferer. In addition, a 2012 study found that stressed people who took 600 mg of the extract daily for 60 days experienced a 77% reduction in depressive symptoms, compared to a 5% reduction in the placebo group.
Remember that ashwagandha is a supplement. Despite research suggesting that it may have some antidepressant effects in some people, you should not use it in place of antidepressant medication. If you have symptoms of depression, talk to your doctor so you can get the help or therapy you need.
Ashwanandha may help reduce inflammation
This health supplement may help reduce inflammatory indicators and markers in your body. It contains components such as WA, which may aid in lessening inflammation in your body.
In a 2008 study, some adults who were under stress were given ashwagandha extract for 60 days. When compared to people who took a placebo, they had a big drop in C-reactive protein, which is a marker of inflammation.
May help boost testosterone and increase fertility in men
Research has shown that ashwagandha supplements can improve male fertility and raise testosterone levels. In one study, 43 overweight men aged 40 to 70 who had mild fatigue were given the extract tablets or a placebo for eight weeks. During the treatment, DHEA-S, a sex hormone that helps make testosterone, went up by 18% more.
A 14.7% larger increase in testosterone was seen in participants who took ashwagandha supplements compared to those who took a placebo.
An analysis of four trials also revealed that males with low sperm counts experienced a considerable improvement in sperm concentration, semen volume, and motility when given ashwagandha. It also improved sperm concentration and motility in men with normal sperm counts.
This important herb may also help improve your athletic performance, according to research, making it a desirable supplement if you’re an athlete.
12 trials of men and women who took ashwagandha doses of 120 mg to 1,250 mg daily were included in one research study. According to the findings, the plant may improve your physical performance, including your stamina and oxygen consumption during exercise.
Ashwagandha significantly increased maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 max) in healthy persons and athletes, according to another analysis of five research studies.
The greatest amount of oxygen you can consume when engaging in vigorous exercise is known as VO2 max. It gauges the condition of your heart and lungs.
Having a maximum VO2 max is crucial for both athletes and non-athletes. Higher VO2 max is linked to a lower risk of heart disease, while low VO2 max is linked to an increased risk of death.
It may also aid in boosting your muscular strength. In one study, men who did weight training for 8 weeks while taking 600 mg of the supplement daily saw considerably larger gains in their muscle strength and size than those who took a placebo.
Taking ashwagandha may benefit your cognitive function. Research that included five clinical studies noted there was early evidence that ashwagandha could improve cognitive functioning in certain populations, including older adults with mild cognitive impairment and people with schizophrenia.
The supplement can help improve the following cognitive functions:
- reaction time
- executive functioning
- performance on cognitive tasks.
A study of 50 adults showed that taking 600 mg of the extract every day for 8 weeks led to significant improvements in the following measures compared with taking a placebo:
- immediate and general memory
- information-processing speed.
Researchers also noted that some compounds found in ashwagandha, including WA, have antioxidant effects on the brain, which may benefit your cognitive health.
Your sleep may improve
Ashwagandha is commonly used to promote sound sleep, and some research indicates it may be effective for other sleep-related problems you may have.
A study of 50 adults aged 65 to 80 revealed that taking 600 mg of the root daily for a period of 12 weeks greatly enhanced both the quality of their sleep and their mental alertness upon waking.
Another study of five high-quality trials also revealed that ashwagandha improved total sleep quality in a minor but substantial way. People who took it reported feeling less anxious and more awake when they woke up.
The results were more obvious, according to the researchers, in those with insomnia and in those who took more than 600 mg per day for at least eight weeks.
To help reduce joint pain
One study found that a compound containing ashwagandha can help relieve your osteoarthritis symptoms. It’s not clear which of the ingredients had the benefit since the herb is traditionally used in combination with other herbs.
Doses ranging from 250–1,250 mg per day have been shown to be effective for different conditions. You should consult a healthcare professional if you have questions regarding what dose to take.
You can take ashwagandha in either a single dose or multiple doses per day. And you can take it either with meals or on an empty stomach.
Who should not take Ashwagandha
- Do not take it if you’re pregnant as it may cause pregnancy loss if used in high doses.
- Because Ashwagandha may increase testosterone levels, you should avoid taking it if you have hormone-sensitive prostate cancer.
- Because ashwagandha is a botanical which may have sedative effects, do not take it if you’re on benzodiazepines, anticonvulsants, or barbiturates.
Talk to your doctor before taking ashwagandha if you have any health conditions, including:
- bleeding disorders
- thyroid problems
- multiple sclerosis, or
- rheumatoid arthritis. Ashwagandha might interfere with thyroid tests.
Ashwagandha might also interact with other supplements that cause sleepiness, like St. John’s wort, Valerian, Kava, and others.
You should stop taking it two weeks before any surgery.