Introduction to Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
This evergreen shrub is commonly found in Asia and Africa. Stress relief is a common use for it. Its use as an “adaptogen” has received scant support. Ashwagandha is used for a wide range of stress-related conditions because it is traditionally used as an adaptogen. It is believed that adaptogens aid the body in overcoming mental and physical stress.
Ashwagandha and Physalis alkekengi is not the same thing. Both bear the moniker “winter cherry.” Additionally, it should not be confused with eleuthero, American ginseng, or Panax ginseng.
Benefits and Uses for Ashwagandha
Based on research, uses and ashwagandha benefits for health are as follows;
- Reduction of stress and anxiety is a common use for ashwagandha
- Benefits athletic performance
- Reduce symptoms of some mental health conditions
- Help boost testosterone and increase fertility in men
- Reduce blood sugar levels (a lesser-known ashwagandha health benefit)
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve brain function, including memory
- Help improve sleep
Does Ashwagandha help with muscle growth?
In one study, taking 500 mg of ashwagandha extract led to a significant increase in upper and lower body strength when paired with resistance training over a 12-week period.
In another 2015 study in males, taking 600 mg of ashwagandha per day for 8 weeks led to a 1.5–1.7 times larger increase in muscle strength and 1.6–2.3 times higher increase in muscle size, compared to a placebo.
Do ashwagandha increase testosterone?
There is some evidence to suggest that it may help to increase testosterone levels in men, although more research is needed to confirm these effects. Several studies have investigated its effects on testosterone levels in men. For example, a small study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in 2015 found that men who took a supplement containing ashwagandha extract for eight weeks experienced a significant increase in testosterone levels compared to a placebo group.
Ashwagandha for losing weight?
It is an adaptogen as well as an antioxidant. Antioxidants speed up your metabolism and reduce inflammation. Both of these factors may positively play a role in managing weight. A study published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements in 2020 found that women who took ashwagandha supplements for 12 weeks experienced a significant reduction in body weight, BMI, and waist circumference compared to a placebo group.
However, ashwagandha is not a magic weight loss pill, and it should not be used as a substitute for a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Recommended dose of Ashwagandha
For Adults, doses of 600-1000 mg daily, for up to 12 weeks.
For kids and teenagers, the upper limit is 300 mg for 8 weeks.
Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what dose might be best for a specific condition.
When to take ashwagandha?
Taking ashwagandha at day time or night has no special benefits.
- Taking in the morning
Having said that, some people may experience mild stomach discomfort if they take ashwagandha on an empty stomach. As a result, you might want to take it right after breakfast or a small snack.
Alternatively, you could add it to a drink, smoothie, or other dishes.
- Taking at night
Ashwagandha powder in moon milk can be used to help you sleep and relax before bed.
If you prefer to take it on an empty stomach, taking it at night may be preferable to taking it in the morning for those who experience stomach discomfort.
However, it’s most important to pick a time when you’ll be most consistent with taking it and when you feel your best.
Possible adverse effects and Is Ashwagandha safe?
It appears to be safe, but more long-term research specifically designed to evaluate its safety is needed. Ashwagandha may cause;
- Mild drowsiness
- Serious sedation
Side effects to Ashwagandha
Here are some associated side effects to ashwagandha:
- Gastrointestinal issues: Some people may experience upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting.
- Allergic reactions: Rarely, people may develop an allergic reaction to ashwagandha. Symptoms can include itching, rash, and difficulty breathing.
- Thyroid problems: It may stimulate the thyroid gland, which could be a concern for people with thyroid problems.
- Blood sugar levels: It may lower blood sugar levels, so people with diabetes or hypoglycemia should use caution and monitor their blood sugar levels closely.
- Blood pressure: It lowers blood pressure, so people taking medication for high blood pressure should use caution and monitor their blood pressure levels closely.
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Ashwagandha should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding because there is insufficient information about its safety.
Can ashwagandha cause acne?
Acne is a complex condition that is influenced by many factors, including genetics, hormones, diet, and lifestyle. While some herbs and supplements may have an impact on skin health, the relationship between ashwagandha and acne has not been well-studied.
Taking ashwagandha along with these medications might decrease the effects of these medications or may cause unwanted results.
- Sedative medications (Benzodiazepines)
- Sedative medications (CNS depressants)
- Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)
- Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)
Flavonoids and antioxidants like catalase, superoxide dismutase, and glutathione—known as the “mother of all antioxidants”—are just a few of the many beneficial components in ashwagandha.
Alkaloids, neurotransmitters, amino acids (including tryptophan), sterols, tannins, lignans, and triterpenes are also present. These valuable compounds are to be praised for the numerous advantages of ashwagandha and make it possible for the herb to perform its pharmacological functions.