If you’ve been thinking about taking Ashwagandha but you’d like to know more about this magnificent medicinal herb and its benefits, you’ve come to the right place!
Below, we’ll take a look at a few of the things it can do for both your body and your brain.
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What is Ashwagandha Used For?
In short - many different things. Let's dive into it's best researched uses and applications below.
1. Reduces Cortisol Levels
If you suffer from stress and anxiety, Ashwagandha could be the ideal herbal supplement as it is believed to help reduce cortisol levels. This is one of the stress hormones that our bodies produce as a response to stressful situations.
Put simply, the lower your cortisol levels are, the less stress you’ll feel. There have been several studies on the effects of Ashwagandha on cortisol, and one found that participants taking a higher dose experienced a 30% reduction in cortisol levels.
Ashwagandha’s ability to reduce cortisol levels also means that it could be a useful supplement for those suffering from depression. At the moment, there isn’t much research on this, but one study found that participants noted a 79% reduction in severe depression over a 60-day period.
This reduction in cortisol also means ashwagandha can help with skin health, hair loss and premature aging!
For those using something like Reishi Mushroom to help with stress-related symptoms, Ashwagandha acts as an excellent complement.
2. Reduces Blood Sugar Levels
One of the most impressive things that Ashwagandha is believed to do is lower blood sugar levels. This could have notable benefits to those suffering from type 2 diabetes.
The science behind this lies with several studies, including one that found that Ashwagandha increased insulin secretion and improved insulin sensitivity in muscle cells.
3. Increases Testosterone
Whether you want to increase your testosterone levels to build more muscular strength or to improve fertility, Ashwagandha could be capable of helping you do either. Let’s look at muscular strength, first of all.
One study found that men taking a daily dose of Ashwagandha noted an increase in both muscle strength and size, which was five times higher than those who weren't.
As far as fertility is concerned, there have been several studies and they all conclude that Ashwagandha has a positive effect on reproductive health. It has been shown to improve sex drive and increase both sperm count and motility.
4. Reduces Inflammation
There have also been studies that show that Ashwagandha is potentially capable of reducing inflammation. It does this by increasing the activity of our body’s natural killer cells and helping them fight infection more efficiently.
But that’s not all! Ashwagandha is also believed to decrease certain inflammation markers in our body such as CRP (C-reactive protein).
This is a marker that is closely linked to an increased risk of heart disease. One study on this found that a 250mg dose of Ashwagandha extract taken each day decreased CRP by 36% on average.
5. Reduces Cholesterol and Triglycerides
As well as being able to fight inflammation, Ashwagandha is believed to reduce both cholesterol levels and triglycerides. In turn, it could be capable of improving overall heart health.
One study found that Ashwagandha extract lowered total cholesterol by 53% and triglycerides by 45%. Another study even found that a group of chronically stressed adults noted a 17% drop in their LDL cholesterol and an 11% reduction in triglycerides after a 60-day period.
These are just a few of the amazing effects that Ashwagandha is believed to have on the body but there are so many more. Below, we’ll take a look at some of these in greater detail.
Does Ashwagandha Give You Energy?
Whether you’re suffering from that 3 pm slump or you simply need something to get you started in the morning, taking an Ashwagandha supplement could boost your energy levels. It will also do it naturally, so you won’t suffer from the same crash you’d get from caffeine or sugar.
But how does it do this? The answer is pretty straightforward. Ashwagandha is believed to increase hemoglobin levels.
When our hemoglobin levels are higher, it’s easier for our cells to carry oxygen around the body. And, the more oxygen we have pumping through our veins, the more energetic we feel.
Does Ashwagandha Increase Stamina?
Ashwagandha is thought to be able to increase stamina in two ways. First of all, it can improve brain function and concentration. This means that you’ll be able to focus your mind on what you need to achieve more easily.
Secondly, it is believed to reduce muscular pain, particularly around the joints of the body.
Add in the fact that it can boost your energy levels and you’ve got a natural supplement that is perfect for increasing your stamina.
It could be particularly useful for anybody taking part in physical activity for long periods of time, and one study found that taking Ashwagandha extract daily improved cardiorespiratory performance at both 8 and 12-week intervals.
Combine with Cordyceps Mushroom for a potent pre-workout boost!
Does Ashwagandha Boost The Immune System?
Yes, it does! In fact, one of the biggest uses for Ashwagandha is as a natural immune system boosting supplement.
This is mainly due to the fact that it is believed to help fight inflammation. As it increases the activity of our body’s natural killer cells, the immune system is able to help fight infections more easily, meaning that you’re able to heal in a much faster time.
This also means that you’re not only able to recover from colds and flu more easily, but you’re able to heal wounds and recover from surgery more efficiently. All the while, there is a reduced chance of any infection setting in.
However, it is worth noting that anybody that suffers from an auto-immune disease should avoid taking Ashwagandha unless they’ve consulted with a doctor.
Is Ashwagandha Good For Bones?
Ashwagandha is believed to contain properties that make it very good for bones (however, it is not shown to increase height). The main reason for this is that it contains a substance called ‘withaferin’. This has been shown to increase the number of cells that synthesize bone development. The result is strong, healthy bones.
Ashwagandha is also thought to help prevent bone loss and reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. The reason for this is because it can boost testosterone levels. You might think that this is only beneficial to men, but you’d be wrong.
Testosterone is also responsible for bone health in women along with estrogen. And, as women enter menopause and their estrogen levels drop, the risk of developing osteoporosis increases.
But, by taking an Ashwagandha supplement, you may be able to keep your bones healthier for longer as it will regulate both testosterone levels and estrogen levels more efficiently.
Bone deterioration can also occur when our cortisol levels are too high, especially in older men and women. Since Ashwagandha is potentially capable of reducing our cortisol levels, it could help prevent this from happening.
Finally, Ashwagandha could be a useful herbal supplement for anybody that has recently suffered from a broken bone. The reason for this is that the withaferin A that is found in Ashwagandha blocks certain proteasomes and protein complexes that break down other proteins. By blocking these, the bones are able to heal properly.
Is Ashwagandha Good For Memory?
As if all of the above wasn’t enough of a reason to take Ashwagandha, it’s also believed to help improve memory and cognition.
In fact, one study found that Ashwagandha extracts are able to interact with our NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors and both memory consolidation and retrieval.
It’s also been shown that the Withania somnifera extracts found in Ashwagandha interact with our brains’ GABA receptors to help boost memory and generally maintain brain health.
With similar but complementary benefits to Lion’s Mane Mushroom, Ashwagandha could be a very useful herbal supplement for a young person who is studying for an exam and needs to be able to recall important information. However, it’s also useful for fighting age-related memory problems.
The reason for this is because Ashwagandha is believed to have neuroprotective effects on the brain as we age. It can also help to fight brain inflammation, which plays a role in both cognitive and memories problems,
Ashwagandha could also be an excellent supplement for anybody that suffers from epilepsy. One study on rats showed that those treated with Ashwaganahda extract had a near-complete reversal of spatial memory impairment, which was likely a result of a reduction in oxidative stress.
Of course, you don’t need to be suffering from any memory issues for Ashwagandha to be a useful supplement for maintaining cognitive health.
In fact, another study carried out over a period of 8 weeks found that taking just 300 mg of Ashwagandha twice a day improved attention, task performance, and general memory. It’s also been shown to improve reaction time.
Another fantastic herb for memory and cognitions is ginseng and you can read all about it in our article on Ashwagandha VS Ginseng VS Shilajit
Some Key Points:
- The natural supplements industry is unfortunately fraught with many 2-bit operators producing poor quality, diluted and potentially contaminated extracts. Always make sure you do your own research on the manufacturer first - to get you started, here are the best Ashwagandha supplements according to our findings and where to get them.
- Ashwagandha is known to be safe for most people, however, it’s always worth consulting your GP or naturopath before starting a natural supplement for the first time. You should also look to take a break from Ashwagandha periodically, and there are certain circumstances where you shouldn’t take it at all. Make sure you do your own research and talk to a professional if in doubt!
The effects of taking Ashwagandha are nothing short of impressive and finding more and more support in modern science. It’s indicated to help reduce your cortisol levels, reduce blood sugar levels, increase testosterone, fight inflammation, and reduce cholesterol.
It’s also thought to have amazing benefits for your cognitive and memory function, and it could even support bone health!
You don’t necessarily need to be suffering from any health issues to start taking Ashwagandha, though. It’s equally as good as preventing certain problems as it is at helping to remedy them.
That being said, the side effects of ashwagandha can be intense for some people so it's always worth consulting your GP or a medical professional before starting any natural supplement.
If you are given the all-clear by your GP and want to boost your immune system and keep your cells happy and healthy, a daily dose of Ashwagandha will do the job!