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Ashwagandha VS Ginseng VS Shilajit - Which Is Better?

Key Takeaways

  • Ashwagandha: Improves sleep, reduces stress, boosts muscle growth, lowers blood sugar, potentially fights cancer, and enhances fertility.
  • Ginseng: Strengthens immunity, possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, improves memory, aids erectile dysfunction, and increases energy.
  • Shilajit: Contains fulvic acid which may prevent Alzheimer's, elevates testosterone levels, potentially improves male fertility, and may benefit heart health.
  • For sleep, stress, and muscle building, consider ashwagandha.
  • For immunity, memory, and energy, choose ginseng.
  • For potential Alzheimer's prevention, testosterone levels, and fertility, opt for shilajit.

Ashwagandha, ginseng and shilajit are much-revered adaptogens, and each of them has its own benefits. But, like all adaptogens, each of them has something different to offer.

So, which is better? This isn’t an easy question to answer so, to help make things clearer, we’ll explore each of them in more detail and explain the unique benefits they offer.

Ashwagandha vs Ginseng

Which is best - ashwagandha or ginseng? The answer really depends on what you’re looking for from your natural supplements.

If you’re looking for a way to improve your sleep and sleep quality, lower anxiety, or increase muscle size and strength, ashwagandha would be the better choice.

However, if you want to increase energy levels, improve cognitive function, or find a natural supplement that can potentially help with erectile dysfunction, ginseng would be the better supplement to go for. Let's break it down.

About Ashwagandha

ashwagandha powder

Let’s start by looking at what ashwagandha can do.

Ashwagandha (withania somnifera) is a plant that is native to India and North Africa, and it has been used for thousands of years for its numerous health benefits in Aryuvedic medicine. Ashwagandha is often referred to as Indian Ginseng, which can make it a bit confusing when comparing it to actual ginseng!

Benefits of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha can be taken both morning and night, however, is used by many as a sleep aid. It has been shown to have many other benefits as well.

As an adaptogenic, the first of these is its ability to reduce stress and anxiety. One study found that, over a two-month period, a daily 600mg dose of ashwagandha significantly lowered stress levels. Even more impressively, another study found that it reduces anxiety in 88% of the test subjects.

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Ashwagandha also has the benefit of helping to increase muscle size and strength. On top of that, it’s also been shown to help with fat loss, so it’s a good supplement for anybody looking to lose weight, gain muscle strength and change their overall body composition. However, it’s important to note that it is just a supplement and can’t be relied on solely to achieve these goals - you also need to put in the work!

A further study on the benefits of ashwagandha found that it is capable of helping to lower blood sugar levels as well. This helps in boosting energy levels, moderating mood swings, and increasing your productivity levels.

Adding to this impressive list is the promise that ashwagandha may also have anti-cancer properties. This is largely due to containing the compound withaferin, which is thought to help induce apoptosis and aid in the destruction of cancer cells. It’s also believed to help block the growth of new cancer cells in a few different ways.

Finally, ashwagandha could also help boost testosterone levels in men and increase fertility in both men and women. One study found that it notably helped increase sperm count and motility. This makes it a great potential natural supplement for those wanting to conceive.

About Ginseng

ginseng root

As you can see, ashwagandha is a pretty powerful adaptogen with lots of benefits to offer. But is it better than ginseng? Let’s find out!

Just like ashwagandha in Ayurveda, ginseng has been used for thousands of years for treating diseases and keeping the body healthy. Historically, this medicinal herb was most commonly used in Asian countries, but it has now become one of the most popular adaptogens all over the world.

Benefits of Ginseng

One of the biggest benefits that ginseng is believed to offer is an immune system boost. One study found that a 5,400mg dose of ginseng given daily over a two-year period showed significant improvements in immune function in people recovering from stomach cancer surgery.

Ginseng is also believed to have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In turn, this could lead to a reduced risk of developing chronic inflammation, which can result in numerous illnesses including heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and more.

If you’re struggling with memory problems, ginseng could also be one of the best supplements to incorporate into your daily routine. It’s even been shown to have a positive effect on brain function and behaviour in people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

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Used for centuries as an aphrodisiac, another benefit that ginseng could provide you with is improving erectile dysfunction. One study found that men treated with a daily dose of red ginseng had a 60% improvement in erectile dysfunction. More impressively, this was compared to just a 30% improvement reported from using erectile dysfunction medication.

Finally, ginseng has also been shown to help increase energy levels and battle fatigue. This is because it contains certain components including polysaccharides and oligopeptides that lower oxidative stress and increase energy production in cells.

So, which is best - ashwagandha or ginseng? The answer really depends on what you’re looking for from your natural supplements.

If you’re looking for a way to improve your sleep, lower anxiety, or increase muscle size and strength, ashwagandha would be the better choice.

However, if you want to increase energy levels, improve cognitive function, or find a natural supplement that can potentially help with erectile dysfunction, ginseng would be the better supplement to go for.

Which Is Better - Ashwagandha Or Shilajit?

pure shilajit

While we are comparing ashwagandha to ginseng, let's take a minute to compare it to another amazing natural substance - Shilajit.

Ashwagandha and shilajit are quite different in appearance. Ashwagandha is a plant that is native to India and North Africa, and both its roots and leaves are used as an adaptogen.

Shilajit, on the other hand, is a resin discharge that comes from layers of rock. It is found in several mountain ranges around the world including the Altai and Tibetan Mountains, as well as the Himalayas.

It’s not only in appearance that they are quite different, either. Above, we’ve listed some of the benefits that ashwagandha is shown to have.

But what can shilajit provide us with when taken as a supplement?

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Benefits of Shilajit

First of all, it is believed to contain an antioxidant called ‘fulvic acid’. This prevents the build-up of tau protein on the nervous system, which can damage brain cells and is thought to lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Some researchers believe that shilajit can help prevent this from happening.

Shilajit has also been found to increase the level of testosterone in the body. This makes it a good natural supplement for men that may be suffering from a low sex drive, hair loss, increased body fat, fatigue, or loss of muscle mass.

Shilajit is also believed to help with male infertility. One study found that 60% of men who took shilajit twice a day over a 90-day period showed an increase in sperm count and motility.

Finally, there is some evidence that shilajit can help improve heart health. A study carried out on rats found that those that were injected with isoproterenol to induce a heart injury suffered from fewer cardiac lesions after being given a pre-treatment of shilajit.

So, as you can see, many of the benefits of shilajit are quite different from ashwagandha. This doesn’t necessarily mean that one is better than the other, though. It’s really about what your goal is from taking them.

Ashwagandha pairs well with a number of adaptogens (e.g. with maca & L-theanine) so it's worht exploring a few to see which combination works well for you.

The excellent video below from Dorian Wilson gives an excellent and highly detailed breakdown of the benefits of adaptogens including ashwagandha and ginseng. Highly worth a watch!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Can You Take Ashwagandha and Ginseng Together?

Combining ashwagandha and ginseng, while tempting due to potential synergistic benefits, requires caution. Though generally safe individually, limited research exists on the combined effects of ashwagandha and ginseng together.

Potential upsides include enhanced stress adaptation and complementary benefits like calmness from ashwagandha and energy from ginseng.

However, consider increased side effects, drug interactions, and the lack of long-term data. It's crucial to consult a healthcare professional before taking them together to ensure it's safe and suitable for your individual needs.

Q2. What is the best form of ginseng to take?

There are two main types of ginseng—Asian or Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). Different varieties have varying benefits so it is difficult to conclusively say which is the best form. 

Q3. What happens when you take ginseng everyday?

Studies suggest benefits like improved immunity, blood sugar regulation, cognitive function, and energy levels. However, more research is needed for conclusive evidence. Do watch out for potential side effects with continuous use such as headaches, stomach upset, and menstrual irregularities.

Q4. Can you take ginseng and shilajit together?

At the time of writing, no specific research exists on this combination yet. Both offer individual health benefits but consult a healthcare professional before combining them for personalized advice.

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Conclusion

When comparing three brilliant natural herbal medicines such as ashwagandha, ginseng and shilajit, it isn’t really a question of ‘which one is better’ - it’s more a question of ‘which one is better for my specific goals?

All 3 share some crossover with certain benefits such as energy production and aspects of sexual and hormonal health, however, they all have their unique action on the body and can address other specific issues unique to each extract.

When deciding which one is best for you, you should always first and foremost talk to your doctor first as they can in rare cases have adverse side effects - particularly if you are on certain medications. If you are given the green light to use them, all 3 will provide you with an amazing suite of different positive effects, however, if you are targeting something specific or looking to achieve a certain goal, we hope this article has helped you determine which one you will try first!

If you want to learn more about the different ashwagandha brands, check out our review of the best ashwagandha supplements available in the market.



Darcy Ogdon-Nolan

Holding a Bachelor Of Science (Hons.) combined with close to a decade now in the health food and wellness industry, I believe I'm uniquely positioned to provide a depth of knowledge and first-hand experience on emerging health products, trends and ideas! From greens powders and medicinal mushrooms through to protein powders and workout nutrition - I'm particularly interested in what modern science can uncover about what human cultures have been using to treat ailments for millennia!

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