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KSM-66 Ashwagandha: What You Need To Know

Key Takeaways:

  • KSM-66 Ashwagandha is a concentrated form of ashwagandha root extract.
  • It is distinct from other forms like Sensoril and Shoden.
  • Classified as an adaptogen, it helps the body manage stress and anxiety by reducing cortisol levels.
  • Shown to improve sperm count, volume, and motility, and also increases testosterone levels in men.
  • May improve physical fitness and overall health by enhancing cardiorespiratory endurance.
  • Demonstrated to increase muscle strength and reduce body fat percentage.
  • Enhances memory and executive functions like planning and problem-solving.
  • Beneficial in treating subclinical hypothyroidism by improving hormone levels.
  • May alleviate perimenopause symptoms in women by positively affecting hormone levels.
  • Recommended dosage is 250-600mg per day; consult a healthcare provider before starting.
  • Multiple brands offer KSM-66 Ashwagandha, and it is available for online purchase.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), also known as Indian Ginseng, is a medicinal herb that’s long been revered in the ancient Indian system of Ayurvedic medicine as a “rasayana” or tonic.

A rasayana is a preparation that contains herbal or metallic components and is used to support a youthful state of physical and mental health. It is also said to increase levels of happiness.

Rasayanas are often given to children as tonics and used by older adults to support longevity. Most of the herbs that are categorized as rasayanas are effective as powerful adaptogens. This means they work effectively as anti-stress agents.

KSM-66 ashwagandha, a form of ashwagandha, has been gaining increasing prominence recently as an especially potent form of the herb.

In this article, we cover everything you need to know about this specific form, including what it is, its benefits, side effects, and other important information. We’ll also cover some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Root Withania somnifera, known commonly as ashwagandha, Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry or winter cherry

    What Is the Difference Between Ksm-66 and Ashwagandha?

    Ashwagandha is a plant that has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years while KSM-66 ashwagandha is a full-spectrum, concentrated form of ashwagandha root extract.

    When an extract is called full-spectrum, it simply means it contains all the plant's naturally occurring constituents. KSM-66 ashwagandha does not contain other parts of the ashwagandha plant, like its leaves.

    Incidentally, the word ashwagandha literally means "smell of horse."

    This is attributed to the fact that the roots have a distinctive smell that resembles what horses smell like. There is also a "belief" that consuming ashwagandha will give you the strength and virility of a horse.

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    Difference Between KSM-66 Ashwagandha and Other Forms of Ashwagandha

    There are many different types of ashwagandha extracts in the market. The most popular forms are Sensoril ashwagandha, Shoden ashwagandha, and KSM-66 ashwagandha. Studies are underway to identify how exactly these forms are different from one another, but we do have some information on how they act on the body.

    KSM-66 vs Sensoril Ashwagandha

    Sensoril ashwagandha is extracted from both the leaves and roots. This results in a higher concentration of withanolides, one of the main chemical components found in ashwagandha.

    Withanolides derived from ashwagandha have been shown to have benefits in combating stress and muscle repair with potential uses in sports medicine.

    Typically, you’ll find a 10% concentration of withanolides in Sensoril ashwagandha. Sensoril ashwagandha also contains two other compounds – oligosaccharides, and withaferin A.

    Given it’s a concentrated source of 3 compounds, the extract has a stronger effect at a lower dose. At the same time, it may not provide the same broad range of benefits you may get from other forms of ashwagandha.

    Sensoril ashwagandha is seen to improve sleep, focus, and reaction time and helps reduce stress. A recent study also suggests that Sensoril ashwagandha may help reduce symptoms of subclinical hypothyroidism.

    Shoden Ashwagandha vs KSM-66

    Shoden ashwagandha is one of the newer forms of ashwagandha available in the market.

    Similar to the Sensoril variant, Shoden ashwagandha is derived from both the leaves and the roots of the plant.

    But unlike the Sensoril variant, Shoden ashwagandha has the highest concentration of withanolides at 35%. That makes this variant the most potent form available.

    Initial clinical studies demonstrated stress-reduction benefits through the herb's action on the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. In these studies, a daily dosage of 240g of Shoden ashwagandha was administered over a 60-day period. Shoden ashwagandha was also found to significantly improve the quality of sleep by up to 72%.

    Preliminary studies also show benefits in increasing DHEA-S and testosterone in men, but no similar increase was observed with cortisol, estradiol, fatigue, vigour, or sexual well-being. Further studies are needed to understand Shoden ashwagandha's benefits better.

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    KSM-66 Ashwagandha

    KSM-66 Ashwagandha has the highest concentration of withanolides among all root-only extracts at 5% concentration. It is lower than the Shoden and Sensoril percentage but it does have all the bioactive properties found in the plant, so it offers a broader range of benefits.

    We'll be covering KSM-66 ashwagandha health benefits in more detail next.

    Incidentally, the "regular" ashwagandha extracts you find in the market are standardized to 2.5% withanolides; however, this can vary between brands.

    ashwagandha capsules

    Ashwagandha KSM-66 Benefits

    Initial studies on KSM-66 ashwagandha present a wide range of benefits, however, research is still ongoing. KSM-66 is the most well-researched form of standardised and branded ashwagandha currently available.

    Here are some of the biggest and most well-researched benefits:

    1.) Helps with combating stress and improving overall well-being

    Ashwagandha has been classified as an adaptogen which is basically any natural substance that helps the body combat stress.

    A double-blind studies show that high-concentration full-spectrum ashwagandha root extracts may have a significant impact on increasing an individual's overall well-being and ability to manage stress. In particular, it seems that they can impact specific states in the body that can cause stress as well as the results of that stress on the body.

    For example, ashwagandha root extract is seen to help reduce the levels of serum cortisol in the body. Cortisol is the body's main stress hormone, and its levels can elevate due to mental or physical stress. During periods of high stress, when your body is on high alert, your body adjusts cortisol levels to change the way other important systems in your body function, like your reproductive system, your digestion, and your immune system.

    When you're under stress for prolonged periods, it can lead to health conditions like anxiety, depression, heart disease, insomnia, weight gain, problems with concentration, and digestive disorders.

    High-concentration, full-spectrum ashwagandha root extract is seen to reduce anxiety, depression, and insomnia, which may be caused by stress. There is also evidence to support that ashwagandha root extract can benefit weight loss when obesity is a result of chronic stress.

    2.) Helps treat male infertility and increases testosterone levels

    Male patients with oligospermia, a condition that indicates a low sperm count, were given a full-spectrum root extract of Ashwagandha (675 mg/d) in three doses for a 90-day period.

    At the end of this time, researchers observed a 167% increase in sperm count, a 53% increase in sperm volume, and a 57% increase in sperm motility (the ability of the sperm to move efficiently).

    This indicates that ashwagandha root extract has therapeutic value in the treatment of oligospermia leading to infertility.

    The same clinical trial also found a corresponding increase in levels of testosterone (17%). Testosterone is the male sex hormone that plays a key role in many important functions. These functions include the development of male sex characteristics and the production of sperm.

    3.) Improves supports cardiorespiratory endurance

    Cardiorespiratory endurance can be an indication of how physically fit you are. It's also known as cardiorespiratory fitness or cardiovascular endurance.

    It measures how well the heart, lungs, and muscles work together during moderate to high-intensity exercise. People with good cardiovascular endurance can go through long periods of physical activity without getting tired easily.

    There is some evidence to support that KSM-66 ashwagandha can improve your cardiovascular endurance and also improve the overall quality of health in both men and women.

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    4.) Supports increases in muscle mass and strength

    In another clinical study, male subjects aged 18-50 were given 300mg ashwagandha root extract twice daily for eight weeks to study its effects on muscle strength and recovery. The group of subjects also underwent resistance training during the same period. The results were compared to a placebo group given starch placebos.

    The ashwagandha group demonstrated a significant increase in muscle strength on the bench-press exercise. They also showed a significantly greater muscle size increase in the arms and the chest.

    The subjects who were consuming ashwagandha root extract also had a significantly greater reduction of exercise-induced muscle damage and a significantly greater decrease in body fat percentage.

    5.) Shows efficacy in improving memory and cognitive function

    300g of ashwagandha root extract delivered twice daily over eight weeks enabled a significant improvement in both immediate and general memory in adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).

    The same dosage was also found to generally improve executive function, attention, and information processing speed in adults.

    Executive function is a set of cognitive and mental processes that helps individuals plan, manage, and achieve goals. It includes things like memory, attention, and problem-solving.

    6.) Shows benefits in the treatment of subclinical hypothyroidism

    Subclinical hypothyroidism is a rare condition that affects 3-8% of the global population. It's a condition where your thyroid doesn't produce enough of the thyroid hormones – thyroxine and triiodothyronine.

    Administration of 600g of ashwagandha root extract has shown benefits in improving serum TSH (test to measure the level of thyroid-stimulating hormones), T3 (level of the hormone triiodothyronine), and T4 (level of thyroxine) significantly compared to the placebo group in a clinical study.

    A small percentage of participants experienced mild and temporary adverse effects while participating in the study.

    7.) May help alleviate perimenopause symptoms for women

    Ashwagandha root extract may alleviate mild to moderate perimenopause symptoms in women, according to a recent study

    Taking ashwagandha supplements was associated with a significant decrease in the Menopause Rating Scale score. There was also an improvement in the Menopause-Specific Quality of Life score.

    Women who took ashwagandha also had higher levels of estradiol and lower levels of follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone. 

    These findings suggest that ashwagandha could be a safe and effective alternative for women seeking relief from perimenopause symptoms.

    ashwagandha for relaxation

    Ashwagandha KSM-66 Side Effects

    In a study conducted on adult males and females who were orally administered 300mg of ashwagandha root extract twice daily for eight weeks, it was found to be safe and well-tolerated. However, further research is required to assess its long-term clinical effects.

    If you consume large doses of ashwagandha, it may cause stomach upset, diarrhea, vomiting, and on rare occasions, liver problems.

    Before taking ashwagandha, especially if you have thyroid problems, are pregnant, or are breastfeeding, talk to your healthcare provider.

    While ashwagandha has some proven health benefits and appears well-tolerated by most people, it doesn't replace maintaining a healthy lifestyle. So it is still necessary to follow a balanced, nutritious diet, exercise, and take steps to actively manage stress if it affects you.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Is KSM-66 ashwagandha safe?

    KSM-66 ashwagandha is tolerated well by most people on a short-term basis.

    The effects over the long term are still to be determined. Talk to your physician before taking ashwagandha, especially if you have thyroid problems, are pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

    Some people have side effects like stomach upset, vomiting, and more rarely, liver problems when consuming high doses.

    What’s the difference between Sensoril ashwagandha and KSM-66 ashwagandha?

    Sensoril ashwagandha is derived from both the leaves and roots of the plant, whereas KSM-66 is purely a root extract. Sensoril ashwagandha has a higher concentration of a chemical compound called withanolides at 10%, whereas KSM-66 is standardized at 5%.

    What are the health benefits of KSM-66 ashwagandha?

    Early research into KSM-66 ashwagandha indicates the root extract can be beneficial for many different health conditions including anxiety, depression, stress, and insomnia. It also shows benefits in increasing cardiovascular endurance, muscle mass, and strength. Scroll up to read the “Ashwagandha KSM-66 Benefits” section for more benefits!

    Does KSM-66 Ashwagandha increase testosterone?

    Clinical studies currently suggest that KSM-66 ashwagandha may help with increasing testosterone levels. There is also evidence to suggest that ashwagandha may benefit in the treatment of oligospermia, a condition that’s characterized by a low sperm count in men.

    Which is the best KSM-66 ashwagandha brand available in the market?

    Tribe Organics produces an excellent KSM-66 Ashwagandha product that has garnered thousands of positive reviews. Goli Nutrition has produced an excellent blue Goli ashwagandha gummy using KSM-66 that is also widely loved. Additionally, we have featured SuperFeast in this article, which, although not using standardized KSM-66 ashwagandha, nonetheless produces a brilliant ashwagandha extract.

    There are many different KSM-66 ashwagandha brands available, however, just be sure to always do your research into the standards, checks, testing and sourcing ethos of any producer you choose.

    How much KSM-66 ashwagandha should I take?

    The recommended dose for ashwagandha root extract is 250-600mg per day, divided into two doses. This dose has been found to be effective in improving sleep. Athletes undergoing intensive exercise programs may benefit from doses ranging from 600-1000mg/day, but more research is needed for higher dosages.

    It's important to note that using ashwagandha every day may reduce its effectiveness, so taking regular breaks or using it every other day could help maximize its impact. Remember to talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

    Can I buy KSM-66 ashwagandha online?

    Yes, you definitely can! The links and banners in this article will take you to the producers we favour (for a number of different reasons), however, don’t be afraid to look around for yourself!

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    Final Thoughts

    KSM-66 represents the most well-researched and tested standardised extract of ashwagandha available on the market.

    It has been shown to be widely safe and potentially offers a number of health benefits with a mounting list of scientific studies to support them.

    Other standardised products such as Sensoril and Shoden have strong followings as well and appear to offer a range of differences based on their concentrations, production process and use of different parts of the plant.

    That being said, there are a number of excellent ‘non-standardised’ ashwagandha extracts available too - so have a look around, do your own research and try a few different variations to see what works best for you!

    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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