Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) is a herb that has been used medicinally in India for years, cited in books such as the Rigveda and Charaka Samhita. It has been used to improve vigor, rejuvenate and increase life expectancy, being part of the Rasayanas in Ayurvedic medicine – which are techniques and components that aim to increase the longevity of the individual.
It is also mentioned in Unani medicine, which is a type of ethnomedicine that was practiced by the Persian-Arabic culture. Its popular name comes from Sanskrit, which means “horse smell” – Ashwa (horse) + gandha (smell) – probably due to the strong aroma of its roots.
Its scientific name is Withania somnifera, from the Solanaceae family. The term somnifera already gives a hint of one of its activities in the body: the induction of relaxation, with anxiolytic action. It is also known as Indian Ginseng and Winter Cherry.
It is a shrubby plant up to 30 inches tall, with leaves of a paler shade of green and a red fruit when ripe. Prefers drained soils and partial shade, native to India and already cultivated in many places, such as the Middle East, Mediterranean and tropical areas of Africa.
So let’s take a look at the top 5 health benefits for men, which have been tested in human clinical trials:
In first place, Ashwagandha has been shown to increase muscle mass and strength. The herb has been shown in studies to increase strength and power output. The goal of one study was to determine a safe and effective ashwagandha dosage, but they discovered that healthy men who took a high dose for 30 days had a significant increase in quadriceps and back extensor muscle strength despite not exercising. In another study, 57 untrained men were put on a strength training program for eight weeks and given either ashwagandha or a placebo. Over the placebo group, the ashwagandha group improved their one rep max of bench press by nearly 44 pounds, and leg extension by nearly 11 pounds. Muscle size, serum testosterone, and muscle recovery all improved when compared to placebo.
In second place, Ashwagandha can help with stress relief. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, which means it can help your body cope with stress. Cortisol is referred to as the stress hormone. because it is released by your adrenal glands in response to stress and when your blood sugar levels fall too low. Unfortunately, cortisol levels can become chronically elevated in some people, leading to high blood sugar levels and increased fat storage in the belly area. Ashwagandha can reduce excessive cortisol levels and help bring them back into balance. The group that supplemented with ashwagandha improved all tested parameters of chronic mental stress and reduced serum cortisol by 27.9% in this controlled study of 64 adults with a history of chronic stress, after 60 days of taking the supplement. All of this takes to the next benefit.
In third place, Ashwagandha has been shown to help with anxiety and depression. In the same 60-day study, those in the ashwagandha group reported a 79% average reduction in anxiety and insomnia, compared to 11% in the placebo group. Numerous other double-blind control trials have found it to be beneficial for anxiety, but there is definitely a placebo effect at work. Those who take fake pills do experience improvements, but they are never as strong or consistent as the ashwagandha group. Anti-depressive effects of ashwagandha have been observed, but they are nowhere near as notable as the anti-anxiety effects. However, the mechanism by which it functions appears to be very similar. Returning to the 60-day study, those who took a higher daily dose reported a decrease in depression by 79%. Meanwhile, the placebo group only had a 10% decrease.
In fourth place, Ashwagandha can improve cholesterol levels and lower triglycerides. Of course, this can help improve heart health, especially in people who already have problems. In a 60-day study of chronically stressed adults reviewed previously, the group taking the highest dose of ashwagandha had, on average, a 17% reduction in LDL cholesterol and an 11% reduction in triglycerides. Another study found a very similar decrease in LDL cholesterol but a 17% increase in HDL cholesterol. However, the authors are associated with companies that make ashwagandha supplements. So we don’t automatically distrust the results, but we should be aware of this.
Finally, in fifth place, blood sugar levels may be decreased with ashwagandha. Ashwagandha has been shown in numerous research to have advantages for metabolic health. It boosted muscle cell insulin sensitivity and secretion, according to a test-tube investigation. This may now help to explain the possible advantages for blood sugar levels. Six individuals with type 2 diabetes participated in a tiny pilot trial that found that taking ashwagandha supplements for 30 days decreased fasting blood sugar levels just as well as using an oral diabetic medication. Other studies have indicated improvements in those without diabetes as well, but the impact was only marginal, changing by less than 5%.
In terms of dosages, those employed in the study appear to fall between 125 and 1,250 milligrams per day. Additionally, it appears to be more effective at higher doses. If you’re considering taking supplements, I recommend looking for a root extract or powder that contains 450–500 mg each capsule. You can take one or two of those every day.