The Health Benefits of Ashwagandha Extract
Several mechanisms may explain the health benefits of this ancient Ashwagandha herb:
- Improves energy levels
- Reduces anxiety and promotes relaxation
- Boosts the immune system
- Balances stress-related elevations in cortisol
Ashwagandha (aka Withania somnifera) is an ancient India herb with over 3000 years of use. Ashwagandha is a very well known medicinal plant of Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurvedic texts and clinical studies describe ashwagandha as safe and effective in reducing anxiety and stress levels in chronically stressed individuals.
Withania somnifera is considered an “adaptogen” which is a substance that helps the human body adapt to stressors. Ashwagandha may increase GABA levels in the brain. GABA, gamma-aminobutyric acid, is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Increased GABA levels can help reduce anxiety in stressed individuals. When compared to diazepam, Ashwagandha produced similar anxiolytic action but without the sedation and drowsiness effects of diazepam. More so, Ashwagandha reduces cortisol (a stress hormone) levels by approximately 30%.
Novel Health Benefits of Ashwagandha
Additionally, it contains withaferin A, a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Studies show that withaferin A may have beneficial effects on hypertension and cardiovascular diseases as well as anti-cancer properties. In ancient times, Ashwagandha was used as an energy booster to treat emaciated children since it provided strength and energy. Ashwagandha extract has many other health benefits such as diuretic, aphrodisiac, narcotic, astringent and stimulant uses. Recently, ashwagandha extract has been shown to reduce low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol, beneficial to cardiovascular health and improves physical performance in both nonathletes and athletes.
Ashwagandha for better sleep
Anecdotally, Ashwagandha has sleep-inducing effects. Users report that ashwagandha puts them asleep more quickly and allows them to go into a deep sleep. Deep sleep trackers used alongside with ashwagandha supplementation confirmed one user’s experience – he slept more deeply after taking ashwagandha. Ashwagandha may improve the quality of sleep allowing individuals to wake up feeling refreshed and energized.
Ashwagandha stops panic attacks
Some users report that Ashwagandha helps with feelings of anxiety in social situations and calms their “fight or flight response”. And some even report that Ashwagandha is a miracle drug that completely stopped their panic attacks.
Ashwagandha Improves Sex Life
In addition, ashwagandha has been noted as a potent sexual stimulant by enhancing blood flow in sexual organs and reducing tension allowing for a better sex life. Several studies have established the effect of ashwagandha on the fertility of men and improvement of sexual function. Even more so, studies found that women felt more sexual satisfaction after supplementing with high concentrations of ashwagandha root extract.
How to take Ashwagandha
Dosage: 300-500 mg root extract capsules once or twice daily
Side effects: worsens hyperthyroidism
Can I take Ashwagandha with Bacopa?
Yes, some people do take bacopa with ashwagandha. Users report that combining bacopa and ashwagandha heightens their sense of calmness and promotes further relaxation than if taken alone. Although, some users complained that this combination made them too drowsy. Studies report that bacopa and ashwagandha are synergistic and taken together will increase the effects of the two. However, if you have thyroid issues, its best to avoid taking any of these herbal nootropics without consulting a licensed medical practitioner.
After stopping Ashwagandha, are their withdrawal symptoms?
No, Ashwagandha does not cause any withdrawal symptoms.
When is the best time to take Ashwagandha?
The best time to take Ashwagandha is at breakfast if taking the full daily dose.
Will Ashwagandha keep me awake?
Ashwagandha has stimulating effects on those with fatigue. Ashwagandha has been reported to keep people awake. One Reddit user reported suffering middle of the night awakenings after taking 600mg of Ashwagandha. If Ashwagandha is causing sleeping problems, it might be better to take Ashwagandha in the mornings and avoid evening doses.
Are Ashwagandha and ginseng the same?
Ashwagandha is sometimes called Indian ginseng due to its rejuvenating effects on the nervous system but Ashwagandha is not the same as Chinese ginseng (Panax ginseng).
Can Ashwagandha increase height?
There have been studies that Ashwagandha increases muscle mass and strength in men who are supplementing Ashwagandha in conjunction with a resistance training program. Ashwagandha increases testosterone and has an anabolic effect on men. Anecdotal reports that some users “feel taller“. This may be attributed to increased muscle mass in the back muscles that strengthen the spine that may elongate the body. However, there are no scientific studies that Ashwagandha actually increases your height.
Who can take Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha should not be taken by those who have hyperthyroidism.
Which Ashwagandha is best?
It is recommended to buy Ashwagandha with the extracts KSM-66 or Sensoril. These extracts are better studied compared to others.
Caution: Some Ayurvedic herbs have been found to have high levels of contaminants such as lead. Be sure to know the supplier’s source of the herb so that you are not taking contaminated products.
Overall, Ashwagandha is an ancient ayurvedic herb with many health benefits. It is great as an anti-anxiety and stress reducer. More so, ashwagandha may promote sleep initiation and improve cardiovascular health.
Want to learn about other natural nootropics for anxiety? Read about health benefits of L-theanine