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What's all the fuss about Ashwagandha?
What's all the fuss about Ashwagandha?
Posted by Wyatt Carman,
19th February 2021
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb from Ayurveda (an ancient branch of Indian herbal medicine) that is extremely effective at helping the body cope with anxiety and stress.
Traditionally, ashwagandha has been prescribed to help revitalize the immune system after illness. Today, it is used to treat a wide variety of conditions including arthritis, depression, insomnia, asthma, bronchitis, backache, and chronic liver disease.
In Sanskrit, ashwagandha loosely translates to “smell of horse,” referring to the traditional belief that ingestion of the herb imparts the strength and virility of a stallion. But traditional beliefs aside, there are over 300 published research papers on ashwagandha to date, and much of the evidence supports the fact that this herb is an all-round superfood.
Tell me more about these adaptogens...
Adaptogens are herbal pharmaceuticals. They work to counteract the effects of stress in the body. Stress causes very real physical changes in the body, including harming the neurological, endocrine, and immune systems. Adaptogens have stimulant properties that help counteract those harmful effects.
Benefits of Ashwagandha
As we’ve mentioned, Ashwagandha is a powerful adaptogenic herb that can help your body in many ways, including:
- Adapting to stressful conditions*14
- Supporting the nervous system and the endocrine system*
- Supporting cardiovascular and immune health*3,4,8,14
Let’s take a look at its traditional health benefits in more detail.
1. Stress & Anxiousness
Cortisol is a stress hormone released from the adrenals that has evolutionarily helped the body to mobilize a "fight or flight" response to a perceived imminent danger, freeing up resources for a vigorous fight against an intruder or flight from danger.
Cortisol naturally follows a daily rhythm, rising in the morning to help mobilize the body's forces for the daily needs and lowering in the evening to allow the body to sleep and perform restorative processes.3
Between constant deadlines, financial pressures, and a steady stream of negative news, the chronic stress of modern human culture regularly activates the cortisol stress response, which can impact nervous system function. 3,4
Ashwagandha has been shown to promote healthy levels of cortisol and the healthy inflammatory processes that are stimulated in the response to stress.*
Because stress is at the heart of many health conditions, helping the body adapt better benefits every bodily system including, healthy function of the immune, cardiovascular, and nervous systems, as well as the brain, muscles, and joints.*
Healthy, normal cortisol output also supports the adrenal glands, which naturally allows the body to focus on reproductive health.7
2. Nervous System
The nervous system impacts every breath, feeling, decision, and experience in our lives and is vital for overall health and well-being.
Ashwagandha has been shown to support the structure and function of the nervous system, and it is also considered to be a neurosupportive and nootropic herb.* Nootropic herbs are those that promote healthy cognitive function.*12
Ashwagandha supports healthy nervous system function by providing antioxidant support and naturally supporting the pathways in the brain for Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that's responsible for sustaining calmness and maintaining muscle tone.*2,7,8
Ashwagandha also supports a calm and stable mood because it helps regulate natural cortisol rhythm, so it has traditionally been used as a supplement for people coping with adrenal fatigue.*
3. Reproductive Health
In the endocrine system, the adrenals play a "starring" role; their functions are necessary for our survival while reproduction is not.
As such, the HPA axis and the stress response are naturally connected to sperm production and fertility in men, and hormonal balance and fertility in women.
The body produces cortisol from the same precursors used to make reproductive hormones, and, under stress, the body will preferably produce cortisol instead of testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone.7,14
Ashwagandha can assist by helping to maintain already healthy cortisol levels, so the body can free up those resources to be used for reproductive hormones.*
4. Mens Health
In untrained healthy men performing resistance training for eight weeks, consuming Ashwagandha root showed that it supported healthy muscle strength and recovery.*13
This may be because Ashwagandha promotes healthy levels of creatinine kinase, which reduces the natural muscle damage that happens from exercise and supports muscle recovery.*13
In men, Ashwagandha has also been shown to support a healthy stress response, healthy sperm levels, and normal levels of testosterone.*7,13
Metabolically, Ashwagandha seems to have an overall anabolic action, supporting weight gain during the natural growth phase.*
Ashwagandha-fortified milk given to children has been shown to support a healthy weight, as well as healthy total plasma proteins and hemoglobin levels.*
It has also been shown to support normal lean body weight and fat-to-muscle ratios.*10,13
Ashwagandha may also support healthy fat oxidation and support healthy blood glucose and blood lipid levels within already normal, healthy ranges.*3,10
6. Joint Health
Ashwagandha root has been studied for its support of a healthy inflammatory response and joint health.* It has been shown in some studies to support occasional joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and discomfort in healthy men and women due to normal wear and tear.*8.9
This may be because, as shown in human studies, it seems to naturally mitigate levels of C-reactive protein, which is a systemic marker for the body's inflammatory response.*3
Ayurvedic practitioners have long believed that Ashwagandha is one of the most powerful herbs for immune-system support for young and old alike.*
One animal study found that Ashwagandha strengthened the immune systems of mice by promoting an increase in white blood cells.*22
While more studies are needed to substantiate Ashwagandha’s role in immune support in humans, an increase in white blood cells of this type could, theoretically, help humans maintain their health longer.*
8. Heart Health
Heart health is one of the most-asked-about wellness concerns of the 21st century and many people are looking for natural ways to support their heart.
One study noted that Ashwagandha offered antioxidant support to the heart, which could potentially help protect it against free radicals in the blood.*23
In addition, Ashwagandha may potentially provide anti-inflammatory benefits that make it easier for the heart to work efficiently.*23, 24
The same study also noted that Ashwagandha supported healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels — two major factors in stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular problems.*23, 24
In fact, the group taking the highest dosage of standardized Ashwagandha extract experienced — on average — a 17% decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol and an 11% decrease in triglycerides.*23
While more studies are needed to substantiate these heart health benefits, the results from these initial studies are promising.
According to the Ayurvedic principles, Ashwagandha may be used in powdered form in a dosage ranging from 450mg to 6 grams daily.
There isn’t a standard dosage that has been studied, but as per the modern clinical trials, the minimum effective dose of ashwagandha tends to be approximately 600 mg daily in most cases.
It’s different for each individual, however, and there are different rates of tolerance.
Ashwagandha can be found at the daily dosage of 600mg in both our ECLIPSE: For him & her products in the form of a root extract standardised to 4.5% withanolides which is one the most highly regarded forms available.
Ashwagandha is an incredible medicinal herb classified as an adaptogen and helps in normalizing stress and anxiety. Being a potent aphrodisiac, it improves libido, treats various infertility issues, and improves the reproductive health in both men and women. It also ensures better functioning of the heart and improves overall stamina and body immunity. Being a natural and potent nootropic herb, it can increase memory and cognition in individuals.
Dosage varies depending on your needs, but 300–600 mg per day for at least one month seems to be successful.
1 Ahmad, Mohammad Kaleem, et al. Fertility and sterility3 (2010): 989-996.
2 Andrade, Chittaranjan, Aswath A, et al. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 2000, 42 (3), 295-301.
3 Auddy, Biswajit, et al. J Am Nutraceutical Assoc1 (2008): 43-49
4 Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, & Anishetty S. Indian J Psychol Med, 2012 Jul-Sep; 34 (3): 255-262.
5 Choudary B., Shetty A., & Langade D. Efficacy of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera [L.] Dunal) in improving cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy athletic adults. Ayu 2015. Jan-Mar; 36(1): 63-68.
6 Dass, Vishnu. "Ayurvedic Herbology-East & West: A Practical Guide to Ayurvedic Herbal Medicine." Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, WI.
7 Mahdi AA, Shukla KK, Ahmad MK et al. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2011, article ID576962, 9 pages. Doi: 10.1093/ecam/nep138.
8 Mishra, Lakshmi-Chandra, Betsy B. Singh, and Simon Dagenais. "Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha): a review." Alternative Medicine Review4 (2000): 334-346.
9 Ramakath GSH, Kumar CU, Kishan PV, & Usharani P. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2016 Jul-Sep; 7(3): 151-157.
10 Raut, Ashwinikumar, et al. "Exploratory study to evaluate tolerability, safety, and activity of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in healthy volunteers." Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine3 (2012): 111.
11 Sandu JS, Shah B, et al. Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Terminalia arjuna (Arjuna) on physical performance and cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy young adults. Int J Ayurveda Res. 2010 Jul-Sep; 1(3): 144-149. Doi: 10.4103/0974-7788:72485
12 Singh N., Bhalla M., de Jager P., & Gilca M. "An overview on Ashwagandha: A rasayana (rejuvenator) of Ayurveda." Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. (2011) 8(S):208-213
13 Wankhede S, Langade D, Joshi K, Sinha SR, Bhattacharyya S. Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. November 25, 2015;12:43. doi: 10.1186/s12970-015-0104-9.
14 Winston, David and Maimes, Steven. "Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief," Herbal Therapeutics. Rochester, Vt: 2007.
15 7 Questions Everyone Has About Ashwagandha (& What It Really Does For Your Mood).
16 Ashwagandha Power.
17 Hypoglycemic activity of withanolides and elicitated Withania somnifera.
18 Exploratory study to evaluate tolerability, safety, and activity of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in healthy volunteers.
19 Effects of Withania somnifera in patients of schizophrenia: A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled pilot trial study.
21 Withaferin A alone and in combination with cisplatin suppresses growth and metastasis of ovarian cancer by targeting putative cancer stem cells.
22 Studies on immunomodulatory activity of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) extracts in experimental immune inflammation.
23 Withania somnifera Dunal (Ashwagandha): A Promising Remedy for Cardiovascular Diseases.
23 12 Proven Health Benefits of Ashwagandha.
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