Ashwagandha has its roots in Ayurvedic medicine. It's also known as withania somnifera. This is an ancient Hindu system of medicine that is more than 5,000 years old. Similar to ginseng, ashwagandha is an adaptogen that increases mental, emotional and physical health. Ashwagandha extract is highly regarded for its believed ability to increase longevity.
Traditional Health Benefits of Ashwagandha
Withanolide is the active compound in ashwagandha that is responsible for its medical and therapeutic properties. Withanolides are a group of steroids that occur naturally and offer a variety of benefits to individuals. There are different varieties of withanolides that are each responsible for different effects on the body. Most supplements contain one or more type of withanolide.
What is Ashwagandha Used For?
Ashwagandha is used for a lot of reasons including: increases resistance to stress, improves productivity, mental State and emotional health, boosts male fertility and semen quality, increases testosterone and leutinizing hormone, improves muscle mass and strength, boosts memory capacity, improves symptoms of Huntington's, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Diseases.
Benefits of Ashwagandha
At one point or another, stress affects every single person. An increased level of stress means you are in a strained emotional or mental state which can cause reduced performance in your career and personal life. It can also lead to unwanted medical issues if an individual stays in a prolonged state of high stress. Medical conditions caused by stress include diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, headaches, depression, anxiety, and more. Studies show that Ashwagandha is an effective adaptogen that actually helps individuals maintain a higher resistance to stress which will improve their productivity, mental state, emotional state and physical health. Stress is one of the major factors in male infertility. It can cause decreased sperm counts and motility as well as decreased testosterone production. Studies show that ashwagandha reduces stress and thereby improves male infertility. In fact, this same study showed a significant improvement in semen quality. Ashwagandha improves both semen motility and count. A different study found that ashwagandha inhibits lipid peroxidation and protein carbonyl content. The same study showed that ashwagandha increases serum T (testosterone) and LH (luteinizing hormone) and simultaneously reduces the levels of FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and PRL (prolactin hormone), all of which are indicators of semen quality. Men who are active participants in resistance training can benefit from ashwagandha supplementation. Research reveals that Ashwagandha increases both muscle mass and strength making it complementary to resistance training. It gives individuals, especially athletes to have a higher level of endurance, especially in competitive sports. Diabetic patients can benefit from the active ingredient in Ashwagandha. Studies present a direct correlation between anti-diabetic activity and increased consumption of withanolides. Ashwagandha is also known for improving cognitive function. It is specifically known for helping children and the elderly alike who suffer from memory deficits. It has also been shown to be effective for those who suffer from Huntington's Disease, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. Ashwagandha improves mitochondrial health and encourages the production of dendrites.
How to Use Ashwagandha & Foods that Contain it
Ashwagandha can be consumed in food products, but is most commonly taken in the form of supplements. Supplements tend to come in either extracts, tablets or powders. It is important to note that it may not be advisable to take ashwagandha if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Individuals with autoimmune disorders who are on certain medications may need to abstain from ashwagandha. It is important to speak with your doctor if you have any concerns about adding Ashwagandha to your diet. Taking Ashwagandha as a supplement is the easiest and most popular way to reap the benefits. However, if you wish Ashwagandha can be made into an herbal tea.
Ashwagandha Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)
Ashwaganda is not a proven medical treatment and is not regulated by the FDA. For this reason, there aren't any established recommended daily dosages. It is important to take into consideration age, health problems and current medications.
Is Ashwagandha Healthy?
If you are an individual looking to boost strength training, endurance or increase your resistance to stress, Ashwagandha is a good supplement to consider. It also has proven to increase male fertility and reverse infertility by increasing testosterone and LH as well as increasing sperm counts and motility.
Citations and Sources
1. Bhattacharya S, Muruganandam A. Adaptogenic activity of Withania somnifera: an experimental study using a rat model of chronic stress. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2003;75(3):547-555. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12895672. 2. Gorelick J, Rosenberg R, Smotrich A, Hanuš L, Bernstein N. Hypoglycemic activity of withanolides and elicitated Withania somnifera. Phytochemistry. 2015;116:283-289. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25796090. 3. Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012;34(3):255-262. [PubMed] 4. Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012;34(3):255-262. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23439798. 5. Mahdi A, Shukla K, Ahmad M, et al. Withania somnifera Improves Semen Quality in Stress-Related Male Fertility. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. September 2009. [PubMed] 6. Gupta A, Mahdi A, Shukla K, et al. Efficacy of Withania somnifera on seminal plasma metabolites of infertile males: a proton NMR study at 800 MHz. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013;149(1):208-214. [PubMed] 7. Ahmad M, Mahdi A, Shukla K, et al. Withania somnifera improves semen quality by regulating reproductive hormone levels and oxidative stress in seminal plasma of infertile males. Fertil Steril. 2010;94(3):989-996. [PubMed] 8. Ahmad M, Mahdi A, Shukla K, et al. Withania somnifera improves semen quality by regulating reproductive hormone levels and oxidative stress in seminal plasma of infertile males. Fertil Steril. 2010;94(3):989-996. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19501822. 9. Wankhede S, Langade D, Joshi K, Sinha S, Bhattacharyya S. Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015;12:43. [PubMed] 10. Gorelick J, Rosenberg R, Smotrich A, Hanuš L, Bernstein N. Hypoglycemic activity of withanolides and elicitated Withania somnifera. Phytochemistry. 2015;116:283-289. [PubMed] 11. Singh N, Bhalla M, de J, Gilca M. An overview on ashwagandha: a Rasayana (rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2011;8(5 Suppl):208-213. [PubMed] 12. Singh N, Bhalla M, de J, Gilca M. An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2011;8(5 Suppl):208-213. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252722. 13. Ashwagandha: UPDATED 2019 - Scientific review on benefits, side effects, dosage, & more. Examine.com. https://examine.com/supplements/ashwagandha/. Published April 12, 2014. Accessed April 25, 2019.
More Ingredients to Discover
It is widely known that consumption of macronutrients1 (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) in adequate amounts are important for a balanced diet....
Berberine is a bioactive compound and a type of alkaloid that comes from a variety of different plants, including the Berberis plant, European barberry...