Verified by Dr. Sundru M. Devi.
M.D. Microbiology, PhD Biotechnology, Mar 1, 2019
Ashwagandha is a powerful and popular natural nootropic offering many health benefits. Especially on its ability to eliminates stress, anxiety, and reducing depression symptoms. It boosts testosterone levels, supports muscle mass, reduces body fat and increases strength and performance.
On This Page
- 1 Overview
- 2 Benefits and Effects
- 2.1 What Are Ashwagandha Benefits?
- 2.1.1 Reduces Anxiety and Depression
- 2.1.2 Reduces Cortisol Levels
- 2.1.3 Improves Cognitive Function
- 2.1.4 Reduces Arthritis Symptoms
- 2.1.5 Reverses Deficits Pathology in Alzheimer’s Disease
- 2.1.6 Helps in Weight Loss and Weight Control
- 2.1.7 Improves Muscle Strength
- 2.1.8 Treats Male Sexual Dysfunction
- 2.1.9 Decreases Blood Pressure
- 2.1.10 Combats Chemotherapy Fatigue
- 2.1.11 Rejuvenation and Overall Health Improvement
- 2.1 What Are Ashwagandha Benefits?
- 3 Mechanism of Action
- 4 Dosage
- 5 Side Effects
- 6 Conclusion
- 7 User Experience
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions
- 9 Further Readings
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha (also known as Withania somnifera) is an excellent herb in Ayurvedic medicine. It has become a popular nootropic due to its multiple health benefits.
It also increases testosterone levels and significantly boosts sperm quality and fertility in men. Furthermore, it increases muscle mass, reduces body fat and increases strength.
Current users are rediscovering the traditional herb as a valuable brain-booster that improves cognition by combating the impacts of stress and helping mood enhancement.
Recent research confirms it as a promising adaptogen helping prevent the consequences of recurring anxiety.
Users find that it's also a powerful anxiolytic; reducing stress and thereby enhances mood, decreases restlessness, insomnia, and sleep issues alike.
Withania somnifera, known commonly as ashwagandha, Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry, or winter cherry is a plant in the Solanaceae or nightshade family. – Wikipedia
Ashwagandha is a herb that belongs to the night shade family of plants. The nightshade family of plants is a very interesting one and includes a lot of vegetables that make up large parts of many diets. Notable nightshade members are potatoes, tomatoes, chili peppers, goji berries and even tobacco! Another name for the nightshade family is Solanaceae.
This is where Ashwagandha gets its Latin name from; Withania somnifera. Ashwagandha is a short perennial shrub, with a large root system that develops small deep orange fruits. The fruits resemble a small cherry and the leaves look frosty due to the many tiny hairs that are on them. This one of the reasons why Ashwagandha is also referred to as ‘winter cherry’.
Traditionally, the Ashwagandha root is used, however new research has found high concentrations of key components in the leaves too.
Various manufacturers have taken notice of this. One of the most notable being Natreon who produce a specialized extract of Ashwagandha called Sensoril.
Sensoril is made from the leaves of Ashwagandha, giving it a unique chemical composition, which produces noticeable calming effects.
Sensoril Ashwagandha is standardized to 10% glyco withanolides making it a potent and calming extract. Sensoril is made from a blend of Ashwagandha root and leave extracts, which is part of the reason why it is so potent. Sensoril is best taken during periods of high stress, or to help enhance sleep quality.
Ashwagandha KSM-66 is extracted using milk. Traditionally, Ashwagandha root powder is mixed with milk to enhance absorption, and thus Ixoreal Bioscience decided to use milk as its extraction solvent. The end result is an Ashwagandha root only extract that is very well balanced. Effect-wise, KSM-66 is very uplifting and can help support healthy stress levels.
Basic Ashwagandha is made from both Ashwagandha root and leaves, and is standardized to 4-5% withanolides. Effects wise, it appears to be a perfect blend of both KSM-66 and Sensoril. This Ashwagandha extract is uplifting and calming without being too calming or too energizing. Many people tend to prefer this Ashwagandha extract because it is so well balanced. In a blind test we did around the office, a vast majority of us preferred the regular Ashwagandha. However, if you are looking for specific effects, such as an extract that is very calming or an extract that is very uplifting, then this is not the Ashwagandha extract for you. – Nootropics Depot
Benefits and Effects
What Are Ashwagandha Benefits?
- Reduces Anxiety and Improves Depression
- Reduces Cortisol Levels
- Improves Cognitive Function
- Reduces Arthritis Symptoms
- Reverses Deficits Pathology in Alzheimer’s Disease
- Helps in Weight Loss and Weight Control
- Improves Muscle Strength
- Treats Male Sexual Dysfunction
- Decreases Blood Pressure
- Combats Chemotherapy Fatigue
- Rejuvenation and Overall Health Improvement
Reduces Anxiety and Depression
Ashwagandha is best known for its ability to fight stress and to ease different types of anxieties (R) by eliminating stressors. It serves the body's overall health, and empowers the immune system. Thereby preventing the damage of excessive cortisol. It enhances mood, sense of well-being, and all-around cognition.
Clinical trials verify Ashwagandha possess robust anxiety relief capabilities. As well as reducing symptoms of generalized & social anxiety. Particularly useful for those suffering chronic stress (R).
Another study further reveals its potential as a treatment for mild depression and panic disorder (R).
Reduces Cortisol Levels
A 60-day regimen of Ashwagandha seems to efficiently decrease levels of serum cortisol in individuals with chronic stress. The finding is significant because high cortisol levels lead to health complications. Those range from immune system weakness to bone density. In many cases it further extends to weight gain, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Improves Cognitive Function
Studies on Ashwagandha enhancing memory and intelligence are few. However, at the same time, studies are confirming that anxiety is a significant cause of cognitive decline, impairing memory and attentiveness. Stress deregulates the body and brain natural processes. Normalizing those functions is, therefore, the critical element to restoring optimal cognition (R).
Individuals who frequently worry, stress out, or suffer from depression are the ones to benefit most from Ashwagandha.
Reduces Arthritis Symptoms
A 2015 Indian study comprising more than 100 patients with rheumatoid arthritis showed that after using Ashwagandha for several weeks, more than half those participants had a notable reduction in arthritic symptoms, including pain, movement difficulties, sore and swollen joints. (R)
Reverses Deficits Pathology in Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer's is the continuous impairing in memory and cognitive functions. After a 30-day course treatment using Ashwagandha, a complete reverse of the behavioral deficits is marked. This result shows how ashwagandha reverses the behavior of Alzheimer’s disease. It is achievable by the improvement of low-density lipoprotein protein in liver. (R)
Helps in Weight Loss and Weight Control
A study of 52 people diagnosed with chronic stress revealed that two daily doses of 300 mg of Ashwagandha resulted in a significant reduction in stress and food cravings, along with a decrease in serum cortisol and body mass. (R)
Improves Muscle Strength
A series of studies on healthy men reveal that using 300 mg to 1250 mg of Ashwagandha on a daily basis show a measurable increase in muscle strength and intensity. In comparison to participants receiving a placebo, those on the Ashwagandha were able to increase their bench press and leg extension. Moreover, notable increases in muscle mass, testosterone, and muscle recovery. (R)
Treats Male Sexual Dysfunction
A pilot study of 46 men suffering weak sperm production found a remarkable result when using 675 mg of Ashwagandha daily for two weeks. Another finding from that clinical trial is an impressive rise of 167% in sperm count, a 53% rise in semen mass, and a 57% rise in sperm fluidity. Animal studies similarly confirm Ashwagandha enhance sexual performance, improve testicular sperm production, and boost serum testosterone levels. [R]
Decreases Blood Pressure
Studies indicate that Ashwagandha leads to a measurable decrease in blood pressure. In research involving 100 participants using Ashwagandha for about six months, an average 1.6% decrease in systolic pressure and 5.6% decline in diastolic pressure is witnessed, along with a minor reduction in heart rate.
Combats Chemotherapy Fatigue
A 2013 trial involving more than 100 breast cancer individuals in all stages of the disease revealed that Ashwagandha efficiently reduced fatigue and weakness caused by chemotherapy. It also enhanced the quality of living. Even though it is not a treatment for cancer, it is a genuinely useful addition to the therapy for cancer patients. [R]
Rejuvenation and Overall Health Improvement
A comprehensive analysis of studies, data, and research on Ashwagandha confirm that it provides a variety of therapeutic effects without toxicity. The review concludes that Ashwagandha possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-stress, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and rejuvenating qualities. It can exert a positive impact on the central nervous system. [R]
Mechanism of Action
How Ashwagandha Works
The exact mechanisms by which Ashwagandha works remain non-entirely understood, but it appears that the active components are alkaloids and steroidal lactones that are collectively known as withanolides.
It is this combination of elements that are thought to have the potential for physiological action.
Effect on GABA
One of the acknowledged mechanisms of the withanolide components of Ashwagandha is the modulation of circulating levels of MAO and GABA in the cerebellum. GABA is an amino that acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, countering to some extent the effects of the stimulatory neurotransmitter glutamate and therefore helping as a natural tranquilizer. Animal studies show that Ashwagandha further indicates GABA-like attributes and improves calmness without producing drowsiness. It has also been revealed to possess anti-depressant effects (R). It appears to work exceptionally well in combination with SSRIs for compulsion-related mental disorders. As well as with GABAergic anxiolytics, including alcohol.
As An Antioxidant
The active withanolides in Ashwagandha are also thought to produce stable antioxidant properties, which makes them a helpful brain protectant. Antioxidants are chemical molecules that restrict conceivably damaging oxidizing causes from harming cells in the cerebellum and body. Cells remained influenced by oxidation can convert to free radicals, particles that harm circling cells. The free radicals triggers a series response of cellular damage that affects the aging process and a variety of complications.
As An Anti-inflammatory
Ashwagandha seems to be a powerful anti-inflammation tool. Inflammation is a response of the body’s immune system; however, when the immune system is pushed to overactivity, inflammation converts into a health obstacle. Inflammation is correlating with a variety of disorders. From arthritis and joint discomfort to obesity, heart disease, fatigue, blood vessel damage, and even cancer. The anti-inflammatory attributes of Ashwagandha are at the core of many of its benefits. That includes shielding as well as enriching the immune system. Furthermore enhancing memory, improving the learning experience and reaction time, and preventing brain cell degeneration.
On Dendrite Development
Ashwagandha promotes the development of dendrites, branching neuronal extensions that carry and generate electrochemical stimulation from cell to cell. Increasing dendrite development is a marker of connectivity improvement in the cerebellum.
How To Take Ashwagandha?
Typically, Ashwagandha dose ranges between 300 mg to 600 mg as the highest. Its not advisable to take more than 600mg when using on daily basis.
Take Ashwagandha with food and divide into two doses per day. If you prefer once a day, do so in the morning after breakfast.
It is not-advisable to use Ashwagandha in combination with JK inhibitors or MAO inhibitors.
There is not one universal Ashwagandha dosage due to the different levels of standardization. However, in general, an Ashwagandha powder extract dosage is going to be around 300-500 mg. This general Ashwagandha dosage falls in line with the various extracts we carry. For example, the Ashwagandha dosage for KSM-66 is 300 mg and the Ashwagandha dosage for our basic Ashwagandha powder extract is 500 mg. The Ashwagandha dosage for Sensoril is a little bit of an outlier, at 125 mg, but this is due to the fact that it is such a potent extract. – Nootropics Depot
What Are Ashwagandha Side Effects?
The most common side effects of Ashwagandha include:
- Gastric discomfort
Ashwagandha is safe and digests well in reasonable doses. No severe side effects report using high doses over a short period. These side effects are brief; if they grow in severity or persist over a long time, discontinue using it and seek medical advice.
Ashwagandha is both a potent adaptogen that supports the brain and body in handling and managing stress. It's a safe, well-tolerated anxiolytic proven to relief anxiety.
In addition to mood enhancement, it assists in regulating the sleep cycle, and improve memory. It further increases brain signaling by promoting neuronal vitality. It is efficient and with no record of severe side effects or toxicity; all while at an affordable price. This makes it a very worthwhile nootropic.
“Ashwaganda seems to have reduced my social anxiety. In a v subtle way as well – I don’t find Ashwaganda mood altering, it’s rather there’s just an absence of anxiety. So subtle I only reflected on it & then realised I’d had reduced social anxiety. I’m using KSM 66 & using a high dose – 600mg/day.”
“This was my first experience with Ashw. and it has been an excellent one. I take it before bedtime and it provides me with a better night of REM sleep, including dreams that are sometimes extremely involved. I love the stuff and have recommended it to my coworkers who have sleep difficulties.”
“I've tried all three versions of ashwagandha that ND sells, and this is my favorite. It just also happens to be the cheapest! Sensoril is great for bed, but makes me sleepy during the day. KSM 66 works well during the day, but isn't as calming as I would like. This version provides that nice balance between them.“
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits and side effects of Ashwagandha?
– Reduces Anxiety and Improves Depression Symptoms
– Reduces Cortisol Levels
– Improves Cognitive Function
– Reduces Arthritis Symptoms
– Reverses Deficits Pathology in Alzheimer’s Disease
– Helps in Weight Loss and Weight Management
– Improves Muscle Strength
– Treats Male Sexual Dysfunction
– Decreases Blood Pressure
– Combats Chemotherapy Fatigue
– Rejuvenation and Overall Health Improvement
Side effects of Ashwagandha (although not necessarily):
– Gastric discomfort
Does Ashwagandha cause weight gain?
Ashwagandha leaf extract helps to manage your weight by lowering the level of stress hormones called Cortisol. Elevated cortisol levels increase hunger and craving for sweets, fried food, and soft drinks. These cravings result in increased calorie consumption leading to weight gain. Ashwagandha reduces the level of cortisol and decreases stress-induced cravings. This helps in better weight management. Tip: Take Ashwagandha leaf extract in churna form. Take 1-2gm churna twice a day with lukewarm water after taking a light meal.
Can Ashwagandha be consumed for months regularly?
It can be consumed regularly for months because of its health benefits. It helps gaining weight to o if consumed with milk at night..but as too much of anything can also be dangerous so one should consume in restricted quantity.