By: Mia Sims
Ashwagandha is an herb that has been used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for centuries and is now becoming increasingly popular in western medical practices. As a supplement, research suggests ashwagandha benefits pain and inflammation, sexual health, stress relief and energy.
While there is no medical evidence that ashwagandha can completely cure or treat any disease, it is becoming increasingly popular in the medical community as a means to help address some symptoms related to various diseases and conditions.
What is Ashwagandha?
Also known by its scientific name Withania somnifera, ashwagandha is an herb in the nightshade family that has been used for more than 5,000 years in India and Africa for its potential medicinal benefits to help address a variety of health conditions (x). Ashwagandha is also called Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry and winter cherry. It grows in cultivated regions of India, usually during rainy periods, and it is also drought tolerant in dry soil.
What is Ayurvedic Medicine?
How long has Ashwagandha been around and where does it come from? Ashwagandha has classical uses in India as a component of Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional treatment that combines different substances—including plants and herbs—to aid in diet, exercise and overall well-being.
Ayurvedic medicine is a traditional Indian medicine that, to this day, remains the most ancient form of treatment (x). India is known for three main types of medicine systems: Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani. The word “Ayurveda” means “science of life” and the system focuses on the culture’s views on illness and the mind (x). Ancient texts suggest that knowledge of ayurveda comes from the gods and is transmitted to human sages to perform.
Components of ayurvedic medicine include:
- Herbal compounds
- Metal substances
- Surgical techniques
What is Ashwagandha Used for?
Traditionally, people used ashwagandha to address a number of symptoms and health conditions. But how does ashwagandha work? The herb has a number of chemical components responsible for its natural properties on stress, sleep, brain function and focus. These chemical components include:
- Steroidal lactones
If you’ve been experiencing stress, fertility issues or if you’re looking to increase your overall health naturally, ashwagandha may be the right supplement for you in its supplement form. Here are a few of its potential benefits and how the herb works. However, there is no scientific research that suggests that ashwagandha can completely cure, treat or prevent any condition or illness. Speak to a doctor before trying ashwagandha as a supplement.
Statistics show that over a quarter of the U.S. population is affected by stress and anxiety and ashwagandha is popular for its potential to relieve stress. According to research, it may be able to stabilize the body’s stress response just as effectively as clinical or prescription medication (x). But how does it work?
We reached out to experts who specialize in diet, health and wellness for information how ashwagandha works naturally and how supplements may mimic its properties. Dr. Richard E. Harris II, M.D., Pharm D. is the founder of a personalized medicine company called Great Health and Wellness. Dr. Harris has more than 15 years of experience as a personal trainer, pharmacist and holistic physician. Here’s what he had to say about ashwagandha for stress.
How Does Ashwagandha Affect Anxiety & Stress?
Dr. Harris states that ashwagandha “can help lower stress related cortisol release. Modern life is full of stress [which] can lead to weight gain, poor sleep [and] heart disease. By reducing cortisol levels, ashwagandha helps to reduce one of the main stress signals in the body. Synergistically, ashwagandha also reduces stress related increases in dopamine receptors. The increase in dopamine in the brain during stress is why we often seek out comfort behaviors during stress that may not be the best for our health.”
In a study investigating its stress-relieving properties, researchers mostly attribute its effects to its moderating effects in the brain, specifically the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (x). Ashwagandha is also a natural adaptogen, which is a stress response modifier that increases resistance to stressors in the body, promoting adaptation and survival (x). Other adaptogenic herbs include ginseng, borage, wild yam and licorice root. According to research, ashwagandha benefits the body as a supplement by mimicking these actions.
Fertility and Sexual Health
Studies suggest that ashwagandha may also help naturally promote sexual health and fertility. According to statistics, about 15% of the population worldwide suffers from fertility problems (x). In a clinical evaluation, researchers tested how ashwagandha affects male sperm creation and suggested that the herb may have improved semen parameters and regulated sexual hormone levels (x). It may also increase testosterone levels to improve libido (x).
How Does Ashwagandha Affect Fertility?
Traditional Indian cultures used ashwagandha to potentially treat sexual dysfunction and infertility because it has aphrodisiac properties (x), which also work with its natural adaptogenic properties. Fertility complications often involve both psychological and physiological factors and stress may affect sexual function. Because ashwagandha is an adaptogen, it may help reduce stress and support sexual function as a result. One study in particular states that the herb enhanced male sperm and female sexual behavior (x).
Pain and Inflammation
Ashwagandha is also used to treat pain and inflammation and may provide significant relief to those who suffer from arthritis. In a study on 40 people with osteoarthritis, researchers gave each subject four supplements including ashwagandha. At the end of the three-month study, participants claimed significant improvements in joint pain and mobility (x). In another study, researchers administered different doses of ashwagandha to a pool of subjects. The study concluded that 125 mg and 250 mg doses may have significantly reduced pain and inflammation over a 12-week period (x).
How Does Ashwagandha Affect Pain & Inflammation?
Ashwagandha contains steroidal lactones, which are often present in natural essential oils. Steroidal lactones are a major component in ashwagandha and the Withinia genus to which it belongs. Research states that they have anti-inflammatory actions that may make ashwagandha a potential alternative treatment to reduce pain and inflammation (x).
Some studies suggest that ashwagandha may help improve focus, concentration and energy—for workout performance, for example. In one study, researchers administered ashwagandha supplements to a group of subjects and monitored their effects. They noticed a significant increase in the overall speed and power in the subjects during exercise (x). Another study analyzed the endurance of elite athletes and suggested that ashwagandha may have significantly improved respiratory endurance during cardio (x).
How Does Ashwagandha Affect Energy?
According to research, ashwagandha includes three natural powerful antioxidants that contribute to energy naturally—superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase (x). These antioxidants also respond quickly to physical and mental stress, potentially promoting energy and eliminating elements that could decrease it.
What are the Benefits of Ashwagandha & Herbal Medicine?
Ashwagandha is a natural, herbal medicine, making it a potentially effective natural alternative to conventional medicine. Have you been looking for a way to make your diet a little more healthy and natural? If so, ashwagandha may be the right supplement for you.
People have used plants and herbs since the beginning of time to address illnesses and overall health and wellness. Many plants and natural sources form the foundation of traditional medicines used today (x). Herbal medicine is a holistic approach to traditional medicine and emphasizes the individual’s needs specifically.
However, traditional medicine is not necessarily an effective substitute for conventional medicine. There are no scientific studies suggesting that it can completely treat, cure or prevent any disease or health condition. Consult a doctor to see if herbal medicine is a healthy alternative for you.
Dosage for Ashwagandha Extract
Ashwagandha supplements are available in several different forms including powder and capsules. The recommended serving size for ashwagandha extract is 450 mg one to three times a day, with a doctor’s approval.
What Are the Side Effects of Ashwagandha?
While there are very few side effects to taking ashwagandha as a supplement, there is a possibility for side effects and health complications. Long-term use may cause gastrointestinal issues such as upset stomach, diarrhea and vomiting (x).
Medication Interactions & Complications
Ashwagandha may also reduce blood sugar levels and may interfere with medications for diabetes. It may also reduce blood pressure, which may be dangerous for patients with low blood pressure or interfere with medication for high blood pressure. Additionally, if you have stomach ulcers or are prone to developing them, refrain from using ashwagandha as a supplement because it may irritate the gastrointestinal tract (x).
Other Warnings & Precautions
If you have any surgeries coming up, make sure to stay away from ashwagandha for at least two weeks before the scheduled surgery. Women who are pregnant or nursing, or planning to become pregnant should not take this supplement (x).
Where to Buy Ashwagandha
You can purchase ashwagandha extract at BulkSupplements.com. The company is an industry-leading manufacturer and distributor for pure dietary supplements. BulkSupplements.com is not just a consumer brand. It also supplies pure ingredients to other brands that distribute other food and supplement products. All products at BulkSupplements.com are manufactured and tested according to current and proper manufacturing practices.
Are you interested in trying ashwagandha extract as a natural herbal adaptogen to improve physical and mental health? Contact BulkSupplements.com to place an order today.
Ashwagandha is a medicinal herb traditionally used to improve fertility and sexual health, boost energy and manage stress. Cultures in India and Africa have used ashwagandha for centuries and it is gaining popularity in western medicine. It is a major component in Ayurveda, a traditional medicine system in India that utilizes spiritual practices to address mental and physical health.
While ashwagandha has several natural properties that may benefit your health, it’s important to consult a doctor before adding it to your daily health regime to make sure this supplement is the right one for you.
**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.