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Anxiety & Stress

7 Ashwagandha Health Benefits

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Do you ever feel stressed? If you can honestly answer that question with a no, then bravo, we all want to know your secret. But for the rest of us mere mortals, stress is a normal and often unavoidable part of life that we deal with on a daily basis. 

If you’ve looked into ways to help manage your stress, you may have come across Ashwagandha. But what is Ashwagandha? Does it really reduce stress? Are there any other supplements to reduce cortisol levels? And are there other benefits of taking Ashwagandha? 

This article will give you a complete overview of Ashwagandha, exploring its history, reviewing its health benefits, explaining how to take Ashwagandha, and analyzing the safety of taking Ashwagandha.

What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha, or Withania Somnifera as it’s known scientifically, is an herb grown in Asia and Africa. You may also hear it referred to as:

  • Indian ginseng – Keep in mind Ashwagandha is different from American ginseng, Panax ginseng, or eleuthero

  • Winter cherry – This nickname is also sometimes used for the Chinese lantern plant, which differs from Ashwagandha1

For over six thousand years Ashwagandha has been used in the traditional form of Indian medicine called Ayurveda as:

  • Tonic
  • Aphrodisiac
  • Narcotic
  • Diuretic
  • Anthelmintic
  • Astringent
  • Thermogenic
  • Stimulant2

Ashwagandha has also been used in many forms. It has been ingested, used as a paste, and given as a fresh Ashwagandha powder. Today, it is classified as a dietary supplement in western society and you are most likely to find Ashwangandha sold in capsule form.

 

Easy to take Ashwagandha for Stress. Shop now!

 

Proven Health Benefits of Ashwagandha

What are the health benefits of Ashwagandha? As you can see, the shrub has been used for many different purposes over the years, but are we sure of its benefits? The answer can be complicated.

Since the FDA classifies Ashwagandha as a dietary supplement and not as a drug, it is not subject to the same level of testing that a typical drug would. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. It does mean that many of the Ashwagandha adaptogenic herb health benefits are potential benefits as opposed to proven. 

However, one benefit of Ashwagandha that has been studied the most and has the most evidence behind it is the one we mentioned at the start: stress relief.

Ashwagandha for Stress Relief

If you’ve heard of Ashwagandha, you’ve probably heard of its ability to help with stress and anxiety. That’s one of the most popular uses not just because most of us are in search of stress level reduction, but because there’s good evidence supporting Ashwagandha’s ability to help relieve stress.

Ashwagandha’s effects on stress have been tested in both animal and human studies and have shown that it is effective in reducing stress when compared to a placebo.3

Note: Ashwagandha root extract is not meant to treat anxiety disorders and you should talk to your doctor before starting any new regimen. But there is strong evidence that Ashwagandha may help you if you are dealing with stress or anxiety.

7 Potential Health Benefits of Ashwagandha

While the most persuasive evidence for Ashwagandha’s medicinal herb effectiveness is related to it being used for stress relief, that’s not all it can be used for. Remember, Ashwagandha has been around for over six thousand years and it may be beneficial to: 

  • #1 Joint discomfort – Ashwagandha may be helpful for some people to mitigate joint stiffness. It has also been shown to help with exercise-induced inflammation.4

  • #2 Brain function – One traditional use of Ashwagandha is to help with brain function, including memory. This has led some to speculate that the herb could be useful in slowing or preventing deterioration of the mind. To learn more about brain-boosting supplements, check out our blog post all about Ashwagandha vs Rhodiola vs Reshi!

  • #3 Weight loss – There is evidence that Ashwagandha may reduce cholesterol and aid with weight loss. However, the herb doesn’t directly affect weight loss. Instead, its stress-relieving abilities may halt or reverse stress-related weight gain. However, even if this is just a secondary Ashwagandha benefit, Ashwagandha may prove useful if you are trying to fit into your favorite pair of jeans.

  • #4 Heart health – There was a study showing that Ashwagandha increased cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy adults.5 This has led to some believing it may be useful in treating some heart conditions by:
        • Lowering high blood pressure

        • Reducing the risk of heart disease
  • #5 Fertility – A number of studies have shown that Ashwagandha has the effect of boosting the testosterone level in men, which may also lead to higher sperm count and increased muscle strength and muscle mass.6

  • #6 Cancer Ashwagandha should not be used to treat cancer. There is no evidence it has any use as a treatment, however, there is a possibility that it helps slow or prevent cancerous growth in cells. This may mean it has some efficacy as a preventative measure. If you are worried you may be showing symptoms of cancer, you should consult immediately with your doctor.

  • #7 Swimming – Here’s a fun one: One study in rats found an increase in swimming endurance after ingesting Ashwagandha. So, if you’re trying to be a better swimmer, consider an Ashwagandha supplement before you hit the water.

  • It is important to remember that while Ashwagandha, herbal medicine, and/or ayurvedic medicine may be helpful in many ways, it is not meant to take the place of traditional medicine. For major conditions mentioned like cancer and heart disease, it’s important to consult with your doctor before Ashwagandha supplementation and develop a treatment plan that works for you. 

    Risks and Side Effects

    When taken properly, implementing an Ashwagandha herbal supplement appears to be safe for most people. However, you can take too much, which can lead to side effects, including:

    • Upset stomach
    • Diarrhea 
    • Vomiting
    • Liver damage 

    It is also important to note that Ashwagandha is not recommended if you are pregnant or nursing. You should also avoid taking Ashwagandha if you have an auto-immune disease or thyroid hormone disorder. Additionally, stop taking Ashwagandha at least two weeks before any scheduled surgery.

    Drug Interactions

    Because there is limited study on drug interactions with Ashwagandha, it is recommended you not take Ashwagandha if you are on any of the following:

    • Immunosuppressants
    • Antidiabetic drugs
    • Antihypertensive drugs
    • Sedatives
    • Thyroid hormones

    It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting any supplement to avoid any unwanted interactions.

    What to Know If You Decide to Take Ashwagandha

    Generally, ingesting the Ashwagandha plant is considered safe. But how exactly should you go about dosage and timing?

    Ashwagandha Dosage

    There is no standard dosage for Ashwagandha. Different doses may affect people differently. The dose you decide on may also be dependent on what you’re using it for and how much relief you need. 

    For example, doses range anywhere from 250mg to 1500mg, but if you’re just getting started, taking somewhere between 250mg and 500mg is probably a safe bet.

    Remember, taking more is not always better and may result in side effects, like an upset stomach. Instead, start with a lower dosage and, if you are not seeing the results you hoped for, slowly increase the dosage while monitoring yourself for any side effects.

    You may also find that you prefer to take Ashwagandha as part of a blend of supplements so you can combine its benefits with that of other supplements. For example, our Be Calm capsules combine the benefits of Ashwagandha with Albizia Bark and Flower, Avena Sativa, Holy Basil, L-Theanine, and CBD for a calming blend designed to ground your mind and lift your spirits.

    When to Take Ashwagandha

    Again, there’s no real rule as to a specific time of the day you need to take Ashwagandha. The key is choosing a time that is convenient for you, whether it’s after your morning coffee or before your afternoon run. 

    You should also have a plan for how long you plan to take Ashwagandha. It is not something that begins working immediately, which means you will have to take it consistently to see its benefits. As such, take a supplement daily for at least one month. Then, assess how your body and mind are feeling.

    How to Take Ashwagandha

    Like we said earlier, traditional methods of taking Ashwagandha vary, but the most popular form of Ashwagandha is a once-daily capsule. You may take it on its own or as part of a blend of supplements. Additionally, you can add Ashwagandha to:

    • Tea 
    • Coffee 
    • Smoothies

    In addition to its powder form, Ashwagandha is also available in many balms and lotions to promote full-body healing. 

    Ashwagandha at Plant People

    If you decide that Ashwagandha sounds like something you could benefit from then we encourage you to try it. Each person is different and no herbal regiment is one size fits all. 

    That’s why Plant People is here to help you find what works for you so that you can feel confident, healthy, and fully you. Our Be Calm supplements pack your day with a slew of activating botanicals, from Ashwagandha to Holy Basil so you can feel your best around the clock. 

    Find a stress-relieving solution with Plant People.

     

    Reviewed by Gabe Kennedy

     Co-Founder of Plant People, Gabe Kennedy is an acclaimed chef and entrepreneur. Growing up in a house of healers and herbalists, he is passionate about the power of food as a tool for health, and actualized this passion and belief system into his company, Plant People. Named to Forbes 30 under 30 Gabe has shaped menus and cooked his way around the world with his mission to promote a more communal, green and healthy world.

    Gabe is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. You can learn more about his work at his website.


    Sources: 

    1. MedicinePlus. Ashwagandha. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/953.html#Safety 
    2. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines. An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252722/ 
    3. NIH National Library of Medicine. 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. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23439798/ 
    4. Medical News Today. What are the benefits of Ashwagandha? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318407#_noHeaderPrefixedContent
    5. PMC National Library of Medicine. Efficacy of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera [L.] Dunal) in improving cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy athletic adults. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4687242/ 
    6. Healthline. 12 Proven Health Benefits of Ashwagandha. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-proven-Ashwagandha-benefits 

     

     

     

     

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