Ashwaghanda and Collagen

The surprising benefits of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb with multiple health benefits for men. It can reduce anxiety, boost fertility and testosterone...check out why you should add this supplement to your diet.

THE BENEFITS OF ASHWAGANDHA: AN ANCIENT HERB IN MODERN MEDICINE

Ancient herbs have been making a splash in modern medicine in the last twenty or so years. They're even creeping into health foods (finally).

In the hierarchy of medicinal herbs, medical scientists are lauding the multiple benefits of ashwagandha, a family member of adaptogens which help the body adapt to or deal with all kinds of mental and physical stressors. And if people need anything in today’s world, it's a supplement that helps you handle stress! 

Ashwagandha, specifically the root, has adaptogenic properties meaning that it helps the body adapt to physical and mental stress. It is traditionally used to boost energy, reduce stress, support sexual function and promote physical and mental wellbeing.

WHAT IS ASHWAGANDHA?

Ashwagandha is a plant and medicinal herb that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine, particularly in Ayurvedic medicine. Its botanical name is Withania somnifera, and it’s also known by several other names, including Indian ginseng and winter cherry. Ashwagandha, specifically the root, has adaptogenic properties meaning that it helps the body adapt to physical and mental stress. It is traditionally used to boost energy, reduce stress, support sexual function and promote physical and mental wellbeing. 

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF ASHWAGANDHA?

Clinical studies have shown the ashwagandha root has several benefits including:

  • + supporting sexual and reproductive function

  • + maintaining sperm mobility and sperm count

  • + increasing antioxidant activity

  • + building muscle mass and strength

  • + helping the body deal with stress and anxiety

  • + maintaining emotional stability

  • + supporting the onset of sleep

  • + contributing to optimal mental and cognitive activity

  • + promoting heart and cardiovascular health

  • + maintaining optimal stamina and energy levels

Let’s delve into some of the science below.

REDUCES CORTISOL LEVELS, STRESS + ANXIETY

Chronic stress is the worst enemy of your immune system. When you are constantly stressed, the adrenal glands secrete cortisol. Cortisol is known as a stress hormone given that your adrenal glands release it in response to stress (and induce the famous “fight-flight-or freeze" response), as well as when your blood sugar levels get too low. Whilst stress hormones can be useful for keeping you alert, in people with highly stressful lifestyles, cortisol levels become elevated, and the body cannot flush away the waste. This is when cortisol becomes your archenemy.

Chronically elevated cortisol can lead to high blood sugar levels and increased fat storage in the abdomen as well as a weakened immune system. Research shows that chronic stress can also lower testosterone levels. The good news is ashwagandha is a warrior in reducing stress.  Studies have shown that Ashwagandha supplements may help lower cortisol levels in chronically stressed individuals. For example:

A 2021 systematic review identified seven studies investigating the efficacy of ashwagandha to treat stress and anxiety. A total of 491 adults with anxiety, were randomized to take ashwagandha or a placebo for 6 to 8 weeks. Overall, the studies found that ashwagandha significantly reduced stress and anxiety levels, reduced sleeplessness and fatigue, and reduced serum cortisol (a stress hormone) levels, compared with a placebo. The benefits appeared to be greater with doses of 500 to 600 mg/day versus lower doses.

A controlled study of 60 participants found those that took 600mg of ashwagandha root extract daily (vs 250mg or a placebo) experienced a statistically significant reduction in stress and anxiety and statistically significant improvement in sleep quality.

Furthermore, a 2021 review concluded that ashwagandha may also help depression and other mental health-related issues.

BOOSTS TESTOSTERONE + INCREASES FERTILITY

If you are thinking about starting a family, ashwagandha has been recognised for its fertility-boosting properties for both men and women across multiple human studies. When it comes to men, several studies have shown that Ashwagandha helps increase testosterone levels and significantly boosts sperm quality and fertility in men. For example:

A systematic review comprising 4 randomized controlled trials found that a 90-day treatment of ashwagandha improved sperm concentration, sperm motility, and semen volume. The participants did not experience any adverse effects.

In one study of 75 infertile men, the group treated with ashwagandha showed increased sperm count and motility. What’s more, the treatment led to a significant increase in testosterone levels.  The researchers also reported that the group who took the herb had increased antioxidant levels in their blood.

In another study of 60 men, those who received ashwagandha root for male infertility overall experienced better sperm quality, a decrease in stress and higher antioxidant levels. And the treatment resulted in pregnancy in the partners of 14% of the patients.

INCREASES MUSCLE MASS + STRENGTH 

Supplements that contain ashwagandha are increasingly being used to build muscle mass and strength in body builders and weightlifting circles. The medicinal properties are proven to be effective at mediating the negative effects elevated cortisol has on your muscles and fat storage. Scientists are still a little mystified about the precise mechanism of action for ashwagandha's impact on cortisol, but evidence shows that ashwagandha inhibits cortisol secretion  in the adrenal glands and restricts the amount of serum passing into your system by up to 27%. 

study of healthy men who took 750–1,250 mg of pulverized ashwagandha root per day gained muscle strength after 30 days.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study of 57 young male subjects (18-50 years old) with little experience in resistance training, showed  those who took ashwagandha had significantly greater gains in muscle strength and size. It also more than doubled their reductions in body fat percentage, compared with the placebo group.

HELPS MAINTAIN ENERGY + STAMINA

Ashwagandha helps to maintain optimal stamina and feelings of energy and vitality. For example:

Ashwagandha helps improve the body’s resistance to stress. Stress and anxiety can contribute to feelings of fatigue and low energy. A 2021 systematic review of seven studies involving 491 adults found that ashwagandha significantly reduced stress and anxiety levels, and reduced sleeplessness and fatigue compared with placebo.

Ashwagandha helps support the onset of sleep. Lack of sleep and poor quality of sleep can also contribute to feelings of fatigue and low energy. A 2021 systematic review of five randomized trials involving 400 adults found that ashwagandha had a significant positive effect on overall sleep quality, and participants also felt more alert when they woke up.

Ashwagandha can improve physical performance (muscle strength, VO2 max, muscle fatigue, tiredness and recovery). A meta-analysis of studies involving 615 healthy adults found that there is direct evidence suggesting that Ashwagandha supplementation has a positive effect on physical performance, including fatigue/recovery related variables, when compared to a placebo or control group.

ENHANCES ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE

VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen a person can use during intense activity. It’s a measurement of heart and lung fitness. Low VO2 max is associated with increased mortality risk, while higher VO2 max is associated with better endurance and overall fitness, and a lower risk of heart disease. Research has shown that ashwagandha can increase VO2max levels and have beneficial effects on athletic performance by improving heart and lung capacity. For example:

A systematic review of 12 controlled studies involving 615 healthy adults found evidence that ashwagandha supplementation (varying from 120mg-1,250mg per day) enhanced physical performance (strength/power, cardiorespiratory fitness and fatigue/recovery).

A systematic review that looked at four controlled studies involving 161 adults, found that those taking ashwagandha supplements (varying from 300mg-1000mg per day) significantly enhanced maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max).

IMPROVES SLEEP QUALITY

Evidence suggests that ashwagandha may be an effective natural remedy to improve sleep and may especially help people with insomnia. For example:

A 2021 systematic review of five randomized trials involving 400 adults found that ashwagandha exhibited a significant beneficial effect on overall sleep, and participants also felt more alert when they woke up. The effects on sleep were more prominent in the subgroup of adults diagnosed with insomnia, treatment dosage ≥600 mg/day, and treatment duration ≥8 weeks.

A 12-week controlled study of 50 adults aged between 65 and 85 years found those who were given 600mg of ashwagandha root extract experienced improved sleep quality and mental alertness.

IMPROVES BRAIN FUNCTION + MEMORY

Ashwagandha has been shown to demonstrate “significant improvements” in executive cognitive function in ageing individuals. For example:

A double blind, controlled study of healthy men who took 500 mg of standardized ashwagandha root extract daily, for a period of 14 days, reported significant improvements in their reaction time and task performance, compared with men who received a placebo.

An 8-week placebo-controlled study in 50 adults showed that taking 300 mg of ashwagandha root extract twice daily significantly improved general memory, task performance, and attention.

REDUCES BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS

Some studies have suggested that ashwagandha can reduce blood sugar levels in both healthy people and those with diabetes. For example a review of 24 studies, including 5 clinical studies in people with diabetes, found that treatment with ashwagandha significantly reduced blood sugar, haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), insulin, blood lipids, and oxidative stress markers. 

MAY HELP LOWER CHOLESTEROL

Ashwagandha may help reduce the risk of heart disease by decreasing cholesterol and triglyceride levels. For example, one animal study found that it lowered total cholesterol and triglyceride levels by 53% and nearly 45%, respectively. While controlled human studies have reported less dramatic results, they have observed some impressive improvements in these markers.

FIGHTS INFECTION + DISEASE

A review published in 2020 summarizes the therapeutic potential of ashwagandha to treat diseases associated with inflammation in the body, such as cardiovascular, pulmonary, and autoimmune diseases and diabetes, cancers, and neurodegenerative diseases. This is because it contains withaferin A, a natural bioactive molecule that has anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. For example:

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted to evaluate the effect of ashwagandha extract on the immune system of healthy participants showed that, it significantly increased the activity of natural killer cells, which are immune cells that fight infection and help us stay healthy, and it decreased markers of inflammation.

Evidence presented in a 2021 review of 77 clinical trials showed that ashwagandha extract for a period of 8 to 12 weeks can be useful in managing arthritis symptoms (pain and inflammation in the joints) in patients. 

EXHIBITS ANTI-CANCER PROPERTIES

A review of the role of ashwagandha in cancer prevention found that the plant is highly effective in combating various types of cancers including breast, lung, colon, prostate, skin and blood cancer.

MAY PROMOTE THE RECOVERY FROM LONG COVID

Some medical studies suggest that ashwagandha may also have applications in the treatment of COVID-19 as the adaptogen has been shown to reduce symptoms of similar conditions. In fact, researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine are currently conducting a clinical trial to assess whether ashwagandha, the traditional Indian herbal medicine, can promote recovery from Long COVID.

If you want to know more about how ashwagandha helps to bulletproof your immune system check this guy out.  

Ashwagandha is a safe supplement for most people, however, pregnant women and people with autoimmune diseases should avoid ashwagandha unless authorized by a healthcare provider. This includes people with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and type 1 diabetes.

MAKE HARD WORK LIGHT WORK

HIMMENSE supplements contain 500mg of Ashwagandha Root extract. So we've got you covered.

Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Consult a doctor or healthcare professional if you have any questions or are taking any other medications before you try any remedies.

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