The Top 13 Ashwagandha Benefits
Ashwagandha benefits are plentiful, its name is elegant, and the botanical version, Withania Somnifera, practically rolls off the tongue. Come to the traditional translation though, and you might find it less appealing… ‘Smell of horse’, to be exact.
Known as Indian Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Winter Cherry or simply Withania, this Ayurvedic herb is famed for imparting strength, virility, stamina and endurance. This is where the rippling equine imagery actually makes sense.
A Quick Overview Of Ashwagandha Benefits
Visually, Ashwagandha is a short, sturdy shrub with bell-shaped leaves and bright red berries. Scientifically, it is a member of the nightshade family and native to India, so you may not find it growing in your neighbourhood - unless you live in India of course.
Used throughout the eastern world for many years, Ayurvedic devotees have long been aware of many Ashwagandha benefits. It’s only more recently this amazing herb has become popular in the western world, which means it’s quite unlikely you’ve tried it.
You may not have even heard of it. But after reading this, you’ll be glad it’s included in the Athletic Greens formula.
Often described as ‘similar to Ginseng, without the stimulating effects’, there’s a growing body of evidence to support Ashwagandha’s benefits.
For starters, the ability to mitigate stress, reduce anxiety, relieve insomnia, enhance immune function, encourage growth and repair, decrease inflammation, protect the cardiovascular system and foster overall vitality.
Need I go on?
OK, I will. It’s also a true adaptogen - a herb that promotes bodily balance, vitality and the ability to ‘adapt’ to new and stressful situations.
I’m not one to tout miracle cures for everything that ails you, so stick with me and we’ll get into the technical details.
First, a fun fact: traditionally, Withania was prepared by drying and powdering the root, mixing it with warm milk and honey, and enjoying before bed. It was often given to children to promote growth and induce sleep.
Ashwagandha Benefits In An Easy To Digest List
1. Reduced Stress And Anxiety
Ashwagandha significantly reduces cortisol and C-Reactive protein. As a result, it prevents the immunosuppressive effects of stress. This is a very good thing. It also protects the adrenal glands against stress-induced changes. These actions have been attributed to glycowithanolides. For acute stress caused by elevated cortisol levels, Ashwagandha could potentially work fast for many people. However, like most adaptogens, there is no guarantee that it will work this way for everyone.
2. Promoting Growth In Children
Ashwagandha contains natural steroid-like compounds thought to promote growth and increase body mass. It may also enhance the body’s ability to synthesize protein and is a traditional tonic for children who fail to thrive.
3. Recovery After Acute Or Prolonged Illness
With immune enhancing, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, strengthening and growth-promoting effects, Ashwagandha is regularly prescribed for people recovering from glandular fever, tuberculosis and chronic fatigue syndrome. It may also help patients during and after chemotherapy (see below).
4. Enhanced Immunity
Ashwagandha has been shown to stimulate the production of T-cells and increase the total white blood cell count. It may be a mild antimicrobial and could minimise the negative effects of stress on immune function.
5. Cardiovascular System Support
Ashwagandha lowers total cholesterol and triglycerides, increases HDL (good) cholesterol, decreases LDL (bad) cholesterol, and slightly lowers heart rate and blood pressure. You also get protection for the cardiovascular system via antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
6. Support For Cancer Treatment And Recovery
There’s ample evidence to support Ashwagandha’s anti-cancer effects, which represents an exciting validation of traditional Ayurvedic medicine. It’s been shown to inhibit the formation of breast cancer cells, help the immune system target cancer cells - specifically lung, induce apoptosis (cell death), regulate gene expression to avoid mutations and cancer formation, and improve quality of life for patients undergoing treatment.
One study identified a bioactive compound called withaferin A, which may help treat glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. Obviously, these findings are not to be taken lightly.
7. Defence Against Conditions Associated With Ageing
Ashwagandha may defend against dementia, Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s disease and enhance memory. In addition to this, its antioxidant effects protect the brain, cardiovascular system and DNA itself. It supports healthy immune function, aiding the destruction of cancerous cells and preventing autoimmunity. As an anti-inflammatory, it’s useful for common conditions of ageing such as arthritis, heart and kidney disease.
8. Support For Male Sexual Dysfunction And Fertility
Ashwagandha supports male virility and fertility by increasing sperm quality, motility and testosterone while lowering stress hormones. What are you waiting for?
9. Athletic performance
Ashwagandha has been shown to increase stamina, muscular output and VO2max, while enhancing coordination and improving general strength.
10. Support For Insomnia
Studies are lacking as to Ashwagandha’s sedative effects, but anecdotal and theoretical evidence supports its use as a nervous system tonic and anti-insomnia agent. So you may find general improvements in sleep quality and quantity.
11. Improved thyroid function
Ashwagandha appears to stimulate production of thyroid hormone in mice. Human studies are needed in this area, but it looks promising!
12. Antioxidant Properties
Ashwagandha has a well-studied ability to scavenge free-radicals and reduce damage to DNA, cells, tissues and organs. This effect is particularly beneficial in diabetes, kidney disease, for preventing neurodegeneration and in protecting the cardiovascular system.
13. Anti-inflammatory Powers
Ashwagandha has been shown to lower C-Reactive protein, an inflammatory marker associated with a range of conditions of the cardiovascular, immune and nervous systems. It’s especially effective for immune-related inflammatory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis and psoriasis.
The Right Dosage For Optimum Ashwagandha Benefits
Again, as with so many herbal supplements, there’s no consensus on the ideal dose for maximum Ashwagandha benefits, but most sources recommend between 300mg and 2g, up to three times daily with meals.
Ashwagandha is considered extremely safe, with no known cautions or contraindications. But as with any new supplement, it’s always best to start low and monitor your own tolerance. Everyone is different.
Something most people don’t consider when trying a new herbal supplement, is how to combine it with other supplements to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
In other words...
What Can You Take With Ashwagandha To Enhance Its Benefits?
While most of us have heard it can be beneficial to take certain vitamins together, it may not be so obvious how to use this same principle with herbs.
Ashwagandha works well with other adaptogens like Rhodiola, Eleuthero and Licorice Root to help your body adapt to stress by reducing cortisol levels when elevated.
Ashwagandha benefits are also enhanced when taken with vitamins A, C & E, plus Astragalus, Reishi Mushroom and Shiitake Mushroom. This combination provides a strong basis for supporting the immune system.
It doesn’t end there. Throw in some globe artichoke, beta glucans and policosanol and you’ve got a great recipe for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.
How to get all these into your daily routine? Take Athletic Greens of course!
Ashwagandha is a well-studied and exciting adaptogen, and it seems we’re only beginning to scratch the surface of all it can do.
With proven benefits for stress, anxiety, immune supression, impaired growth, athletic performance, cognitive function, age-related diseases and cancer, it’s already well on its way to becoming one of the most sought after herbal supplements.
And trust me, it does NOT make you smell like a horse… (Please tell me you read the introduction!)