Known as the king of Ayurvedic medicine rasayana herbs, the ashwagandha plant is a staple of Indian traditional medicine, and even has the nickname "Indian ginseng," though its scientific name is a lot less fun at withania somnifera. This adaptogen has had many therapeutic benefits associated with it, including alleviating stress, supporting reproductive health, improving cardiovascular health, supporting immune system function, improving energy levels, improving oxidative stress, and much, much more! Just don't be surprised to learn it's a (safe) type of nightshade, which is a class of plants notorious for their ability to poison humans.
As with most herbal supplements, research on ashwagandha’s benefits is incomplete, albeit promising in many respects, especially with data showing potential in specific compounds found within ashwagandha, including withanolides and withaferin. However, there is KSM66 Ashwagandha, which is a patented ingredient backed by numerous clinical studies to prove it’s effectiveness and benefits. It’s the most powerful form of ashwagandha on the market.
Additionally, the amount of ashwagandha that a person should take to take advantage of its benefits is often uncertain. We’ll examine a number of the benefits associated with ashwagandha, and take a look at the recommended dosages when using this supplement.
Some Benefits of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha extracts are usually made from the root of the plant. Its name derives from the horsey smell of the root (ashva means horse, and gandha smell in Sanskrit), as well as the traditionally exaggerated benefits of horse-like strength and virility that the herb could provide to its users. There are many applications for ashwagandha in traditional medicine, ranging from alleviating stress to improving overall vitality and strength, but many of these also show promise in modern studies and trials. Let’s examine a few of the many uses of ashwagandha.
Reducing blood sugar levels
Many people in the United States have difficulty keeping their blood sugar levels under control. Regular exercise and a balanced diet can help, and studies suggest ashwagandha can as well.
Reducing cortisol levels
High concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol are often associated with chronic stress and restlessness, as well as poor sleep health, among other issues. Ashwagandha has a proven track record in lowering cortisol levels among subjects in studies.
Subjects who took ashwagandha displayed significantly lower cortisol levels than those taking a placebo in a clinical double-blind study, while another placebo-controlled study having 64 participants also measure lower cortisol levels after taking ashwagandha for 60 days.
Alleviating feelings of stress and restless
Reducing feelings of stress is one of the primary uses of ashwagandha in Ayurveda. As discussed, high cortisol levels are often a marker for increased stress and restlessness. Ashwagandha’s efficacy in lowering cortisol levels makes it an attractive supplement to help improve nervous system function and overall mental health.
Regulating testosterone levels and supporting reproductive health
In a study that looked at male reproductive health, ashwagandha had actually improved semen quality by regulating reproductive hormones and improving overall reproductive health, and had done so for both fertile and infertile men.
Improving strength and increasing muscle mass
Increasing strength is one of the traditional uses of ashwagandha in Ayurveda, and some recent research indicates that the herb may be effective in doing so. A study of healthy young men engaged in resistance training compared measures of strength, muscle mass, and body composition of two groups, one taking ashwagandha and the other a placebo group, over 8 weeks. The ashwagandha group showed improvements in all three areas, versus the control group.
Potential to lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels
An animal study in rats showed significant drops in cholesterol and triglyceride levels with the use of ashwagandha, though we're still waiting to see how this possible benefit plays out in human studies.
Aiding memory and supporting brain function
Ashwagandha is commonly used in Ayurveda as an aid to memory, and there is some evidence that it is effective in that role, including a study that showed memory and task attention improvement in healthy men who took ashwagandha compared to a group using a placebo. More studies are needed to establish a definitive link, but the outlook is promising.
The uses of ashwagandha are many, and many studies show that traditional usages of this supplement have real utility in supporting a wide variety of body systems.
Ashwagandha Supplements are Widely Available
Ashwagandha is a readily available supplement, and you can find it at most natural health stores or online sources. However, the supplements using KSM66 ashwagandha, which has been shown to be most effective, can be harder to come by. So it’s important to find a high-quality supplement, like ASYSTEM, that not only includes ashwagandha, but moe specifically KSM66 which is combined with other ingredients that support the potentness of the powerful herb making it more effective.
When using ashwagandha, it’s important to consider the form you’re taking it in. Crushed root or leaf powder is generally much less effective than ashwagandha root extract, so our discussion of dosages below will refer to supplements made from the full-spectrum extract. Be sure to refer to the dosage instructions on the label of the ashwagandha supplement you’re using.
Recommended Dosages of Ashwagandha
Unlike the specific dosages prescribed for medication, knowing the proper dosages of a supplement like ashwagandha is somewhat more vague. But, by using the results of available studies as a guide, we can make some pretty specific recommendations for proper dosages. As always, it’s a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider before beginning a supplement regimen.
For stress relief and to reduce feelings of anxiousness
There are numerous studies that have examined the link between cortisol levels and the use of ashwagandha. These studies have used a variety of different dosages over different periods of time.
- The track record of ashwagandha studies suggests that it should be taken for a least a month to achieve results in reducing feelings of stress and anxiousness. We suggest a daily dose in the 500-600 mg range.
For enhancing muscle strength and growth
The majority of studies on ashwagandha with muscle growth and strength have been conducted on men.
The majority of studies conducted on men with ashwagandha indicate that a daily dosage of about 500 mg can improve muscle growth and increase strength in as little as 8 weeks.
For boosting memory and improving cognitive functions
Based on the available literature, it appears that improvements in task performance, reaction time, and memory can be achieved in only a few weeks with a daily dose of ashwagandha. In one study, healthy men showed these improvements in only two weeks with a daily dose of 500 mg of ashwagandha extract.
- We recommend a daily dosage of 500 mg if you’re looking to improve your memory and cognitive functions.
To boost male reproductive health
A 3-month study involving 75 men showed improvements in sperm count and motility after daily doses of 5mg. Other studies have shown similar results.
- As a starting point, we suggest daily doses of at least 5 mg of ashwagandha to help with male reproductive health.
To reduce blood sugar levels
Studies testing the use of ashwagandha to reduce blood sugar levels have achieved results using daily dosages of the supplement ranging from 250 mg to 3 grams.
We recommend starting ashwagandha dosages at as little as 250 mg per day. If possible, spread the dosage out over 2-3 administrations and continue for at least one month.
One thing that is clear from reviewing the literature and results of using ashwagandha is that supplementation with this traditionally alternative medicine ingredient is most effective when it is done consistently. Ashwagandha is not for taking once for an ache or pain. Its effects are most profound when it is a regular part of your healthy lifestyle. If you’re interested in starting ashwagandha for its multitude of overall health benefits, we suggest starting with a regular dose of at least 600 mg daily.
Be Sure to Consider Side Effects
While ashwagandha is generally considered safe, there are a few precautions to observe while taking it. Because ashwagandha may decrease blood sugar levels, consult with your healthcare provider before beginning ashwagandha if you’re under treatment for high blood sugar or diabetes. Pregnant or breastfeeding women also should not take ashwagandha.
If you suffer from an autoimmune disease such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, consult with your doctor or healthcare provider before taking ashwagandha. Additionally, ashwagandha may increase thyroid hormone levels in some people, so avoid taking it if you’re under treatment for thyroid disease.
Ashwagandha — Proven Over Time, Backed by Research
Thousands of years as part of natural medicine and the long tradition of Ayurveda practice has placed ashwagandha in a prominent position among popular natural healing ingredients. The openness of Western medicine to examine this tradition through studies and trials has research show great promise and potential for this adaptogenic herb. If any of the above health benefits sound appealing to you, consult your doctor about adding ashwagandha to your regular supplement regimen to help improve your quality of life and overall well-being.