Ashwagandha is widely known in ayurvedic medicine. It tones and rejuvenates body and mind.
Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, is one of the most important herbs in ayurvedic medicine and one of the most used indian medicinal plants.
The name ashwagandha means "horse breath", making reference to its strong and unique smell as well as to the virility of the horse, which alludes to its traditional use as a male reproductive system support.
Due to its multiple applications, Ashwagandha is used to treat many minor health problems. Due to its extraordinary features, it’s become one of the most important medicinal plants.
Ashwagandha has been used traditionally in its origin country, India, since the vedic period (5,000 years ago) as Rasayana (rejuvenation and healing) to increase longevity, as Balya (strength) to protect general health and as Vajikarana (aphrodisiac) to boost energy and vitality.
The fact that Ashwagandha has been used for millenia, guarantees its security, tolerance and effectiveness for the human body.
Several clinical trials have proven that Ashwagandha has the following properties: reduces stress, modulates the immune system, rejuvenates, work as an antioxidant and may be used as an anti-inflammatory, may help to fight tumours and act as an erythropoietic agent.
This ingredient is an adaptogen used in ayurveda for thousands of years to fight negative effects of stress and ageing, as it allows the body to get back to a state of balance and autoregulation.
In a randomized double blind placebo control study, it was proven that taking the daily recommended dose of Ashwagandha reduces considerably concentration and memory problems by 75,8% and 57,1% respectively.
Ashwagandha active ingredients, especially withanolides, improve mental performance in many ways:
As we get old or suffer chronic stress, neuron communication in the hippocampus as neurons are like a center of learning and memory. Ashwagandha improves mental performance because the bioactive withanolides inhibit acetylcholinesterase. This provokes a greater amount of acetylcholine in the hippocampus, improving brain activity.
Ashwagandha reduces cortisol levels. High levels of cortisol can affect mental performance and the amount and type of neuronal connections, causing deterioration and loss of concentration, attention and memory.
Ashwagandha increases the concentration of the antioxidant enzymes and protects neurons from free radicals. The antioxidant properties of Ashwagandha also reduce the oxidative damage through the direct neutralisation of free radicals.
In a randomized double blind placebo control study, it was shown that taking Ashwagandha increases DHEA levels (didehydroepiandrosterone) in blood serum. DHEA is a very important hormone that increases mental performance and protects the brain from cortisol harmful effects.
Ashwagandha reduces stress and improves sleep quality
Stress is an instability produced as a body response to physical or emotional dangers. There are several stress causes, from inoffensive reasons like daily tasks, all the way through to serious problems like losing a job, face a divorce or having economic problems.
Regardless the cause, the body reacts to stress, undergoing several physiological changes to get itself ready either to fight or avoid the stressing factor. After this process, the body gets back to normal.
In a short-term period, stress response is a positive factor that increases the capacity to face difficult situations in life. But if one person is exposed to stress for too long, the body loses this capacity over time, which makes vital signs to collapse, affecting health and well being. Chronic stress is estimated to contribute to provoke or worsen diseases by 90%.
Ashwagandha has the unique feature to alleviate chronic stress symptoms and get the body back to normal.
This has been confirmed in a randomized double blind placebo control study in which the individuals who took the daily recommended dose of Ashwagandha noticed a reduction of 69.9% of stress symptoms.
They also revealed that irritability, anxiety, insomnia, concentration deficiency, fatigue, headache, muscle pain and palpitation were considerably reduced.
On the other hand, the other group taking placebo did not feel any change in stress levels. People who consumed Ashwagandha were exposed to a strong tension before the beginning of the study. After treating them with Ashwagandha, their mood improved considerably.
Ashwagandha reduces stress indicators through blood cortisol levels, allowing the body to get back to a normal state of balance and autoregulation.
Ashwagandha, allows the body to get back to a normal state of autoregulation and balance thanks to its adaptogenic and multifunction properties.
As a result, the body is well supplied with energy, due to higher levels of DHEA. This also improves sleep quality as a normal pace of life helps melatonin provoke sleepiness at night.
Ashwagandha increases blood DHEA
Chronic stress not only provokes an increase in cortisol levels but it also reduces other corticosteroids - dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). DHEA is a hormone that is produced by suprarenal glands and it’s very important to provide energy, fighting with cortisol receptors to balance its effects.
Due to having less DHEA, a person that is chronically stressed feels exhausted. Furthermore, stress symptoms are multiplied because receptors can join cortisol.
Ashwagandha uses this effect to increase DHEA levels in the body. In the same study, those taking Ashwagandha in the recommended dose underwent a DHEA levels increase of 32.3%.
The combination of a DHEA levels increase and a cortisol decrease, results in the reduction of fatigue and other stress-related symptoms suffered by the clinical study individuals.
Ashwagandha increases energy
There is a growing number of men and women that consume energy drinks, caffeine capsules and other energy products to obtain or increase the energy needed for everyday.
However these stimulants are a short-term energy source. Furthermore, in a long-term period they end up forcing the suprarenal glands, which produce the necessary hormones to balance the organism. The result is that these hormones exhaust, causing chronic fatigue.
Ashwagandha provides safe, effective and natural energy to meet the right physical, emotional and mental strength to face daily tasks and obligations.
Due to its adaptogenic properties, Ashwagandha is ideal to increase energy to provide sustained strength and endurance as well as it reduces the negative effects of stress on the organism.
Recently, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study has shown that Ashwagandha has the ability to increase energy and improve overall health without the side effects of stimulants.
The study showed that subjects taking Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) at the recommended dose, experienced an energy gain of 79% (has a similar effect to ginseng in this aspect), compared to a placebo group. Also the group that consumed Ashwagandha had a significant reduction of the symptoms considered side effects of the stimulants, including: hot flashes, sweating, headaches, palpitations, insomnia, irritability and lack of concentration. In contrast, the placebo group continued to develop these symptoms during the study period.
Ashwagandha improves sports performance
Ashwagandha is an unique adaptogen, as if it’s taken daily, it provides a constant energy for a long period of time with no side effects. It also has so many other properties, being an ideal product for sportsmen who want to increase their performance, strength or be in shape.
On one hand, Ashwagandha increases the precise energy for muscle performance. Moreover, it has been shown that the oxygen it supplies to the tissue can increase nitric oxide synthesis and activity.
Cells that recoat the vessels walls use nitric oxide to send a signal in order to relax the surrounding muscle. The resulting vasodilation improves the blood flow and tissue oxygenation, thus increasing body energy.
Although exercising has many positive effects, it can also cause a great amount of stress, destabilising the body due to an increase in blood cortisol levels.
Cortisol is just the opposite to DHEA. Numerous studies have shown that both DHEA and testosterone are essential hormone to preserve physical energy.
In this regard, testosterone is an important androgen that is needed to increase muscle mass, bone density and endurance. All these factors are necessary for any sportsmen to get a high performance.
Through the intake of Ashwagandha, cortisol levels are reduced and DHEA levels are increased, producing an increase in testosterone levels.
Ashwagandha also increases ATP synthesis, which is the responsible for producing energy in the body through glucose, lipids and other energy sources.
Ashwagandha improves considerably sports performance due to its ability to increase energy and help the body recover through the hormone that is related to the reduction of stress symptoms.
This all was confirmed in another randomised study that proved that the individuals who took Ashwagandha experienced a reduction in blood cortisol levels of 24.2% and an increase of DHEA of 32.2%.
An excessive training also represents a physical stress situation that can increase such cortisol levels, but this excellent ingredient helps reduce them and alleviate the fatigue symptoms.
How to take Ashwagandha and its side effects
It’s recommended to take between 300 and 600 mg of Ashwagandha extract, with a 5% content of withanolides, a day, divided into 2 servings, before breakfast and before dinner. There is no side effects known in the daily recommended dose.