Withania Somnifera Dunal, commonly known as ashwagandha root, has been used for ages in Ayurvedic medicine. It may sound ancient, but modern research shows significant health benefits in humans who tested it. This adaptogen often goes by the name “the king of Ayurvedic herbs.”
Ingesting ashwagandha benefits people who experience symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, and even depression. This powerful extract also enhances brain function and may improve athletic performance. Add boosting thyroid health and weight loss to the list of benefits as well. For this reason, ashwagandha supplements are some of the best nootropics on the market.
Studies confirm ashwagandha root powder protects your immune system and prevents serious ailments. Gastric ulcers and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s benefit from ashwagandha supplementation. In today’s article, we will discuss the significant health benefits of ashwagandha. We will also cover the potential side effects and dosage recommendations.
What is Ashwagandha?
What is ashwagandha root? Ashwagandha is a favorite Indian herb frequently used as a Rasayana, a way to improve longevity. This brain health supplement goes by many other names including:
- Withania Somnifera
- Indian Ginseng
- Poison Gooseberry
- Winter Cherry
Ashwagandha belongs to the Solanaceae family of medicinal herbs. The root extract derives from an herbaceous plant which grows between 30 and 150 cm tall. Modern medical studies confirmed many of ashwagandha’s uses and positive effects. But the herb has played a central role in Ayurvedic herbalism for millennia.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen. Adaptogens are substances that help the body and mind adjust to environmental stressors. In other words, an ashwagandha supplement can help reduce the effects of stress and anxiety. This property can have a range of benefits including mood enhancement, improved cognition, and a relaxed state of mental focus.
Ashwagandha is an excellent way to prevent the ailments of modern civilization. Here are 16 benefits and uses of ashwagandha root powder that you’ll find most interesting.
16 Ashwagandha Root Health Benefits and Uses
1. Reduces Stress & Anxiety
Ashwagandha is one of the best natural mood stabilizers on the market. It’s best known for its ability to reduce chronic stress and anxiety. A recommended daily ashwagandha dosage for up to three months has shown to significantly lower cortisol levels. Cortisol, the hormone released from our adrenal gland, helps the body deal with stress. Under normal conditions, the body produces just the right amount. But, too much cortisol can lead to weight gain. For this reason, stabilizing elevated cortisol levels from chronic stress is crucial.
This herb also protects the body from a range of physical and psychological stressors. The phytochemical compounds found in ashwagandha root can help maintain homeostasis in the body and mind. This benefit counteracts the physiological processes related to chronic stress and social anxiety. Studies suggest the health benefits of ashwagandha for anxiety compare to pharmaceutical antidepressants.
2. Supports Thyroid Function
Ashwagandha is useful in keeping the T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine) hormonal balance in check. T3 and T4 are critical thyroid hormones originating from the release of TSH in the pituitary gland. An underactive thyroid occurs when levels of these hormones are unbalanced. The ability to balance T3 and T4 is why ashwagandha is a reliable hypothyroidism treatment.
One of the most incredible aspects of using ashwagandha for hypothyroidism is how easy it raises your thyroid levels back to normal. Studies prove ashwagandha supplements helped Hashimoto sufferers, an autoimmune disease caused by hypothyroidism. This herb also helped those with Grave’s disease resulting from hyperthyroidism. For those with a T3 and T4 imbalance, ashwagandha root is excellent at improving thyroid health. See our recommended Thyroid Support supplement with ashwagandha here.
3. Promotes Weight Loss
The benefits of ashwagandha for weight loss result from its apoptogenic properties. As discussed, these substances used in herbal medicine help promote psychological homeostasis. Achieving mental balance can help reduce the likelihood of negative behaviors. One of the uses for ashwagandha is stabilizing blood glucose and preventing overeating when stressed. In other words, this nootropic can indirectly help you control caloric intake.
Ashwagandha’s means of benefiting weight loss are multifaceted. Ashwagandha powder lowers cortisol levels naturally and boosts your metabolism and immunity. Remember, excess cortisol can cause weight gain over time. As another means for promoting healthy weight management, ashwagandha stabilizes vital thyroid hormones. When the thyroid gland functions at optimal performance, metabolic output remains high.
4. Improves Sleep Quality
Using ashwagandha for sleep can help many people who are already dealing with insomnia. But, it can also assist those who want to obtain better sleep quality. Its effects are most notable when you’re dealing with chronic stress or anxiety. Regarding over the counter solutions, ashwagandha extract does not appear in many of the best sleep aids. Still, we shouldn’t overlook this herb as a potential natural remedy for stress-induced insomnia.
Scientists have confirmed that the active ingredients in ashwagandha can reduce cortisol levels up to 28%. This reduction can have a significant impact on sleep quality. Additionally, several animal studies that trialed ashwagandha supplementation resulted in reduced oxidative stress. Researchers also observed reduced sleep latency and an improvement in overall sleep quality. Ashwagandha also seems to have a positive interaction with GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid). GABA is a vital neurotransmitter in the brain strongly associated with sleep. Many people use GABA supplements to treat insomnia and restlessness for this reason.
5. May Slow Hair Loss
Does using ashwagandha for hair loss help give you a full head of hair? It’s not a miracle supplement. But the powerful antioxidants in ashwagandha can promote a healthy scalp. This effect is an essential step in hair growth. When mixed with other oils or herbal shampoos, it can increase the blood circulation around the scalp and promote hair growth. The benefits of ashwagandha powder also include dandruff prevention and hair color preservation.
One human study involving older men in India between the ages of 50-59 used ashwagandha daily for one year. The study resulted in statistically significant preservation of hair melanin content. In theory, this should help maintain your hair’s natural hair color as we age. If you want a natural remedy to fight off signs of old age like grey hair, consider integrating ashwagandha into your beauty regimen.
6. Reduces Symptoms of Depression
Research suggests supplementing ashwagandha root can relax the sympathetic nervous system. This effect is most notable in cases of chronic stress and depression. An exciting feature of ashwagandha is that, unlike other adaptogens, you can take it before falling asleep. Therefore, ashwagandha supplements are an excellent naturopathic solution for anxiety and depression. The herb relaxes the nervous system and allows you to maintain healthy sleeping patterns.
This powerful root extract also diminishes symptoms of restlessness. In some cases, it even reduces the frequency of suicidal thoughts. The anxiolytic effects of ashwagandha show up in numerous studies. One such double-blind placebo-controlled study reviewed subjects with generalized anxiety disorder and depression. The results noted a significant reduction in both anxiety and depression symptoms.
7. Helps Adrenal Fatigue & Energy
Powdered ashwagandha benefits relaxation and stress levels, but it can do much more. Do you experience symptoms like fatigue, anxiety, restlessness, breathing issues, and libido problems? If so, it’s possible you’re dealing with a case of adrenal fatigue. When your adrenal glands are exhausted, your body cannot respond well to external stimuli. Hormones like cortisol and progesterone rise or fall unexpectedly. Some people use ashwagandha for adrenal fatigue, but how does this natural remedy help?
We know that ashwagandha lowers cortisol levels and reduces chronic stress. Studies show that ashwagandha for energy normalizes the stress responses in the body. This benefit reinvigorates both the body and mind. You’ll notice enhanced energy levels and reductions in perceived feelings of fatigue. Also, ashwagandha has an antioxidant effect that protects our cells from free radicals. Subsequently, this helps to increase the body’s antioxidant production. Ashwagandha extract is an excellent natural energy supplement for adults of all ages.
8. Enhances Sexual Health & Fertility in Men
In Ayurvedic medicine, one of the common uses of ashwagandha is for improving sexual health. Ashwagandha has become a widely used natural sexual enhancer in modern society. One study showed how ashwagandha benefits infertile men by boosting low testosterone levels. A slight uptick in testosterone with ashwagandha supplementation can improve libido. Men may also notice improved sperm count and even enhanced erections.
In addition to this, researchers have also confirmed that ashwagandha root powder can improve women’s libido. It should be noted; most studies involve male and female subjects with below average libido and testosterone levels. We need more research to confirm ashwagandha’s impact on otherwise healthy subjects.
9. Contains Anti-Cancer Properties
Research suggests that using ashwagandha for cancer helps in reducing tumor growth. It may also prevent potentially malignant cells from growing. Studies show ashwagandha extract can inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells. More specifically, it inhibits breast cancer cells, lung, stomach, and colon cancer cells. These are among the world’s leading cancers. The health benefits of ashwagandha supplements also include a boost in natural immunity. This perk can be attributed to its antioxidant properties.
Researchers suggest ashwagandha can reduce the side effects of anti-cancer drugs. For example, it can weaken the impact of chemotherapy-induced immunosuppression. Ashwagandha acts as an immunomodulator. Thus, it increases the longevity of cancer patients at particular risk of reduced immunity. You should not use ashwagandha as a standalone cancer treatment. But it seems to be an effective adjuvant therapy while undergoing difficult procedures.
10. Reduces Blood Sugar & Blood Pressure
In many studies done on animals with type-2 diabetes, ashwagandha powder lowered blood sugar levels. Research shows that ashwagandha root can quickly stabilize blood sugar levels following supplementation. This herb works to reduce blood sugar in diabetic patients and healthy people alike. In this case, it’s not limited to only individuals dealing with chronic stress or anxiety.
Ashwagandha root can also help reduce blood pressure in chronically stressed subjects. High blood pressure (hypertension) is known as the silent killer. Often, individuals go extended periods without knowing they have high blood pressure. Being unaware of this scenario is very dangerous and usually results in excessive strain on the heart. By lowering cortisol and stress-related instabilities, blood pressure returns to a safe level.
11. Antioxidants to Support Healthy Skin
Many tout the ashwagandha benefits for skin thanks in large part to its potent antioxidant properties. This nootropic works as an excellent toner for everyone who wants to take care of their skin. Due to its withanolide content, using ashwagandha for skin can prevent infections and help the skin retain moisture. The water retention helps preserve the elasticity and youthful appearance of your skin. This benefit is similar to those provided by collagen supplements and bone broth protein.
Ashwagandha has powerful anti-aging effects. The herb can help prevent other damages done by modern-day lifestyles. Since the 1950s, there has been a clear scientific link between free radicals and visual signs of aging. The antioxidant properties of ashwagandha prevent free radical cell damage and help slow cell death. While it’s unlikely to reverse aging, it can certainly defer the inevitable process.
12. Increases Strength & Testosterone in Men
Ashwagandha root first appeared in Ayurvedic medicine as an aphrodisiac. Many men used it to treat sexual dysfunction and infertility. The use of an ashwagandha supplement can work as a testosterone enhancer, especially for men who do weight training. As one study showed, testosterone levels can increase up to 15% just by adding ashwagandha powder to your diet.
The literal translation for the word ashwagandha is “horse smell,” where the word ashva means “horse” and gandha means “smell.” Our ancestors thought ingesting ashwagandha could provide the virility and strength of a horse. Further research shows clear improvements in power output, strength, and muscle recovery. There were also notable improvements in VO2 max in healthy and untrained volunteers. These benefits suggest ashwagandha is an excellent supplement for improving athletic performance.
13. Fights Inflammation & Arthritis
The withanolide content in ashwagandha acts as a cortisol suppressant. This mechanism helps the body deal with stressors and immune system flare-ups. For this reason, ashwagandha extract is fantastic for fighting inflammation within the body. Researchers have proven that ashwagandha can ease arthritic symptoms without unwanted side effects.
To enhance the anti-inflammatory benefits of ashwagandha, you can mix powdered ashwagandha with turmeric curcumin, Boswellia, or ginger extract. Arthritis stems from chronic inflammation of the joints. By combining powerful all-natural anti-inflammatory agents, you can treat joint pain at its source. This combination may not be a one size fits all arthritis cure. But research suggests most individuals respond well to these herbal treatments. Most arthritis sufferers agree a small improvement in joint pain can provide a large increase in quality of life.
14. Boosts Memory & Brain Function
When it comes to improving cognitive functions, ashwagandha root is one of the best herbal remedies out there. Searching for reliable brain enhancement is an upward trend in today’s competitive world. Ashwagandha not only calms and strengthens the nervous system, but it also increases mental alertness and fights fatigue. By helping to create a clear and focused state of mind, overall cognition improves.
Ashwagandha also promotes memory formation and protects your brain cells from age-related decay. This benefit makes it one of the top memory supplements for an aging brain. Supplementing ashwagandha root powder can do wonders in preventing neurodegenerative diseases. Thanks to its antioxidant properties, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients may find a small amount of relief. Again, this nootropic is not a cure for any such condition. But preliminary research suggests one of the health benefits of ashwagandha may be reduced neurodegenerative risk.
15. Lowers Cholesterol & Triglycerides
Ashwagandha supplements can help improve your heart health by reducing blood lipids (blood fats). A study done on rats showed that total cholesterol dropped by nearly 53% and triglycerides lowered by almost 45% using ashwagandha. The improvements seen in human controlled trials were smaller but still statistically significant.
To be more specific, ashwagandha extract can contribute to the lowering of bad cholesterol. LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is called “bad” cholesterol. Excess LDL can build up on the blood vessel walls developing into plaque. This accumulation of harmful plaque dramatically increases your risk of a stroke or heart disease. Research shows a clear lipid-lowering effect in slightly overweight but otherwise healthy individuals.
16. Reduces Symptoms of Menopause in Women
For many women, going through menopause is a difficult time. Symptoms such as hot flashes and insomnia can affect your everyday quality of life. Lack of sleep can pile up causing massive fluctuations in hormones and vital neurotransmitters. One of the uses of ashwagandha is to help women pass through the hormonal transitions more harmoniously.
When women’s bodies go through menopause, ashwagandha powder benefits the brain by regulating these changes. The herb helps reestablish hormonal balance by calming the central nervous system. This benefit not only reduces stress and anxiety, but it helps stabilize your mood. Thus, women should consider an ashwagandha supplement as a natural means to cope with these changes.
Is ashwagandha safe to take daily? Ashwagandha is generally safe to use and should have little to no side effects when taken at the recommended dosage. High levels of ashwagandha root can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea. Many people use it to treat severe ailments like arthritis, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s with no adverse reactions. If pregnant or nursing, always check with a certified medical professional. Make sure ashwagandha does not adversely interact with pre-existing medications.
Ashwagandha Side Effects
What are the side effects of ashwagandha? People diagnosed with certain conditions like stomach ulcers, or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should exercise caution when using ashwagandha. Under these conditions, the herb can irritate the stomach and intestines. This irritation can further increase the risk of other health complications if you’re not careful.
Avoid ashwagandha supplements if you are taking any immunosuppressive medication. Discuss ashwagandha with your healthcare provider if you suffer from an autoimmune disease and take tranquilizers such as Valium, Klonopin, and Ativan. Always exercise caution to minimize side effects or adverse reactions.
When supplementing with ashwagandha powder, it’s recommended to start with a dose between 300 to 500 milligrams per day. The withanolides content should be between 5-10 %. You can gradually increase the dosage until the desired results present themselves. Also, understand that depending on your health problems or personal goals, the dosage for ashwagandha may change.
- For Anxiety & Stress: 300-500 mg per day over 6-12 weeks should yield improvements in stress, anxiety, and social anxiety.
- For Thyroid Health: 600-1200 mg per day over eight weeks. The range can vary depending on the individual.
- For Sleep & Insomnia: 500 mg per day over 6-12 weeks, or until the problem subsides.
Regarding other goals such as weight loss, hair growth, or arthritis, always start with 300-500 mg per day. Assess tolerability and titrate upwards until achieving the desired benefit.
Final Thoughts on the Benefits of Ashwagandha Root Powder
The benefits of ashwagandha supplements are numerous and cover a wide range of bodily ailments. This ancient herb seems to have the power to prevent almost any severe disease. It has integrated seamlessly into modern civilization. It’s a rare nootropic possessing antioxidant and apoptogenic properties. Therefore, it’s one of the best anxiolytic supplements on the market. If you’d like to reduce stress and anxiety, enhance thyroid function for weight loss, or even improve libido, ashwagandha root powder can help.
Have you experienced the health benefits of ashwagandha extract? Let us know how this Ayurvedic herb has changed your life.