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What Are The Health Benefits of Taking Ashwagandha?

Jason Hughes
Published by Jason Hughes
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: June 15, 2022

Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera or winter cherry, is an Ayurvedic herb that has been used medicinally for centuries in India. And in recent years, it has been gaining attention in the United States thanks to its potential health benefits.

But what exactly are the health benefits of Ashwagandha? In this article, we'll discuss:

Keep reading to learn more about the health benefits of Ashwagandha and whether this ancient herb is right for you.

What Is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub that grows in India, the Middle East, and Africa. The roots and leaves of the plant are used to make medicine. Ashwagandha has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries and is even mentioned in the ancient texts known as the Vedas.

In Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is considered a "Rasayana," which are herbs or practices that are thought to promote longevity and health. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, meaning it helps the body to adapt to stress by reducing the physical and mental effects of stress on the body.

The active ingredients in Ashwagandha are potent withanolides. These chemicals have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, and stress-reducing effects.

Health Benefits of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is known for its many potential health benefits. Here's a look at some of the science-backed ways Ashwagandha may be able to improve your health:

Anxiety and Stress Relief

One of the most well-known health benefits of Ashwagandha is its ability to reduce stress and anxiety.

Studies have documented the ability of the natural herb to lower people's stress and anxiety levels significantly. The herb is thought to work to reduce stress by reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Better Focus and Memory

Ashwagandha is also thought to help improve focus and memory.

A study published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements found that Ashwagandha could help improve memory and cognitive function in people with mild cognitive impairment.

Lower Blood Sugar Levels

Ashwagandha may also help to lower blood sugar and fat levels.

A study from 2015 found that Ashwagandha could help lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. This herb can be a powerful natural tool for people with diabetes.

Supports Heart Health

Studies have shown evidence of Ashwagandha having the ability to improve cardiac fitness

Scientists have found that Ashwagandha increases VO2 max levels, which is the maximum amount of oxygen that your body can utilize during exercise.

Having higher VO2 max levels is linked to better heart health because it means your heart is able to pump more blood with each beat and doesn't have to work as hard.

Potential Side Effects of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is considered safe for most people. However, there are a few potential side effects to be aware of.

The most common side effects of Ashwagandha include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Rashes
  • Dry mouth
  • Insomnia
  • Increased appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability

If you experience any of these side effects, reduce your dose or stop taking Ashwagandha altogether.

Ashwagandha may also interact with certain medications, so be sure to talk to your doctor before taking Ashwagandha if you are taking any medications.

FAQs

What is the best source of Ashwagandha?

The best source of Ashwagandha is a reputable supplement company. Look for a supplement that is standardized to contain a certain percentage of withanolides, which is the active ingredient in Ashwagandha. Check out our review of Aschwagandha supplements.

What's the best Ashwagandha to take?

The best form of Ashwagandha is its raw powder form. This method allows you to get the most active ingredients and avoid any fillers or binders that may be present in capsules. You should also look for an organic Ashwagandha powder to ensure you are getting a pure product.

The best organic Ashwagandha supplement will have a Certificate of Analysis (COA) from a third-party testing company to guarantee its quality and potency. Check out our review of Aschwagandha supplements.

How much Ashwagandha should you take?

It's recommended to start with a low dose and gradually increase it until you feel the benefits that you're looking for. However, don't take more than 300 milligrams of Ashwagandha per day.

If you go over this dose, you not only risk a higher chance of side effects, but your body will most likely not absorb all of the active ingredients of the supplement.

How do I take Ashwagandha?

You can take Ashwagandha in capsule form or mix the powder into water or juice at any time of the day. If you are taking the powder form, it's important to start with a small dose and increase gradually as your body gets used to it. You should also take Ashwagandha with food to avoid any gastrointestinal issues.

How long does it take for Ashwagandha to work?

The effects of Ashwagandha can vary from person to person. Some people may notice the improvement within a few days, while others may not notice any effects for several weeks. If you don't notice any effects after a few weeks, you may want to increase your dose or try a different supplement.


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