The ashwagandha plant is a small shrub with yellow flowers that is native to Asia, Northern Africa, and the Middle East. Its botanical name is Withania somnifera, though it is also known as Indian ginseng and winter cherry. It is an herb extracted from the plant’s roots and leaves that is used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for stress reduction, situational tension relief, and lowering cortisol. Its root has a strong, horse-like smell and is believed to confer the strength and virility of a horse. In Sanskrit, ashwa means “horse” and gandha means “smell.”
A study of the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha extract shows that ashwagandha supplementation can support stressed healthy adults. And in the male participants only, researchers found that there was an increase in testosterone levels. Researchers do, however, call for more research to be done.
This study of the safety and efficacy of a high-concentration, full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing occasional stress in adults demonstrated that it has safely and effectively improved an individual's resistance towards stress and thereby improves self-assessed quality of life.
Ashwagandha has also been promoted to support sexual health and wellness by balancing hormones. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, it is used as an aphrodisiac to support sexual function and wellness. While ashwagandha is used in men and women in different ways, it has provided both with improved sexual function.
A study of the efficacy and safety of ashwagandha root extract in improving sexual function in women found that women who took ashwagandha over an 8-week period of time saw significant improvements with orgasms, arousal, and overall satisfaction.
This study demonstrates the positive impact Ashwagandha has on men, supporting healthy testosterone levels. It also concludes that there is evidence for the safety, efficacy, and tolerability of therapy with Ashwagandha root extract, and suggests its potential in treating male infertility, though further exploration is required.
Ashwagandha’s calming properties may support reduced food cravings associated with stress. In one study of body weight management of adults under stress, subjects taking ashwagandha showed significant reductions in scores on the Food Cravings Questionnaire, a commonly used measure of food cravings.
A study of the efficacy of Ashwagandha Root Extract in improving cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy athletic adults found that it can enhance the cardiorespiratory endurance and improve the overall quality of life in that population.
Unlike many other supplements and medications, ashwagandha is not a quick fix or a one-and-done remedy. Depending on your height, weight, age, state of wellness, and dosage, you could start to see early signs of ashwagandha working in as little as one week, but that is not typical. It can take anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks after beginning to take it for you to experience significant effects. The maximum effect can sometimes take more than 3 months to be felt. It is an adaptogen, which is a natural substance that helps the body adapt to stress while exerting a normalizing effect upon bodily processes.
It is considered safe to take ashwagandha daily, though there is no significant data on the long-term effects of doing so. Ashwagandha is a supplement that requires ongoing regular consumption in order for its maximum effectiveness to kick in. Discuss the dosage and period of time that you will be taking it with your physician or other healthcare provider before you begin to do so. Always adhere to their recommendation or the information on the product label. Care/of has an excellent article, “The Right Ashwagandha Dosage: How Much Should I Take?”, that can provide some helpful information as you consider the possibility of taking it as part of your supplement regimen.
Though there is no significant evidence on stopping the use of ashwagandha abruptly, there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence that makes one thing perfectly clear. Check with your physician or healthcare provider if you are considering taking ashwagandha. It has been proven to be safe and effective when taken on a daily basis for extended periods of time. There is no evidence of dependency; it’s not considered to be habit-forming. Your healthcare provider can help you determine the best course of action for your own well-being.
There are people who do take breaks occasionally to assess how they are feeling without taking ashwagandha. Many of them consider switching to a different adaptogen and rotating between the two. It is important to pay attention to your own body and how it was before you began taking ashwagandha, what it’s like now, and what it’s like when you take a break from it. The actual process of cycling is not unlike the cycling of performance enhancement supplements for athletic performance, weight training, or bodybuilding. Close attention to your own well-being throughout the process of taking ashwagandha, and contact with your healthcare provider will help you to make a well-informed decision whether to cycle or not.
It is important to be aware of how ashwagandha makes you feel and to monitor your feelings as you supplement with it. If you are experiencing any side effects, consult your healthcare provider.
If you are pregnant or lactating, there is no evidence to support supplementing with ashwagandha at this time. Consult your physician before taking any supplements when pregnant or lactating.
In order to avoid any interference with medications or anesthesia during surgery, follow your surgeon’s recommendations. This typically involves stopping all supplements within a specified time frame, which is usually two weeks pre-op.
This exploratory study to evaluate tolerability, safety, and activity of ashwagandha in health volunteers found it to be safe and well-tolerated. Researchers encouraged more research to evaluate its future potential.
Minor side effects that occur with supplementation of ashwagandha include gastric distress, nausea, vomiting, loose stools, diarrhea, and drowsiness. If you are pregnant, lactating or having any health concerns, always consult with your physician before starting any new supplementation.
Ashwagandha is an herbal root extract from the ashwagandha plant, which is native to Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East. It is used in Ayurvedic medicine for stress relief and mental balance. It is also purported to promote sexual health and wellness, male fertility, cardiorespiratory endurance, and body weight management. It is considered to be safe and has only a few minor potential side effects, including diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. If you are planning on supplementing with ashwagandha, it is important to know that it is not a supplement that has instant results. You might not experience any sensation for weeks and quite possibly 2-3 months. It is always best to consult your physician when you would like to add a supplement to your daily protocol. And, as always, you want to find the best product available. Care/of offers a top-of-the-line ashwagandha supplement called The Chill Pill.