Ashwagandha explained:
Benefits and risks

Ashwagandha explained: <br> Benefits and risks


  • The supplement Ashawagandha is the powdered root of a plant with the same name.
  • Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, a herbal supplement which primary function is to reduce physcical and mental stress;
  • Ashwagandha can potentially:
    1. reduce stress and anxiety;
    2. enhance focus & memory;
    3. balance hormone levels;
    4. promote sexual health & fertility;
    5.  improve athletic performance & muscle recovery.
    • Ashwagandha is part of the nightshade plant family, which also includes tomatoes, aubergines, potatoes and more. The leaves of which could cause stomach and/or liver issues;
    • While the active ingredient in ashawagandha supplements is the root, poor quality products might include the plant's leaves. Therefore, never choose a non-patented/non-branded ashwagandha, as this gives less guarantee of product purity;
    • The WHO considers ashwagandha supplements safe below a daily dosage of 500 mg;
    • Excessive consumption (1000+ mg daily over longer periods) is thought to cause emotional numbness, although this hasn't been researched scientifically;
    • KSM-66 Ashwagandha is considered the highest quality on the market today. It is part of our Work Hard Play Hard (Professionals) (300 mg daily) and Peak Performance (Adults) (250 mg daily) products.


    The full story


    Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) has gained immense popularity as a supplement throughout Western Europe and North America in recent years, primarily for its stress reducing and focus enhancing properties. It consists of the powdered root of a plant with the same name found in parts of India, Africa and the Middle East, and with a history of over 3,000 years in Ayurveda medicine.

    With ashwagandha’s increasing popularity, comes an increase in the amount of scientific studies and less scientific publications on social media platforms such as TikTok. To separate facts from fiction, this article gets to the root of ashwagandha’s (potential) benefits and (potential) risks.


    Potential benefits of ashwagandha

    Helps Reduce Stress and Anxiety

    One of the main reasons why many turn to ashwagandha is its ability to minimize stress and aid in anxiety relief. Ashwagandha is considered an adaptogen, a natural substance, typically an herb, root or mushroom, that helps the mind and body adapt to stress by balancing and regulating physiological functions. This means ashwagandha  assists the body in controlling the mediators of stress, leading to a more relaxed and calm state.

    Several studies have provided evidence supporting these claims. One study of 58 participants over a period of 8 weeks reported significantly less stress and lower cortisol levels, while another study of 60 participants over a period of 60 days reported a significant reduction in anxiety. Most recently, a systematic review consisting of 7 studies observed their subjects' cortisol levels reduced by between 11% and 32.63%.


    Helps Enhance Focus and Memory

    Once the burdens of stress and anxiety are alleviated, ashwagandha helps improve brain functions, including focus and memory. This is especially useful for men and women juggling a demanding career, family and social life.

    Several studies on both healthy humans and animals have shown clear enhancements in concentration and memory, mental arithmetic ability, sensorimotor functions, and mental reaction times. Additionally, an independent study was able to link ashwagandha with increased cognition in patients with early dementia or bipolar disorder.


    Helps Balance Hormone Levels

    Hormones play a vital role in men's growth, reproduction, and overall well-being. The male hormone plays a crucial role in the production of red blood cells and sperm, muscle and bone mass, fat distribution, and strength. However, once men reach the age of 40, male hormone levels start to decline.

    Daily supplementation of ashwagandha is thought to balance men’s hormone levels, with an indirect effect on muscle mass, bone density, mood regulation, energy conversion and a healthy sex drive.

    In a study involving healthy yet overweight men aged 40 to 70, ashwagandha supplementation over 8 weeks was associated with 15% higher levels of salivary hormones and 18% higher levels of DHEA-S (which plays an important role in hormone production).


    Promotes Sexual Health and Fertility

    In addition to its impact on hormone stability, studies have also linked ashwagandha to higher sperm count and sperm concentration. The herb's ability to improve blood circulation and its use as a potential remedy for infertility has shown promising results.

    One study reported that "decreased fertility in males was ameliorated [made better] by ashwagandha root extract as evidenced by an increase in sperm concentration, ejaculate volume, and motile sperm count." , while further independent studies are ongoing to confirm these findings.


    Supports Athletic Performance and Recovery

    Ashwagandha has gained attention for its positive effects on physical health, especially as it is thought to improve athletic performance and speeds up muscle recovery, making it a popular supplement among fitness enthusiasts.

    A comprehensive review of ashwagandha's impact on physical performance found it successful in "improving variables related to strength/power, cardiorespiratory fitness, and fatigue/recovery in healthy men and women." In fact, the probability of physical and athletic improvement was found to be more than 95%.


    Potential risks of ashwagandha

    Potential side-effects of ashwagandha

    Some individuals have reported stomach or liver issues as a side-effect of ashwagandha supplementation. This is thought to be attributed to the dosage and/or the quality of the product.

    Ashwagandha is part of the nightshade plant-family (which also includes a.o. tomatoes, potatoes and aubergine). As with all nightshade plants, aswahandha's leaves could potentially create an irritable reaction in the stomach and/or liver, while ashawagandha's benefits stem from its roots. If the plant is not processed properly, parts of the leave might end up in the supplement, potentially causing an upset stomach or liver. 

    While individual sensitivities and appropriate dosages can vary from person to person, ashwagandha is generally considered safe by the WHO if consumed below 500mg per day.

    The use of aswagandha is strongly discouraged during pregnancy or breast feeding. Contact your medical doctor if experiencing stomach and/or liver issues when consuming ashwagandha for longer periods of time.


    Thought to cause emotional numbness

    Some regular consumers of ashwagandha describe a sensation of emotional numbness. Primarily reported by fitness enthusiasts on TikTok, we did not find any studies confirming this adverse effect when researching this article. It is thought that these experiences of numbness are potentially caused by an unawareness of the herb's ability to reduce anxiety and stress, in combination with excess consumption in the pursuit of muscle gain. To ensure optimal and safe results, one should always follow the recommended dosage and choose a high-quality ashwagandha product.


    Differences in Quality

    When selecting an ashwagandha supplement, it's important to understand the differences in quality of  different sources and brands. Quality differences are primarily linked to the growing , processing, and formulation of the supplement. Lower-quality sources may involve less thorough extraction and processing techniques, that might cause their final products to include the leaves and other parts of the Ashwagandha plant. In contrast, higher-quality brands carefully grow and process only the best roots.



    Ashwagandha continues to surprise as new studies find unexpected benefits of this versatile supplement. From its stress and anxiety relief, enhanced focus and memory, improved sexual health and fertility, as well as positive effects on physical performance, supplementing your diet with Ashwagandha can have many mental and physical benefits as long as it is produced and consumed in a controlled manner.

    However, negative side-affects in the form of stomach or liver issues might occur when consuming 500+ mg per day. To minimize the risk of potential negative side effects, it is advisable not to exceed the daily dose of 500+ mg, and to choose a higher quality source of Ashwagandha, such as KSM-66, well known for using only the highest quality roots and extensive clinical studies. 

    That said, it goes without saying for any supplement, including ashwagandha, that supplementation should be stopped and a doctor should be consulted if any negative effects are perceived.

    KSM-66 ashwagandha is included in our Work Hard Play Hard (Professionals) and Peak Performance (Adults) products, both part of our Life Phase Collection.

    Work Hard Play Hard (Professionals) benefits stress resilience, focus, fertility, sleep, energy, muscles, liver, and much more.

    Peak Performance (Adults) benefits focus, memory, prostate, digestion, sex drive, energy, hormone stability, heart, eyes, liver function, cell renewal and much more.



    1. Nightshade plant-family wikipedia page
    2. Reports of side effects ashwagandha in The Netherlands
    3. WHO monographs on selected medicinal plants
    4. Healthline
    5. Natural Medicine Journal
    6. NCBI Source 1
    7. NCBI Source 2
    8. NCBI Source 3
    9. NCBI Source 4
    10. WEBMD
    11. Della Porta, M.; Maier, J.A.; Cazzola, R. Effects of Withania somnifera on Cortisol Levels in Stressed Human Subjects: A Systematic Review. Nutrients 2023, 15, 5015.

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