- 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:
- reduce stress and anxiety;
- enhance focus & memory;
- balance hormone levels;
- promote sexual health & fertility;
- improve athletic performance & muscle recovery.
- Poor quality ashwagandha might include the plant's leaves, which could cause an upset stomach.
- Excessive consumption (1000+ mg daily over longer periods) is thought to cause emotional numbness, although this hasn't been proven.
- KSM-66 Ashwagandha is considered the highest quality on the market today. It is part of our Work Hard Play Hard (Professionals) (300mg) and Peak Performance (Adults) (250mg) 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 amount of stories going around 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.
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.
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%.
Risks of ashwagandha
Potentially causes an upset stomach
Some individuals have reported upset stomachs as a side effect of ashwagandha supplementation. This is thought to be attributed to the dosage or the quality of the product.
Ashwagandha’s known benefits all stem from the powdered form of its root, while its leaves could potentially create an irritable reaction in the stomach. If the plant is not processed properly, parts of the leave might end up in the supplement, causing an upset stomach.
While individual sensitivities and appropriate dosages can vary from person to person, ashwagandha is generally considered safe for most people if consumed below 750mg per day.
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.
To minimize the risk of an upset stomach or other potential negative side effects, it is advisable 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.
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.