Ashwagandha, a traditional alternative medicine based on Indian concepts of natural healing, is considered one of the most significant herbs in Ayurveda.
Ashwagandha has been used to decrease stress, boost energy, and improve concentration for thousands of years (1).
“Ashwagandha” means “horse smell” in Sanskrit, referring to the herb’s aroma as well as its potential strength-building properties (2).
Withania somnifera is the botanical name, but it’s often known as “Indian ginseng” or “winter cherry.”
The ashwagandha plant, native to India and Southeast Asia, is a tiny shrub with yellow blooms. Anxiety and depression are treated with extracts or powder from the plant’s roots or leaves.
These are the top 5 benefits of ashwagandha, based on research.
- May aid in the reduction of stress and anxiety
Ashwagandha is primarily known for its stress-relieving properties. It’s an adaptogen, a chemical that helps the body deal with stress.
Heat shock proteins (Hsp70), cortisol, and stress-activated c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase (JNK-1) are among the stress mediators that ashwagandha appears to help manage (4).
It also lowers the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which controls the stress response in your body (4,) ( 5).
Several studies have found Ashwagandha supplements to help reduce stress and anxiety.
Those who took 250 or 600 mg of ashwagandha extract for eight weeks had considerably lower subjective stress and levels of the stress hormone cortisol than those who took a placebo, according to a small trial with 58 participants.
When compared to the placebo group, the participants who took the ashwagandha supplements had much better sleep quality (4)
Another study in 60 people found that those who took 240 mg of ashwagandha extract per day for 60 days significantly reduced anxiety compared with those who received a placebo treatment (5).
As a result, a preliminary study suggests that ashwagandha could be a beneficial supplement for stress and anxiety.
However, according to a recent assessment of studies, there isn’t enough evidence to reach a consensus on the best dosage and type of ashwagandha for treating stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders like anxiety (6).
- May help with the symptoms of mental illnesses.
In some populations, evidence suggests that ashwagandha may help lessen symptoms of various mental health problems, such as depression.
In one trial, researchers studied the effects of ashwagandha on 66 people with schizophrenia who were depressed and anxious.
They discovered that taking 1,000 mg of ashwagandha extract daily for 12 weeks reduced depression and anxiety more effectively than taking a placebo (10).
Furthermore, another study suggests that ingesting ashwagandha may assist people with schizophrenia by improving their overall symptoms and perceived stress (11).
Limited research from 2013 reveals that ashwagandha may assist with bipolar disorder and improve their cognitive impairment. More research is needed, however.
- May help men increase their fertility and testosterone levels.
In some trials, ashwagandha supplements have been proven to improve male fertility and testosterone levels.
In one study, 43 overweight men aged 40 to 70 with minor weariness administered ashwagandha extract or placebo tablets daily for eight weeks.
The ashwagandha medication was linked to an 18% increase in DHEA-S, a sex hormone involved in manufacturing testosterone. In addition, those who took the herb showed a 14.7% higher growth in testosterone than those who took the placebo (14).
In addition, according to a study by four researchers, ashwagandha medication significantly enhanced sperm concentration, semen volume, and sperm motility in men with low sperm count.
It also improved the concentration and motility of sperm in males with prostate cancer.
- It has the potential to improve brain function, including memory.
The herb ashwagandha has been shown to improve cognitive performance.
There were early indications that ashwagandha could improve cognitive functioning in specific populations, including older persons with mild cognitive impairment and people with schizophrenia, according to a review that comprised five clinical investigations.
It may help with the following cognitive functions (21):
attention reaction time performance on cognitive tasks executive functioning attention reaction time performance on cognitive tasks
A research of 50 participants found that ingesting 600 mg of ashwagandha extract per day for eight weeks improved the following measures significantly more than taking a placebo (22):
information-processing speed and immediate and general memory attention
According to researchers, chemicals in ashwagandha, such as WA, have antioxidant effects in the brain, which may benefit cognitive function (22).
- It can help you sleep better.
Many people take ashwagandha to help them sleep better, and there is some evidence that it can help with sleep problems.
A study of 50 persons aged 65–80 found that ingesting 600 mg of ashwagandha root daily for 12 weeks enhanced sleep quality and mental alertness compared to placebo treatment (23).
In addition, ashwagandha had a small but substantial favorable effect on overall sleep quality, according to an analysis of five high-quality research.
People who took ashwagandha reported feeling less anxious and more awake when they awoke (24).
According to the study, the results were more obvious in those with insomnia and those who took more than 600 mg daily for 8 weeks.
Last but not least
Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb that has a variety of health advantages.
According to the findings, it may help lower anxiety and stress, promote peaceful sleep, and even boost cognitive functioning in some people.
Most people consider ashwagandha to be relatively safe. However, it is crucial to consult a healthcare expert before incorporating ashwagandha into your daily regimen.