Ashwagandha is a herb commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine. It is also known as “Indian ginseng” due to its supposed ability to reduce stress and improve overall health. The root and berries of the plant are used to make supplements and traditional medicine. Ashwagandha is used in Ayurveda to help with a variety of health concerns, including stress, anxiety, insomnia, and inflammation. It is also said to have adaptogenic properties, meaning it may help the body adapt to stress. However, as per modern medicine, more research is required to confirm many of these potential benefits. Let us learn the benefits of ashwagandha, the side effects and the other important things to know before consuming it.
Benefits of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is believed to have a host of health benefits, such as:
- Reducing stress and anxiety: Studies have shown that taking ashwagandha supplements may help reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety.
- Improving brain function: Some research suggests that ashwagandha may improve memory and reaction time.
- Lowering cortisol levels: Cortisol is a hormone related to stress. Ashwagandha may help to lower cortisol levels in the body. Read the article – here
- Reducing inflammation: Ashwagandha has anti-inflammatory properties, which may help to reduce inflammation throughout the body. Read more – here
- Improving cardiovascular health: Some studies have suggested that ashwagandha may help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which may help to improve heart health. Read more – here
- Improving endurance: Ashwagandha may help to improve physical endurance, which is the ability to sustain physical activity over an extended period of time. Read more – here
- Improving sleep quality: Ashwagandha may help to improve sleep quality in people with insomnia. Read more – here
It is important to note that while there is some scientific evidence to support these potential benefits, more research is needed to confirm them. Additionally, it is important to note that these studies are mostly conducted on animals, and more human studies are needed to confirm the results.
It is also important to consult a doctor before taking any new supplement, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any other medications. DO NOT stop your current prescription medicines because you started consuming ashwagandha supplements
Ashwagandha and Testosterone
Ashwagandha is believed to have an impact on testosterone levels. Some studies have found that ashwagandha supplements may help to increase testosterone levels in men. Ashwagandha is also believed to improve male fertility (Read here). However, more research is needed to confirm these findings and understand the mechanisms behind this potential benefit.
A study published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine in 2016 found that ashwagandha supplements led to a significant increase in serum testosterone levels in infertile men. Another study published in the International Journal of Ayurveda Research in 2010 found that ashwagandha supplements led to a significant increase in sperm count and semen volume in infertile men.
Also Read: Protein, Steroid & Muscle Gain
Ashwagandha Dosage – How much ashwagandha, per day for testosterone boosting?
The recommended dosage of ashwagandha varies depending on the form of the supplement and the reason for use. Generally, doses of 250-400 mg of ashwagandha root or leaf extract, taken twice daily, are used in most studies.
Ashwagandha and muscle gain
Ashwagandha may help with muscle gain and is becoming popular among bodybuilders due to its potential ability to increase strength and muscle mass. Some studies have found that ashwagandha supplements may help to improve muscle strength and size, and may also help to reduce muscle damage caused by intense exercise.
A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in 2016 found that supplementation with ashwagandha for eight weeks led to significant increases in muscle strength and size in men who were resistance training. Another study published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine in 2014 found that ashwagandha supplements led to a significant increase in muscle mass and strength in men who were resistance training.
It is important to note that more research is needed to confirm these findings and to understand the potential side effects and risks of taking ashwagandha supplements. Additionally, these studies were conducted on small groups of people and more research is needed to confirm the results.
Also Read: How do muscles grow?
Side effects of Ashwagandha
What are the side effects of ashwagandha? Ashwagandha is generally considered safe when taken in appropriate doses, but it can cause some side effects in some people. Possible side effects include:
- Stomach upset: Ashwagandha supplements may cause stomach upset, including nausea and diarrhea.
- Allergic reactions: Some people may be allergic to ashwagandha, which can cause skin rash, hives, and breathing difficulties.
- Drowsiness: Ashwagandha may cause drowsiness, so it should be used with caution if you are operating heavy machinery or driving.
- Interaction with Medications: Ashwagandha may interact with certain medications such as sedative and hypnotic drugs, anti-anxiety medications, and thyroid hormone replacement therapy.
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough information about the safety of ashwagandha during pregnancy and breastfeeding, so it is best to avoid it.
Also Read: Impact of steroids on muscle building
Ashwagandha’s interaction with prescription drugs (medicines)
Ashwagandha may interact with certain prescription drugs or medicines, particularly those that affect the nervous system and the thyroid gland. Here are a few examples of interactions to be aware of:
- Sedative and hypnotic drugs: Ashwagandha may enhance the effects of sedative and hypnotic drugs, which are used to treat insomnia and anxiety. This may lead to excessive drowsiness or even coma.
- Anti-anxiety medications: Ashwagandha may interact with anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines. This may lead to an increase in the sedative effects of these medications.
- Thyroid hormone replacement therapy: Ashwagandha may affect the thyroid gland and may interfere with the action of thyroid hormone replacement therapy. It is important to consult a doctor before taking ashwagandha if you are taking any thyroid medication.
- Blood pressure and heart medication: Ashwagandha may lower blood pressure and heart rate, so it may interact with blood pressure and heart medications, such as beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers.
- Blood sugar-lowering medications: Ashwagandha may lower blood sugar, so it may interact with blood sugar-lowering medications, such as insulin and oral hypoglycemic agents.
Always inform your doctor or pharmacist about all the medications and supplements you are taking before starting any new treatment.
Does ashwagandha cause liver injury?
There is no evidence to suggest that ashwagandha causes liver injury. However, as with any supplement, it is possible that ashwagandha may cause liver injury in rare cases, especially when taken in high doses or in combination with other medications or supplements.
Most of the available studies have not reported any significant liver injury related to the use of ashwagandha. However, as with any supplement, it is important to use it under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional, to be aware of any potential side effects and to stop taking it if you experience any liver-related symptoms such as jaundice, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-coloured stools, or yellowing of the skin or eyes.
It’s always better to consult with a qualified healthcare professional before taking any supplement.
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