Ashwagandha, also known as Winter Cherry (Withania somnifera) or Indian Ginseng, is an evergreen shrub in the Solanaceae or nightshade family that grows in India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa whose roots and berries are used for their medicinal properties.
Ashwagandha are adaptogens, part of a class of plants known for their health benefits when consumed as teas, tinctures, powders and supplements.
Ashwagandha is gaining followers in the U.S. as a dietary supplement to help reduce stress and anxiety. The traditional system of medicine in India, Ayurveda, has included the use of ashwaganda to treat a range of conditions, such as rheumatism and insomnia. Very few clinical trials, to date, have tested the benefits of ashwaganda for these uses. Further studies are needed to establish the true nature of these benefits and their long term impact on health and vitality.
Here are a few of the benefits of ashwagandha that are backed by scientific studies.
Helps Lower Blood Sugar and Fat
A couple of small clinical studies show ashwagandha is helpful in reducing blood glucose levels and triglycerides. These studies have had small groups so need further clinical trials with larger groups.
Reduces Anxiety and Stress
Ashwagandha is best known for anxiety and stress reduction. Several studies highlight this benefit. One particular study indicated that ashwagandha can benefit sleep quality as well—researchers confirmed participants slept much better with doses of the herb compared to placebo doses.
Helps with Memory and Focus
Ashwagandha may help improve memory, understanding, and motor response. Compared to a placebo, some small studies show ashwagandha improved reaction times cognitive and reaction during psycho-motor tests. Another study shows significantly improved attention spans, as well as their immediate and general memory across a variety of tests
Supports a Healthy Heart and Endurance
When measuring cardiorespiratory endurance, a few studies have shown that ashwagandha can increase VO2 max levels, which is the maximum amount of oxygen you take in during extensive physical activity. Increased VO2 max levels are an indication of a healthy heart during increased activity.
Enhances Sexual Function in Women
For women experiencing sexual dysfunction, one study suggests that ashwagandha use resulted in significant improvements in arousal, lubrication, orgasm and satisfaction, as self-reported by the participants. It also significantly improved the number of successful sexual encounters and improved metrics of distress around their sex lives and sexuality.
Increases Muscle and Strength
Ongoing research continues regarding ashwagandha’s efficacy in improving strength and muscle size. One study showed an increase in lower body fat percentage reduced cholesterol levels and increased muscle power with ashwagandha use. Other studies show increased speed and strength.
Increase Testosterone Levels in Men
Researchers found increased testosterone levels in male but not female subjects when taking ashwaganda. Another showed an increase in testosterone and muscle mass levels in men.
A ton more research is needed to clarify the benefits of ashwaganda and we'll update this information as it becomes available. In the meantime, we've found enough compelling results and testimonials to include it in our Vitality Blends.