We take a look at the common supplement ingredient Ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha root extract comes from an evergreen shrub that is native to Asia and Africa, most commonly used for stress related disorders there's a reasonable amount of evidence to support it's use when tested against placebo groups with anxiety disorders.
The extract is being studied for a multitude of other uses, including as a testosterone booster, sleep quality and pretty much everything from rheumatoid arthritis through to immune system and cognitive impairment.
Ashwagandha does have quite a few health benefits, although some of the above listed are more hype than substance.
What Do You Need To Know About Ashwagandha?
Taking ashwagandha in too high doses will cause stomach upset, and in some very rare cases liver issues.
For sufferers of autoimmune conditions, ashwagandha is not recommended as it may stimulate the immune system increasing symptoms.
Do not take ashwagandha supplements with immunosuppressants. Ashwagandha increases immune activity.
Ashwagandha should not been taken in conjunction with Benzodiazepines as it can slow breathing.
Ashwagandha supplements increase thyroid activity as such it should not be used with thyroid medications.
Ashwagandha may lower blood pressure, as such should not be taken with blood pressure medication.
Sedative medications can also interact with ashwagandha as such it should not be taken with sedatives.
In most trials Ashwagandha is most effective when dosed at 1000 mg daily, although some studies in relation to testosterone levels, suggest it could be better dosed at up to 2000 mg.
There are a lot of studies testing ashwagandha root extract in placebo controlled studies for its testosterone boosting effects, whilst even a couple of years ago it may not have seemed all too effective. However, with more research being done into traditional medicine it is starting to show that it's perhaps more effective than originally thought.
With double blind placebo controlled trials showing an 18% increase in testosterone levels amongst participants.
Typically speaking ashwagandha makes it into most of the products on our best testosterone boosters list.
Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce anxiety symptoms and stress as mentioned in the introductory paragraph. In terms of reducing chronic stress ashwagandha root extract has also shown to be effective in small sample studies. It has also been shown to have some assistance in maintaining healthy sleep quality, which could explain it's effectiveness for stress as well as some of the testosterone level improvements.
Overall there is strong evidence to suggest it is effective at reducing anxiety, stress and improving sleep quality.
Ashwagandha is perhaps most well backed for it’s use in treating insomnia  having been shown in multiple trials to improve sleep quality and reduce insomnia symptoms in a good percentage of participants. It also has some studies that suggest it could potentially reduce anxiety, which could relate to improved sleep quality, however more evidence is needed to clear Ashwagandha extract for such uses.
There has been some evidence to support Ashwagandha for chronic fatigue syndrome and due to its mild anti inflammatory properties for rheumatoid arthritis, although there is less research that currently supports this.
Ashwagandha may also lower blood pressure, this should be considered before combining Ashwagandha usage with other supplements or medications.
1 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6979308/ - Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Study
2 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30854916/ - A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Study Examining the Hormonal and Vitality Effects of Ashwagandha ( Withania somnifera) in Aging, Overweight Males
3 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573577/ - A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults
4 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6827862/ - Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Insomnia and Anxiety: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Study
5- Cheah KL, Norhayati MN, Husniati Yaacob L, Abdul Rahman R. Effect of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One 2021;16(9):e0257843.