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Friday August 5 2022

The Essential Guide To Ashwagandha, The Adaptogen Powerhouse

What is Ashwagandha

Spanning back thousands of years, the name Ashwagandha roughly translates to “the smell of a horse” in Sanskrit. Perhaps not the most appealing epithet, this unassuming shrub boasts an impressive list of benefits for both the mind and body.

In appearance, the Ashwagandha is small and short with velvety leaves and bell flowers. The plant is also known as “Indian Ginseng” and “Indian Winter Cherry”. Native to India, The Middle East and North Africa, for thousands of years, Ashwagandha has been cultivated and used in ayurvedic medicine and due to the several beneficial properties, it is now grown all over the word and is easily accessible in most health stores, usually alongside other herbs sold under the category of adaptogens.

What is an adaptogen?

The term adaptogen refers to certain herbs that have a unique balancing effect on the body. They can help you react to and recover from mental, physical and environmental stress factors and restore homeostasis, a self-regulating process by which biological systems maintain stability while adjusting to changing external conditions. As an example, the same adaptogen, in this case Ashwagandha, can have a calming effect on one person or an energising effect on another. Adaptogens such as Ashwagandha are also considered non-specific, meaning their effect is widespread and influences numerous bodily systems.

Ashwagandha Health Benefits

Although there are several uses of Ashwagandha traditionally, here are some of the key benefits it can provide you.

Ashwagandha for stress

Stress is a common issue in today’s world with almost everyone experiencing it. It is often brought on by everyday demands such as work and family responsibilities. The Mayo Clinic (1) states that common effects of stress can include digestive concerns, fatigue, muscle tension and problems falling asleep. Although occasional stress is normal, many people seek ways to manage and reduce excessive stress within their lives.

This is where Adaptogens come in. These herbs have been found to help the body adapt and adjust to stress. Ashwagandha is a great addition to your regular supplements as stress reduction is its best-known application. This is backed up by clinical trials (2) which demonstrate the herb’s effectiveness in reducing perceived stress compared to placebos. Also demonstrated in these same studies, Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce cortisol or stress hormone levels and boost resistance against stress.

Ashwagandha for stamina & endurance

Prefer running over weightlifting? Then Ashwagandha might be the adaptogen for you. A 2015 study published by The International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda (3) showed that Ashwagandha can support healthy adults who prefer cardio over their workouts.

In the study, athletic healthy adults were asked to take a concentrated extract of Ashwagandha for a period of 12 weeks and were then measured by a running exercise. The results found that those in the Ashwagandha ground had experienced gains in cardiorespiratory endurance and improved overall quality of life. So, if you’re looking to supplement your training, Ashwagandha will be a positive way to go.

Ashwagandha for muscle strength and recovery

If you’re a new starter to resistance training, you may not be aware that stress plays an important role in your fitness routine. When you work out, your body responds and adapts to stress on the muscles by repairing and strengthening them, leading to lean muscle definition and increased strength. This is where Ashwagandha can come into play.

In 2015, a study (4) was carried out to examine the effects of Ashwagandha on muscle strength and recovery where healthy men worked out for 8 weeks while supplementing with 600mg of Ashwagandha extract daily. It was found that they experienced a significant increase in muscle strength evidenced through bench press and leg extension exercises. Even more surprising was a significant reduction in exercise induced muscle damage within those that took the supplement. The key result from this study was that Ashwagandha helped boost strength and improve recovery amongst the participants.

Ashwagandha for anti-aging

The number one enemy when it comes to aging is stress. Increased levels of cortisol, the catabolic stress hormone, are directly related to stress, aging and disease. When chronically elevated, cortisol can catabolise (break-down) skin tissue, leading to frail, weak, aged skin that is more prone to wrinkling. Metabolism can also be slowed by elevated cortisol, leading to lethargy, fatigue, and impaired rejuvenation. It can also be very damaging to the brain and is one of the main reasons people experience a cognitive decline from a loss of focus and productivity, or more severe issues such as dementia.

Fortunately, Ashwagandha can help with this as one of the major benefits of this adaptogen is it lowers the production of the cortisol hormone. Studies (5) showed that in 60 days of taking it, Ashwagandha can reduce cortisol levels by up to 20%.

Ashwagandha for sexual wellness

Unfortunately, stress has a habit of creeping into other areas of our lives and the bedroom is no exception. It can lead to one being irritable and frustrated thus lowering your sex drive.

Throughout our history Ashwagandha has been used as an aphrodisiac and to support sexual wellness for both men and women. Because of this long traditional use, researchers continue to study this adaptogen herb to gain a deeper understanding of how it can promote a healthy sex life. In a study (6) researching women experiencing sexual challenges, Ashwagandha was found to improve sexual function. The wide-ranging benefits included improved libido, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and overall satisfaction with sex. However, Ashwagandha is not simply beneficial for women as men can also benefit from incorporating this into their sexual wellness regime. Promising research (7) has shown Ashwagandha taken by men can lead to enhanced testosterone levels and sperm count and quality.

Ashwagandha for weight management

Stress and overeating are usually connected however stress eating is commonly the reason why your weight management and fitness are quickly disrupted. Research has shown Ashwagandha may help lessen those cravings.  

A study into body weight management in adults under chronic stress through treatment with Ashwagandha (8) showed that the adaptogen helped significantly in reducing stress as shown in other clinical trials. The difference with this trial however was that it also looked at markers around stress eating which included food cravings. After 8 weeks of taking Ashwagandha consistently, participants showed a vast improvement in perceived stress and food cravings. The bonus was that the group who took Ashwagandha found that they were happier after the 8-week period, more so than the placebo group.  

Commonly Asked Questions

Can Ashwagandha be taken on an empty stomach?

It can be taken on an empty stomach and some people find that it works better that way. However, it can also be paired with a snack or meal.

Does Ashwagandha have side effects?

Although adaptogen herbs are commonly associated with benefits for the mind and body, as with all supplements, it can produce a few minor side effects for some people who take the supplement for the first time. As with all supplements, especially with taking them for the first time, we recommend discussing them with your GP or pharmacist beforehand, which is even more important if you are already taking medication.   

How long does it take for Ashwagandha to start working?

How quickly you feel the effects varies on several factors in your life. Supplements are there to support other healthy habits that help nourish your mind and body. When used in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle, Ashwagandha can begin to have a positive impact within two weeks. However, depending on your individual health it can take longer to experience big changes.

The quality of your Ashwagandha supplement will also have a big impact. Alongside this, we recommend sticking within the recommended doses to feel the most optimal results. Additionally, continued daily intake is important to allow your body to fully utilise Ashwagandha and experience its benefits.

Start taking Ashwagandha today

Here at Prym Health, we believe in the power of Ashwagandha and the key benefits mentioned above. That’s why we’ve taken great care to deliver a potent and carefully curated Ashwagandha gummy supplement. Our Ashwagandha gummy supplement is suitable for vegan and vegetarians alike using only the highest quality raw ingredients available so you can feel confident in our gummy supplement’s purity. After reading the multitude of benefits, what do you have to lose?

Sources:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573577/
  3.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4687242/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4658772/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23439798/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4609357/
  7.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3863556/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871210/
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