What Is Ashwagandha?
One of the most rejuvenating herbs in alternative medicine is ashwagandha. You may have already heard of it as it has become more popular and mainstream in recent years. This plant is native to India, Southeast Asia, and parts of Africa. The roots and leaves of the ashwagandha can be turned into extract or powder, which are used in various products.
Some believe the plant has terrific health benefits, but more research is needed to confirm these claims. However, plenty of human studies suggest it can be beneficial. We will go over everything you need to know about ashwagandha and how to use it.
The History of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is a small shrub that produces yellow flowers and velvety leaves. It's also known as Indian winter cherry, Indian ginseng, or Withania somnifera. Many parts of India use a traditional medicine system called Ayurveda, which relies on nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, and ayurvedic herbs to treat various conditions. Ashwagandha has been used for centuries as a part of ayurvedic medicine.
Many use ashwagandha to help with issues like low energy levels, pain, and anxiety. Some also use it for improving overall health.
Ashwagandha is a part of the adaptogen plant family, which is well-known for its health advantages when consumed as teas, powders, tinctures, or supplements. To be classified as an adaptogen, plants have to meet certain criteria. They must be classified as non-toxic, help regulate stress, and benefit a person’s overall well-being.
You can also find ashwagandha in a variety of body products, like Spongellé’s Spiritual Detox Buffer Collection, which uses ashwagandha root extract to help take your shower experience to the next level.
Below are several possible benefits of ashwagandha:
1. May Help With Stress and Tension
Stress and anxiety are natural responses to certain events and situations. A little stress can even be a good thing. However, your stress levels can sometimes be too high, leading to more problems. One of the most common uses of ashwagandha by some people is to help reduce feelings of stress and tension.
It may help support a healthy stress response, according to several studies. In one study, participants who consumed ashwagandha extract for eight weeks saw a significant reduction in their stress levels.
Another study examined feelings of tension in participants taking 240 mg of ashwagandha extract for 60 days straight. Once again, they found that the people taking the supplement experienced a notable decrease in their stress.
These results are promising and show a possible link between the herb and lower stress and anxiety levels but more research needs to be done for a decisive answer.
2. May Support Muscles and Strength
There may be a possible link between ashwagandha and the strength and size of your muscles. Research still is ongoing, but one study found an increase in the speed and strength of participants taking ashwagandha orally. Other studies showed lower body fat percentage, reduced cholesterol levels, as well as stronger muscles.
Another study tracked men's bench press and leg extension strength along with ashwagandha consumption. Participants who consumed ashwagandha showed significant muscle growth. Their arms and chest muscles were noticeably bigger than those who did not, and those who consumed it also had a decrease in body fat. As more research is completed on ashwagandha, we will have a better idea of its impact on muscle systems.
3. May Support Brain Function
People that struggle with cognitive function problems sometimes use ashwagandha. Cognitive functions include various mental processes like memory, perception, decision making, attention, and language. These brain functions are critical to people's everyday life.
Multiple clinical studies suggest that ashwagandha may support cognitive function in certain people. Researchers found that ashwagandha may help support attention, reaction time, executive functions, and performance on cognitive tasks in some people.
Another study had participants take 600 mg of ashwagandha extract every day for eight weeks. It led to major improvements in general memory, attention, and information processing speed. The researchers found that the compounds in ashwagandha may have antioxidant effects that could potentially benefit cognitive health.
Even with these studies and clinical trials, more research is needed before experts can draw definitive conclusions. Before taking ashwagandha supplements, you should talk to a healthcare professional about the possible benefits or risks.
4. May Help Reproductive Health
When it comes to reproductive health, balancing your hormones is crucial. Ashwagandha has been linked to healthy cortisol levels, which can also potentially support the reproductive system. The body produces cortisol, a stress hormone, as a response to perceived danger. You don't actually have to be in trouble for your body to sense stress or danger and boost your cortisol levels.
When your body produces too much cortisol, it creates a chain reaction that impacts your reproductive hormones. Your hormones need to be balanced for your reproductive hormones to do their job efficiently. Without these hormones, you wouldn't be able to go through ovulation, or you would have a low sperm count (depending upon your gender).
Some studies suggest that ashwagandha can help the reproductive system by potentially supporting healthy cortisol levels. Once your cortisol levels are under control, your body can relax and produce the necessary reproductive hormones.
5. May Help Support Sleep Quality
Not getting a restful night's sleep can be the worst. A lack of sleep can also cause many problems for your immune system, brain function, and more. Many people use ashwagandha to help them sleep.
One study found that 50 adults aged 65-80 had significantly better sleep when taking ashwagandha for 12 weeks. Researchers believe it's effective because ashwagandha contains triethylene glycol, which can cause drowsiness. Its ability to ease feelings of stress also helps with sleep quality since sometimes worrying can keep you awake.
There isn't enough research on ashwagandha yet to evaluate its effectiveness as a sleep aid. Sleep medications are regulated by the FDA and may work better for people that need help falling asleep.
6. May Help Support Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
There is limited evidence that ashwagandha can help support healthy blood sugar levels. Some clinical studies show that ashwagandha may help support overall healthy levels of blood sugar.
Researchers found that ashwagandha contains withaferin A. It may be able to stimulate the cells to take in glucose in the bloodstream. As with the other ashwagandha benefits, not enough studies have been done to confirm that ashwagandha can be relied on to support a healthy metabolism by working to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Until more studies are completed, it’s best to follow your doctor’s recommendations.
7. May Help Support Emotional Wellness
First, if you are struggling with mental health issues, seek professional treatment to care for your specific needs.
Some researchers have found that ashwagandha may work to support overall wellness and maintain feelings of optimism.
While ashwagandha may help with emotional wellness, it can't replace prescription medication for those who need it. You should consult a doctor before taking ashwagandha with other medications.
What To Know Before Using Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is considered a safe supplement for most people to take. However, there are several side effects of ashwagandha, and the long-term effects aren't known.
One review of 69 studies concluded that ashwagandha root seems to be a safe and effective way to help with feelings of stress and poor sleep quality. Another study on 80 men and women revealed that consuming 600 mg of ashwagandha every day for eight weeks did not result in any adverse health effects.
However, not everyone should take ashwagandha. For example, pregnant women should avoid it since it may cause complications, including pregnancy loss. Breastfeeding mothers may also want to avoid taking ashwagandha. People taking certain medications or with hormone-sensitive medical conditions should not take ashwagandha.
Some people reported side effects after taking ashwagandha, such as upper gastrointestinal discomfort and diarrhea. Ashwagandha may also affect the thyroid in some people. You should consult a healthcare professional before taking something new, even if it's herbal medicine. A professional can also give you medical advice on how high of a dosage you can handle.
Research suggests that ashwagandha's effects don't happen immediately and may take several months before you notice changes. You can buy ashwagandha from various supplement manufacturers, vitamin shops, and health food stores. You can also get ashwagandha body products like those at Spongellé. Some of our favorite ashwagandha products include our Jasmine Star Spiritual Detox Buffer and our Eternal Mint Spiritual Detox Buffer.
For 22+ washes, these buffers can help you wash away the negativity in your life and bring you a refreshing, balanced feeling. They’re potentially beneficial not only for feelings of positivity, but they can also support your skin with the nourishment and hydration that it needs. With these shower gems, you can cleanse, buff, detox, and renew your skin.
Ashwagandha has been around for centuries and has many possible health benefits. Studies suggest it may help support emotional wellness, maintain feelings of clarity, and soothe the body.
Ashwagandha is relatively safe, but some people should avoid the herb. It's important to consult with a medical professional before taking any supplement. However, you don't need professional advice to use one of our amazing vegan-friendly body buffers infused with ashwagandha for an at-home spa experience!
9 Proven Health Benefits of Ashwagandha | Healthline
An Investigation Into the Stress-Relieving and Pharmacological Actions of an Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Extract| PMC
Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Study | PMC
Exploratory Study To Evaluate Tolerability, Safety, and Activity of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in Healthy Volunteers| PMC
An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda | PMC
Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract on Cognitive Functions in Healthy, Stressed Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study | PMC
Safety and Clinical Effectiveness of Withania somnifera (Linn.) Dunal Root in Human Ailments | PMC
Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Study in Healthy Volunteers | PMC