Ashwagandha is trending as an amazing superfood supplement for body and mind - but what does the evidence say?
"Withania somnifera", also known as “Indian ginseng”, “winter cherry” or most commonly as simply “Ashwagandha” is one of a class of plants known as adaptogens.
In its native India ashwagandha can be enjoyed within teas, tinctures and in its raw form. However, as the ashwagandha plant only grows in India, it is not usually available fresh outside of here and so is mostly consumed in powder or supplement form.
Ashwagandha has been used in traditional ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. This is an alternative medicine system which has historical roots in India but has proven to be an effective natural, root-cause solution in the modern world.
Many people now incorporate ashwagandha into their daily routine to enjoy its amazing benefits for health and wellness, let's take a look at 10 benefits of ashwagandha that are backed by science.
7 Health Benefits of Ashwagandha
1. Can help relieve stress and anxiety
We can experience stress for many reasons - emotional, psychological and physical.
Regardless of its form, stress always involves cortisol - a stress hormone that is released by the adrenal glands.
One study found that a high dose of ashwagandha root extract significantly reduced serum cortisol levels. The study participants also reported that their perceived stress levels diminished, giving them a better quality of life (1).
In another study, researchers gave high dose ashwagandha to people with anxiety. Along with other interventions, ashwagandha significantly improved mental health, concentration, energy levels, social functioning, vitality and overall quality of life too (2).
This is highly significant as ongoing stress can be detrimental to our physical and mental health.
2. Can help regulate blood sugar levels
An imbalance in blood sugar levels can contribute to energy crashes, mood swings, sugar cravings and more.
Animal studies have shown that ashwagandha may help with blood glucose management.
One small trial found that ashwagandha reduced blood sugar as effectively as oral diabetic medication in people with type 2 diabetes (3). This could be because Ashwagandha can effect cortisol, which also plays a role in regulating blood sugar (4).
3. Can help support hormone balance
Ashwagandha has been shown to support endocrine health and help balance hormone levels throughout the body.
This can effect everything from sex hormones and sexual function to thyroid health and cortisol levels which create stress.
For this reason, ashwagandha is particularly useful to help women at changing stages of the life cycle.
4. Can help support cognitive function
Research has shown that ashwagandha has abilities to boost cognitive health and help with brain function.
One study showed that reaction time and cognitive function improved significantly in men taking ashwagandha supplements versus placebo (5).
Another study found that participants with cognitive impairment experienced improvement in memory and information processing after taking ashwagandha (6).
The active ingredients in ashwagandha can also protect the brain against beta-amyloid, a plaque that causes cell damage and plays a role in developing Alzheimer’s disease (7).
This is thought to be due to the natural antioxidants found in ashwagandha, which scavenge free radicals to prevent cell damage.
5. Can support male fertility
According to one study, men taking ashwagandha powder may boost their testosterone levels, along with sperm count and sperm quality (8).
Another small study is especially promising for men struggling with infertility. Ashwagandha improved both stress and sperm quality (9).
6. Can enhance strength and endurance
Ashwagandha could be a good natural supplement to get the most out of your workout.
It has been shown to significantly impact athletic performance by improving heart and lung capacity whilst increasing energy levels.
Not only is this useful for exercise, it is also helpful for people who struggle with their energy levels or those with fatigue-related conditions.
Small studies also suggest that supplementing with ashwagandha may prove beneficial to those on a weight lifting regimen.
At the end of the eight-week study, participants taking ashwagandha had increased their muscle strength in bench press and leg extension routines, compared to those taking a placebo (10).
7. May help fight disease
Ashwagandha contains an active component of Withaferin A (WFA), which has been shown to have a number of benefits against many human illnesses.
It is great for the immune system and has antibiotic, antibacterial and cytotoxic function.
This could make ashwagandha an effective adjuvant treatment alongside medical interventions. For example, ashwagandha has potent anti-inflammatory properties and is very useful in painful conditions such as arthritis.
Side Effects of KSM-66 Ashwagandha
Like every variety of ashwagandha and all other adaptogens, KSM-66 should be avoided during pregnancy.
There is no research to suggest that it might be harmful to mother or baby. However, as there is little research into the safety of adaptogens during pregnancy, it is always better to be safe until more conclusive evidence is available.
If you have a medical condition or are taking medications - it is always best to discuss any food or supplements with a GP or medical professional too.
Balance Tonic with KSM-66 Ashwagandha 🌸
One daily serving of Balance Tonic provides a brilliant therapeutic dose of 500mg of KSM-66 Ashwagandha - the gold standard.
It is derived using a unique extraction process which harnesses a full spectrum extract from just the ashwagandha root - not the leaves.
The result is an ashwagandha extract which has the highest quality and best bioavailability.
This powerful adaptogen is added to Balance Tonic to help promote female hormonal balance, along with five other superfood ingredients to support similar benefits.
With wild blueberry, hibiscus, baobab, KSM-66 ashwagandha, shatavari root and maca root - it is the perfect daily tonic to help you destress and regain your inner female balance.
You can learn more about the benefits of Balance Tonic in our blog posts below.