Ashwagandha is an ancient herb used in traditional Ayurveda. Ayurveda is an alternative approach to medicine based on balancing the mind, body, and spirit. It is a “whole body” healing system, relying on natural and holistic practices for physical and mental health. Ayurvedic herbs and spices are an important component of this system, with ashwagandha being one of them.
Ashwagandha is most prominently found and used in India and it’s sometimes called “Indian Ginseng.” It can be translated to “smell of the horse” in Sanskrit, which refers to the root’s unique smell and its ability to increase strength. This herb has been used for thousands of years for healing purposes and for promoting energy production, stress management, and overall health.
Ashwagandha’s popularity has remained strong throughout these years. There are many potential benefits to this herb, especially for men (or individuals identified male at birth). From improving athletic performance to increasing testosterone, ashwagandha has been found to have a variety of potential benefits for men – and that’s what we’ll be exploring in what follows.
Many clinical trials are small. More extensive research is needed to establish the proposed benefits of this supplement.
Ashwagandha is a small evergreen plant with yellow flowers. Its roots and leaves are typically made into an extract or powder form. It has been highly recognized for relieving and adapting our body to stress. You may have heard it referred to as an “adaptogen.” Let's take a closer look at how ashwagandha may support your health and well-being.
Here are six suggested benefits of ashwagandha for men.
As mentioned, ashwagandha’s most well-known benefit is its ability to reduce occasional stress levels and enhance well-being. In a 60-day study, supplementing with 240 mg of ashwagandha appeared to lower morning cortisol levels.
That’s important because cortisol is our body’s natural stress hormone. Higher cortisol levels put our body into “fight or flight” mode, which can affect many areas of our health. This study suggests that ashwagandha can provide stress-relieving benefits through its continuous effect on the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis, which is our body’s main stress response system.
Subjective data was collected through the Hamilton Scale, where participants showed a significant reduction in stress scores.
Additionally, this study reported improvements in stress levels without any adverse effects through the use of 125 mg of standardized ashwagandha extract. Those taking this supplement showed a significant decrease in reported levels of tension as well as cortisol, c-reactive protein, and pulse rate. These markers can all be possible biochemical indicators of stress.
Further studies with a larger and more diverse sample size along with varying dosages would be important to support these findings.
Ashwagandha may also contribute to improvements in physical performance.
A 2021 review of 12 studies evaluated this herb’s effect on physical performance in healthy adults. Supplementation of ashwagandha demonstrated a positive effect on cardiorespiratory function through an increase in oxygen and strength. It was also shown to reduce fatigue and optimize recovery. Supplementation doses varied from 120-1240 mg per day.
In addition, elite cyclists taking 500mg of ashwagandha twice daily for eight weeks saw boosted endurance. This study reported improvements in VO2 max, metabolic equivalent, and length of exhaustion on a treadmill. VO2 max measures how much oxygen your body uses during physical activity. It shows how well your heart and veins can push blood to your muscles and the rest of the body. This can be an effective measurement of fitness and heart health. The metabolic equivalent is a measurement of how much energy a person expends during exercise. It can indicate the intensity of physical activity, which shows how hard your muscles are working.
Some have suggested that ashwagandha can boost testosterone and fertility in men.
Studies have shown that taking 240 mg of ashwagandha daily can result in reduced dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEA-S) in the body – which is noteworthy, since DHEA-S plays a role in making testosterone. The study also found, however, that this supplementation resulted in reduced cortisol levels and increased testosterone levels. While these changes can have a positive effect in men’s reproductive health, further investigation is warranted.
We’re finding that ashwagandha’s ability to reduce occasional stress may contribute to other health-promoting benefits. As stress levels reduce, you may notice an improvement in your energy levels.
Based on this study, VO2 max significantly increased when taking 500 mg of ashwagandha twice daily for eight weeks. VO2 max is a key component in sending oxygen to the muscles. VO2 max helps our body produce and utilize more energy.
Adequate and restful sleep is essential for many body functions. Sleep allows the body to recharge and recover from the day. Ashwagandha is suspected to help relax the mind and improve sleep quality.
For example, this study found that participants taking 300 mg of ashwagandha twice daily (600 mg daily) had clinical improvements in sleep quality, onset latency, and efficiency compared to those taking the placebo.
Still, studies on a larger scale are needed to confirm these findings.
Studies suggest that taking ashwagandha can improve brain function. Cognitive decline occurs as part of the aging process. This herb has been used in Ayurveda medicine to boost memory and cognition.
A study of 50 adults showed that those taking 600 mg of ashwagandha daily for eight weeks had improvements in:
Many studies have shown varying doses to reap these potential benefits of ashwagandha. At Care/of, we recommend 600 mg per day. However, studies have shown a positive impact with anywhere from 125 mg to 1000 mg daily. Consult your healthcare provider if you have more questions about dosage.
Every person reacts differently to health and lifestyle changes. It can take a different amount of time for each person to adjust to something new added to their routine. That said, ashwagandha has been shown in studies to take anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks to notice results. Staying consistent in any new routine is important to see changes.
Ashwagandha is very safe for most people, and side effects are rare. However, some studies have reported minimal digestive discomfort. Further, longer-term studies are needed to have a better grasp of possible side effects.
Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should always consult their doctor before taking supplements. If you are taking medications, speak with your doctor to confirm that ashwagandha won’t interact negatively with any of them.
Ashwagandha is an ancient herb that has been present for thousands of years. Study findings suggest ashwagandha may help men lower their stress levels, boost energy, promote restful sleep, boost testosterone levels, and support cognitive function. Larger, more extensive studies would be necessary to support these findings.
While this supplement is considered safe for most people, it may not be appropriate for everyone. Speak with your doctor before adding anything new to your current medication and supplement routine.
Care/of is third-party tested, C.L.E.A.N. certified, vegan, and gluten-free. You can check out our ashwagandha supplement to learn more.