Most likely, you’ve heard about a super herb called Ashwagandha. This herb is a very popular supplement that goes by various names: Smell of Horse, Winter Cherry, and most notably Indian Ginseng.
You remember Eleuthero Root, the Siberian Ginseng we talked about before? Well this Indian Ginseng is just as potent in its effects not just for fitness, but overall health as well.
Just like the Siberian Ginseng, this adaptogen does not disappoint. The name Smell of Horse is mainly derived from the scent of this herb due to it’s horsey smell. However, the name also indicates the stallion-like power and stamina that we can expect from using it.
It’s an all-natural, legal supplement that has done wonders for everyone from athletes to cancer patients to people with metabolic and cardiac problems.
Before I get into all the great things this herb can do, let’s discuss the precautions with taking this herb first.
As with any supplements, make sure you consult with your physician if you’re unsure it’s safe to take for your health. Especially if you have any medical conditions or are taking any drugs, don’t take Ashwagandha until you get the okay from your physician.
Also, Ashwagandha has been used in the past to induce abortions in pregnant women. While no scientific studies have been done on this, it’s best to avoid this supplement if you’re pregnant or expect to be.
Those with nightshade sensitivities might want to avoid Ashwagandha as well, as it may cause dizziness or headaches while on this supplement.
Lastly and obviously, the dosage makes the poison. So even when something has the “more is better” effect, there’s a threshold where the risk of overdose and resultant damage outweighs the benefits.
We’re talking about upset stomach and diarrhea if we go a little too crazy on the dosage.
If you’re cleared to try out this awesome supplement, or know someone who can benefit from better athletic performance and/or better health, then you’re in for a treat!
Considered an all-around general tonic, Ashwagandha is known primarily for increasing longevity in Eastern cultures. It also enhances what’s known a Jing in Traditional Chinese Medicine, which equates to the vital energy, or life force, inside each of us.
As said before, this herb is more widely known for its benefits in terms of fitness and health in the Western cultures. It’s easy to see how improving one’s life force and longevity in general can enhance our other attributes as well.
Because this herb has such a broad range of uses and is so potent in each, we’ll cover in detail the main aspects of we can get from this.
As far as the other benefits this herb has, feel free to check them out under the reference I’ve listed at the end of this review.
Besides the benefits for cardiovascular fitness, fertility, overall health, and others that we’ve mentioned, Ashwagandha is great for reducing stress and anxiety.
A study performed in India and published in 2012 tested this anti-stress and anti-anxiety effect of the adaptogen. 64 participants with a history of chronic stress were separated into a placebo group and the testing group.
The testing group were given a 300 mg, full-spectrum extract of Ashwagandha root in capsule form. Both groups took their capsules twice a day for 60 days, and assessments in the form of questionnaires were used on Day 15, 30, and 45.
On the final day, safety and the actual efficacy of the herb were evaluated.
Using stress-assessment tests and serum cortisol levels, the results showed those taking the Ashwagandha capsules had significantly less stress and anxiety than the placebo group.¹
The results were reflected across all the tests taken.
Although the results from questionnaires alone can be subjective and based on the individual’s personality and other unique factors, serum cortisol level is an objective parameter in gauging stress and anxiety.
Final results show that supplementing with Ashwagandha reduces serum cortisol levels 3 times more than taking a placebo.
The questionnaires themselves showed that stress reduction in the Ashwagandha group was 8 to 31 times more than that of the placebo group.
As far as adverse effects? There was nothing significantly different between the two groups from this study.
There weren’t extensive in-depth studies done on the longevity effects of Ashwagandha, although many anecdotes and cultural references indicate this herb increases one’s life span.
The few studies that were done that indicates the longevity effects of Ashwagandha were performed to study its anti-cancer effects, which we’ll get into later.
One study showed that Withanone derived from Ashwagandha induced the down-regulation of certain factors in human cells. This in turn correlated to a 20% increase in cellular lifespan, even when the same factors were up-regulated in existing cancer cells.²
This in effect delayed the rate of aging in normal, non-cancerous cells.
When it comes to cardiovascular health, the main concerns most people have are cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and blood pressure.
Several studies were performed to look at Ashwagandha effects on cholesterol levels in rats. One study looked at rats fed with a standard chow diet while supplementing with Ashwagandha.
Another study looked at rats fed a hypercholesterolemic diet (diet with very high dietary cholesterol) while supplementing with Ashwagandha.
Then we have diabetic rats continuing on their regular diets while supplementing with the herb.
All 3 studies showed significant decreases in LDL cholesterol, up to 62.7% in the study with the hypercholesterolemic diet³. There was also minor increases of HDL cholesterol in all 3 studies as well.
Onto human trials.
In a trial with 18 healthy participants, each were given 750 mg to 1,250 mg of Ashwagandha throughout a period of 30 days, with increasing dosage every 10 days.
The study showed a significant decrease in LDL and total cholesterol levels, with a 9.7% decrease in LDL cholesterol levels.4
Studies showed Ashwagandha caused no significant changes to blood pressure, but there is something noteworthy for triglycerides.
Over 30 days, those with metabolic syndrome ingesting 400 mg of Ashwagandha thrice per day lowered blood triglyceride levels by 12%.5
Power And Body Composition
The same study just mentioned for cholesterol also tested for strength and power effects from supplementing with Ashwagandha. After the 30 days, participants showed the following results.
- Increased grip strength by 8%
- Increased quad strength by 21.5%
- Increased back strength by 15.5%
- Increased lean body weight by 3.8%
- Decreased fat percentage by 2.3%
In a 6 month study, 10 out of 40 participants supplemented with Ashwagandha along with their normal diet. After the trial, the following results were obtained through various power and speed tests.6
- Increased running velocity by 3%
- Increased absolute power by 8.8%
- Increase relative power by 10%
The final study we’ll look at took 50 volunteers and separated them into the Ashwagandha group (300 mg/2x daily) and a placebo group (starch capsules). Over the course of 8 weeks, each took the provided supplement and underwent the same training program.
As the trend from the two previous study has shown, the Ashwagandha group showed greater increases in strength, muscle size, and muscle recovery, as shown below.7
- 138% increased in max bench press vs 84%
- 52% increase in max leg extension vs 38%
- 8% increase in thigh circumference vs 5.6%
- 17% increase in arm circumference vs 10%
- 3.3% increase in chest circumference vs 1.4%
- 99% decrease in serum creatine kinase vs 93%
All of these numbers show the potent effects of Ashwagandha has for athletes and fitness enthusiasts in general. Simply adding this to our diet enhances every aspect of our physical fitness.
Of course we need to talk about the endurance enhancement aspect of Ashwagandha. This is definitely one of its strong points, as it’s well known to increase stamina, not just in sports, but every aspect of physical activity.
One 8 week study with elite level cyclists looked at the effects Ashwagandha has on the following parameters.
- Metabolic Equivalent (Energy Expenditure)
- Respiratory Exchange Ratio (Amount of CO2 exhaled vs O2 consumed)
- Time to exhaustion
Again, no surprises here.
The group that took 500 mg Ashwagandha capsule twice per day showed significant increases in all attributes, while the placebo group show no significant improvements at all.
The attribute increases are as follows.8
- VO2Max increased by 12.6%
- Metabolic Equivalent increased by 12.1%
- Respiratory Exchange Ratio increased by 1.9%
- Time to exhaustion increased by 7.2%
Much like its effect on power and body composition, athletes typically look for these types of gains with illegal substances like growth hormones and steroids.
Bone Health, Testosterone, And Sexual Health
In a series of studies done on rodent, there are some evidence that Ashwagandha can increase bone mass and stave of various degenerative bone conditions like osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatism.2
Although the conclusiveness and the strength of the evidence isn’t strong or clear, empirical evidence suggests that Ashwagandha can improve the health of both bones and joints.
Another one of Ashwagandha’s well-known effects is on testosterone.
Famed for it’s effects on raising the fertility of infertile men, it’s considered to be one of the most “Yang” herbs in eastern cultures.
Consider a study done on 75 normal healthy men and 75 infertile men that were supplementing with Ashwagandha.
The results were nothing short of astounding.
Besides the significant increases in anti-oxidative vitamins and decreases in oxidative biomarkers, both testosterone and the quality of sperm improved dramatically.
The following results were obtained from this study.10
- Testosterone increased by average of 25.5% (highest at 40.7%)
- Sperm volume increased by average of 18% (highest at 30%)
- Sperm concentration increased by average of 81% (highest at 179%)
- Sperm count increased by average of 120% (highest at 263%)
- Sperm motility increase by average of 28% (highest at 48%)
Needless to explain, Ashwagandha can do WONDERS for men’s sexual health.
So Much More
There are so many more benefits to this amazing herb that it’d take a mega post for me to explain them all. Everything from improved neurological health to increased red blood cell count to enhanced immune system, this adaptogen seem to do it all.
In addition to all the benefits we’ve discussed within this article, the real question is: Why AREN’T we taking this super herb already?
Well, there’s one important factor we all need to decide on first.
Which One To Choose From?
We don’t want to pick just any source of Ashwagandha. Matter of fact, this supplement comes in so many forms that it’s hard to decipher which will work the way we want.
We have everything from capsules to root powders to liquid extracts, it’s important to know which will give us the benefits we’re looking for.
After researching various sources and reading testimonials and experiences, there is one brand of Ashwagandha that I high recommend.
So Why This Brand?
First off all, Lost Empire Herbs is a brand that makes other great products like the Eleuthero Root I introduced to you before.
But this Ashwagandha product stands in a class of it’s own.
You see, it’s a liquid form tincture of Ashwagandha, which means the nutrients and essence of the adaptogen is available for quick absorption, as opposed to capsules and powder forms that require breaking down.
That’s not all.
Just a few other reasons why this is THE Ashwagandha product you want to be taking:
- Farmed biodynamically, meaning that the roots are of the highest quality with the most nutrients in them, in turn delivering an extremely nutrient dense tincture.
- Nothing is wasted in the process. 40% organic cane alcohol with 60% purified water is used in the tincture. Any remaining root matter is burned and purified for mineral extraction, which is then added back into the tincture to further enhance its quality.
- The tincture is produced spagyrically, which is done by a 3-step process:
Using this method, we get a much more potent and “essence-dense” end product than just any regular tincture. Extracting the mineral content of the plant and adding it back in makes sure that all the nutrients are captured.
In turn, we can expect much stronger effects from this tincture even at a lower dose compared to other Ashwagandha products on the market.
Looking to get stronger? Faster? Last Longer? Or maybe improving cardiac health and overall well-being? How about increase testosterone and libido to that of a 20 year old?
Ashwagandha has been shown to do all of those and more.
At this point, it’s all a matter of actually committing to changing those areas of our lives. Are you committed enough to improve your life?
- Visavadiya NP, Narasimhacharya AV Hypocholesteremic and antioxidant effects of Withania somnifera (Dunal) in hypercholesteremic rats . Phytomedicine. (2007)
- Raut AA, et al Exploratory study to evaluate tolerability, safety, and activity of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in healthy volunteers . J Ayurveda Integr Med. (2012)
- Agnihotri AP, et al Effects of Withania somnifera in patients of schizophrenia: A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled pilot trial study . Indian J Pharmacol. (2013)