Guide to Ashwagandha Supplements | Are They Beneficial?

With the rise of natural and holistic medicine, ashwagandha supplements have become increasingly popular among those looking to experience all the health benefits that this ancient shrub has to offer.

Whether you’re a seasoned fitness enthusiast or just beginning your wellness journey,  adding ashwagandha to your diet seems to be both exciting and beneficial.

Is that really the case? Let’s find out.

What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is an herb native to India and has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It is often referred to as “Indian ginseng” or “winter cherry”, which is somewhat odd because its name literally translates to “smell of the horse”, which is not how we remember cherries smelling.

Jokes aside, ashwagandha is widely considered a powerful adaptogen, meaning it has the ability to help your body respond to both internal and external stressors.

The ashwagandha supplements are derived from the roots (and leaves) of the plant and have been used to treat a wide variety of health issues, such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and exhaustion.

Recently, many have crowned ashwagandha as a natural testosterone booster, claiming that the herb can help with improving athletic performance and gaining muscle mass and strength, which is the main reason it became so popular with fitness enthusiasts and gym goers.

How Does Ashwagandha Supplementation Affect the Body?

Since ashwagandha is considered an adaptogen, it helps the body deal with physical and mental stress.

When taking ashwagandha supplements, your body will experience a decrease in cortisol levels and reduced hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity, which will, in turn, reduce the effects of stress on the body.

In addition to reducing stress levels, ashwagandha supplementation has also been linked to improved cognitive function, enhanced athletic performance, and better sleep, but more on that in a second.

Benefits of Taking Ashwagandha Supplements

There are quite a lot of studies that show the positive effects of taking ashwagandha supplements on the body. Let’s take a look at some of them.

As we already mentioned, one of the most important benefits of ashwagandha supplementation is its ability to reduce stress and anxiety.

According to a double-blind, randomized study from 2019, supplementing with 250 to 600 mg of ashwagandha for eight weeks can significantly reduce cortisol levels (among other things), leading to improved stress levels and sleep quality. [1]

Another benefit that is often attributed to ashwagandha supplements is increased testosterone levels. Unlike many other “natural testosterone boosters”, ashwagandha actually has some research to back it up.

A study from 2019 showed an increase of almost 15% in total testosterone levels in men who took ashwagandha supplements for eight weeks. [2]

In addition to all of that,  ashwagandha has also been linked to improved cognitive function, better sleep quality, reduced inflammation, and even symptomatic relief from depression and anxiety.

Does Ashwagandha Help with Exercise Performance?

It goes without saying that if a natural supplement can significantly increase the levels of testosterone, it also stands to reason that it can help with improving exercise performance.

A study analysis from 2021 showed that ashwagandha supplementation could, in fact, help with improving athletic performance and oxygen use during exercises. [3]

What’s even more impressive is that the results of this analysis didn’t rely on just a single study but rather on a combination of 12 different studies that involved a large number of participants.

That said, there is still a lot to be learned about the effects of ashwagandha supplementation on exercise performance, so more research is definitely needed.

But for now, it certainly seems like ashwagandha can help with improving exercise performance, although it should be noted that the effects might not be as pronounced as some would like you to believe.

How Much Ashwagandha Should I Take Daily?

The jury is still out on this one, as there is no clear consensus on how much ashwagandha should be taken daily for optimal results.

That said, most studies suggest that an effective dose of ashwagandha ranges from 250 to 600 (with the latter appearing to be the optimal dose) mg per day, depending on the individual.

What are the Side Effects of Ashwagandha?

While we still require a lot of research to uncover all of the potential side effects, so far, ashwagandha appears to be generally safe for most people when taken in reasonable doses.

That said, ashwagandha may cause some minor side effects, such as upset stomach, nausea, or diarrhea. In rare cases, some liver issues might occur.

As far as the topical use of ashwagandha is concerned, there isn’t enough research to determine its safety. So, in this case, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid using ashwagandha topically.

Does Ashwagandha Interact with Medications?

Considering the fact that ashwagandha is an herbal supplement with various effects on the human body, it’s not surprising that it can interact with certain medications.

For instance, it’s possible that ashwagandha may interact with medications used to treat diabetes, high blood pressure, and even thyroid conditions.

It is also possible for it to interact with sedatives, blood thinners, blood pressure medications, and others.

Therefore, it’s always best to consult with your doctor before taking any ashwagandha supplements.

Are Ashwagandha Supplements Worth the Money?

While the research is certainly promising, it’s still too early to make any definitive conclusions about the effectiveness of ashwagandha supplements – especially for muscle-building or athletic purposes.

That said, the lack of known side effects and predominantly positive anecdotal and research-backed evidence suggest that ashwagandha supplements may indeed be worth a try for those looking to improve the overall health and fitness of their bodies.

Another thing worth noting is the cost – ashwagandha supplements are usually very affordable, so they certainly wouldn’t be a burden on your wallet.


At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide whether or not ashwagandha, or any other supplement, is worth using.

However, considering the potential benefits of ashwagandha supplementation on physical and mental health, it might just be worth giving a try – especially if you’re looking for an all-natural way to improve your well-being.

Just make sure to consult with your doctor first and be mindful of any potential side effects or interactions with other medications.

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