Ashwagandha is known for its adaptogenic properties, supporting the adrenal and nervous systems and fighting stress symptoms and anxiety. Ashwagandha is a traditional medicinal herb used for thousands of years to reduce stress, boost brain function and increase energy. Newer scientific research also suggests that ashwagandha can boost fertility, lower cholesterol, balance blood sugar and more. In this article, we give you the full breakdown of ashwagandha’s health benefits and uses so you can decide if ashwagandha is right for you. If you’re curious about adding ashwagandha to your diet, keep reading for some of our top picks for ashwagandha supplements and powders.
Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry, is a fruiting plant in the nightshade family (nightshades include peppers, eggplants and tomatoes among other common food plants). The plant is native to India and parts of Africa and the Middle East. Both the roots and the ripe berries of Ashwagandha have been used in traditional medicine, including Indian Ayurvedic medicine, for thousands of years. Ashwagandha is considered an “adaptogen,” meaning it may have properties that assist your body in fighting stress. Ashwagandha is typically taken as a powder, supplement or tea.
One study into Ashwagandha’s adaptogenic properties found that it blocked the stress pathway through regulating the nervous system. According to Healthline , several studies also found that ashwagandha reduced stress, anxiety and insomnia for participants, including those with stress and anxiety disorders. Ashwagandha also may improve sleep, especially in overstressed adults.
Ashwagandha’s stress-fighting properties may also help reduce the stress hormone cortisol. High cortisol levels can cause weight gain, acne, high blood pressure and a reduced immune response, among other symptoms. One study found that ashwagandha supplements lowered cortisol levels by 30% in adults with chronic stress.
Some studies suggest that ashwagandha can fight symptoms of depression by lowering stress levels and boosting energy. However, more research needs to be done to confirm these findings. If you’re dealing with depression, it’s best to consult a mental health professional before beginning treatment.
Many studies have found that ashwagandha supplements can boost reproductive health by increasing testosterone levels and sperm count. Studies suggest that these properties can also have a positive effect on body composition by increasing muscle mass and lowering body fat percentage.
Ashwagandha has been shown to have positive effects on our immune systems by increasing natural killer cells, immune cells that fight infections and keep the body in good health. Ashwagandha has also been shown to decrease inflammation, including the C-reactive protein (CRP), which is linked to heart disease.
Ashwagandha may be capable of boosting heart health by reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides, a type of fat cell linked to diabetes and high blood pressure. One study found that ashwagandha lowered overall cholesterol levels by 53%.
Research suggests that ashwagandha supplements support healthy brain function and memory by producing antioxidants that fight free radicals in our nerve cells. Ashwagandha has also traditionally been used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years to improve memory in patients. These properties may also improve overall brain function, focus and productivity.
Ashwagandha is most commonly consumed as a supplement, in the form of powders, pills and tinctures. It may be taken on its own in its pure form or combined with other adaptogenic herbs, plants or mushrooms. Ashwagandha is also a common ingredient in calming or sleep-inducing supplements (like the Calm, Sweet Calm supplement by HUM Vitamins). You may also occasionally find ashwagandha as a tea or as a powder that can be added to smoothies, coffee and more.
Note: Be careful not to overdo it. Large doses of ashwagandha have been linked to a variety of digestive symptoms including upset stomach, diarrhea and vomiting. Some studies also suggest that ashwagandha might interfere or increase side effects with certain pharmaceuticals. Always consult your doctor before beginning a supplement routine.
The supplement industry is not regulated by the FDA, so you’ll want to pay close attention to sourcing and ingredient lists to ensure purity, potency and responsible sourcing. In general, ashwagandha supplements should not be taken during pregnancy and lactation.
Vitanica Adrenal Assist: available at iHerb and Amazon
This adaptogenic blend is specially formulated to balance the adrenal system and contains 100mg of ashwagandha root extract per serving in addition to Vitamins C, B5 and B6, holy basil and magnesium. Vitanica is a trusted brand with quality sourcing standards and the capsules are vegetarian and vegan friendly.
Gaia Herbs Ashwagandha Root Capsules: available at iHerb and Amazon
These capsules each contain 350mg of ashwagandha root extract and are rigorously tested for purity and potency. Gaia is a certified B-Corp business and sources their ashwagandha sustainably from their own farm in North Carolina and farming partners in India.
Organic Traditions Ashwagandha Root Powder: available at iHerb
This pure ashwagandha root powder is USDA certified organic and can be easily added to juices, water, coffee, tea, smoothies and other beverages. This powder contains no added fillers, flavors, preservatives or other additives.
Gaia Herbs Adrenal Support: available at Amazon and iHerb
This adrenal support blend from Gaia is formulated with rhodiola, holy basil, ashwagandha and oats to reduce stress and anxiety. This blend is also known for boosting energy. All Gaia products are tested for purity and screened for heavy metals, pesticide residue and microbes.
Eclectic Institute Ashwagandha Tincture: available at iHerb
This USDA organic, non-GMO tincture is formulated with pure dried organic ashwagandha root and grain-free alcohol. The tincture can be taken directly under the tongue or added to water, juice, or other beverages. This product is vegan and gluten, dairy and soy free.
Gaia Herbs SleepThru Sleep Support: available at Amazon and iHerb
This non-habit-forming sleep aid contains 940mg of ashwagandha, passion flower, magnolia bark and jujube dates to soothe stress-related insomnia and sleeplessness. This product is certified organic, non-GMO and free of any allergens or additives.
Katy Severson is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save […]