Ashwagandha has been used for centuries in traditional medicine for its many healing benefits, from promoting a good night’s sleep to helping manage stress. Keep reading to learn more about this ancient herb and what science has to say about ashwagandha benefits for the brain and body.
What Is Ashwagandha?
Withania somnifera, commonly known as ashwagandha or winter cherry, is an evergreen shrub in the nightshade family. The short plant grows 14–30 inches tall and sprouts greenish-yellow leaves with small orange-red fruit. It originates from India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa.
Practitioners of the Indian traditional medicine, Ayurveda, have used ashwagandha for its healing properties for thousands of years. It’s part of Rasayana, the rejuvenator branch of Ayurveda aimed to revive the body after periods of feeling worn down or depleted. It is used to recover after an illness, to manage stress, or to maintain liveliness in later stages of life. Traditionally, the plant is crushed into a fine powder and mixed with water, ghee, or honey.
Benefits of Ashwagandha
People have taken ashwagandha for centuries to improve well-being. Today, it’s considered an adaptogen thanks to its potential to calm the mind and relieve stress. So what does modern science have to say about the benefits of ashwagandha? Let’s take a look at the latest research behind the healing properties of this plant.
1. It helps calm the brain and relieve stress.
We all experience stress from time to time. It’s our body’s natural reaction to danger. But, long-term chronic stress can affect our health, especially when it comes to our brains. That makes stress management crucial to protect cognition and overall well-being.
Ashwagandha seems to protect against the impact of stress on the body, so we feel more calm and relaxed. One study observed a group of 64 participants. Those who took two capsules of 300 mg of ashwagandha saw a significant reduction in stress. By day 60, the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, dropped substantially compared to the placebo group.
Another study saw similar effects on relieving stress. 60 adults took 240 mg of ashwagandha extract once daily. After 60 days, participants felt less nervous and more relaxed. They also experienced significant drops in cortisol levels. The findings suggest that ashwagandha can help feel more at ease and reduce the impact of stress.
Taking healing herbs like ashwagandha is just one part of stress management. Read more about how to reduce stress through lifestyle habits, so you can feel your best.
2. It enhances memory and cognition.
When you need to put your thinking cap on, consider taking a daily dose of ashwagandha. The Sensoril® ashwagandha brand has been studied in several clinical trials. The first study observed the effect of Sensoril on memory and focus, with promising results!
Healthy adult males between the ages of 20 to 35 took 250 mg of Sensoril® ashwagandha, twice daily in the morning and evening. Participants saw major improvements in five key areas of cognitive performance.
3. It boosts physical performance.
Staying active benefits your entire system, both physically and mentally. It keeps your brain sharp. It strengthens bones and muscles. It also helps with your overall mood, so you feel more balanced and energized.
It turns out that you can support your performance during exercise with ashwagandha. Here’s what the science has to say about it:
One study found ashwagandha supplementation effective in improving physical performance in several areas, including strength/power, cardiorespiratory fitness, and fatigue/recovery.
In a clinical study, 57 young male subjects between the ages of 18 to 50 took 300 mg of ashwagandha root extract twice daily. After eight weeks, participants saw an improvement in muscle strength during bench press and leg extension exercises. They also increased muscle size in the arms and chest as well as saw a decrease in body fat percentage.
4. It promotes healthy sleep.
Getting consistent quality sleep plays a big role in health. Those who have trouble falling or staying asleep at night could benefit from taking ashwagandha. A growing amount of research shows ashwagandha significantly improves sleep, including total sleep time, total time in bed, and sleep quality.
5. It helps you feel energized.
You might consider replacing your daily cup of coffee with ashwagandha. The plant is an adaptogen that helps boost energy levels. It also improves endurance and helps your body recover from stress.
A study of 130 stressed adults found the Sensoril® brand of ashwagandha effective in reducing fatigue and muscle pain. Ashwagandha also promotes better quality sleep, so you wake up feeling rested and refreshed each day.
Another study observed the effect of ashwagandha on cardiorespiratory endurance among a group of elite Indian cyclists. After eight weeks, participants experienced greater aerobic endurance and higher energy levels.
Frequently Asked Questions about Ashwagandha
Supplementing with ashwagandha can be a great addition to your wellness routine. If you’re new to taking the adaptogen, we’ve covered a few of the most commonly asked questions about ashwagandha below:
How much ashwagandha per day is recommended?
Everyone is different, and results will vary from person to person. Research on ashwagandha typically uses dosages between 250 and 600 mg per day. Doses are often split into two with one taken in the morning with breakfast and the other in the evening.
Ashwagandha works best when taken as part of a daily routine. Adjust the serving to suit your needs. Use as suggested or reduce the dose based on your preferences.
Do I take ashwagandha in the morning or night?
There is really no right or wrong time to take ashwagandha. It comes down to your lifestyle and personal preferences. If taken in a pill form, it might help soothe your stomach by supplementing with a meal. When in doubt, consult with your doctor to get advice on when to take ashwagandha.
What is the best ashwagandha supplement to take?
Ashwagandha supplements come in many forms. When it comes to the best ashwagandha supplement, we suggest going with those that contain clinically studied brands, like Sensoril® ashwagandha. Sensoril® ashwagandha is extracted using water only. The extraction process uses the entire plant, rather than just the root.
In a study of 130 chronically stressed subjects, Sensoril® ashwagandha has been shown to:
- Lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol
- Stabilize heart rate and blood pressure
- Enhance memory and mood by increasing DHEA and blood flow to the brain
- Increase energy levels
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