Nine Ashwagandha Health Benefits for A Long and Healthy Life

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Nine Ashwagandha Health Benefits for A Long and Healthy Life

Yes, it's hard to pronounce, and I still must check my spelling when I type "Ashwagandha", but surely this is one herb you'll want to know about and try out, because there are at least nine Ashwagandha health benefits that can improve your health and help you in your quest to live a long and healthy life.

Whether you're stressed, need a testosterone boost, want to better control your blood sugar or cholesterol, or reduce inflammation - Ashwagandha just might be the best single herb you can consume, particularly the KSM-66® enhanced version.

Some Ashwagandha Background

In Sanskrit, Ashwagandha means "the smell of a horse," but it doesn't, not to my nose. The horse reference was used because in traditional cultures the herb was thought to impart the vigor and strength of a stallion, and it has thus been traditionally prescribed to help people strengthen their immune system after an illness.

Ashwagandha belongs to the same family as the tomato, the "nightshades". It's a plump shrub with oval leaves and yellow flowers that produce a red fruit about the size of a raisin. The herb is native to the dry regions of India, northern Africa, and the Middle East, but today is also grown in mild climates, including in the United States. When growing in the ground, Ashwagandha (also called "Withania Somnifera") looks like this:

ashwagandha offers many health benefits

Both the berries and the root of the plant are used to make Ashwagandha root extract in powder form. The powder can be consumed in capsule form or as a powder drunk in some liquid medium.

Reportedly, the type of Ashwagandha extract that is the most concentrated and highly absorbable is KSM-66®. I have more to tell you about this later on, but first let's turn to the nine Ashwagandha health benefits that could help you thrive.

1. Ashwagandha May Reduce Stress and Cortisol Levels

reducing stress is one of Ashwagandha's health benefits

Cortisol is known as a "stress hormone" because your adrenal glands release it in response to stress, as well as when your blood sugar levels get too low. Unfortunately, in some cases, cortisol levels may become chronically elevated, which can lead to high blood sugar levels and increased fat storage in the abdomen. Studies have shown that Ashwagandha may help reduce cortisol levels. [1,2,3]

In one study of chronically stressed adults, those who supplemented with Ashwagandha had significantly greater reductions in cortisol, compared to the control group. Those taking the highest dose had a 30% reduction, on average. [4]

Herbs like Ashwagandha are called adaptogens because of their unusual ability to "adapt" their function according to our bodies' specific needs. It's subtle and may take a month or so, but after a while it dawns on you that you're somehow feeling better about things, less frantic - that all is fine in the world.

Adaptogens help us cope with anxiety by improving the health of our adrenals, which manage our physical response to stress. Cortisol is the hormone that our adrenals produce in response to a "fight or flight" situation. If you're not running or fighting, that surging cortisol is not dissipated by the energy produced by your physical response to the stress-producing situation (a tiger leaping for you), but instead, the cortisol lingers. Elevated cortisol causes a host of problems, such as decreasing immunity, increasing abdominal fat, inhibiting thyroid hormone activation, and shortening your telomeres.

High intensity exercise also elevates cortisol. This is what initially attracted me to supplementing with Ashwagandha. At the time, I didn't know about the many Ashwagandha health benefits. What I wanted is to avoid having my exercise regime keep my cortisol at high, unhealthy levels. To combat cortisol, I began consuming several adaptogens, such as Siberian Ginseng, Rhodiola and the KSM-66® version of Ashwagandha.

Although Ashwagandha may be best known for its role as an effective stress-reducing adaptagon, this ancient Indian herb can benefit you in many other ways.

2. Ashwagandha May Promote Lean Muscle and Strength

among Ashwagandha health benefits is getting leaner and stronger

As reported by, researchers at the ICMR Advanced Centre for Reverse Pharmacology in Traditional Medicine discovered that participants in a study of 12 men and 6 women, aged 18 through 30, averaged an increase in lean body mass (aka, muscle) of a bit less than 4.4 pounds, and their fat composition decreased by more than 2%.

This happened over a period of 60 days, during which participants gradually increased their Ashwagandha dose:

  • Days 1-10, 750 milligrams/day
  • Days 11-20, 1,000 milligrams/day
  • Days 21-30, 1,250 milligrams/day

(These were the total daily doses, half of which were taken twice each day.)

Typically, along with more muscle comes more strength, and so it was with these participants. They measured grip, quadriceps and lower back strength. The change in grip was statistically insignificant, but quadriceps strength increased by an average of just under eight pounds, and lower back strength improved by nearly four pounds.

Of course, these strength gains are trivial over the course of a month if you're weightlifting three times a week, but remember that these participants were not doing any exercise during the study. That they made these muscle gains recorded without any resistance training was remarkable.

3. Ashwagandha May Boost Testosterone

Ashwagandha health benefits include a testosterone boost

One reason that Ashwagandha may increase muscle and strength is through its effect on testosterone. In a review of a separate study than the one cited above, men taking a daily dose of five grams of Ashwagandha each day for 90 days could increase their testosterone by as much as 40%. That's a monstrous amount for a natural supplement to increase testosterone in so short a time period!

In the study, researchers at the Indian Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University did trials on 75 men who were having problems conceiving children. The men had three different characteristics, each with different testosterone improving outcomes:

  • Those infertile improved testosterone by 15%
  • Those with slow-moving sperm improved testosterone by 21%
  • Those with low sperm count improved testosterone by 40%

In addition to the increased testosterone levels in the men, the researchers found more antioxidant vitamins in them subsequent to the treatment. They reasoned that Ashwagandha neutralizes free radicals, and that this is the mechanism through which Ashwagandha increases fertility and testosterone levels.

4. Ashwagandha May Improve Cholesterol Markers

Ashwagandha health benefits include lowering cholesterol. One study in rats found that it lowered total cholesterol by as much as 53% and triglycerides by nearly 45%. [5]

I'm pretty sure you're not a rat, but these animals do share many genetic characteristics with humans. While controlled human studies have reported less dramatic results, they have observed some impressive improvements in various biomarkers that measure cholesterol. [6, 7]

In a 60-day study in chronically stressed adults, the group taking the highest dosage of standardized Ashwagandha extract experienced a 17% decrease in "bad" LDL cholesterol and an 11% decrease in triglycerides, on average. [8]

5. Ashwaganadha May Reduce Blood Sugar Levels

Ashwagandha can reduce blood sugar

In several studies, Ashwagandha has been shown to lower blood sugar levels, a valuable health benefit conferred by Ashwagandha. One test-tube study found that it increased insulin secretion and improved insulin sensitivity in muscle cells. Several human studies have confirmed its ability to reduce blood sugar levels in both healthy people and those with diabetes. [9, 10, 11, 12]

Additionally, in one four-week study in people with schizophrenia, those treated with Ashwagandha had an average reduction in fasting blood sugar levels of 13.5 mg/dL, compared to 4.5 mg/dL in those who received a placebo. Moreover, in a small study in six people with type 2 diabetes, supplementing with Ashwagandha for 30 days lowered fasting blood sugar levels as effectively as an oral diabetes medication! [13]

6. Ashwagandha May Reduce Chronic Inflammation

reducing inflammation is an important Ashwagandha health benefit

Chronic inflammation is such a persistent and growing threat as we age that those who study inflammation often refer to it as Inflammaging. Anything you can do to quell chronic inflammation is worthwhile, because it is considered to either be a cause of many chronic diseases or an amplifier of their deleterious effects on our body. [14]

According to several animal studies, among Ashwagandha's many health benefits is the reduction of chronic inflammation. [15, 16, 17]

This is true for humans as well. In human studies, Ashwagandha has been found to increase the activity of natural killer cells, which are immune cells that fight infection and help you stay healthy. [18, 19]

This remarkable herb has also been shown to decrease biomarkers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP). This marker is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. In one controlled study, the group who took 250 mg of standardized Ashwagandha extract daily had a 36% decrease in CRP, on average, compared to a 6% decrease in the placebo group. [20]

7. Ashwagandha May Have Anti-Cancer Properties

Ashwagandha may have anti-cancer properites

Animal and test-tube studies have found that Ashwagandha helps induce apoptosis (programmed death of cancer cells), while also impeding the growth of new cancer cells in two specific ways:

  1. Ashwagandha is believed to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are toxic to cancer cells but not normal cells. [21]
  2. It may cause cancer cells to become less resistant to apoptosis, asdfasdf . [22]

 Animal studies indicate that Ashwagandha may help treat several types of cancer, including breast, lung, colon, brain and ovarian cancer. [23, 24, 25, 26, 27]

In one study, mice with ovarian tumors treated with Ashwagandha alone or in combination with an anti-cancer drug had a 70–80% reduction in tumor growth. The treatment also prevented the spread of cancer to other organs. [28]

Although there are no studies to confirm these results in humans yet, the research to date is encouraging.

8. Ashwagnada May Improve Brain Function, Including Memory

Ashwagandha may improve your mood and memory

Test-tube and animal studies suggest that Ashwagandha may reduce memory and brain function dysfunction caused by injury or disease. [29, 30, 31]

Research has shown that it promotes antioxidant activity that protects nerve cells from harmful free radicals. For instance, in one study, epileptic rats treated with Ashwagandha had nearly a complete reversal of spatial memory impairment, likely caused by a reduction in oxidative stress. [32]

Although Ashwagandha has traditionally been used in Ayurvedic practice to boost memory, there's only a small amount of human research in this area. In one controlled study, healthy men who took 500 mg of standardized extract daily reported significant improvements in their reaction time and task performance, compared to men who received a placebo. Another eight-week study in 50 adults showed that taking 300 mg of Ashwagandha root extract twice daily significantly improved general memory, task performance and attention.

9. Ashwagandha May Reduce Symptoms of Depression

a major health benefit of Ashwagandha is to alleviate symptoms of depression

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Prevention and Control), from 2013 through 2016, 8.1% of American adults aged 20 and over had depression in a given 2-week period. About 80% of these people with depression reported at least some difficulty with work, home, and social activities because of their depression.

Perhaps Ashwagandha could help. Although it hasn't been thoroughly studied, a few studies suggest Ashwagandha may help alleviate depression. [33, 34]

Notably, in one controlled 60-day study in 64 stressed adults, those who took 600 mg of high-concentration Ashwagandha extract per day reported a 79% reduction in severe depression, while the placebo group reported a 10% increase. That said, only one of the participants in this study had a history of depression. For this reason, the relevance of the results is unclear.

Why You Should Consider KSM-66®

At the outset of this article, I mentioned that KSM-66® is considered the most potent form of extract you could take to get all the various Ashwagandha health benefits that this herb offers. KSM-66 is an Ashwagandha extract made by Ixoreal Biomed, created via a process that took 14 years of R&D to develop and refine, says the manufacturer.

The makers of KSM-66® Ashwagandha claim that it's a full-spectrum extract, with the highest concentration of all major root only extracts available on the market today. It is produced using a unique proprietary extraction process, based on "Green Chemistry" principles, without using alcohol or any other chemical solvent.

KSM-66® Ashwagandha has been clinically proven to:

  • Help reduce stress, anxiety, cortisol levels and stress-related food cravings*
  • Help promote enhanced memory and cognitive function*
  • Help promote endurance, strength, muscle size and muscle recovery rate*
  • Help enhance sexual performance health in both men and women, and testosterone in men*
[*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.]

The clinical results reference by the manufacturer support the research cited in the nine Ashwagandha health benefits detailed above. Clearly, KSM-66® Ashwagandha is worthy of your consideration.

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