If you’ve battled anxiety and you haven’t had energy for anything except basic eating, sleeping, and working, you’re not alone.
You’ve even made lifestyle changes, hoping to combat these symptoms, but after eating healthier, upping your water intake, and meditating, you might still feel defeated, like a hollow version of your old self.
After doing some research, you’ve decided that incorporating a natural supplement into your daily routine may help you return to normal again. But after browsing the aisles at your local health and wellness shop–with its shelves loaded with countless supplements to relieve your anxiety symptoms–you decide to leave, feeling even more overwhelmed than you did when you’d entered.
Maybe you’ve heard of ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera)—a natural herbal supplement that has been used to treat stress, anxiety, and a host of other mental and physical conditions for centuries. Touted for its versatility, this supplement comes in many forms, from your typical tablet or liquid to a powder you can stir into a smoothie or a bowl of soup.
If this sounds like you, this article will explore the benefits of ashwagandha and cut through the confusion surrounding how natural supplements can benefit your physical and mental health.
What is ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha, also known as Indian Ginseng and winter cherry, is a tiny evergreen shrub, indigenous to India, Asia, and Northern Africa.
It has been used in Ayurveda–traditional alternative Indian medicine–as an adaptogen, shown to treat stress.
Its leaves and roots are processed into powders, capsules, or extracts, and it is a popular herb used to improve concentration and memory, symptoms of anxiety, high blood pressure, swelling, and low energy levels.
It’s also an herbal supplement, rich in antioxidants known to fight inflammation and the effects of chronic diseases.
What are the benefits of ashwagandha?
Reduces cortisol levels and stress
Stress is the body’s mental, emotional, or physical response to a change or a challenge. The problem is, when we experience stress over a long period of time, we may be more likely to develop symptoms of anxiety, depression, inflammation, or hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, or cancer.
In both traditional and modern alternative medicine, ashwagandha has been used to treat the symptoms of stress and anxiety, and research even supports how effective ashwagandha is at reducing cortisol levels—and ultimately stress.
One controlled study examined the effects of ashwagandha on lowering cortisol in participants who consumed ashwagandha extract or a placebo. Patients who took the extract showed a statistically significant reduction in their stress and anxiety levels compared to those who took the placebo.
Lowers blood sugar levels
Most of us could afford to cut back on our sugar intake, especially because elevated blood sugar could contribute to the onset of type 2 diabetes or cancer if left unchecked.
One study indicates that ashwagandha may have a hypoglycemic effect (ability to reduce blood sugar/glucose levels) in our blood.
For patients with diabetes (a chronic disease characterized by high blood sugar levels), research concludes ashwagandha may be effective at reducing their blood glucose levels, in addition to having a positive effect on insulin production and sensitivity.
May reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), most anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet less than 40% of people diagnosed get treatment. Symptoms of anxiety and depression can range from mild to severe, and can even impact the quality of our lives.
Some of their most common symptoms include insomnia, weight gain or weight loss, loss of appetite, thinning hair, heart palpitations, feelings of nervousness, panic, or dread, and suicidal thoughts.
Ashwagandha has traditionally been used as an adaptogen that can lower our cortisol levels, and as a result, reduce chronic stress.
One study claims it can be effective in treating many psychiatric disorders, including anxiety and depression in patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. Research also suggests ashwagandha can have a significant effect on reducing symptoms of anxiety and stress.
Boosts testosterone and male fertility
In traditional Indian medicine, Ashwagandha is well-known for being an aphrodisiac, especially for its role in boosting male fertility and combatting sexual dysfunction.
One research study provided ashwagandha to a small group of male participants who were experiencing fertility issues. Its findings show “a highly significant increase” in sperm concentration, antioxidant levels, semen volume, and sperm motility.
Inflammation is a natural process where our white blood cells protect us from bacteria and other outside invaders.
Inflammation can be short-term or long-term, but the problem with long-term (chronic) inflammation is its connection to more serious conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and several types of cancer.
Chronic inflammation is closely related to autoimmune diseases as well—where the body perceives a thread that isn’t there–and so it “attacks” itself. A few examples of autoimmune diseases include lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Ashwagandha is medically classified as an anti-inflammatory herbal supplement that can reduce inflammation in the body because of its high concentration of antioxidants and withanolides, its ability to reduce cortisol levels, and how it can encourage immune cells that can help us keep infections at bay. In particular, research supports its positive effects in treating rheumatoid arthritis.
Ashwagandha dosage, side effects, and more
What are the possible side effects of ashwagandha?
Large doses of ashwagandha may cause drowsiness, gastrointestinal upset, diarrhoea, nausea, or vomiting.
However, low to moderate doses of ashwagandha often cause few–if any– unwanted side effects.
Finally, ashwagandha has no known moderate or severe interactions with other drugs.
How should I take ashwagandha for the best effect?
Ashwagandha comes in many forms—from powders and capsules to serums and liquids, this supplement is diverse, not only in its form but also in what it can treat.
Whilst there is no recommended or standard dosage of ashwagandha, how much you consume will depend on which symptoms you take it for. For example, to combat stress/lower cortisol levels, it may be beneficial to take 250–600 mg per day.
If you plan to take ashwagandha for anxiety, you could take low doses several times per day for, say for example, in a tea. Or, if you suffer from insomnia, you could take a single dose, one or two hours before bedtime.
Is ashwagandha supplementation suitable for everyone?
Women who are nursing or pregnant are advised not to take ashwagandha as there isn’t enough research to determine its effects on an unborn child or infant.
If you suffer from a chronic health condition or take prescription medications you may want to consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking ashwagandha to ensure it is suitable for you.
Relief may be right around the corner
With thousands of herbal supplement options to choose from, finding relief for your stress or anxiety may feel lightyears away. If you’re struggling to choose the supplement suitable for your symptoms and lifestyle, it may be ideal to choose one that offers multiple benefits.
Earths Secret’s Calm Complex contains all-natural, vegan-friendly ingredients that support your body’s ability to fight stress, improve mental speed and focus, and produce healthy brain chemicals so you can feel and perform your best.
Composed of ashwagandha in addition to four other quality supplements: holy basil leaf, Rhodiola Rosea, L-theanine, and black pepper, Calm is clinically proven to relieve stress, so you can focus on what matters most–living your best life.