Ashwagandha is an herb that’s been generating considerable buzz in the natural health community — and for good reason. Research shows that this plant has an incredible range of benefits for both physical and mental health.
Ashwagandha is not exactly new — it has been used in Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medicine of India, for thousands of years. But science is now confirming that those early adopters were definitely onto something.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen — an elite class of herbs that can help the body adapt to physical, mental, and environmental stress. These plants grow in harsh climates and have developed a natural “intelligence” for staying healthy and balanced under stressful conditions. They have a lot to teach us!
There are many different kinds of stress, including physical and mental exertion, psychological pressure and anxiety, and the daily wear-and-tear of unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as lack of sleep. Your body goes into high gear to meet these challenges, and then it needs to downshift and recover.
But if your stress response stays cranked up all the time, your body starts to forget how to return to normal. This depletes your energy, throws your hormones out of whack, and suppresses your immune system, which can have all kinds of effects on your physical and mental health.
By improving your natural resistance to stress, ashwagandha allows your body and mind to function at their full capacity, instead of diverting all their energy toward survival and wearing themselves out. This has benefits for many areas of your life, from the boardroom to the bedroom.
Here are some of the scientifically proven benefits of ashwagandha:
The pressures of modern life take a toll on our well-being. Anxiety disorder is the most common mental illness in the United States, with 18.8 percent of the population being affected every year.
Ashwagandha can help regulate hormones and neurotransmitters that contribute to anxiety. It restores stability and balance to the nervous system, which also helps with relaxation and sleep.
In one study, a group of anxiety sufferers were either given Ashwagandha or a placebo. After two months, those in the Ashwagandha group showed significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol — 28 percent lower levels, to be exact!
Exercise is a form of physical stress. How your body handles that stress is directly linked to your athletic ability. Ashwagandha’s adaptogenic benefits can give you more stamina, allowing you to work out harder for longer and shortening your recovery time.
Two recent studies showed that ashwagandha can significantly improve both cardiorespiratory endurance and muscle-building. Subjects in a resistance training program that took ashwagandha showed a reduction in exercise-induced muscle damage and better muscle recovery, resulting in increased muscle size and strength.
Yep, you read that right. Ashwagandha may offer some pretty nice benefits for your sex life.
Ashwagandha has a traditional history as an aphrodisiac and fertility booster — and recent studies back this up. Ashwagandha has been shown to increase testosterone levels in men, resulting in stronger sex drive and higher sperm counts.
What’s more surprising is that Ashwagandha may be just as beneficial for women. One study on premenopausal women showed that taking ashwagandha led to significant improvements in healthy sexual response, including libido and overall satisfaction. Uh huh.
As we age, so do our brains. Our memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be, it’s harder to stay focused, and it may start to take us longer to learn new things.
But Ashwagandha may help, thanks in large part to its antioxidant content. These powerful antioxidants can help fight off free radicals and inflammation that can damage brain cells and contribute to cognitive decline.
Ashwagandha has been shown to increase choline production, an essential nutrient that plays an important role in memory function. It also improves focus by calming over-excited neurons that keep you mentally distracted and scattered. Adults with mild cognitive impairment showed significant improvement in memory and cognitive function after taking ashwagandha.
The gradual degeneration of the body that we associate with aging could be seen as the sum of all the stresses we’ve accumulated over a lifetime. Aging may not be optional, but if we can reduce the impact of those stresses, we may be able to slow down those degenerative effects.
Research seems to indicate that this is true. Ashwagandha has been shown to promote telomerase activity, a natural process that protects against cellular aging. Telomerase basically allows your cells to keep replicating without degenerating into poorer and poorer copies of themselves, which leads to signs of aging.
This helps explain ashwagandha’s traditional use as a tonic for longevity — although this is harder to study in humans. Think about the time it would take to gather data on human life extension, while maintaining controlled conditions for the experiment. Animal studies, however, do show ashwagandha as a potential life extender.
This is one traditional medicine that seriously lives up to its reputation. We’re so excited about it, we created a whole new ashwagandha supplement line! Five unique herbal blends starring ashwagandha and a supporting cast of botanicals and nutrients to offer targeted benefits for Stress, Libido, Endurance, Brain Health, and Healthy Aging. Check ‘em out!