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Do Ashwagandha Pills Work? An In-Depth Look

Ashwagandha pills show potential benefits, including stress reduction and cognitive enhancement. However, more research is needed to confirm these effects.

Ashwagandha, known scientifically as Withania somnifera, has been a cornerstone of Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Recently, it has gained popularity as a supplement, claiming to offer various health benefits. We scrutinize the efficacy of ashwagandha pills, examining scientific research, clinical studies, and expert opinions.

Stress and Anxiety Reduction

Ashwagandha is often marketed as an adaptogen. Adaptogens are natural substances that help the body adapt to stress. Several studies support this claim.

A study involving 58 participants found that those who took 250 or 600 mg of ashwagandha extract for eight weeks had significantly reduced perceived stress and cortisol levels compared to those who took a placebo, according to a study.

Another study with 60 participants found that those who took 240 mg of ashwagandha extract per day for 60 days had significant reductions in anxiety compared to those who received a placebo treatment.

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study involving 125 participants who took 300 mg of sustained-release ashwagandha root extract once daily for 90 days reported no adverse effects and significant improvements in stress and anxiety levels.

These findings suggest that ashwagandha pills can be effective in managing stress and anxiety, although more research is needed to determine the optimal dosage and long-term effects.

Cognitive Function and Memory

Ashwagandha is also believed to improve cognitive function and memory. Limited research from 2013 suggests that ashwagandha may help improve cognitive impairment in people with bipolar disorder.

A 2021 review concluded that ashwagandha might help manage depression, anxiety, insomnia, and other mental health-related and neurological issues, although more research is needed into all these uses.

In a study by Choudhary et al. (2017), two individuals using ashwagandha root extract for memory and cognitive enhancement reported experiencing minor giddiness, a heavy head, blurred vision, and/or hyperacidity, according to a study.

Despite these minor side effects, the overall findings suggest that ashwagandha may have potential cognitive benefits.

Sexual Health and Testosterone

Ashwagandha has been studied for its effects on male sexual health and testosterone levels. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 50 healthy male subjects found that those who took ashwagandha root extract had an 88.5% greater probability of improving their total DISF-M sexual health function score compared to the placebo group, according to a study.

The study also reported increases in serum testosterone levels, although the total testosterone levels observed were within normal limits irrespective of group or time.

Additionally, a review of four studies found that ashwagandha treatment significantly increased sperm concentration, semen volume, and sperm motility in males with low sperm count. These findings indicate that ashwagandha pills may be beneficial for male sexual health and fertility.

Athletic Performance

Research has shown that ashwagandha may have beneficial effects on athletic performance. One analysis of 12 studies in people who took ashwagandha doses between 120 mg and 1,250 mg per day suggested that the herb might enhance physical performance, including strength and oxygen use during exercise.

Another analysis that looked at five studies found that taking ashwagandha significantly enhanced maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 max) in healthy adults and athletes.

Safety and Side Effects

Ashwagandha is generally considered safe for most people when used for up to three months. However, its long-term effects are unknown. Some people using ashwagandha supplements have reported adverse effects such as stomach upset, diarrhea, and mild discomfort. It is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women, and individuals with certain health conditions should consult a healthcare professional before using ashwagandha.

In a prospective, open-label study, escalating doses of an aqueous extract of ashwagandha were administered to 18 healthy persons over 30 days. One participant exhibited heightened appetite, heightened libido, and hallucinatory effects accompanied by vertigo at the lowest dosage, leading to their withdrawal from the trial. Otherwise, no other adverse events were reported.

Healthy Aging Potential

Ashwagandha has shown promise in promoting healthy aging. Preclinical studies indicate that compounds in the plant can modulate which genes are turned into proteins in the cell and could be effective in tackling conditions related to immunity and aging, including long Covid and Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study. The plant acts against inflammatory markers, making it a potential tool for treating aging-related conditions.

Key Takeaways

  • Ashwagandha pills may reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Potential cognitive benefits, but more research needed.
  • Possible improvements in male sexual health and testosterone levels.
  • May enhance athletic performance.
  • Generally safe for short-term use, but long-term effects unknown.
  • Potential for promoting healthy aging.

Summary

Ashwagandha pills appear to offer several health benefits, particularly in reducing stress and anxiety, improving cognitive function, enhancing sexual health, and potentially promoting healthy aging. However, the research is still evolving, and more high-quality, long-term studies are needed to fully understand the herb’s efficacy and safety.

While ashwagandha is generally well-tolerated, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, especially for individuals with pre-existing health conditions or those who are pregnant or lactating.

References

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