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Does Ashwagandha Make You Gain Weight?

Ashwagandha does not directly cause weight gain. Its effects on weight are more likely due to stress reduction and muscle mass increase.

Ashwagandha, also known as “Indian ginseng” or “winter cherry”, is a popular herb in Ayurvedic medicine. It is famous for its stress-relieving properties and other health benefits. But does it make you gain weight? Let’s dive into the details.

What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha has been used in traditional Indian medicine for over 3,000 years. It is known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antidiabetic, and neuroprotective properties. You can find it in various forms like capsules, powders, and teas. People often use it to relieve stress, anxiety, and fatigue.

According to Verywell Fit, ashwagandha offers numerous health benefits. It helps the body manage stress and improves overall well-being. This herb is a staple in many wellness routines.

Does Ashwagandha Cause Weight Gain?

Lack of Direct Evidence

The question of whether ashwagandha causes weight gain is not straightforward. According to WebMD, weight gain is not a commonly reported side effect. The herb has not been extensively studied for weight gain or loss. However, a miniature study found that ashwagandha might help reduce food cravings in stressed adults. This could indirectly influence weight management.

Studies on Muscle Mass

Some studies suggest that ashwagandha may affect body composition. For example, a study cited by The Nutrition Insider found that young adult males who took 500-600 mg of ashwagandha for 8 to 12 weeks during strength training had greater increases in muscle mass and strength. This suggests that ashwagandha may support a healthier body composition by increasing muscle mass, which could lead to weight gain in the form of muscle rather than fat.

Effects on Stress and Cortisol

Ashwagandha is well-known for its stress-relieving properties. Chronic stress often leads to weight gain, especially around the abdomen, due to elevated cortisol levels. By reducing stress and cortisol, ashwagandha may help prevent stress-related weight gain. A study mentioned by Verywell Health found that taking 300 mg of ashwagandha daily was safe and did not result in adverse events. This suggests it could be a viable option for stress management without significant risk of weight gain.

Potential Side Effects

While ashwagandha is generally safe, it can cause side effects in some people. Reported side effects include mild to moderate drowsiness, gastrointestinal discomfort, and loose stools (Verywell Fit). Less common side effects include vertigo, nasal congestion, cough, decreased appetite, nausea, constipation, and skin rash. These side effects could influence weight by reducing appetite or causing gastrointestinal issues that affect nutrient absorption.

Case Studies on Liver Health

In rare cases, ashwagandha has been linked to liver damage. A 2020 case study examined five adults who experienced signs of liver toxicity after using ashwagandha in varying doses (Verywell Health). While the liver damage did not progress to liver failure and most cases resolved within five months, this highlights the importance of monitoring liver health when taking ashwagandha, especially at higher doses.

Key Takeaways

  • Ashwagandha does not directly cause weight gain.
  • It may help reduce stress and cortisol levels.
  • It can increase muscle mass, leading to healthier body composition.
  • Side effects are generally mild but can influence weight.
  • Monitoring liver health is crucial when taking ashwagandha.

In summary, while ashwagandha is unlikely to cause significant weight gain, its effects on stress, muscle mass, and overall well-being can contribute to a healthier body composition. As with any supplement, individual responses may vary, and it is essential to approach its use with caution and under professional guidance.

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