Ashwagandha is an herb commonly used as a supplement; primarily in Ayurveda, a branch of medicine originating in India. Westerners may be more familiar with Traditional Chinese Medicine, in which ashwagandha is used as well.
Withania somnifera is the binomial nomenclature (formal name), and others include:
- Indian ginseng
- Winter cherry
- Poison gooseberry
Whether you know what ashwagandha is or not, it’s possible you don’t know what the benefits of supplementation are. In this article, I’ll cover some of these benefits and why you should consider using it to improve your health.
Benefits of Ashwagandha
Reduce stress, anxiety, and depression
Stress, anxiety, and depression are some of the biggest reasons people decide to try ashwagandha. If you experience these issues, studies have found that this herb is a helpful option to take.
When you have chronic stress or anxiety disorder, evidence shows potent anxiolytic effects. This means that ashwagandha works similarly to drugs that reduce anxiety. Anecdotally, many users feel that ashwagandha reduces their social anxiety, making it easier for them to talk to people have have normal conversations without succumbing to their anxiety.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) granules have provided highly significant improvement on almost all parameters of Hamilton’s Anxiety Rating Scale. This emphasizes the anxiolytic, nootropic and antistress activity of the drug due to which it is believed to be relieving the symptoms of [Generalized Anxiety Disorder].International Ayurvedic Medical Journal
In terms of scalp- and facial-hair growth, you could say that reducing anxiety and stress will improve them. This is a bonus to supplementing with ashwagandha, among the other benefits it produces.
Readers of this site like to look after their health and improve their beards. This indirect way of improving your beard should help some of you in making the decision to give ashwagandha a shot, along with other supplements that you take for beard growth.
Increase testosterone and strength, while decreasing muscle damage and body fat
If your testosterone levels are lower than average, or if you’re infertile, ashwagandha can increase T and improve fertility.
If your testosterone levels are normal, you may not experience an increase. However, if you’re doing some type of resistance training, like lifting, you may see an increase.
Evidence of ashwagandha increasing testosterone + strength, and decreasing muscle damage and fat
In a randomized trial over 8 weeks, men supplementing with 300mg of ashwagandha root extract, twice daily, had a significantly greater increase in muscle strength and size compared to the placebo group.
On top of more muscle size and strength in lifts, these men also had significantly greater reduction of exercise-induced muscle damage. Testosterone increase was also significantly greater, along with a… you guessed it, significantly greater decrease in body fat percentage.
Also read: How to Increase Testosterone and DHT for Maximum Beard Growth
Due to an increase of testosterone and reduction of body fat, I can say that ashwagandha can have a positive impact on your beard growth. Remember, this has only been shown to be true in individuals that are participating in some type of strength training. For inactive or sedentary men, this may not happen. However, other benefits of the herb are still quite enticing.
As another bonus, if you’re infertile you’ll also see an increase in testosterone and fertility.
In a controlled crossover trial, there were statistically significant improvements in reaction time across several different tests.
So, along with the improvements we’ve already discussed in this article, cognitive ability is also enhanced with ashwagandha supplementation.
Anecdotally, people that take the supplement have noticed that they are better able to focus on what they’re doing.
Dosing ashwagandha — how much to take
Depending on what you’re using ashwagandha for, you may want to alter your daily dosage. Ashwagandha is well-tolerated and has not been found to have adverse effects in clinical trials compared to placebos.
If you’d rather just take a “standard” dose to potentially get all of the benefits, opt for a decently high potency ashwagandha and take roughly 1000mg daily.
Dosing for specific benefits and effects
- Stress and anxiety:
approx. 300mg daily. Range: 250mg–500mg daily.
- Testosterone and strength increase / body fat and muscle damage decrease:
approx. 300mg daily. Range: 300mg–1000mg daily.
approx. 5000mg daily.
approx. 1000mg daily. Range: 650mg–1000mg daily.
Can I take it daily? Do I have to cycle ashwagandha?
Unlike creatine, there aren’t long-term studies that can allow me to conclusively say you don’t have to cycle ashwagandha.
We don’t know whether it will lose potency over time, nor if there are any drug-esque effects on neurotransmission. Because of this, we can’t rule out that there may be side effects in the long term.
Ashwagandha has been around for a very long time, however, and that might help alleviate some fears. Lack of clinical trials isn’t an indicator of lack of usage, as you may know. Many herbs and drugs have been used for many hundreds (or thousands) of years. While we can’t definitively say that there aren’t side effects, we also can at least infer that many of these things are safe to take otherwise.
Ready to supplement? Get yours here:
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As ashwagandha is easy to source, most brands should be good enough. Shop around if you’re looking for the best deal. Also, keep in mind that ashwagandha root is normally taken with black pepper extract. So, while shopping around, be sure those are the only two ingredients (aside from the capsule itself, which is usually vegan or gelatin).
While we still have more research that can be done on ashwagandha, what we’ve seen so far is very promising. From easing your anxiety, to increasing your strength and testosterone, to improving your cognition — ashwagandha isn’t just hype. Well, it’s not even really that well known compared to supplements that are hyped.
Looking after both your mental and physical health is important. Not only to grow a better beard, but simply for your life.
Keep learning and keep the pursuit of bettering yourself at the forefront of your mind. You have one life to live, so live it being healthy and smart. And bearded.