I’ve used ashwagandha supplements in various forms for multiple years. Here’s my experiences with ashwagandha, what benefits I’ve experienced and what to use when it comes to ashwagandha supplements.
What is Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a herb that has been utilized through the ages in Ayurvedic medicine and Tibetan medicine.
There is a lot human studies made on ashwagandha and its benefits include:
– Improved fertility.
– Improved sexual health.
– Improved sport performance.
– Reduced stress and anxiety.
– Reduced serum cortisol levels.
– Increased muscle strength and mass.
Withania somnifera is the binomial name of Ashwagandha. Other names include but are not limited to: INDIAN GINSENG, WINTER CHERRY, POISON GOOSEBERRY.
Personal experiences on Ashwagandha benefits:
I have used ashwagandha supplements for about 5 years. First I started with basic ashwagandha root powders, then I went for self-made alcohol extracts. I have also a lot experience using ashwagandha extracts Sensoril and KSM-66.
Does ashwagandha reduce stress and anxiety?
When my ashwagandha cycle is on its really easy to notice that I generally feel more relaxed, energy, motivated and self-confident. When using ashwagandha, I also experience better quality sleep waking up more alert and cheery. However, I don’t think that ashwagandha is good as L-theanine for instant relaxation. But in the long run it definitely work lowering general stress and anxiety and even improve sleep quality if you use sensoril extract (more on this below).
How ashwagandha affects sex life and erection?
From my experiences I can say that ashwagandha is really effective in this department. Every time I start ashwagandha supplementation, in about one week I start to experience higher sexual desire and stronger erections. If you cycle ashwagandha with other natural viagra protocols. You have to be really careful when moving in a street or shopping, because sometimes even regular women in a street can trigger erection, which can be really annoying.
Have I noticed increase muscle strength and sport performance?
During ashwagandha regular supplementation, I have feeling that my general coping in the gym is better but I dont feel that it would increase my strength levels. However, lately I have started to use more KSM-66 ashwagandha and it seems to improve strength levels and gym motivation. Of course, this all could be placebo effect from reading ashwagandha studies where KSM-66 has improved strength levels.
Does ashwagandha supplementation really increase MUSCLE SIZE?
One of the things that motivated me to start supplementing KSM-66 ashwagandha was this study4 indicating that KSM-66 boosts muscle size. And honestly, it might be true for me, while on ashwagandha I’ve seen noticeable increase in arm and chest size. Apparently it happens by some sort of “cell swelling”, giving similar effect like creatine supplementation when it comes to boosting muscle size.
Just lately, I was few weeks without ashwagandha, and instantly saw all muscles as a bit “flatter”. It’s one of the rare supplements that makes me look more “aesthetic” (via multiple mechanisms), and for me personally this is one of the coolest real life ashwagandha benefit.
Ashwagandha benefits proven in human studies
Scientists have made a lot human studies with ashwagandha root, extracts and supplements. Here is the real ashwagandha benefits found in a human studies.
Ashwagandha benefits for anxiety, stress and cortisol levels
Researchers have found ashwagandha to be very effective for reducing anxiety, stress and even lowering serum cortisol levels. These benefits have been proven and repeated several times in numerous human studies.
Persons with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) were put on 250mg ashwagandha root extract 2x daily for 6 weeks. Researchers concluded notable improvements in anxiety symptoms without adverse effects, making ashwagandha useful for people with anxiety.5
In this more recent study made in Canada, employees with moderate to severe anxiety were put on 300mg ashwagandha extract standardized to 1,5% withanolides for 8 weeks. In ashwagandha group (NC) Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI scores) were significantly decreased (56,5% ) compared PT group (30,5%) which only received standardized psychotherapy intervention.1
In this Indian study 64 subjects with a chronic stress were put on full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract for a 60 days. Ashwagandha worked again, all scores from Perceived stress scale, Depression anxiety stress scale, General health questionnaire-28 were improved in Ashwagandha group. Also their serum cortisol levels were measured. In the end of the study ashwagandha had reduced serum cortisol by whopping 27.9% without adverse side effects.2
In this 2011 study scientist tested Ashwagandha’s ability to combat stress and treat male infertility. They were given Ashwagandha root powder 5g/day for 3 months, which lead to 11–28-32% reduction in cortisol levels depending on group (normozoospermic 11%, normozoospermic smokers 28%, normozoospermic suffering stress 32%).3
Again in this study ashwagandha extract reduced stress, anxiety and lowered cortisol levels. However, I did not pay much attention study, as it had potential conflict of interest as authors work in company that produce ashwagandha supplements.6
Ashwagandha anxiety, stress and cortisol conclusion
Nowadays there are more and more people suffering with a weird anxiety, stress and elevated cortisol levels, which is wrecking their health. If this is the case with you, it might be wise to try ashwagandha, as numerous human studies have shown it to be efficient reducing stress, anxiety and cortisol levels.
Ashwagandha benefits for muscle strength, size and power output
One of the most touted benefit of ashwagandha its increased sport performance and strength. Do these claims hold any truth? Lets take a look…
New study published 2015 reported that Ashwagandha supplementation (KSM-66) significantly increased muscle mass, strength and testosterone levels. Also body fat percentage (bioelectrical impedance analysis) dropped 3% in KSM-66 group compared to placebo group where drop was only 1,5%. According to this study it really seems that KSM-66 is really useful supplement for those interested on muscle-building.4
In this study 500mg Ashwagandha extract increased velocity, power output and VO2 max.7
This exploratory study showed significant increase in muscle strength (hand grip force, quadriceps force, and back extensor force).8
This study made on elite cyclist showed significant improvements in VO2 max, metabolic equivalent test and time for exhaustion on treadmill.9
Ashwagandha muscle strength, size, performance conclusion
There is definitely some studies where ashwagandha supplementation has shown positive benefits for sport performance, strength and even muscle gains. According to research, if you are going to gym regularly you can reap great benefits taking ashwagandha supplements.
Ashwagandha benefits for cardiovascular health?
Could ashwagandha also provide benefits to heart health? Lets take a look on some studies about the subject…
In this study patients with a schizophrenia were given 400 mg ashwagandha extract 3x daily for a month. After 1 month ashwagandha group had reduction in serum triglycerides and fasting blood glucose without adverse effects.10
This exploratory study tested ashwagandha with progressive doses from 750 to 1250mg/day with a healthy persons. After 30 days it was discovered that ashwagandha caused significant reduction in total cholesterol and decreasing trend in triglycerides. Study also noted improved sleep and muscle strengthening in some subjects.11
This small study from India showed significant decrease in serum cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL and VLDL with no adverse effects.12
Above mentioned “A standardized Withania somnifera extract significantly reduces stress-related parameters in chronically stressed humans: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study” also noted improments in lipids and blood pressure, but like I said it had conflict of interest. 6
Ashwagandha cardiovascular health conclusion
There is some evidence that ashwagandha could reduce cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL, but we need more better quality studies before we can make any conclusion.
Ashwagandha benefits for well-being, social function and motivation
Many people use ashwagandha reducing anxiety, and according to research it seems to work pretty well.
In this study full-spectrum Ashwagandha extract (600mg daily 60 days) reduced social dysfunction by whopping 68%, lowered anxiety and insomnia by 69%, and knock off depression by immense 79%.13
Another study stating that deep breathing, multi vitamin and 300mg ashwagandha extract lowered 56% BAI score (Beck Anxiety Inventory).1
In this study ashwagandha improved general function and reduced fatigue in breast cancer patients.14
New 2017 study noted that “Ashwagandha may be effective in enhancing both immediate and general memory in people with MCI as well as improving executive function, attention, and information processing speed.”15
Anxiolytic effects of Ashwagandha has also been proven in animal studies.16,17
Ashwagandha well-being, social function and motivation conclusion
Ashwagandha ability to reduce anxiety has been proven in many human and animal studies. If you are suffering from anxiety ashwagandha is one the most effective supplement for reducing it.
Ashwagandha benefits for testosterone, sex-drive, sperm quality and seminal motility
Traditionally one of the most common use of ashwagandha was to improve fertility. Today, we don’t really need to rely on beliefs or old stories, because ashwagandha effects on testosterone levels and fertility have been examined in several new human studies.
The new study published in Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that 300mg Ashwagandha extract (KSM-66) twice a day, raised serum testosterone about 15% compared to the placebo group, where increase was only 2%. KSM-66 group also experienced significant increases in muscle mass and strength compared to placebo group. This study was made on healthy young people, so its seems that everyone can increase their testosterone levels with KSM-66 ashwagandha.4
In another study 5 grams of Ashwagandha on a daily basis for three months increased sperm count and sperm mobility. Also testosterone and luteinizing hormone increased. Prolactin and FHS (follicle stimulating hormone) also fell considerably. This study was made with infertile men.18
In this study infertile men consumed 5 grams of Ashwagandha daily for 3 months. This study had 3 different groups (smokers, non smokers, stressed men). After 3 months of ashwagandha supplementation their testosterone levels was seen to increased: people in smokers group experienced only 10% increase. In non smoker group 13% increase was seen. The biggest testosterone levels increase 22% occurred in infertile men who experienced stress. Also luteinizing hormone levels rose in all groups, and stress, prolactin and follicle stimulating hormone decreased. And for the end note 14% partners of these infertile men actually got pregnant proving the effects of ashwagandha even more.19
Another 90 days double-blind human study where ashwagandha raised testosterone levels. In ashwagandha group testosterone levels rise by average of 17%. Also luteinizing hormone levels increased by a whopping 34%. Interestingly ashwagandha also increased 167% sperm concentration. Sperm motility increased by 57% and the semen volume increased 53%.20
Another Indian study where infertile men were administered ashwagandha root powder 5 grams daily for 3 months noted significant increase in luteinizing hormone, testosterone levels and sperm motility. Also FSH and prolactin decreased.21
Ashwagandha also improves sex-drive in women
In this 2015 study healthy women were given KSM-66 extract 300mg twice daily for 8 weeks or placebo. Sexual function was tested using the FSFI and FSDS questions before and in the end of study. In the end it was found that ashwagandha KSM-66 improves sexual function in healthy women, according to FSFI and FSDS scores. Scores for desire, arousal, lubrication, satisfaction and orgasm all improved in ashwagandha group. Also successful sexual encounters rise in ashwagandha group, however number of total sexual encounter did not improve.22
For the more proof, also in this study they saw ashwagandha improving sperm count and motility, serum T and LH, while reducing the levels of FSH and PRL.18 Testosterone increase has been also observed in diabetic male rats.23
It’s also good to remember that ashwagandha is not a magic pill that cures everything. This study tested Ashwagandha for people who had psychogenic erectile dysfunction. And it was found to ineffective. Ashwagandha did not provide any benefits to guys suffering from psychogenic ED.24
Ashwagandha testosterone, sperm quality and seminal motility conclusion
Numerous human studies have confirmed ashwagandha’s positive effects on man hood. If you are man and are interested improving your sexual health. There probably is no more effective supplements that has as much evidence behind it than ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha scientifical recap
– Reduced stress and anxiety.1–3,5,6,13,14,16,17
– Increased power output, muscle strength, VO2 max and recovery.4,6–8
– Increased testosterone levels and better sperm for men.18–21,23
– Some evidence on improved cardiovascular health, lipids etc.10–12
Ashwagandha side effects
Generally ashwagandha is nontoxic and safe for most people. But if you are on medicines like for example MAO inhibitors you should consult your doctor before taking ashwagandha supplements.
Rat toxicity study – even ridiculously high dose 2000 mg hydroalcoholic extract ashwagandha extract per kg failed to shown toxic sings:
“In the acute toxicity study, WSR extract was administered to five rats at 2000 mg/kg, once orally and were observed for 14 days. No toxic signs/mortality were observed. In the sub-acute study, WSR extract was administered once daily for 28 days to rats at 500, 1000 and 2000 mg/kg, orally. No toxic signs/mortality were observed.”25
Human studies have used regular ashwagandha powder 500-6000mg daily divined in 2-3 doses without adverse effects. For extract like KSM-66 2x 300mg daily without adverse effects. For sensoril extracts 250mg 2 times daily without adverse effects. For regular ashwagandha extract 300-600mg daily without adverse effects.
My suggestion stay at similar doses used in human studies and you will be fine.
What is the best type of Ashwagandha?
What are the differences between regular Ashwagandha, Sensoril and KSM-66?
Answer: Sensoril (Natreon, Inc) and KSM-66 (Ixoreal Biomed) are both patented standardized ashwagandha extracts. Sensoril® is extracted from ashwagandha root & leaf and standardized to 10% withanolides. On the other hand KSM-66® is made from ashwagandha root and standardized to 5% withanolides.
Regular Ashwagandha products usually contain plain leaf or root powder / some kind alcohol or water extract and usually standardized to 2,5% withanolides.
From my experience: KSM-66 is better to improve “bedroom performance” and Sensoril better to relieve stress and improve sleep quality. Regular ashwagandha powder or supplements can also work, but they are usually less effective than extracts.
Ashwagandha products that I use
Life Extension Optimized Ashwagandha Extract – This product contains Sensoril® ashwagandha extract standardized to 10% withanolides, which makes it the most potent ashwagandha extract on the market if you look withanolides content.
I personally use this for relaxation, improving sleep, and reducing stress. Many biohackers recommend this ashwagandha extract also for smart drug uses. Thats mainly because, it might improve cognitive and psychomotor performance, according to a one study made with Sensoril® extract.
In this particular study, healthy men took 250mg 2 times daily and after 14 days they noted improved cognitive and psychomotor performance in ashwagandha extract (Sensoril®) group.26 Improved working memory performance was also seen in another Sensoril® study, however, this study was made with bipolar patients.27
Jarrow Formulas Ashwagandha – This product contains the KSM-66 ashwagandha extract which raised testosterone and strength even in healthy male subjects in above study.
KSM-66 is also effective increasing women’s sex drive, as we saw in this study where sexual desire, arousal, lubrication, satisfaction and orgasm scores improved in ashwagandha group compared to placebo group.22
KSM-66 extract definitely my most recommended ashwagandha extract for improving bedroom activities (best evidence for healthy people men and women).
KSM-66 is also for those who suffer from stress, as its found to be effective lowering serum cortisol levels and anxiety.
In this study KSM-66 was able to reduce cortisol levels by 27% after 60 days supplementation and reducing The DASS scores for depression, anxiety and stress.13
In my experience this might be one of the easiest hacks in the world. Just pop one ashwagandha pill every morning and night. There is immense benefits from lowered cortisol, stress, anxiety to higher sex-drive, testosterone, better sleep and strength increase (and its all backed by science). In my opinion, for me personally, I’d be wasting my time if I didn’t take ashwagandha pill every morning and night.
Without ashwagandha supplementation, I probably would lose muscle mass, size and strength – thus wasting my time in the gym literally. I would also lose a chunk of testosterone, leading to weaker erections and less energy and so on.
Cooley K, Szczurko O, Perri D, et al. Naturopathic care for anxiety: a randomized controlled trial ISRCTN78958974. PLoS One. 2009;4(8):e6628. [PubMed]
Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012;34(3):255-262. [PubMed]
Mahdi A, Shukla K, Ahmad M, et al. Withania somnifera Improves Semen Quality in Stress-Related Male Fertility. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. September 2009. [PubMed]
Wankhede S, Langade D, Joshi K, Sinha S, Bhattacharyya S. Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015;12:43. [PubMed]
Andrade C, Aswath A, Chaturvedi S, Srinivasa M, Raguram R. A double-blind, placebo-controlled evaluation of the anxiolytic efficacy ff an ethanolic extract of withania somnifera. Indian J Psychiatry. 2000;42(3):295-301. [PubMed]
Sandhu J, Shah B, Shenoy S, Chauhan S, Lavekar G, Padhi M. Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Terminalia arjuna (Arjuna) on physical performance and cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy young adults. Int J Ayurveda Res. 2010;1(3):144-149. [PubMed]
Raut A, Rege N, Tadvi F, et al. Exploratory study to evaluate tolerability, safety, and activity of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in healthy volunteers. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2012;3(3):111-114. [PubMed]
Shenoy S, Chaskar U, Sandhu J, Paadhi M. Effects of eight-week supplementation of Ashwagandha on cardiorespiratory endurance in elite Indian cyclists. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2012;3(4):209-214. [PubMed]
Agnihotri A, Sontakke S, Thawani V, Saoji A, Goswami V. Effects of Withania somnifera in patients of schizophrenia: A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled pilot trial study. Indian J Pharmacol. 2013;45(4):417-418. [PMC]
Raut A, Rege N, Tadvi F, et al. Exploratory study to evaluate tolerability, safety, and activity of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in healthy volunteers. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2012;3(3):111-114. [PMC]
Andallu B, Radhika B. Hypoglycemic, diuretic and hypocholesterolemic effect of winter cherry (Withania somnifera, Dunal) root. Indian J Exp Biol. 2000;38(6):607-609. [PubMed]
Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012;34(3):255-262. [PMC]
Biswal B, Sulaiman S, Ismail H, Zakaria H, Musa K. Effect of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) on the development of chemotherapy-induced fatigue and quality of life in breast cancer patients. Integr Cancer Ther. 2013;12(4):312-322. [PubMed]
Choudhary D, Bhattacharyya S, Bose S. Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal) Root Extract in Improving Memory and Cognitive Functions. J Diet Suppl. 2017;14(6):599-612. [PubMed]
Bhattacharya S, Bhattacharya A, Sairam K, Ghosal S. Anxiolytic-antidepressant activity of Withania somnifera glycowithanolides: an experimental study. Phytomedicine. 2000;7(6):463-469. [PubMed]
Gupta G, Rana A. Effect of Withania somnifera Dunal in ethanol-induced anxiolysis and withdrawal anxiety in rats. Indian J Exp Biol. 2008;46(6):470-475. [PubMed]
Ahmad M, Mahdi A, Shukla K, et al. Withania somnifera improves semen quality by regulating reproductive hormone levels and oxidative stress in seminal plasma of infertile males. Fertil Steril. 2010;94(3):989-996. [PubMed]
Mahdi A, Shukla K, Ahmad M, et al. Withania somnifera Improves Semen Quality in Stress-Related Male Fertility. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:576962. [PMC]
Ambiye V, Langade D, Dongre S, Aptikar P, Kulkarni M, Dongre A. Clinical Evaluation of the Spermatogenic Activity of the Root Extract of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in Oligospermic Males: A Pilot Study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:571420. [PMC]
Gupta A, Mahdi A, Shukla K, et al. Efficacy of Withania somnifera on seminal plasma metabolites of infertile males: a proton NMR study at 800 MHz. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013;149(1):208-214. [PubMed]
Mamidi P, Thakar A. Efficacy of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera Dunal. Linn.) in the management of psychogenic erectile dysfunction. Ayu. 2011;32(3):322-328. [PubMed]
Prabu P, Panchapakesan S, Raj C. Acute and sub-acute oral toxicity assessment of the hydroalcoholic extract of Withania somnifera roots in Wistar rats. Phytother Res. 2013;27(8):1169-1178. [PubMed]
Pingali U, Pilli R, Fatima N. Effect of standardized aqueous extract of Withania somnifera on tests of cognitive and psychomotor performance in healthy human participants. Pharmacognosy Res. 2014;6(1):12-18. [PMC]
Chengappa K, Bowie C, Schlicht P, Fleet D, Brar J, Jindal R. Randomized placebo-controlled adjunctive study of an extract of withania somnifera for cognitive dysfunction in bipolar disorder. J Clin Psychiatry. 2013;74(11):1076-1083. [PubMed]