Top 5 Ashwagandha Benefits For Men

A photo of ashwagandha powder and roots on a table top

Ashwagandha, scientifically known as Withania somnifera, is an ancient herb that has been a staple in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. This small, evergreen shrub, native to India and parts of Africa, is often referred to as “Indian ginseng” due to its rejuvenating properties. The roots of the ashwagandha plant are the most commonly used part for medicinal purposes.

In recent years, ashwagandha has gained popularity in the Western world as a natural supplement, particularly for its potential benefits for men’s health. From boosting testosterone levels to improving sexual function and reducing stress, this powerful adaptogenic herb has been the subject of numerous scientific studies.

This article will cover the various ways ashwagandha can support and enhance the well-being of men. We’ll look at the science behind its effects on the body and mind, and discuss how it can be incorporated into a daily wellness routine.

Whether you’re looking to improve your physical performance, mental clarity, or overall vitality, ashwagandha may just be the natural solution you’ve been seeking.

1. Boosts Testosterone Levels

Testosterone, the primary male sex hormone, plays a crucial role in men’s health. It influences muscle mass, bone density, sex drive, and overall well-being. Ashwagandha has been shown to significantly increase testosterone levels in men.

In one study, 75 infertile men were given either ashwagandha root extract or a placebo for 3 months. The ashwagandha group experienced a 17% increase in testosterone levels, while the placebo group saw no significant change.

Another 8-week study involving 57 young male subjects found that ashwagandha supplementation led to a 14.7% greater increase in testosterone compared to the placebo group.

The exact mechanisms behind ashwagandha’s testosterone-boosting effects are not fully understood. However, researchers believe that the herb’s adaptogenic properties help reduce stress and cortisol levels, which can indirectly impact testosterone production.

By naturally increasing testosterone levels, ashwagandha may help improve muscle mass, strength, sexual function, and overall vitality in men. This makes it an attractive option for those looking to optimize their hormonal health without resorting to synthetic treatments.

See Also: Does Low Testosterone Cause Infertility?

2. Improves Sexual Function and Fertility

Ashwagandha has been traditionally used as an aphrodisiac in Ayurvedic medicine, and modern research supports its potential to enhance sexual function and fertility in men.
Several studies have found that ashwagandha can improve sexual desire and arousal.

In one study, 50 healthy women were given either ashwagandha extract or a placebo for 8 weeks. Those in the ashwagandha group reported significant improvements in sexual function, including arousal, lubrication, and satisfaction.

Ashwagandha has also been shown to have a positive impact on male fertility. It has been found to increase sperm count, semen volume, and sperm motility.

In one study, 46 male patients with low sperm count were given ashwagandha root extract for 90 days. The treatment resulted in a 167% increase in sperm count, 53% increase in semen volume, and 57% increase in sperm motility.

Another study involving 60 infertile men found that ashwagandha supplementation led to a 10-22% increase in testosterone levels and a 36-78% increase in sperm concentration compared to the placebo group.

Ashwagandha’s ability to improve sexual function and fertility may be attributed to its stress-reducing and hormone-balancing properties. By lowering cortisol levels and increasing testosterone, ashwagandha creates a more favorable environment for sexual health and reproduction.

For men struggling with erectile dysfunction, low libido, or infertility, ashwagandha may offer a natural and effective solution. However, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.

3. Reduces Stress and Cortisol Levels

As an adaptogen, ashwagandha helps the body cope with stress by modulating the stress response. It works by reducing the levels of cortisol, the primary stress hormone, which can have negative impacts on the body when chronically elevated.

Several studies have demonstrated ashwagandha’s stress-reducing properties. A systematic review of nine studies found that supplementation with ashwagandha for 30 to 112 days significantly reduced cortisol levels in stressed individuals, with reductions ranging from 11% to 32.63%.

In an 8-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, ashwagandha was associated with greater reductions in anxiety, morning cortisol, C-reactive protein, pulse rate, and blood pressure in chronically stressed adults. Another study found a 27% reduction in cortisol levels with ashwagandha supplementation.

Ashwagandha reduces activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which regulates the stress response. It can lower cortisol when levels are too high, but interestingly, it can also increase cortisol when levels are too low, as in cases of adrenal exhaustion.

The stress-reducing effects of ashwagandha are attributed to its active compounds called withanolides. These natural steroids are structurally similar to the hormones produced by the human body and can influence the endocrine system. Ashwagandha is also thought to have GABA-mimetic effects, promoting relaxation.

By lowering cortisol and modulating the stress response, ashwagandha creates a more balanced state in the body. This can lead to improvements in stress-related conditions like anxiety, fatigue, and sleep disturbances. For individuals dealing with chronic stress, ashwagandha may offer a natural way to build resilience and restore a sense of calm.

4. Increases Muscle Mass and Strength

Ashwagandha has been shown to have beneficial effects on muscle growth and strength in several studies, making it a promising supplement for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

In an 8-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 57 young male subjects with little resistance training experience were given either 600mg of KSM-66 ashwagandha extract or a placebo daily, while undergoing a resistance training program.

The ashwagandha group had significantly greater increases in muscle strength on the bench press and leg extension exercises compared to the placebo group. They also had significantly greater muscle size increases in the arms and chest, and a greater reduction in body fat percentage

Another 12-week study in 50 healthy male and female subjects found that 600mg of ashwagandha root extract per day led to significant improvements in maximal lower-body strength, upper-body strength, and muscle size compared to placebo, in conjunction with a resistance training program.

Ashwagandha’s positive effects on muscle strength have even been noted in the absence of resistance training. In one study, healthy men and women aged 50-69 years were given either ashwagandha or a placebo for 30 days. The ashwagandha group had significant increases in lower back and leg strength of 15.1% and 21.5% respectively, without performing any exercise.

The mechanisms behind ashwagandha’s benefits for muscle are not entirely clear, but may involve reducing inflammation and muscle damage, increasing testosterone levels, and improving the body’s antioxidant capacity and mitochondrial function. By lowering cortisol levels, ashwagandha may create a more anabolic environment conducive to muscle growth.

Overall, the current evidence suggests ashwagandha supplementation, especially when combined with resistance training, can significantly boost muscle mass and strength in both untrained and moderately trained individuals. More research is still needed, but ashwagandha appears to be a safe and effective natural option to support muscle building goals.

5. Improves Sleep Quality

Ashwagandha has shown promising results in improving sleep quality and duration in several studies. Its ability to reduce stress and anxiety, which are common causes of sleep disturbances, may contribute to its sleep-promoting effects.

In a 10-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 60 adults with insomnia were given either 300mg of ashwagandha root extract or a placebo twice daily. The ashwagandha group experienced significant improvements in sleep quality, sleep onset latency (time to fall asleep), and total sleep time compared to the placebo group. They also reported improved mental alertness upon waking.

Another 6-week study involving 50 adults with insomnia found that a 300mg dose of ashwagandha root extract taken twice daily resulted in significant improvements in sleep quality, sleep efficiency, and total sleep time as measured by actigraphy (a non-invasive method of monitoring rest/activity cycles). The participants also reported less anxiety and better quality of life after the treatment period.

A 2021 systematic review and meta-analysis of five randomized controlled trials concluded that ashwagandha extract had a small but significant effect on improving overall sleep quality compared to placebo. The effects were more pronounced in adults with insomnia, at dosages of 600+ mg/day, and when taken for 8 weeks or more.

The exact mechanisms behind ashwagandha’s sleep benefits are not fully understood but may involve several pathways. As an adaptogen, ashwagandha helps regulate the body’s stress response and normalize cortisol levels, which can be disruptive to sleep when elevated. The herb also contains triethylene glycol, a compound with sleep-inducing properties.

While more research is needed, the current evidence suggests ashwagandha could be a natural option for improving sleep quality, especially in individuals with stress-related insomnia. Its safety profile and lack of next-day grogginess make it an attractive alternative or complement to conventional sleep aids for some people.

Dosage and Safety

Ashwagandha is typically taken in doses ranging from 250 to 500 mg per day of a root extract. This dosage has been used safely in studies lasting up to 3 months. It’s best to start with a lower dose and gradually increase if needed and tolerated.

The most common form of ashwagandha is a standardized root extract in capsules or tablets. Extracts are often standardized to contain 1.5% to 5% withanolides, the key active compounds. A typical dose is 600 mg per day, divided into two doses.

Ashwagandha is generally safe and well-tolerated when taken in recommended doses for up to 3 months. Mild side effects can include stomach upset, diarrhea, nausea, and drowsiness. There are rare reports of liver injury in a few individuals taking ashwagandha, although a direct link is unclear.

Certain people should avoid ashwagandha or consult their doctor first, including:

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women, as it may cause miscarriage or premature labor.
  • People with autoimmune diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, as it may stimulate the immune system.
  • Those with thyroid disorders, as ashwagandha may increase thyroid hormone levels.
  • Men with prostate cancer, as ashwagandha may increase testosterone.
  • People taking certain medications like benzodiazepines, anticonvulsants, barbiturates, and immunosuppressants, due to potential interactions.

It’s always best to consult with your doctor before starting any new herbal supplement, especially if you have a medical condition or take medications. Be sure to purchase ashwagandha from a reputable source to ensure quality and purity.

While ashwagandha appears to be beneficial for many people, more research is needed to fully understand its long-term safety and efficacy. Start with a low dose, pay attention to how your body responds, and don’t hesitate to talk with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.

Conclusion

Ashwagandha, a revered herb in Ayurvedic medicine, has emerged as a natural supplement with numerous potential benefits for men’s health. As we’ve seen, scientific research supports ashwagandha’s ability to boost testosterone levels, enhance sexual function and fertility, reduce stress and cortisol, increase muscle mass and strength, and improve sleep quality.

The powerful adaptogenic properties of ashwagandha make it a valuable tool for helping the body cope with physical and mental stressors. By normalizing cortisol levels and modulating the stress response, ashwagandha creates a more balanced and resilient state in the body. This, in turn, can have far-reaching effects on various aspects of male health and vitality.

For men looking to naturally optimize their hormonal health, sexual performance, and overall well-being, ashwagandha offers a promising option. Its safety profile and lack of serious side effects make it an attractive choice for long-term use, either alone or in combination with other healthy lifestyle practices.

However, it’s important to remember that ashwagandha is not a replacement for medical treatment. It’s always best to consult with a qualified healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you have a pre-existing health condition or take medications.

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