Ashwagandha and Men's Health
Ashwagandha is gaining attention across the globe and increasingly becoming one of the more popular herbal supplement choices. With health benefits boasting stress-relieving, hormone balancing properties it’s no surprise we’re big fans of this adaptogen here in the Ancient + Brave headquarters.
Ashwagandha is fairly well known for its positive effects on women’s health, but it also offers amazing benefits for men too.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha (also known as Indian ginseng, winter cherry or Withania somnifera) is a herbal shrub found native to India and North Africa. Although we’re seeing an upsurge in modern use, the roots and berries have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine and it is well-known for its adaptogenic and rejuvenating properties. Adaptogens help your body respond to stress, anxiety, fatigue and overall well being.
Within Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is a prized tonic, known as a ‘rasayana’; these are thought to enhance quality of life, longevity and enhance vigour. Beyond this, it’s also been shown in studies to be effective in regulating hormones and the immune system, increasing energy levels and improving concentration - could ashwagandha be the performance-booster you’ve been waiting for?
Boosts Bedroom Performance
Studies are showing how Ashwagandha is particularly helpful when it comes to men’s sexual health. Whilst the science catches up, it has also been used for years as an Ayurvedic aid to boost testosterone levels, improve male fertility, and act as an aphrodisiac.
Although present in women in smaller levels, testosterone is a key marker in particular for men's health. Low levels of testosterone can reduce sex drive, increase body fat and fatigue, effect mood and increase loss of bone and muscle mass. Levels of this important hormone typically drop with age, but it can also be affected by life circumstances, such as chronic stress, which may hit at any age.
Research has shown that men's supplementation with ashwagandha led to a significant increase in testosterone levels and higher antioxidant levels. In one recent study, men who took ashwagandha for eight weeks not only showed significant changes in testosterone levels but also DHEA (a precursor to testosterone) and lowered fatigue (1).
Ashwagandha is perhaps best known for its stress-relieving properties as it helps to regulate cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is often given a bad rep, but it only really becomes problematic when stress is chronic and persistent and cortisol levels become elevated for a prolonged period. This impacts our nervous system and can leave us feeling overwhelmed, wired-yet-tired and anxious.
Interestingly, both cortisol and testosterone are made from the same precursor in the body, therefore, it is theorised that when there is a high demand for cortisol, it may have a negative impact on testosterone production. Cortisol also has an impact on libido; ongoing stress is a common cause of a dwindling sex drive. Thankfully, numerous studies have shown that ashwagandha can counter this – decreasing levels of stress significantly (2,3). This stress relief in turn can affect sex drive and the ability to relax enough to enhance desire and even pleasure.
Whilst testosterone and libido are both key components to fertility, sperm quality is also a major player. Ashwagandha supplementation for men with fertility issues has shown promising results in studies. One particular study revealed significant improvements in sperm quality, sperm count and motility (4).
Improves Muscle Mass and Strength
Not only a helper in the bedroom, Ashwanganda could supercharge your workouts in the gym too. A key study in which healthy men supplemented Ashwagandha whilst also on a weight lifting program, found a significant increase in muscle mass and strength compared to a placebo group. Furthermore the participants more than doubled their reductions in body fat percentage, experienced less exercise induced muscle damage and had five times higher levels of testosterone than men who did not take the supplement (5).
Improves sleep and boosts brain function
We’ve all experienced poor sleep induced brain fog from time to time, so it’s no surprise that sleep quality has a huge impact on our cognitive abilities. Exciting preliminary research has found that ashwagandha may in fact help people fall asleep faster, spend more time asleep, and experience better sleep quality (6).
On top of this, studies suggest that ashwagandha promotes antioxidant activity which protects nerve cells from potential damage from free-radicals. This is key to boosting brain health and therefore is possibly why it is used in Ayurveda for enhancing memory (7).
How do I take Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha as a rasayana would traditionally be taken mixed with ghee, honey, and milk in a warm beverage. Here at Ancient + Brave we’ve incorporated it within our Coffee+Collagen, Cacao+Collagen and Inspired Collagen which gives you a similar comforting yet invigorating experience.