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Your Guide to Ashwagandha: Frequently Asked Questions

May 26, 2019

Frequently Asked Questions About Ashwagandha

Frequently Asked Questions About Ashwagandha

While ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years in India, North Africa, China, Nepal, and other areas of the world, it is still relatively new to Western nations. As such, it is natural for people to have questions regarding the herb and ashwagandha supplements. In this section, we will attempt to answer some of the most frequently asked questions concerning ashwagandha.

Q: Can ashwagandha make you lose weight?

A: Clinical studies in animals and humans indicate that ashwagandha may help achieve weight loss, although it is unclear precisely how the supplement works in this manner.

Q: How long does ashwagandha take to work?

A: It can take some time for ashwagandha to begin working within the body, and the duration also varies by individual, as well as by health goal. For instance, it will take longer to see weight loss with ashwagandha than it will take to alleviate stress and anxiety.

Q: Can women take ashwagandha?

A: Yes, clinical studies and medical trials have indicated that this supplement can be taken by both men and women, and may be able to deliver health benefits to both. Note that women who may become pregnant, are pregnant, or who are breastfeeding, should not take ashwagandha.

Q: Can ashwagandha be taken on an empty stomach?

A: Yes, ashwagandha can be taken on an empty stomach. If you experience discomfort when taking it on an empty stomach, consider taking it with a small amount of food instead.

Q: Does ashwagandha help you sleep?

A: One of the classical uses of ashwagandha was as a sleep aid, and the herb’s botanical name (Withania somnifera) also includes a nod to that use. Ashwagandha may be able to help you sleep more deeply and for more extended periods without disruption.

Q: Does ashwagandha cause high blood pressure?

A: It is unlikely, as ashwagandha has been indicated as a blood pressure reducer. Those taking blood pressure medication should consult a physician before taking this supplement.

Q: Does ashwagandha make you gain weight?

A: Ashwagandha is not indicated as causing weight gain. It is frequently used in order to lose weight. However, it may increase muscle mass, which can increase body weight, although it does not increase body fat percentage.

Q: Does ashwagandha affect the thyroid?

A: In clinical studies, ashwagandha increased the level of thyroid hormone in the body. Because of this, those who are taking thyroid medication should consult their physician before taking the supplement.

Q: Can ashwagandha be taken with water?

A: Yes, ashwagandha root can be taken with water, with milk, mixed into other liquids, and taken in other ways. One of the traditional means of consumption is to mix it with a combination of ghee, honey, and warm milk.

Q: Does ashwagandha cause high blood pressure?

A: In medical studies, ashwagandha consumption was associated with lowering blood pressure, rather than increasing it. Individuals taking medication for high blood pressure (hypertension) should consult their physician before adding this supplement to their regular regimen.

Q: Does ashwagandha increase testosterone for men?

A: There is some evidence that taking ashwagandha may increase testosterone levels in men as part of the sexual health benefits the herb might offer. However, no scientific studies have been conducted on this particular effect.

Q: Can ashwagandha improve fertility in men and women?

A: There is evidence that ashwagandha may help improve fertility in both men and women, but particularly in men. This is due to the potential of the herb to increase sperm count, improve sperm motility, and increase semen volume.

Q: Can ashwagandha help improve sex drive?

A: Several clinical studies have shown that ashwagandha may be able to improve sexual health in both men and women, including boosting libido, or sex drive. It is also indicated that the supplement may improve lubrication, ability to maintain an erection, ability to reach orgasm, and reduce or eliminate pain during intercourse for both women and men.

Q: Is ashwagandha helpful for bodybuilders?

A: One of the classical uses of this herb was for improving strength and muscle mass, and modern scientific studies indicate that ashwagandha may be able to increase both muscle mass and strength, along with physical endurance.

Q: Does ashwagandha have any side effects?

A: Yes, taking ashwagandha as a supplement can cause side effects and may also cause negative interactions with other medications and herbal supplements you may be taking. Most side effects are mild and short-lived, but some severe complications may arise for those with particular health conditions. If you are taking any form of prescription medication, consult your physician before taking Ashwagandha. Also note that ashwagandha may amplify the effects of other substances, such as alcohol, marijuana, St. John’s wort, and more.

Q: Is ashwagandha safe to take?

A: Ashwagandha is generally considered safe to take for most people. However, because it is an herbal supplement, it is not FDA approved, or FDA regulated. Additionally, some people should not take ashwagandha without consent from their doctors, including pregnant women and nursing mothers, those with lupus, those on auto-immune suppressant medications, those with type 1 diabetes, and more. If you have questions about the safety of ashwagandha in your particular situation, consult your physician.

Q: Can ashwagandha help with erectile dysfunction?

A: There is some scientific evidence that supports ashwagandha’s role in alleviating erectile dysfunction. The herb may be able to help with a wide range of sexual health-related problems, and sexual dysfunctions, including erectile dysfunction, inability to orgasm, delayed ejaculation, and premature ejaculation.

Q: Can ashwagandha reverse hair loss?

A: While ashwagandha is not reputed to act directly on hair loss, and no medical studies have been conducted involving male pattern baldness, or other forms of hair loss, the supplement may be able to reduce stress levels in the body and aid in rebalancing the hormones, two common causes of hair loss in men and women.

Q: Which part of the ashwagandha plant should I use?

A: While you will find supplements on the market that feature both roots and leaves of the ashwagandha plant, Ayurvedic tradition holds that ashwagandha root powder is the better choice. The root also contains the highest levels of withanolide, the active ingredient in Ashwagandha.

Q: Can I take ashwagandha long term?

A: There have been no medical studies conducted on the use of ashwagandha over extensive periods. While the supplement is considered generally safe for most people, usage is usually short term. Consult your physician if you have further concerns, or work with an Ayurvedic practitioner to determine the right schedule for your specific needs.

Q: Does ashwagandha affect hormone levels in the body?

A: Yes, ashwagandha may affect hormone levels within the body. In clinical studies, ashwagandha was shown to affect (increase) the levels of thyroid hormone in the body. Additionally, taking the supplement may reduce levels of cortisol in the body – a stress hormone secreted by the adrenal glands during times of high stress and anxiety.

Q: Is ashwagandha safe for vegetarians and/or vegans?

A: Yes, ashwagandha supplements should contain only plant material. However, you do need to ensure that you choose the right supplement, as low-quality manufacturers may include a wide range of fillers and other materials.

Q: Does ashwagandha contain gluten?

A: No, a quality ashwagandha supplement will be completely gluten-free.

Q: What other ingredients may be found in an ashwagandha supplement?

A: A high-quality ashwagandha supplement should contain no other ingredients, other than the material used to form the capsule that contains the powder. There should be no binders, no fillers, and no additives. For instance, at Trusted Nutrients, our Organic Ashwagandha supplement is gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, and shellfish-free. It also contains no animal products or preservatives. The only two ingredients, other than our vegetable cellulose capsules, are pure, organic ashwagandha root powder and organic black pepper extract to increase absorption in the body.

Q: What does ashwagandha root powder smell like?

A: The powder itself has a powerful odor that many people describe as “horse-like.” This is actually where the plant’s name comes from – ashwagandha means “horse scent.” The powder can also be quite bitter, which is why it was traditionally consumed with warm milk, honey, and butter. However, Trusted Nutrients’ ashwagandha root capsules have no taste or odor.

How Should Ashwagandha Be Taken?

Are you wondering about taking ashwagandha? Unsure how to take this natural supplement? Curious as to the best ashwagandha intake method? There are several different ways that ashwagandha extract can be taken, but they are not all created equal.

Choose Ashwagandha Root

One of the first things you should know when it comes to choosing the supplement that is right for you is that ashwagandha root is preferred by Ayurvedic healers to the plant’s leaves. You will find supplements on the market made from both, as well as those that combine root and leaf powders. However, ashwagandha root delivers higher concentrations of withanolide, the herb’s active ingredient, and the key to its healing capabilities.

Ashwagandha Rasayanas

A Rasayana is a tonic used in Ayurvedic tradition. It is possible to create such a tonic on your own using ashwagandha root powder. In traditional cases, the powder would be mixed with milk, as well as honey to sweeten the mixture, and ghee (clarified butter), and is served warm.

A similar version can be made by combining milk with ashwagandha root powder, honey, and a small amount of water – a single serving would include a ½ cup of milk, ½ cup of water, one tsp. of honey, and one tsp. of ashwagandha root powder.

If neither of those options appeals to you, the powder can be mixed into many other beverages, including lattes. Or, you can sprinkle it into your food if you would rather. The reason many people choose to mix the powder in with a sweeter food or beverage is that it can be somewhat bitter. The powder also carries the horse-like smell the herb is known for, so mixing it with something else may make it more palatable.

Ashwagandha Capsules

Perhaps one of the simplest ways to add ashwagandha to your daily regimen without the bitterness or the odor is to take it in capsule form. Capsules allow you to quickly and easily ingest ashwagandha root at any point in your day. All you need is a little water to wash it down with.

Growing Your Own Ashwagandha Plant

While you can find ashwagandha root on the market in the form of powders and capsules, you might prefer to try growing it yourself. If you have a green thumb, it is possible to grow it at home, but you will need to know a few things in order to be successful.

  • Ashwagandha requires a hot, humid climate, but once established, will do fine in drier climates.
  • You can grow the plant from seeds, or from cuttings that have been rooted.
  • The plant does best in well-drained soil with high sand content.
  • Only water the plant when it seems thirsty – do not overwater it or the plant may die.
  • The plant should not be subject to temperatures lower than 70 degrees for optimal growth.
  • It takes about six months for the plant to reach maturity.

Of course, growing the plant is only the first step in the process. In order to benefit from this supplement, you will need to harvest the root, dry it, and then grind it. This will add more time, and it will require that you have the right equipment. A brief outline of the process is as follows:

  • After the plant is mature, harvest the roots.
  • Wash thoroughly to remove dirt and sand.
  • Let the roots dry completely – sunlight will help, but you can also use a food dehydrator.
  • Once the roots are thoroughly dried (they will feel very light and will be stiff), they can be ground up.
  • Cut the roots into small pieces and add to a food processor. Process until it is as fine as possible.
  • Remove the root from the food processor and add to a coffee grinder. Set the grinder to the finest setting and process until done.
  • You now have ashwagandha root powder.

While it is possible to grow the plant on your own, harvest the roots, dry them, and then grind them into powder, there are issues with this method.

  • First, you have no way of verifying the percentage of withanolide in your powder.
  • Second, you have no means to determine whether there are any harmful pathogens or chemicals in the soil used to grow the plant, which will leech into the roots.
  • Third, this process is quite a time consuming and requires you to have specific equipment. That may be a more significant commitment of time and money than you are ready to make.

Purchasing powdered ashwagandha root in capsule form is more straightforward, easier, and ensures you get the purity and potency that you need.

What to Look for When Choosing an Ashwagandha Supplement

Many different manufacturers today offer ashwagandha supplements. However, not all of them are created equal. Additionally, because there is no FDA regulation in this area, manufacturers are free to add fillers and binders. These may reduce the concentration of withanolide in the supplement, as well as the quality of the ashwagandha powder overall.

In order to ensure you have the best chance of seeing the health benefits you seek, it is crucial that you choose a high-quality supplement.  Below, we will walk through a brief guide to help ensure that you can choose the highest quality supplement.

Organic – One of the first considerations is the quality of the ashwagandha itself. Organic Ashwagandha is free of chemical pesticides and fertilizers that might leech into the root from the surrounding soil and is of the highest quality.

GMO-Free – GMO-free labeling indicates that the product is not made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Only naturally-grown ashwagandha is used in these products.

Capsules – Capsules are more straightforward and more accessible to deal with than powder on its own, and easier to consume than tablets and pills. However, make sure that capsules are made from 100% vegetable matter. Some capsules are made from gelatin, which is derived from animal products.

Ingredients – Check the ingredients list on any ashwagandha supplement you are considering. You should see no binders, no fillers, and no artificial ingredients. Ideally, you will only one or two ingredients. For instance, at Trusted Nutrients, we use only 100% organic ashwagandha root powder and black pepper extract in our capsules. Black pepper is included to increase the uptake of withanolide in the digestive tract.

Amount of Ashwagandha Root Powder – One of the areas where you will find the most considerable variance is in terms of how much root powder is included in each capsule/serving/dose. Some are as low as 300 mg or even lower. Others may be as high as 3,000 mg or even more. At Trusted Nutrients, we included 1,300 mg of organic ashwagandha root powder in each vegetarian capsule.

Quantity – Check the number of capsules in each container, as this will affect yours out of pocket costs. At Trusted Nutrients, we include 120 capsules – that’s 60 days of ashwagandha supplements to help improve your health. Other manufacturers include far fewer doses, which means you will need to repurchase your supplement sooner.

Conclusion

Ashwagandha has been a trusted supplement in Ayurvedic healing tradition for thousands of years. It has classically been used to prolong life, improve strength and endurance, reduce stress and anxiety, and even improve sexual health and performance.

Today, modern science is beginning to take notice of this humble herb. Many clinical studies have been conducted, and more are currently in progress, in order to investigate the potential health benefits offered by ashwagandha root extract. While additional studies are needed for conclusive proof, evidence indicates that taking an ashwagandha supplement may help with a broad range of health conditions and goals, including:

  • Managing blood sugar
  • Improving memory and cognitive function
  • Improved energy levels and less fatigue
  • Better quality sleep
  • Reduced anxiety and stress
  • Improved sexual health
  • Weight loss
  • Increased muscle mass and strength

However, being able to enjoy these potential benefits hinges on finding a high-quality supplement. At Trusted Nutrients, we are proud to offer one of the most potent, high-performing formulations on the market. Our Organic Ashwagandha with Black Pepper Extract includes 1,300 mg of organic ashwagandha root powder combined with 10 mg of organic black pepper extract to ensure maximum uptake in the body.

Important blogs about the uses and benefits of Ashwagandha

Your Guide to Ashwagandha: Understanding the Potential Uses and Benefits [Part 1]

Your Guide to Ashwagandha: Understanding the Potential Uses and Benefits [Part 2]

Does Ashwagandha Work?





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