Ashwagandha has the potential to be supportive in a number of ways for men, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and the ability to lower cortisol levels.
Ashwagandha is an herb native to Southeast Asia.
Ashwagandha is known to be adaptogenic, meaning it protects against the damage of stress, particularly in relation to cognitive function.
Ashwagandha boosts testosterone in men and can support sex drive and improve sleep.
The adaptogenic properties appear to come from the root of the plant, and the clinical studies administer root extract to participants.
What is ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is a herb whose root is often taken for its adaptogenic properties. The use of ashwagandha as an adaptogenic comes from Ayurveda, a holistic Hindu system of medicine. Recently, scientific interest has grown in how it can benefit men’s health.
Ashwagandha, as a supplement, comes in a number of forms and the therapeutic benefits come from the root of the plant:
- Root powder or tea can be boiled in water;
- Capsules containing root extract can be taken once or twice a day;
- Gummies, including the full-spectrum root extract ashwagandha KSM-66, can easily be chewed;
- Extracts containing compounds from the root can be added to water, juice, or smoothies.
Ashwagandha benefits for men
1. Boosts testosterone
As you age, your testosterone and DEAH-S levels decline, and this can lead to changes in sexual function, mental health, cognitive function, and energy levels. A 2019 study found that men who took an ashwagandha extract for 8 weeks saw a 14.7% greater increase in testosterone than the placebo. They also saw an increase in DEAH-S levels, a hormone that supports the production of testosterone. Both DEAH-S and testosterone have been linked to lower rates of depression, disease, fatigue, and higher rates of longevity in men.
Ashwagandha is considered an aphrodisiac, and while some studies have been conducted to examine whether it can help with erectile dysfunction, results are mixed. However, erectile dysfunction is often related to another disorder or condition, and some men have reportedly used the ashwagandha root extract KSM-66 with some success to treat their erectile dysfunction and boost their libido. For example, if erectile dysfunction is stress-related, ashwagandha could help by protecting your body from the damage of stress.
Some risk factors for erectile dysfunction include:
- Chronic sleep disorders;
- Alcohol and drug use;
- Neurogenic disorders;
2. Reduces stress
Much research has been done to study the benefit that many men use ashwagandha for: stress relief. Ashwagandha appears to lower cortisol levels, the body’s primary stress hormone. Chronic stress leads to several health problems including weight gain, difficulty focusing, anxiety, low sex drive, and insomnia. Ashwagandha supports the body in lowering cortisol levels and protecting the body from the damage that stress causes.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, which has been shown to be especially effective at combating fatigue during times of high stress. Adaptogens work to help you achieve homeostasis, a state of balance.
3. Enhances muscle growth
If building muscle mass is your goal, ashwagandha may help improve your progress. A 2015 study introduced resistance training to a sample of 57 men with little experience and administered 300 mg of ashwagandha root extract twice a day. Over 8 weeks, the group of men who took the extract saw a significantly more significant improvement in muscle strength, and muscle growth, and even saw fewer instances of exercise-induced muscle damage.
The study also found an increase in testosterone levels and a decrease in body fat, suggesting that ashwagandha also supports weight loss as a part of a larger fitness plan.
4. Improves sleep
Ashwagandha can improve the quality of your sleep and might be effective in combatting insomnia. Quality sleep is necessary for cognitive function, metabolic function, and mental health. Science has tracked a decline in the quality and duration of sleep in modern societies, with insomnia disorder on the rise.
Ashwagandha is considered a supportive supplement for improving the quality and duration of sleep. Studies have found a small improvement in sleep in participants that were administered ashwagandha root extract, with the most significant improvement happening in participants with insomnia disorder.
Ashwagandha and melatonin can be taken together to encourage a good night's sleep.
5. Boosts cognitive function
Ashwagandha is supportive of overall brain health and research is underway to understand how it affects attention, memory, mental health, and cognitive decline that accompanies age. In 2014, a study administered 250 mg of ashwagandha twice a day to 20 healthy males for two weeks. Researchers saw significant improvements in cognitive performance.
Most clinical studies, while promising, are small. More research is needed. Some experts attribute ashwagandha’s ability to affect cognitive function to the main compound found in ashwagandha called withanolides. Withanolides are most abundant in the roots, which is why brands like KSM-66 don’t include the leaf part of the plant.
Withanolides are supportive of brain health due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
How to take ashwagandha
Ashwagandha isn’t a quick fix; in order to see results, clinical studies follow a daily protocol. Ashwagandha can be taken once or twice a day.
Many experts suggest taking the supplement in the morning if you’re taking it once a day, although there is no evidence to support that this will make the supplement more effective than if you take it at night.
Dosage varies depending on your health goals. There’s not currently a recommended dose for all ashwagandha root extracts, and the dosage can range from 250–1000 mg daily.
Can ashwagandha cause side effects?
Ashwagandha is generally considered safe to take with little to no side effects. Side effects that have been reported include:
- Upset stomach.
Can I take ashwagandha with alcohol?
While there is no evidence to suggest that you can’t mix alcohol and ashwagandha, experts recommend that it be avoided as the interaction may cause drowsiness.
Does ashwagandha help with weight loss?
Yes, ashwagandha has an inflammatory and antioxidant effect on the body, which can make it a supportive supplement to a weight loss plan.
Can ashwagandha help increase penis size?
No, while ashwagandha can help support sexual function, there’s no scientific evidence to show that it can increase penis size.