Updated: Sep 16
Scientific name: Withania somnifera
Common names: Ajagandha, Indian ginseng, Winter cherry
Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera or winter cherry, is a short woody plant with yellow or green flowers that become lantern-like pods. The pods contain small orangish-red berries full of yellow seeds native to India, Africa, and the Mediterranean (1). Ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years in India's Ayurvedic, Siddha, and Unani-Tibb systems, mainly as an adaptogen to help adapt to stressful situations (2) but has many other uses.
Benefits of Ashwagandha
May Reduce Stress
Ashwagandha has been used in ancient herbal medicine throughout India's Ayurvedic, Siddha, and Unani-Tibb systems specifically for their ability to reduce stress. Researchers have regulated chemical signals in the nervous system of animals and found that ashwagandha blocks the stress pathway of rats (3). Researchers didn't just stop at animal studies, though; they also studied humans. They found great success in reducing stress in humans by using ashwagandha when they did a 60-day study of 64 people with chronic stress, and 69 percent reported a reduction in not just stress but anxiety and insomnia too (4). I highly recommend Earthley's Cocoa Calm for stress-reducing benefits.
May Reduce Anxiety
Anxiety usually goes hand-in-hand with stress, so it's no wonder ashwagandha has also successfully treated anxiety. Actually, in a 6-week study, researchers found that 88 percent of the people who took ashwagandha had a reduction in anxiety levels (5). Another study found that ashwagandha was a viable option for naturopathic care in anxiety after 75 participants were followed for eight weeks. It had significant benefits, including their mental health, concentration levels, lack of fatigue, social functionality, vitality, and more (6). I highly recommend Earthley’s Anxiety Relief for anxiety-relieving benefits.
May Help Adrenal Fatigue
Cortisol is your body's primary stress hormone made by the adrenal glands and works with certain parts of the brain to control mood, motivation, and fear, also known as fight-or-flight. When cortisol levels become chronically elevated, your body will be on high alert, resulting in an alteration or complete shutting down of functions such as your digestive or reproductive systems, immune systems, or even growth processes (7). In one study involving chronically stressed adults, participants supplemented ashwagandha and found that ashwagandha significantly reduced cortisol levels (8), which means ashwagandha can help with adrenal fatigue. I highly recommend Earthley's Master Tonic for adrenal fatigue relief.
May Improve Brain Functionality
Many studies have been conducted in test tubes, animals, and even humans around the possibility that ashwagandha may improve brain function and even improve memory. In one study, researchers studied rats with epilepsy and found that ashwagandha nearly completely reversed spatial memory impairment, likely caused by a reduction in oxidative stress (9). In another study, 50 adults were examined for eight weeks after taking ashwagandha root extract two times a day, and the results found a significant improvement in their general memory, task performance, and even attention (10). In a test-tube study, ashwagandha could reverse β-amyloid1-42 induced toxicity in human neuronal cells implicated in HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (11).
May Reduce Inflammation
In several studies, ashwagandha was shown to help decrease inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been linked with many diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, asthma, and certain cancers (12). In one animal study, ashwagandha had a protective effect on inflammatory markers and insulin resistance in fructose-fed rats (13). C-reactive protein (CPR) is measured in your blood and increases when there's inflammation in your body (14). Human studies took ashwagandha extract daily and had a 36 percent decrease in C-reactive protein compared to only 6 percent in the placebo group (15).
May Boost Testosterone
Ashwagandha has shown promising possibilities for increasing fertility in men thanks to its ability to boost testosterone levels. In one study, ashwagandha improved semen quality specifically by regulating reproductive hormone levels and oxidative stress in seminal plasma of infertile men (16). In another study, men who took ashwagandha for stress experienced higher antioxidant levels and better sperm quality, and after 90 days of consistently using ashwagandha, 14 percent of their partners became pregnant (17). I highly recommend Earthley's Nourish Him Naturally for testosterone-boosting benefits.
May Lower Cholesterol Levels
Thanks to ashwagandha's anti-inflammatory effects, it seems as if it may also lower both cholesterol and triglyceride levels and improve overall heart health. One animal study found ashwagandha to lower cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels by 53 and 45 percent in rats (18), which has led researchers to believe it may do the same for humans but has not yet been studied in humans.
Several studies have been conducted in both test tubes and on animals regarding the potential anticancer properties of ashwagandha. One study found ashwagandha to play a cancer-protective role in rodents with cancer that were chemically induced (19). Another study, a test-tube study, found that ashwagandha may cause cancer cells to become less resistant to apoptosis and disrupt the vimentin cytoskeleton, possibly inducing ROS generation, c-Fos expression, and c-FLIP(L) suppression (20).
Ashwagandha has been shown to boost a slow-producing thyroid (hypothyroidism) and also help those with Hashimoto's. During an 8-week ashwagandha treatment period, ashwagandha effectively normalized the serum thyroid indices significantly (21). Ashwagandha should not be taken by those with hyperthyroidism. Aswagandha may exacerbate symptoms by boosting T3 and T4 levels, potentially leading to thyrotoxicosis, a serious form of hyperthyroidism. I highly recommend Earthley’s Thyroid Support tincture for hypothyroidism benefits.
⚠️ Warning: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and this herb is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure anything.
Contraindications & Interactions
Ashwagandha is not recommended for those with hyperthyroidism. Aswagandha may exacerbate symptoms by boosting T3 and T4 levels, potentially leading to thyrotoxicosis, a severe form of hyperthyroidism.
Do not use it if you already have low cortisol, as ashwagandha lowers cortisol. Be careful when consuming if you have issues with any herbs of the nightshade family. The mainstream recommendation is to consult your doctor before taking if pregnant or nursing, but herbalists say otherwise.
Notably, a trusted herbalist since 1989, Richard Whelan has had no documented adverse reactions or effects with this herb. He considers Withania to be exceptionally safe to use in high or frequent doses if necessary. He states it can be taken by the young or old while pregnant or breastfeeding with confidence (22).
Products Recommended with Ashwagandha Ingredients
Earthley's Anxiety Relief is formulated with herbs chosen for their ability to calm the body and improve mood without unfortunate side effects. Relieve symptoms of anxiety naturally.
Earthley's Cocoa Calm combines an all-natural, antioxidant-rich cocoa powder with three key adaptogens (ashwagandha root, Rhodiola root, and eleuthero root). The result is a cocoa powder that tastes just like chocolate but helps you feel calmer and more able to deal with common daily stresses!
Earthley's Master Tonic is perfect for total body support when life gets too busy. If you’re feeling run down and in need of support, Master Tonic is here for you! This herbal remedy has nutrients to support all your major organs that need help when you’re overworked. Made with all-natural ingredients without any OTC medication drugs with those nasty side effects.
Earthley's Natural Balance was made for women struggling with the ups and downs of hormones. This herbal remedy can help steady hormone levels and provide you with increased energy, calmness, and better quality sleep. Made with all-natural ingredients without those OTC medications that have unwanted side effects. Do not take while pregnant. Use caution while breastfeeding.
Earthley's Nourish Him Naturally was curated with a man’s specific needs in mind! Earthley used herbs to support heart health, prostate health, and energy levels to make this vitamin powerhouse. You could see an improvement in overall health and wellness through this natural and organic herbal supplement!
Earthley's Thyroid Support is an herbal formula for thyroid support and total body wellness. The herbs include ashwagandha, amla berry, licorice root, Brahmi leaf, and milk thistle seed. It also supports a healthy liver and stress response and is rich in vitamin C.
MaryRuth's Asian Ginseng may be just what you need to support your body’s natural homeostasis. The key active ingredient of Ginseng, Ginsenosides, are what provide each type of Ginseng with its unique properties. To help stay calm and maintain natural homeostasis, provide neuroprotective properties and support your immune system, try out this well-known traditional herb!
MaryRuth's Ginseng Vitality is a blend of adaptogenic herbs formulated to support vitality, energy, and overall health! These herbs in this blend have many other health-supportive benefits, such as supporting a healthy libido, sexual function, normal energy levels, and more to promote overall health. Support your vitality with this adaptogenic herbal blend!
MaryRuth's Organic Ashwagandha Root Liquid Drops may help to alleviate stress and regulate homeostasis. Ashwagandha has been found to be an adaptogen that may help to alleviate stress and regulate homeostasis, while as a neuroprotective herb, it may support the nervous system. Let yourself relax and feel great with this long-used herb!
MaryRuth's Probiotic Postnatal+ is a probiotic formulated with vitamins, minerals, botanicals, and probiotic strains to support both mother and growing baby. In addition to probiotics, these capsules contain iron, selenium, choline, ashwagandha, and ginger.