Ashwagandha Bodybuilding Benefits

Ashwagandha Bodybuilding Benefits

When you think of bodybuilding whey protein and amino acids may be the first thing that comes to mind. However, ashwagandha is one herb popular for its effects on endurance and muscle mass. Read more to learn if there are any ashwagandha bodybuilding benefits.

What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha root or Withania somnifera is a herb used for centuries in the Indian traditional medicine practice of Ayurveda [R, R].  


The word “ashwagandha” is Sanskrit for “smell of horse.” This alludes to the herb’s scent as well as its healing properties. It is said to give the strength and energy of a horse [R]. 


Ashwagandha is often referred to as an adaptogen. These are rejuvenating herbs that enhance mood and lower stress [R, R, R, R, R].

How Does Ashwagandha Work?

How this adaptogen reduces stress is uncertain. Ashwagandha may help suppress an enzyme that triggers stress hormones and free radical production. 


NADPH diaphorase is an enzyme in the central nervous system. It produces cortisol and the free radical nitric oxide. 


When ashwagandha enters the central nervous system it prevents NADPH from forming. This will suppress cortisol levels that rise when the body undergoes stress. It will also increase compounds that lower stress like serotonin [R, R, R]. 

Ashwagandha Health Benefits

Along with reduced stress, ashwagandha's health benefits included reduced blood sugar levels, improved immunity, and weight loss among those with chronic stress [R, R, R]. 

Ashwagandha Bodybuilding Benefits

Ashwagandha bodybuilding benefits include increased testosterone, endurance, muscle mass, strength, and reduced cortisol.


Increases in cardiovascular endurance were seen among cyclists who took ashwagandha during workouts [R]. 


Testosterone is needed to build muscle. When compared with a placebo testosterone levels increased better in men taking 600 mg of ashwagandha root daily for two months [R, R]. 


One study found increased muscle strength among healthy men given between 750 and 1,250 mg of ashwagandha per day for a month [R].


Strength training combined with 300 mg of ashwagandha taken over two months resulted in greater reductions of body fat when compared with a placebo [R]. 


High stress and cortisol levels can hinder your performance. Ashwagandha was found to lower cortisol [R].

Dosage for Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha comes in powder or pill form. It is sometimes mixed with water, ghee, or honey [R].


There are no specific dosing recommendations for bodybuilding. Research indicates muscle growth and strength was seen with doses between 500 and 1,250 mg per day  [R, R, R].


Starting with a lower dose may be the best practice. Following manufacturer dosing instructions on the product is also recommended.

Risks and Contraindications of Ashwagandha

Reviews of this supplement indicate side effects with short-term use. Stomach upset, diarrhea, and vomiting have been seen with large doses. Effects of long-term use are unknown [R]. 


Ashwagandha may cause miscarriages and should not be used by pregnant women [R].


Ashwagandha is contraindicated in those with diabetes, blood pressure issues, gastric ulcers, autoimmune, and hormone disorders. If you have any health conditions and/or are on medications you should talk to your doctor before starting ashwagandha [R].

Final Thoughts on Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an herb used for centuries in Avyeuda medicine. It can lower stress and enhance energy. Reduced blood sugar, immune support, and weight management are other health benefits of this supplement. When it comes to working out, there may be some ashwagandha bodybuilding benefits. These include increased testosterone production along with enhanced muscle mass, strength, and endurance. If you want to start transforming your body, ashwagandha may be a great addition to your diet and exercise plans; at least in the short term. Doses for performance have a wide range so it is best to start small. This way you can avoid side effects associated with high doses. Generally, ashwagandha has not caused side effects in healthy individuals. Those with health conditions and or on any medications should be cautious and speak with a healthcare professional before starting this supplement.

Resources

  1. Widodo, Nashi, Didik Priyandoko, Navjot Shah, Renu Wadhwa, and Sunil C. Kaul. 2010. “Selective Killing of Cancer Cells by Ashwagandha Leaf Extract and Its Component Withanone Involves ROS Signaling.” PloS One 5 (10): e13536. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20975835
  2. Widodo, Nashi, Yasuomi Takagi, Bhupal G. Shrestha, Tetsuro Ishii, Sunil C. Kaul, and Renu Wadhwa. 2008. “Selective Killing of Cancer Cells by Leaf Extract of Ashwagandha: Components, Activity, and Pathway Analyses.” Cancer Letters 262 (1): 37–47. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18191020
  3. Chandrasekhar, K., Jyoti Kapoor, and Sridhar Anishetty. 2012. “A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults.” Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine 34 (3): 255–62. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23439798
  4. Dhuley, J. N. 2000. “Adaptogenic and Cardioprotective Action of Ashwagandha in Rats and Frogs.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology 70 (1): 57–63. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10720789
  5. Orendorz-Fraczkowska, K. 1991. “[Study of aging of the organ of hearing using computerized tonal audiometry].” Otolaryngologia polska. The Polish otolaryngology 45 (5): 391–92. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1795929
  6. Baliga, Manjeshwar Shrinath, Sharake Meera, Lalit Kumar Vaishnav, Suresh Rao, and Princy Louis Palatty. 2013. “Rasayana Drugs from the Ayurvedic System of Medicine as Possible Radioprotective Agents in Cancer Treatment.” Integrative Cancer Therapies 12 (6): 455–63. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23737641
  7. Panossian, Alexander, and Georg Wikman. 2010. “Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress-Protective Activity.” Pharmaceuticals 3 (1): 188–224. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3991026/
  8. Singh, Narendra, Mohit Bhalla, Prashanti de Jager, and Marilena Gilca. 2011. “An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (rejuvenator) of Ayurveda.” African Journal of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicines: AJTCAM / African Networks on Ethnomedicines 8 (5 Suppl): 208–13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252722/
  9. Bredt, D. S., C. E. Glatt, P. M. Hwang, M. Fotuhi, T. M. Dawson, and S. H. Snyder. 1991. “Nitric Oxide Synthase Protein and mRNA Are Discretely Localized in Neuronal Populations of the Mammalian CNS Together with NADPH Diaphorase.” Neuron 7 (4): 615–24. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1718335/
  10. Bhatnagar, Maheep, Durgesh Sharma, and Mahendra Salvi. 2009. “Neuroprotective Effects of Withania Somnifera Dunal.: A Possible Mechanism.” Neurochemical Research 34 (11): 1975–83. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19444606/
  11. Agnihotri, Akshay P., Smita D. Sontakke, Vijay R. Thawani, Anand Saoji, and Vaidya Shishir S. Goswami. 2013. “Effects of Withania Somnifera in Patients of Schizophrenia: A Randomized, Double Blind, Placebo Controlled Pilot Trial Study.” Indian Journal of Pharmacology 45 (4): 417–18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3757622/
  12. Choudhary, Dnyanraj, Sauvik Bhattacharyya, and Kedar Joshi. 2017. “Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment With Ashwagandha Root Extract: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine 22 (1): 96–106. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871210/
  13. Shenoy, Shweta, Udesh Chaskar, Jaspal S. Sandhu, and Madan Mohan Paadhi. 2012. “Effects of Eight-Week Supplementation of Ashwagandha on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Elite Indian Cyclists.” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine 3 (4): 209–14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23326093/
  14. Tyagi, Vineet, Michael Scordo, Richard S. Yoon, Frank A. Liporace, and Loren Wissner Greene. 2017. “Revisiting the Role of Testosterone: Are We Missing Something?” Reviews in Urology 19 (1): 16–24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5434832/
  15. Wankhede, Sachin, Deepak Langade, Kedar Joshi, Shymal R. Sinha, and Sauvik Bhattacharyya. 2015. “Examining the Effect of Withania Somnifera Supplementation on Muscle Strength and Recovery: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 12 (November): 43. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26609282
  16. Raut, Ashwinikumar A., Nirmala N. Rege, Firoz M. Tadvi, Punita V. Solanki, Kirti R. Kene, Sudatta G. Shirolkar, Shefali N. Pandey, Rama A. Vaidya, and Ashok B. Vaidya. 2012. “Exploratory Study to Evaluate Tolerability, Safety, and Activity of Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) in Healthy Volunteers.” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine 3 (3): 111–14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23125505
  17. Sandhu, Jaspal Singh, Biren Shah, Shweta Shenoy, Suresh Chauhan, G. S. Lavekar, and M. M. Padhi. 2010. “Effects of Withania Somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Terminalia Arjuna (Arjuna) on Physical Performance and Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Healthy Young Adults.” International Journal of Ayurveda Research 1 (3): 144–49. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21170205
  18. Braun, Theodore P., and Daniel L. Marks. 2015. “The Regulation of Muscle Mass by Endogenous Glucocorticoids.” Frontiers in Physiology 6 (February): 12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4315033/ 
“Ashwagandha: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning.” n.d. Accessed https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-953/ashwagandha

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