Life can be a little stressful in the 21st century!
The good news is, there’s a friendly herb who’s here to help - meet ashwagandha.
But before we dive into the top benefits of ashwagandha for men, let's start with a quick background.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha, a small shrub common across Asia and Africa, and particularly prolific in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, is known for its stress-reducing, anti-inflammatory properties.
Also known as Winter Cherry or Indian Ginseng, it has been used for thousands of years (estimates are around 4,000) in Ayurvedic healing practices. It also falls into the ‘adaptogen’ category of herbs.
Quick Recap: What Does Being an Adaptogen Mean?
Adaptogens are extremely important in maintaining balance in the body.
Adaptogens have been found to regulate hormone levels, improve immunity, aid healthy weight balance, and offer antidepressant qualities. They also promote homeostasis, which supports the proper functioning of the body’s stress system.
So, now that we've got some context - what exactly are the benefits of ashwagandha for men?
Top Ashwagandha Benefits for Men
Traditionally, ashwagandha has been used to treat a manner of male ailments. Its ability to stimulate and regulate testosterone production in the body is one of the key benefits of ashwagandha for men.
Let's dive into some of the other key benefits of ashwagandha for men:
1. Alleviating Stress and Anxiety
Dubbed ‘the silent killer’, untreated stress disorders can lead to a number of health complications. Including, damaging your immune system, affecting brain and memory function, and interfering with the natural working of your gastrointestinal tract.
It has long been understood by ayurvedic practitioners that a very useful benefit of ashwagandha for men and women is alleviation of stress. To validate this claim a study was conducted on 64 chronically stressed adults. Half of the group was administered placebo supplements. The remaining 32 participants were given a 300mg ashwagandha capsule twice daily.
The results found that serum cortisol (the dreaded stress hormone) was significantly reduced in the treated group. They also tested more positively in all levels of stress assessment over the 60 day period.
A similar study was also performed on patients with severe anxiety disorders. The results, unsurprisingly, were similar to that of the chronic stress disorder group. Almost all of the patients treated with the herb felt significant improvements in their well-being.
2. The Sleep/Stress Cycle
Having a nice relaxing bath before bed, generally, enables a good nights sleep. Going to bed anxious, tense, and stressed, however, has us up all night, tossing and turning.
It’s no coincidence then, that the more stress running through our bodies (caused by spikes in cortisol levels), the worse our sleep quality.
In Indian medicine, one of the more commonly known ashwagandha benefits for men and women is its ability to support inducing sleep.
An active component of the herb, triethylene glycol, has been found to induce sleep. Therefore, used over an extended period, ashwagandha could help to treat long-term sleep disorders, including insomnia.
So, less stress equals better sleep and inducing sleep can help lower stress. Win-win, right?
3. Improving Physical Performance
We all want to do better at the gym, right?
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, tone up, or train for a marathon, a natural boost is no bad thing.
Studies have shown that the components found in ashwagandha can be helpful in improving physical performance. Including, cardiac endurance, muscle strength, and exercise-induced muscle damage.
4. Cardiac Endurance
Cardiorespiratory endurance is directly linked to exercise in which you use your muscles for a sustained period of time.
So, for long-distance running, swimming, cycling, or the occasional long workout, improvements to stamina are overwhelmingly beneficial.
A study of elite Indian cyclists was undertaken to determine whether ashwagandha can aid in improving cardiac performance.
Of the 40 cyclists tested, half were given 500mg of ashwagandha twice daily for eight weeks. Treadmill tests of both groups showed significant improvements to endurance in the cyclists treated with the herb.
5. Muscle Strength, Growth and Recovery
A separate study of 57 men, was undertaken to determine ashwagandha’s role in improving muscle strength. Ranging in age from 18–50, participants of the study had little to no previous resistance training experience. During the eight-week study, half the group was given a 300mg ashwagandha supplement twice daily. The other half were given a starch placebo.
Results of the study showed that the group who were given the herbal supplement showed significant improvements to muscle strength and size. It also found recovery rates of exercise-induced muscle damage were notably reduced among this group.
So if you’re hoping to tick that Iron Man off your bucket list, or just looking for (hashtag) mad gains, ashwagandha could help you on your way.
6. Fertility Boosting
As we’ve already learned, ashwagandha is great for boosting testosterone levels - good news for sexual health!
So it follows that it would help to improve testicular output too, as that’s where testosterone is produced.
Maintaining healthy levels of testosterone is essential to male health. It can even help with the dreaded Andropause, or “mid-life crisis”.
Plus, for men suffering low sperm count and motility, ashwagandha has been proven to improve and maintain healthy male fertility levels.
6a. Fertility studies
In addition, they also found improvements in sperm quality and antioxidant levels.
We’ve also learned of ashwagandha’s ability to reduce stress levels.
No surprise then, in a cross-section study of men aged between 22 and 45, it helped in almost all cases of stress-related infertility. It even helped 14% of participants successfully conceive with their partners.
While it’s not proven to be a 100% cure for infertile men, the results of these studies have been promising.
As always, talk to your healthcare professional if you’re considering using ashwagandha for improving fertility. Finding the root cause will help you decide on the best treatment available.
6b. Prostate Cancer
While we’re in this area, let’s have a look at ashwagandha’s effects on prostate cancer.
The disease is on the rise in the US, so anything you can do to prevent, or fight it off, is worth considering, right?
Studies have shown that the active ingredient, Withaferin-A, found in ashwagandha can aid in the treatment of prostate cancer. Significant growth arrest in cancer cells was found in patients who used ashwagandha over those who did not.
Where to Find Ashwagandha
By now, you’re probably so impressed with the benefits of ashwagandha that you're wondering where you can bag yourself some of this (almost) magic plant. Correct?
Luckily, you can find ashwagandha abundantly these days. A visit to your local herbal store is a great start.
Alternatively, talking to a certified herbalist and discussing teas, tonics, and tinctures, can help you find good quality herbs and recipes for creating your own homeopathic remedies.
However, if you're looking for an easier way to reap the benefits of ashwagandha, supplements are a convenient option.
Now, that’s one less thing to worry about, right?