Often referred to as the ‘king’ of Ayurvedic herbs, ashwagandha is a powerful adaptogen and one of the most significant in the ancient Indian medical system. In this article, we’ll be answering one of the most common questions we get about taking ashwagandha: "what are the benefits of ashwagandha for men?".August 25, 2022 9:53 am August 22, 2022 12:34 pm
What is ashwagandha?
The past 10 or so years has seen a huge rise in the range of products containing ashwagandha. This may seem odd, as prior to this movement the herb was restricted to alternative pharmacies. However, the growing scientific research on ashwagandha in the past decade, especially on the benefits of ashwagandha for men, is a reason for its growing popularity.
Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub with yellow flowers. The herb grows in India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. People have used the herb as a medicinal plant for hundreds of years. Furthermore, Its name is made up of two Sanskrit words: Ashwa ‘horse’ and gandha ‘smell’. While some say this name derives from its horse-like aroma, others say that it symbolises a horse’s strength.
Developed more than 3,000 years ago, Ayurvedic medicine (Ayurveda) is a traditional form of alternative medicine, based on Indian principles of natural healing. Moreover, it is one of the world’s oldest whole-body healing systems.
Ayurveda is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Furthermore, around 80% of the population report still using it in Nepal and India.(1)
Ashwagandha is one of the most significant herbs in Ayurveda. Extracts or powder from the plant’s root or leaves treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety and fertility issues.
The herbs extracts contain up to 35 different chemical elements. However, the specific active ingredient responsible for its activity has not been identified.(2)
Benefits of ashwagandha as an adaptogen
There’s a fine line between stress and anxiety. External triggers cause stress. The trigger can be short-term, such as a work deadline or long-term, such as being unable to work. Meanwhile, worries that don’t go away even in the absence of a stressor cause anxiety.
Ashwagandha is classified as an adaptogen. This is a substance that helps manage stress. Therefore, it’s perhaps best known for its ability to reduce stress. The herbal action in adaptogens can increase or decrease chemical reactions within your body. For example, if you’re stressed, an adaptogen will respond by reducing cortisol levels.
Scientists looked at the effect of ashwagandha on stress. Participants took either 250 or 600 mg of ashwagandha extract, or a placebo for 8 weeks. The extract group had significantly reduced perceived stress and levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared with those who took a placebo. Additionally, the participants who took the extract experienced significant improvements in sleep quality compared with the placebo group.(3)
Early research suggests ashwagandha may be a helpful supplement for stress and anxiety. However, further research needs to be conducted to form a solid conclusion. Especially on the dosage and form for treating stress and anxiety.(4)
Benefits of ashwagandha for men and mental health
In England around one in eight men suffer from common mental health problems. Furthermore, men are three times as likely to die by suicide.
There is evidence suggesting the benefits of ashwagandha for men in reducing symptoms of mental health conditions. Researchers decided to build on the theory that ashwagandha may be a helpful supplement for stress by conducting a study on stressed adults. Furthermore, the participants who took ashwagandha daily for 60 days reported a 77% reduction in symptoms of depression.(5)
Although research suggests that ashwagandha may help with symptoms of depression, it is limited, hence more is needed. Therefore, you should not try to use it as a substitute for antidepressant medication.
Society’s expectations are part of the reason men are less likely to discuss or seek help for their mental health problems. Furthermore, phrases such as “man up” may seem like a harmless way to tell a man to tackle his responsibilities head on, be strong, or show less emotion, but the phrase itself implies that doing any of these things is gender specific. Moreover, it implies that they can be more or less of a man based on behaviour.
Finally, if you’re concerned about your mental health, talk to your GP. It can be daunting, but most people find that speaking to their GP and getting help and support can make a big difference to their lives. Additionally, if you’re in distress and need immediate help or are feeling like ending your life, please call 999 or go to A&E and ask for the contact of the nearest crisis resolution team. These are teams of mental health care professionals who work with people in severe distress.
Benefits of ashwagandha as an aphrodisiac
Male infertility could be due to a number of cellular abnormalities. All of which could result in decreased quality and quantity of sperm, and an imbalance in the reproductive hormones. Furthermore, it has been widely observed that a low sperm count is the single most prevalent cause of reduced male fertility.(6)
Ashwagandha has been described in Ayurveda as an aphrodisiac. Additionally, a review of several studies found that ashwagandha treatment increased sperm concentration, semen volume, and sperm mobility in men with a low sperm count. What’s more, it also increased sperm concentration and mobility in men with a normal sperm count.(7)
However, more high quality studies are needed as there’s currently not enough data to confirm benefits of ashwagandha for men and their fertility.
"Ashwagandha is one of the most significant herbs in Ayurveda. Extracts or powder from the plant’s root or leaves treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety and fertility issues."
Testosterone is a steroid hormone that regulates sex drive (libido), bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass, strength, and the production of red blood cells and sperm.(8)
What are the benefits of ashwagandha for men and their testosterone?
Researchers conducted a study, where men who had symptoms of mild fatigue took ashwagandha extract or a placebo daily for 8 weeks. The ashwagandha participants had an 18% increase in DHEA-S (a sex hormone involved in testosterone production). Furthermore, participants who took ashwagandha also had a 15% greater increase in testosterone than those who took the placebo.(9)
To increase validity and reliability, its effect on testosterone requires further studies. Although the signs of early research are promising for the benefits of ashwagandha for men and their testosterone.
Ashwagandha may also be useful for men in further ways. Scientists looked at muscle recovery in a randomised control trial (RCT) conducted on a group of men aged 18-50. The untrained men had not participated in strength training prior to this experiment. The ashwagandha group showed larger muscle recovery and greater muscular strength. Therefore, this study suggests the benefits of ashwagandha for men for resistance training.(10)
An 8-week study supports this. 500 mg of ashwagandha was given to men per day. The herb increased muscular power by 1%. In addition, the placebo group reported no improvements. Further studies in regards to strength are necessary, although promising.(11)
Benefits of ashwagandha as a sleeping aid
Sleep is a naturally recurring state of mind and body. It is the very thing we need to keep us going.
A good night’s sleep is vital for our health. Not getting the recommended amount can raise a whole host of issues. Alarmingly, over 30% of adults report sleeping less than the recommended seven hours per night.(12)
One study investigated the benefits of ashwagandha on sleep. Even though it took upward of 10 weeks, it improved sleep quality and sleep onset latency compared with the participants in the control group.
Although the results were positive, this study only looked at the benefits of ashwagandha on sleep with people who suffer from insomnia. Therefore, further studies need to be carried out on participants who don’t suffer from