8 Surprising Ways Ashwagandha Benefits Men*

Published on December 15, 2022


By Kristen Boye BS, Natural Health

Kristen Boye

Kristen Boye is a natural health expert, writer, copywriter, and editor. Kristen was raised on an organic farm in British Columbia which inspired her life’s work. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Health, is a Certified Natural Foods Chef, co-owner of a medicinal herb farm, and is a natural foods and children’s health advocate. Kristen lives with her husband and two children on their medicinal herb farm in Western North Carolina.

https://www.holisticwritingconcepts.com

Ashwagandha, an ancient herb used extensively in Ayurveda (the traditional wellness practice of India), has recently gained popularity in men’s health.

It’s been touted for its beneficial effects on testosterone, stress, fitness and muscle mass, libido, weight management, and more.*

Plus, it has a significant body of research to back up its traditional uses for men’s health.

In this article, we’ll share everything you need to know about Ashwagandha’s traditional and science-backed health benefits for men, including:

  • A brief history 
  • The research behind its claims to fame, including how it may support sex drive, energy, fitness, stress response, cognitive health, metabolism, and more*.
  • How to take it
  • And how to source a quality product

What Is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha, aka Indian Ginseng or Withania somnifera, is an ancient plant used extensively in Ayurveda (the traditional medicine of India) for over 3,000 years.

It is considered a nervine, which supports the nervous system, and an adaptogen, which helps the body adapt to physical, mental, and emotional stress.*REF#142

This combination of calming (nervine) and energizing (adaptogenic) properties has made it a cherished staple in Ayurveda for both men and women.*

Ashwagandha has been traditionally used in men for stress,adrenal health, sleep, immunity, thyroid issues, nervous system ailments, sex drive, energy, and cognitive function*.

Modern science has taken an interest in Ashwagandha and conducted several studies on its traditional uses and chemical composition. 

Scientists have identified 50 chemical constituents within the plant, including steroidal alkaloids and lactones, collectively known as withanolides.REF#143

Although the leaves, berries, and roots all contain beneficial properties, the root harbors the most therapeutic plant compounds.

These chemical constituents are responsible for Ashwagandha’s benefits for men, including supporting the adrenals and the hormonal, nervous, brain, and metabolic systems.*

Let’s explore how Ashwagandha can support men’s health and well-being.*

#1: Ashwagandha Supports Men’s Libido*

Bouts of waning libido aren’t uncommon in men, especially during stressful times and as they get older. 

During these times, men often start researching herbs for hormone support and come across Ashwagandha.

Libido support is one of Ashwagandha’s traditional claims to fame, but does it work?*

Science suggests it may be beneficial through its effects on testosterone and stress levels.*

In a 2022 study titled “Effect of standardized root extract of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) on well-being and sexual performance in adult males: A randomized controlled trial”, subjects with low sexual function were given 300 mg of Ashwagandha twice daily or a placebo.REF#144

The men taking the Ashwagandha reported a statistically significant improvement in overall sexual function and had higher serum testosterone levels than the placebo group.

The findings suggest Ashwagandha offered support for the participants' perception of sexual well-being and healthy serum testosterone levels.

Ashwagandha’s adaptogenic properties may also support sex drive via its balancing effects on cortisol, your body’s master stress hormone.*REF#142

Research has shown that when cortisol levels are high (due to stress, injury, and/or illness), it can interfere with the production of sex hormones like testosterone.REF#145

It’s also been shown to be beneficial to the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which plays a role in stress response and regulation of the entire male hormonal system.*REF#62

Ashwagandha may positively impact testosterone and stress levels, which play a crucial role in sexual function.*

#2: Ashwagandha is a Natural Stress-Buster*

We just learned a little about how Ashwagandha can influence stress levels to benefit men’s sex drive.*

But there’s much more to know about this herb’s legendary calming properties.

Let’s unpack how Ashwagandha’s stress-busting properties work and can benefit men’s health in other ways.*

First, we mentioned its beneficial effects on cortisol levels, the body’s master stress hormone excreted by your adrenals—two walnut-size glands that sit atop your kidneys.REF#61

In a calmer world, the adrenals would only excrete excess stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, on rare occasions to stimulate your fight or flight response as if a lion was chasing you.

However, most of us live fast-paced, demanding, and stressful lives.

It can become chronic if we don’t take steps to manage our stress in healthy ways. 

The HPA axis is the communication center of the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands. As an axis, it governs many aspects of our endocrine system, which controls and/or influences our hormones, metabolism, sleep cycle, digestion, nervous system, gut health, and many other functions.

Therefore, when the HPA axis is imbalanced, it negatively affects the entire body.REF#62

As an adaptogen, Ashwagandha helps nourish your adrenals, thereby supporting healthier cortisol levels to promote a more balanced stress response.*

Adaptogens, such as certain mushrooms, American ginseng, Maca, Schisandra, Eleuthero, and Tulsi (holy basil), have been used in various global cultures.

Gaia Herbs’ Everyday Adaptogen and Ashwagandha Root are wonderful herbal supplements to help your body better adapt to stress by taking it over time.*

#3: Taking Ashwagandha Promotes More Restful Sleep*

Sleep deprivation has become exceedingly common, with one in three Americans not getting the minimum amount of 7 to 9 hours of nightly sleep.REF#63

There is also evidence that men experience lower quality sleep than women, with shorter sleep times, taking longer to fall asleep, and lower sleep efficiency.REF#146 REF#147

Although it is common, even occasional sleeplessness should not be taken lightly. 

Lack of sleep can be associated with several health issues, including over-eating, mood disorders, blood sugar imbalance, pain, and decreased longevity, to name but a few.REF#148

If you struggle to maintain a balanced sleep cycle, you may want to keep a bottle of Ashwagandha on your nightstand.*

Several studies on Ashwagandha and sleep, including double-blind placebo-controlled trials, showed the following benefits:REF#67REF#68

  • Mental alertness upon waking
  • Sleep duration
  • Sleep efficiency
  • Sleep latency
  • Sleep quality
  • Wake after sleep onset
  • And overall quality of life

Ashwagandha Can Promote a Healthy Sleep Cycle in Two Ways*:

  1. The active plant compound Triethylene glycol, found in the leaves, is believed to be responsible for its calming and sleep-promoting properties.*REF#69
  2. Ashwagandha’s previously mentioned effects on the HPA (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal), which governs your cortisol awakening responseREF#70REF#71, may also play a role.*

How to Take Ashwagandha for Sleep:

Some people swear by taking Ashwagandha right before bed to help them fall asleep.*

Others prefer to take a dose in the morning and at night for all-day and night support.*

The right time of day and amounts to take depend on the individual.

If unsure, try experimenting with dosage to see what works best. Always talk to your practitioner for specific recommendations.

At Gaia Herbs, we offer several herbal formulas with Ashwagandha to support a healthy night’s sleep, including SleepThru®, Sleep Gummies, and Adrenal ® Health Nightly Restore.*

#4: Ashwagandha Supports Your Mood*

Stress is a significant driver of mood because it affects numerous aspects of our physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Ashwagandha, and other adaptogens, have a rich history of traditional use, helping men adapt to and thrive under life’s many physical, mental, and emotional stressors.* 

There is also research to support this.

An animal study, published in Phytomedicine: International Journal Of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology REF#74 found Ashwagandha supported a stable mood by helping reduce brain levels of tribulin, a marker of clinical anxiety.

We’ve also discussed how Ashwagandha has been shown to support sleep, HPA axis function, stress response, and hormonal balance*. All of these significantly affect mood and mental/emotional well-being.

Based on the combination of traditional, anecdotal, and scientific evidence, it appears Ashwagandha may provide helpful mood support in addition to a healthy lifestyle.

At Gaia Herbs, we offer this stress response blend with Ashwagandha if that is your focus.

#5: Ashwagandha May Support Healthy Blood Sugar*

Metabolic health issues, like weight gain, slow metabolism, and blood sugar balance, are common concerns for health-conscious men. 

Ashwagandha has traditionally been used to support metabolic health, including blood sugar ailments that can lead to weight gain*.

Several studies suggest that Ashwagandha may help support a healthy metabolic system by promoting healthy sugar metabolism.

A review of 24 studies published in 2020 in Phytotherapy Research found Ashwagandha provided significant support for blood sugar, blood lipids, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), insulin, and oxidative stress markers.REF#92

Researchers believe the plant compound, withaferin A (WA), supports cells in the healthy uptake of glucose, which promotes normal sugar metabolism and blood sugar levels.REF#149

If you’re concerned about blood sugar, talk to your healthcare practitioner about whether Ashwagandha is appropriate for you.

#6: Ashwagandha May Help Support Fertility in Men*

Fertility issues used to be perceived as a woman’s problem.

However, did you know the male partner is either the sole or a contributing cause of infertility in approximately 40% of couples?REF#13

This new understanding of men’s role in conception, combined with the increasing number of couples who struggle with conception, is a driving factor behind the rising popularity of herbs and natural lifestyle solutions for male fertility.

Ashwagandha has long been used to support fertility and reproductive health in men and women in Ayurveda. 

But what does the research say regarding men’s fertility?

The studies suggest Ashwagandha supports male fertility through its beneficial effects on sperm count and reproductive hormones.

A pilot, placebo-controlled study of 46 men was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, titled “Clinical Evaluation of the Spermatogenic Activity of the Root Extract of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in Oligospermic Males”.REF#150

In the study, subjects were given either 675 mg of Ashwagandha root extract in three doses for 90 days or placebo. 

The results were impressive. Researchers found the men taking Ashwagandha (vs. placebo) experienced: 

  • A 167% increase in sperm count
  • A 53% increase in semen volume
  • And a 57% increase in sperm motility after 90 days

Another randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study found Ashwagandha supported healthy levels of the reproductive hormones testosterone and DHEA in overweight men.REF#151

Ashwagandha’s other supportive effects on male fertility may relate to the following:

  • Stress response—via the HPA axis and cortisol support, which impact the production of sex hormones and fertility.*REF#145REF#71
  • Thyroid function—via its positive impact on thyroid hormones which play a role in the male reproductive system and fertility.*REF#62
  • Overallhormonal balance—via its beneficial effects on male sex drive.*REF#87

Bottom line: If optimizing fertility is your goal, Ashwagandha may be an option for you.*

#7: Ashwagandha May Support Athletic Performance in Men*

Exercise is foundational to supporting all aspects of men’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

If you’re looking for a way to get more out of your workout, Ashwagandha may be able to help.

A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial showed that healthy athletic men taking 300 mg of Ashwagandha twice daily experienced:REF#94

  • Enhance cardiorespiratory endurance* 
  • Enhanced antioxidant levels*
  • Better energy*
  • Faster recovery*
  • And improvement in the quality of life*

This evidence suggests Ashwagandha can support men at various fitness levels with endurance and faster recovery.*

A systematic review of 12 studies published in the Journal of Function Morphology and Kinesiology also found Ashwagandha more effective than placebo for supporting strength and power, cardiorespiratory fitness, and fatigue/recovery in healthy men and women.REF#83

Once again, researchers believed the withanolides are responsible for the beneficial actions.

If you’re wondering how to take Ashwagandha to support fitness, note the study participants took between 120 mg and 1,250 mg daily of 100% Ashwagandha root extract.

This suggests that it need not be taken right before or after a workout to experience benefits. 

It also suggests taking pure Ashwagandha root extract (vs. Ashwagandha in a protein powder or kitchen-sink fitness supplement) may be the most effective option.

Gaia Herbs offers Ashwagandha Root extract in capsule form with 350 mg of ashwagandha root and root extract per one capsule serving.

#8: Ashwagandha Can Support Brain Health*

Nothing can kill your productivity and performance faster than occasional brain fog or poor memory.

These issues are not uncommon in men across age groups. 

This makes sense because mild cognitive problems are often caused by stress, lack of sleep, and hormonal fluctuations.REF#78REF#79REF#80

According to surveys, men’s top stressors are related to work, relationships, finances, and current events.REF#152REF#153

If you could use cognitive support now and then, Ashwagandha can be a wonderful ally.*

Research has shown it can benefit your brain by supporting:REF#152REF#153

  • Executive function*
  • Healthy neurological function*
  • Immediate and general memory*
  • Information processing speed*
  • Stress response*

Once again, it’s been documented that Ashwagandha’s plant compounds, withanolides, are responsible through their antioxidant benefits.*

How To Start Taking Ashwagandha for Men’s Health*

Ashwagandha is generally very safe and widely available. However, it’s not for everyone. 

If you’re taking medication, have a sensitivity or allergy to nightshades, or have a chronic health condition, check with your practitioner first.

The easiest way to get your daily dose of Ashwagandha is by taking a supplement, but quality counts.

Here are three things to look for when choosing a high-quality Ashwagandha supplement:

  1. Certified organic Ashwagandha
  2. Third-party testing for identity, purity, and contaminants
  3. No artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, or fillers

Gaia Herbs offers several Ashwagandha supplements that meet this criteria, including:

Remember, as with most herbs and natural products, it typically takes a few weeks to start seeing results.

In most studies cited above, participants took the herb for at least 90 days.Everyone is different, so give it time and check with your practitioner about individual dosing recommendations.

Finally, make sure you’re taking other steps to help manage stress in your life. By combining Ashwagandha with healthy lifestyle practices like yoga or other exercises, a healthy diet, and regular self-care, you, too, may experience the incredible health benefits of this adaptogenic powerhouse.*

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