No-Nonsense Ashwagandha Guide (2024)

Welcome to my no bullshit guide about Ashwagandha. I decided to create this article to actually give some informational value about Ashwagandha supplements.
I am incredibly tired of looking for something on Google and only finding AI generated articles with perfectly optimized SEO, but actually nothing to say. No value to add. No personal experience, no helpful content, no real new information. Just regurgitated crap from ChatGPT. okay, rant over
With this guide I want to give concise information about supplementing with Ashwagandha and also what my personal experience has been.

If you want to support me in my mission to bring actual value and information back to blogging and you should actually decide to give Ashwagandha supplements a try, feel free to buy it through the links below. I put quite some work into these articles and actually did quite some research on this topic, to be able to consolidate it into this article.

I am going to make an actual article about the best Ashwagandha supplements I personally take and the ones I can recommend. I will link it here, once it’s published.

Also: I have actually tried Ashwagandha supplements myself and am still taking them regularly. This article should condense what I know and my experience with Ashwagandha. It’s not here for a scientific discussion. Feel free to leave a comment, but please stay respectful. Thank you!

One more note: I do not own the truth. Some things might still be factually inaccurate or simply wrong. Please obviously apply your brain power and do further research if you’re unsure.
BUT this is definitely a broscience article and if you’re looking for incredibly in-depth medical research, this is not the post for you.

Short Answer

In short: Ashwagandha root extract has a ton of benefits next to boosting testosterone, increasing the sperm count, boosting your immune system, massively improving sleep, enhance your cognitive functions and have a positive impact on illnesses like hormone sensitive prostate cancer.
I personally take these 400 mg capsules by Anatis. If you’re in the United States, I refer to this one by Pure Encapsulations. I would argue that’s the best Ashwagandha supplement you can get. They have all the quality labels and usually an incredibly high standard of quality in their supplements.

Key Takeaways

  • Ashwagandha offers numerous health benefits, including hormonal balance, increased testosterone, improved sleep, enhanced immune support, and reduced inflammation
  • It can counteract the decline in sperm quality and provide a natural alternative to Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT)
  • Ashwagandha extract helps reducing stress and anxiety by regulating cortisol levels and enhances cognitive abilities, memory, and focus
  • Potential downsides include mild side effects like upset stomach and interactions with medications, so caution is advised
  • Choosing high-quality supplements with third-party testing is recommended for safety and effectiveness

Ashwagandha Benefits

“Indian Ginseng” can have a ton of health benefits. From hormonal normalization, testosterone boosting to improving sleep quality, supporting the immune system and lowering your inflammation levels.

Taking it regularly can actually make quite a difference in your life quality. It certainly does in mine. Unfortunately, you have to be quite consistent with taking it. More regarding dosage and frequency in the later sub-section. As always, taking an Ashwagandha supplement will not magically solve all your problems and will not change everything else. Obviously, a proper diet, good workout routine, enough sleep and mental work is necessary too. But it’s a great help overall.

Boost and increase testosterone

Okay, it may get a bit technical now – but you clicked on an article with a no bullshit guide to Ashwagandha, so you asked for it.

Benefits of high testosterone (for men at least):

  • Increased Muscle Mass
  • Lower Body Fat
  • Improved Bone Density
  • Enhanced Libido and Sexual Function
  • Mood and Cognitive Benefits
  • Energy and Stamina
  • Cardiovascular Health
  • Improved Insulin Sensitivity
  • Enhanced Athletic Performance

Regulating the HPA axis

Ashwagandha helps to regulate the HPA (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal) axis. Pronounce that three times in a row really quick please, thanks.
What does this mean?

Your hypothalamus is the part of the brain responsible for regulating and reducing stress and relaxation, together with the amygdala. It’s one of the oldest parts of the brain and has been in us humans, long time before we were actually able to think consciously.
When you for example have a panic attack, your amygdala decides it’s time for “stress” now and starts to release a ton of adrenaline. Scientists sometimes say “it shoots from the hip”, meaning it’s not the most accurate of detection systems. But it doesn’t need to be either. If there is a Rhino chasing you, you panic… and run. In today’s world this poor part of the brain gets confused sometimes and makes you panic for no apparent reason.

Your hypothalamus for example is responsible for dopamine regulation and the wake – sleep mechanisms in the body. The wake-sleep is closely linked to the hypophysis, which is responsible for releasing melatonin (the sleepy hormone) for example. Those are the most central parts of your brain.

Adrenaline – if not used – gets converted into cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol is really shit for your health, especially in the long run. High cortisol levels are directly linked to low testosterone. When you lower cortisol, you feel less stressed out and shit and your testosterone increases naturally.

Increasing Luteinizing Hormone

Ashwagandha extract increases the Luteinizing Hormone. This is highly linked to the production of free testosterone.

Reducing Oxidative Stress

Oxidative Stress is basically stress on the cells. This doesn’t just have an impact on testosterone itself, but also on a lot of other processes in the body. It for example has a high effect of the fertility of men.
The reason for this is the antioxidants (now the word makes more sense, eh?) contained in Ashwagandha. Foods with high antioxidants are for example blueberries or green tea.
Oxidative stress certainly has an indirect effect on cancer cell production and is linked directly to thyroid function. I will not get into the whole thyroid rabbit hole in this article, but it’s certainly a topic on the list. If you’re on thyroid hormone medications, please have a chat with your doctor about Ashwagandha extract.

Improvement in Sperm Quality

And this is important. In the last 50 years the average sperm count has dropped about 59%. Let that sink in for a second. On average the sperm count in men is decreasing 1% a year.
If you’re more interested in the actual research about this, I can highly recommend this paper by Dr. Swan.

This is its own actual crisis, but this shouldn’t be the main focus of this article. Just know, that through wearing your phone in your pocket all day, microplastics in your water and a huge bunch of other broscience reasons your sperm count will most likely not be as high as even your fathers.

Ashwagandha can counteract this. It doesn’t just boost testosterone (which has dropped massively as well, by the way), but also improves the actual sperm quality.

Balancing other hormones

Ashwagandha root furthermore has an impact on the levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). This helps to prevent a dominance in estrogen, which is a stress hormone that is natural to a certain extent in every human body. Estrogen unfortunately counteracts testosterone and progesterone (the “female hormone”).

Natural alternative to TRT

In case you ever listened to any Joe Rogan episode, you will probably have heard about TRT.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy is a way to replace testosterone in men, when it’s naturally or unnaturally starting to drop. The goal here is not to become a superhuman, but just to keep testosterone on the same level. This has an incredible effect on the aging process.

A Ashwagandha supplement is a natural alternative to this, which will keep you away from side effects associated with the intake of synthetic hormones. Dosing also is a lot easier, as you will not have to run blood tests every week. This is not saying that more blood tests aren’t helpful. However, Ashwagandha may therefore be able to uphold your physical performance.

Reduce stress and anxiety

Important note: all these health benefits are directly linked to each other. If your testosterone levels are higher, you will experience less stress and anxiety. So these factors compound in a way.

An important point here is the reduction of cortisol levels. I’ve covered this already up there and if you read the guide properly, you know this already.
The reduction of cortisol levels and thereby a reduce stress and anxiety is directly linked and quite obvious.

Ashwagandha as an Adaptogen

This is very crucial to understand about Ashwagandha. You will later find out that you’ll be able to take it in the evening, but also in the morning. Either boosting sleep quality or wake quality. It adapts to the active stressors in your system, which is quite genius from mother nature if you ask me.
Thereby it will reduce fatigue (from blood sugar spikes for example), improve and stabilize your mood significantly, enhance your cognitive function and contribute overall greatly to life quality.

Effect on Brain and Nervous System

Ashwagandha extract doesn’t just have an effect on the aforementioned hypothalamus, but also the amygdala. This is playing on the previously explained effect of Ashwagandha on stress and anxiety symptoms. It may even have a positive effect on something like a bipolar disorder.

One very important effect of it is the activation and boosting of GABA levels in the brain. GABA is a crucial neurotransmitter, which for example is highly involved when you take substances like alcohol, Phenibut or benzodiazepines like Valium, Travor, Xanax etc.
GABA is important for calming you and Dr. Rhonda Patrick ones nicely said in an interview “you’re brain would simply overheat” without it. This is the neuroprotective element of Ashwagandha as it protects the brain from oxidative stress and inflammation.

As I have struggled with panic attacks myself, I have tried a lot in order to counteract these. Ashwagandha definitely also had an effect in helping me overcome those.

I eventually learned with CBT to overcome panic attacks over all and experience this incredibly rare by now.

If you are interested in this and perhaps currently struggling, feel free to leave me a comment – I am happy to elaborate on what helped me.

Get better sleep

This is kind of obvious and self-explanatory, but in case no one has ever told you: sleep is freaking important and crucial for your overall health.

Improved Sleep Onset and Quality

There is a ton of studies on Ashwagandha and sleep. Especially from one placebo controlled study (linked below) it’s found that Ashwagandha shortens sleep onset. This is the time from going to bed to actually falling into the first sleep REM phase.

Just because you fall asleep fast, doesn’t mean the sleep is deep and of actual quality. Ashwagandha also improves this part. This has a lot to do with the previously mentioned sleep-wake cycle involvement and the boost of the GABA receptors.

This is especially true for people with insomnia and just shitty sleep quality. I myself have struggled (and still sometimes do) a lot with terminal insomnia. No, that doesn’t mean you die, but just that you fall asleep, wake up at 3 am and start staring at the wall like an idiot. It’s incredibly frustrating and kills your overall life quality. A little bit more about my story in the about section of my blog.
Ashwagandha is definitely helping me to stabilize this and fall asleep again faster if I wake up at night. As highlighted in other articles, I’ve found multiple supplement remedies that support this like L-Theanine and magnesium glycinate and just simple melatonin stripes (the ones you put on the tongue).

However, Ashwangandha supplement intake improved 72% of a placebo controlled study participants’ sleep quality and onset – compared to those who didn’t take it.

Ashwagandha contains Triethylene Glycol

The Ashwagandha root extract (god, this is a difficult word to write over and over) contains triethylene glycol. This is a compound that is also used in other industries and which is from the glycol family. TEG, as I boldly abbreviate it, supports the feeling of sleepiness.

Random side fact: you might know propylene glycol, which is from the same family and is the compound in vapes, which binds the water to the air and is responsible for the cloudy vapor.

Boost your cognitive abilities (brain power)

Improving your Memory and Focus

Next to all the many benefits I’ve already listed, I’ve still got a few in my backpack that I want to share with you, my dear reader.

In a few clinical studies ingesting a supplement of Ashwagandha root extract has helped significantly for people who have a mild impairment of their cognitive ability. This is science speak for people with mild mental disabilities. It improved their memory, attention span, and information-processing speed after taking Ashwagandha for about eight weeks.
Now, you do not require a mild mental disability in order to attain these benefits. This is also useful for people with normal cognitive abilities.

Furthermore, it increased the learning abilities of animals and humans – shown in quite a few studies (the ones I actually find interesting and useful are linked below this article by the way).

Neuroprotectivity

I don’t know about you, but I am quite concerned about getting Alzheimer’s one day. In my age people tend to make fun of the condition itself, but I think it’s absolutely brutal and a nightmare. You forget things. Important things. All the time. You might wake up somewhere and have no idea why you’re there or how you got there.

Ashwagandha seems to have an effect of counteracting this and preventing this cognitive decline seen in so many of our beloved grandparents. This was seen by an increase in a rise of acetylcholine receptors in the hippocampus. That’s the area which is mainly used for memory and learning.

Also, Ashwagandha root extract can help people with ADHD by increasing focus.

Crank up your immune system

Helps to modulate our immune response

Ashwagandha has been shown to boost our immune system. What does this mean exactly? It has been shown that Ashwagandha increases the white blood cell count, which are responsible for fighting off “unwanted invaders” in our body.
Also, it seems to increase the amount of stem cells in the bone marrow. This is very important. Stem cells are basically “blank cells” which are able to jump in to repair or regulate broken tissue.

The anti-inflammatory and stress reducing effects of Ashwagandha are quite important here too. I’ve written about those already in this article, but they definitely also have a large effect for the immune system.

Activating Macrophages

You’ll probably feel yourself kicked back to 8th grade biology now. Macrophages in the cells are responsible for ingesting harmful pathogens and invaders. These are boosted by the production of nitric oxide (NO). I’ve already written an article in regards to using nitric oxide for the gym. You can find that here.

Ashwagandha also support the production of anti-bodies.

Further immune support

Taking Ashwagandha has an influence on the levels of cytokines. Perhaps this term already came up for you during COVID-19, where the media often talked about those “cytokine storms”. Cytokines are basically signaling proteins in the body that mediate and regulate the immunity, inflammation levels, hematopoiesis. In case you don’t know what hematopoiesis is, don’t worry. It’s basically the Greek term for the production of blood cells.

On top of all these benefits, Ashwagandha has an effect on very specific immune cells as well.
It for example effects the proliferation of T cells. It improves their ability to secrete specific cytokine proteins like IL-2 and IFN-γ. From what I understanding until now, those are important for the immune response and mobilization of T cells.

In Chemotherapy-Patient Ashwagandha has been shown to alleviate immunosuppressive effects of chemotherapy. This probably has to do with the aforementioned effects.

Potential Downsides and Risks

In the following paragraphs I am getting a bit into potential side effects and risk in relation to Ashwagandha. Please keep in mind that this is only for a rather small percentage of the population and not set in stone. For some people with digestive and kidney diseases or blood sugar conditions: you should be a bit more careful.
Everyone trying Ashwagandha should just stay aware of the effects and immediately stop ingesting it when noticing negative effects. I mean, you’re not dumb – that’s kind of obvious.

There isn’t much about the downsides or risks when it comes to dietary supplements, but I still want to highlight these areas to avoid surprises.

Histamine interactions

There is a compound in Ashwagandha, which is called Withanolides. These may interact with immune cells that are responsible for the release of histamines.
In short: in those rare cases people got allergic reactions to Ashwagandha, like itching, skin rashes or watery eyes.
If you are generally sensitive to histamine provoking substances, you might know already. Just start with a small dosage to see the effects.

Some people have a sensitivity to nightshade plants. Those are – for example – tomatoes or eggplants. These people are also likely to have an allergic reaction to Ashwagandha

Interaction with medications

Especially with people that are on medication that is immune related, thyroid related or other hormonal treatments, there may be cross indications. Check up with a professional in this case.

Quality Markers for Ashwagandha Supplements (and why it matters!)

There are tons of different production companies that sell Ashwagandha today. That’s great as it gives some diversity. It’s also not so great because there are many different lower quality companies.

Third-party testing and certifications

In the supplement market you will always be able to find if the company’s have certain certifications.

Furthermore, testing by a third party lab is a good indicator that the quality is assured and there are no other (unwanted) substances in what you’re buying. Especially when it comes to rather niche dietary supplements like Ashwagandha.

Check for a third-party testing certification, a non-gmo certification and further ones.

Source and Extraction Methods

There are different extraction methods for attaining Ashwagandha supplements from it’s root.
Make sure it’s organically grown (without pesticides or other synthetic fertilizers). It needs to be from the actual Ashwagandha root extract. Make sure that it’s extracted with the supercritical CO2 extraction method.

Concentrations

If you made sure that the Ashwagandha supplement you buy has been tested by a third party laboratory, you should generally be safe here. These laboratories test the purity and make sure the content of withanolides (as talked about in the immune section) is at least 5%.
Obviously, the Ashwagandha should therefore be free from harmful additives, fillers and contaminants of any sorts. I do not recommend buying “mixed” supplements here.

Origins and History

Now that I may have gotten you hooked, let’s look at a summary of what Ashwagandha actually is and where it comes from.

It has a preeeeeetty long use in traditional indian medicine. The actual name for the plant is “Withania somnifera”. (Congrats, if you actually memorize this)

Ashwagandha has been used for over 3000 years in Ayurveda. Ayur, meaning science or knowledge and veda, meaning life.
We can be pretty sure it’s known there a lot longer, but 3000 years ago we have found the first scripts and written proof.
In Ayurveda, it’s considered a Rasayana, which means that it’s supposed to support physical performance and mental health. Basically the Ayurvedian term for a supplement or addition to good nutrition.

The sanskrit meaning comes from ashva, meaning horse, and ghanda meaning smell.
I’ve you ever seen or tasted Ashwagandha, that’s pretty accurate. It tastes like a horror movie in your mouth. It can be found in multiple spiritual texts like Charaka and Sushruta Samhitas. In those texts it’s to be praised for its restorative and rejuvenating benefits.

Originally, as you probably have guessed so far, it’s originated in India. It also found in the middle east and parts of Africa though. It usually comes from dry regions and has been traditionally cultivated there.
In Ayurveda it has historically been used to treat … basically everything.
This means stress, anxiety, fatigue, pain, skin conditions, diabetes, gastrointestinal disease, rheumatism, and epilepsy.

Next to Ayurveda, it has also been used in Unani medicine, which is more from Mughal India and Central-Asia.
In World War 2 it was looked at as an alternative to Chinese ginseng. Which is why it’s sometimes called Indian Ginseng.
Today, Ashwagandha has become quite mainstream. In my opinion it’s still rather niche though, even though many people may have heard from it.

Dosage Recommendations

I’ll make this part very quick.
Take between 300mg – 500mg a day. In specific uses, you can also take it twice a day.
Just start with a lower dose and see if you feel or notice any adverse reaction. Otherwise, just make it a habit to either take it in the morning or in the evening.

I personally take 400mg each evening before going to bed.
Just make sure to be consistent when taking it, in order to actually get used to the benefits.

How to Take Ashwagandha

Well, I am not going to explain to you how to swallow a pill lol.

Different forms of supplements

Just know that there are different forms in Ashwagandha.
This has a psychological effect as well.

Ashwagandha Powder

I remember a friend of mine, who bought Ashwagandha as a powder. From his economical stance it was supposed to save him money. Smart man. Unfortunately, this powder is so disgusting, that I doubt you will make it an actual habit.

Ashwagandha Capsules

This is a no bullshit guide. Just get capsules.
Capsules already have the right dosage and form. They are easy to digest. In a case of you wanting to actually get the full horse smell in, you can still open the capsules easily and mix it in a drink or something.

Which Ashwagandha I mainly refer is the following:
If you’re in Europe, then this one.
If you’re in the United States.. yeah you guess it, it’s Pure Encapsulations.
Otherwise, I will release an article in the future, comparing multiple different Ashwagandha supplements.

Conclusion

I am not going to repeat everything I said here again, just for the keywords.
Certainly, I hope you found this guide useful and let me know what you think.

References

Disclaimers

Health Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. I am not a healthcare professional, doctor, or licensed nutritionist. The content shared here reflects my personal experiences and insights on health, nutrition, sleep, and supplements. It’s important to consult with a qualified healthcare provider before starting any new diet, exercise program, or supplement regimen, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions or concerns. The recommendations and opinions expressed on this blog are solely mine and should not be considered as medical advice.

Affiliate Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links on this blog are affiliate links. This means that if you click on these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help support the blog and allow me to continue to create content for you. I only recommend products and services that I believe in and feel would be beneficial for my readers. My goal is to provide you with valuable information and choices, but please understand that my recommendations are based on my personal opinion and experience. Your trust is important to me, and I strive to be transparent and honest in all my affiliations.

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