Tablets and other medicines are quickly prescribed for all kinds of complaints. But is that really necessary? It is also possible to do something good for the body in a natural way and thus promote health. Ashwagandha is known as a medicinal plant and can be used for this purpose. But what exactly is it all about?
In our big Ashwagandha test 2021 we answer this question and present you with detailed background information about Ashwagandha. We answer the most important questions and present some products that rely on the effect of the medicinal plant. In addition, we provide you with some criteria that you should pay attention to when buying.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 The most important facts
- 3 The BestAshwagandha: Our Picks
- 4 Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying ashwagandha
- 5 Decision: Which types of ashwagandha are there and which is the right one for you?
- 6 Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate Ashwagandha
- 7 Interesting facts about ashwagandha
The most important facts
- Ashwagandha is a special medicinal plant that is also known in German-speaking countries as winter cherry, sleeping berry and Indian ginseng.
- The plant itself comes from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan and has been known for over 3000 years for its healing effect on the psyche and the body.
- The medicinal plant can be used in many ways. Leaves, flowers, stems, seeds, berries, bark as well as the root are used.
The BestAshwagandha: Our Picks
Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying ashwagandha
What is Ashwagandha?
Visually, it is a herbaceous to bushy plant that can grow between 30 and 150 cm tall. The plant also bears berries. Strictly speaking, the plant is native to the whole of Africa, southern Europe, but also to the Near East and southern Asia.
What does Ashwagandha do?
In addition, experts believe that the versatile healing effect of the plant is much more a product of many ingredients than the result of one particular substance. In principle, the higher the proportion of whitanolides, the greater the effect. Most products offer dosages of 2.5 - 10 %.
The table below gives you a quick overview of the different applications of ashwagandha.
- Stress: Ashwagandha reduces the release of the stress hormone cortisol. By reducing your stress level, you can prevent a variety of secondary diseases. (1)
- Sleep disorders: Ashwagandha helps with insomnia, problems falling asleep and sleeping through the night.
- Anxiety and panic: Ashwagandha has a stress-reducing and calming effect as it balances imbalances of hormones and neurotransmitters.
- Depression: Ashwagandha helps with stress, sleep disorders, hypothyroidism and has an anti-inflammatory effect. All of these complaints can be causes or accompanying symptoms of depression.
- Potency, libido, testosterone: Taking ashwagandha has a positive effect on potency and libido in that it leads to a widening of the blood vessels flowing to the genitals. It also lowers stress levels, increases testosterone production and sperm count. (2)
- Fertility: Taking ashwagandha extract significantly improves the quality of sperm in infertile men, which is why scientists concluded that ashwagandha can definitely support therapy against infertility. (3)
- Increase endurance: A study found that professional cyclists were able to significantly increase their endurance after taking ashwagandha capsules for eight weeks. (4)
How effective is Ashwagandha against stress?
- Increased stress levels lead to poorer sleep.
- The consequence of this is a lower stress level. Not infrequently, this is followed by an even higher stress level. In addition, lack of sleep has been shown to lead to obesity and mental illness.
- It then increases the risk of inflammation. This ultimately leads to metabolic syndrome with further problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes and arteriosclerosis.
Constant stress is particularly harmful, as it can lead to numerous health complaints, for example, due to the permanent increase in cortisol levels. Some of these are burnout, fatigue, depression, obesity and cardiovascular diseases.
Stress levels are ultimately influenced by a variety of factors, such as genetic predisposition, living conditions, diet, etc. Ashwagandha can help to reduce the release of the stress hormone cortisol. This can also prevent secondary diseases. (1)
Against which diseases can Ashwagandha be used?
For example, the medicinal plant can help against sleep disorders, which is why it is also known as the sleeping berry. According to research, the plant has a sleep-promoting effect that can help with sleep disorders such as insomnia, problems falling asleep and sleeping through the night.
Ashwagandha can also help against anxiety and panic. It should also be mentioned that these conditions are often caused by high stress levels. Due to its stress-reducing and calming effect, ashwagandha can be an excellent remedy for anxiety and panic.
In addition, the medicinal plant helps against depression. The connection between stress and depression is by no means new territory, which is why it can undoubtedly be said that a low stress level additionally reduces the risk of depression.
In 2014, scientists conducted experiments on rats with collagen-induced arthritis. They discovered that ashwagandha root powder has an anti-inflammatory effect and reduces the severity of arthritis by improving the functional recovery of motor function and attenuating the symptoms of arthritis. (5)
Ashwagandha can also help against a variety of other conditions. The following is a list of some of these:
- Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's disease
- Adrenal insufficiency
- Fatigue and exhaustion
- Type 2 diabetes
When does Ashwagandha take effect?
When increasing strength and speed, the effect is usually extremely rapid. Therefore, it is advisable to take it immediately before sport. The same applies to sleep. Taking it directly before going to bed can significantly improve sleep.
Interestingly, the stress-reducing effect of ashwagandha is active in the longer term. The reason for this is the fact that a low stress level can significantly promote sleep in general. The same applies to the balancing of hormone production. It should be noted here that physical illness is not remedied within a few hours.
It is similar with muscle building; increasing strength and speed can significantly improve the build-up. However, the results are only noticeable over a longer period of time.
Ashwagandha can increase potency, libido and testosterone
A steadily growing number of people suffer from an extremely low libido, while many men also have a potency problem. Not infrequently, however, a high stress level is the decisive factor.
Although there is already a long line of chemical remedies such as Viagra to combat the problem. However, ashwagandha is a natural remedy that can be taken without worrying about side effects.
In addition, the plant substance increases the production of testosterone, which on the one hand is responsible for building muscle mass and on the other hand has a significant role in sexual intercourse. Furthermore, sperm production is also boosted.
Ashwagandha against hair loss and grey hair
The medicinal plant is also a potent remedy for combating grey hair and hair loss. It is not only genetics that play a role, as many people assume. Factors such as diet, stress level, lifestyle and possible diseases play a major role.
It is now an accepted fact that too much stress can often lead to hair loss or grey hair. Ashwagandha can help with this. Through its reduction of the hormone cortisol, stress is reduced. In addition, the medicinal plant helps to normalise other hormones such as the thyroid or sex hormones.
However, ashwagandha also has a direct effect on the hair. By taking it, the hair roots are strengthened and the hold of the hair on the scalp is improved.
For grey hair, the plant helps to scavenge free radicals. These are involved in the process of greying of the hair. In addition, the intensity of the pigment melanin is increased, which is responsible for the colour of the hair, as well as the skin.
Insulin production - ashwagandha can help
According to a study conducted on rats, researchers found that ashwagandha protects the B-cells of the pancreas from further damage and can even partially reverse damage sustained.
The B-cells are responsible for insulin production. In other words, the medicinal plant indirectly supports insulin production. In addition, ashwagandha is helpful for some complaints that occur in connection with diabetes.
Fatty liver, for example, is a possible problem that occurs more frequently in diabetics. Free radicals are involved in its development. These can lead to so-called lipid peroxidation. This is the destruction of the fat layer inside the cell walls.
In the case of liver cells, a fatty liver is the result. By combating these small triggers, ashwagandha can prevent the process.
In addition, diabetics are known for their poor levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. A study conducted on diabetics found that the plant was able to lower blood levels of cholesterol by 15%, while triglycerides decreased by 10%.
Ashwagandha can fight obesity
The medicinal plant can help people lose weight, especially if they are overweight. Here, too, the reason is often stress. Too much of it can not only rob the motivation to lose weight, but also lead to frustrated eating. Especially in chronic stress states, an increase in body weight is almost pre-programmed.
Prolonged stress leads to an increase in cortisol secretion, resulting in a greater appetite. This in turn remains until the cortisol level decreases again.
In a study, researchers at University College London (UCL) investigated the connection between the average level of cortisol and hip circumference, as well as body mass index (BMI). The whole thing was measured on the hair. Data from more than 2500 people were collected over a period of four years.
The researchers came to the conclusion that increased cortisol levels were indeed associated with a higher waist circumference and BMI. Therefore, it can be said that the greater the release of the stress hormone, the more the body weight increases.
Interestingly, the study also found that people over the age of 30 who were overweight had particularly high levels of cortisol.
Is Ashwagandha legal?
Moreover, ashwagandha can be bought not only in pharmacies. Internet platforms such as Amazon or Ebay offer a wide variety of products.
Decision: Which types of ashwagandha are there and which is the right one for you?
Basically, you can distinguish between three different types / species of ashwagandha:
In the following, we explain the different types and their respective advantages and disadvantages. In this way, we want to help you find the most suitable Ashwagandha product for you.
What are Ashwagandha capsules and what are the advantages and disadvantages?
In Ashwagandha capsules, the substance is contained in the capsule shell. This consists of gelatine and is usually only released in the stomach area.
The active ingredient then spreads throughout the body via the bloodstream. The capsules are tasteless and must be taken in combination with a liquid.
What is Ashwagandha powder and what are the advantages and disadvantages?
Ashwagandha powder can be used in many ways. The easiest way is to make a tea by simply mixing some of the powder with hot water and drinking the liquid after the usual waiting time of 10 to 15 minutes. Alternatively, the powder can also be used in baking or as a topping for yoghurt.
What is Ashwagandha oil and what are the advantages and disadvantages?
Ashwagandha oil comes in vials and is usually taken in droplet form through the tongue. Alternatively, it can be taken with a drink. Besides, it is an extract contained in a solution containing alcohol. However, there are also alcohol-free products.
Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate Ashwagandha
n the following we will show you which criteria you can use to compare and evaluate Ashwagandha products. This will make it easier for you to get an overview and decide on a suitable and effective product.
In summary, these are the following criteria:
- Dosage form
In the following, you can read about the respective criteria and find out why it makes sense for you to purchase a product based on the criteria or not.
The dosage is undoubtedly the most important criterion for the health effect. You should pay attention to two points:
- Whitanolide content
- general dosage (in mg)
The whitanolide content is extremely important for the positive effect on the body and especially the psyche. This indicates how high the whitanolide content is. These are significantly responsible for stress reduction and other positive effects.
For the greatest possible effect, a product with the highest possible whitanolide content is recommended. Most products vary between 2.5 - 10 %.
Another factor is the general dosage. A daily dosage of 350 to 600 mg is advisable. If necessary, a dosage of up to 1000 mg is also recommended.
However, this depends on the purpose and the individual. In severe diseases, a higher dose is of course more effective. In addition, every body is unique and therefore reacts differently to the substance. Furthermore, the body needs a certain amount of time to adjust to the plant substance.
The quantity tells you how long you can use the product until it is used up. For long-term use, a product with the largest possible quantity is therefore worthwhile. Capsules in quantities of 90 to 120 are the rule. The quantity of powder, on the other hand, varies from 100g to 500g.
In special cases, depending on the manufacturer, even more than 1 kg is offered. However, if you want to try the product first, relatively small quantities are exactly the right choice.
The dosage form is mainly for compliance reasons. If you want to take the plant substance as quickly as possible, capsules are optimal because they are tasteless and can be swallowed in one go.
The powder, on the other hand, has the typical taste of ashwagandha, which takes some getting used to. However, the powder can also be used for drinking tea or for baking.
The oil, on the other hand, can be absorbed more quickly by the body than the powder, but is also accompanied by a taste that takes some getting used to. In addition, the dosage can be determined individually.
Interesting facts about ashwagandha
Ashwagandha and Ayurveda
In Ayurveda, ashwagandha is of great importance. The medicinal plant is considered to be balancing and harmonising. In Ayurveda itself, a health system that is over 5000 years old, many of the most effective medicinal plants are found. Interestingly, the plant was only studied in scientific circles a few years ago.
Consequently, the number of studies is still manageable. About most plants, like ashwagandha in this case, the effect has already been proven, but the mechanism of action remains unknown.
In Ayurveda, the medicinal plant is used as a nerve tonic. Among the areas of application are sleep disorders and stress, as well as digestive complaints and as an aphrodisiac for men and women. In addition, the plant has a regenerating effect on muscle tissue.
In the ancient health system, three different life energies are distinguished, which are also called doshas:
- Vata: regulates the movements of the mind and body.
- Pitta: Consisting of fire and water, this dosha also regulates metabolism.
- Kapha: Consisting of water and earth, this dosha is extremely important for the body's durability and stability.
Ashwagandha is used in Ayurveda in several forms:
- Oil massages consisting of ashwagandha oil
- Oral intake of appropriate tinctures and extracts
- Pastes made from roots and leaves of the medicinal plant by external application
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K. Chandrasekhar, Jyoti Kapoor, Sridhar Anishetty. 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 J Psychol Med. 2012 Jul-Sep; 34(3): 255–262.
Dongre S, Langade D, Bhattacharyya S. Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Improving Sexual Function in Women: A Pilot Study. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:284154.
Gupta A, Mahdi AA, Shukla KK, Ahmad MK, Bansal N, Sankhwar P, Sankhwar SN. Efficacy of Withania somnifera on seminal plasma metabolites of infertile males: a proton NMR study at 800 MHz. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 Aug 26;149(1):208-14.
Shweta Shenoy, Udesh Chaskar, Jaspal S. Sandhu, Madan Mohan Paadhi. Effects of eight-week supplementation of Ashwagandha on cardiorespiratory endurance in elite Indian cyclists. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2012 Oct-Dec; 3(4): 209–214.
Gupta A, Singh S. Evaluation of anti-inflammatory effect of Withania somnifera root on collagen-induced arthritis in rats. Pharm Biol. 2014 Mar;52(3):308-20.