Also Known As:
Ashwagandha is an ancient Ayurvedic medicine that has long been underestimated as a nootropic. It is now time to unveil this miracle for the mind and soul!
We take a deep dive into this magical herb in this article, going into much detail. So buckle up, and get ready. If you’re short on time, please be sure to bookmark this page right now so you can come back to it for future reference!
What Is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb, also known as the Indian Ginseng or Withania Somifera.
In ancient times, it was used to treat many ailments, thanks to its anti-inflammatory nature.
How ancient, you ask?
Its use dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization! Circa 3000 BC! (Interesting facts about its history will be covered below)
Ashwagandha is a word derived from the Sanskrit language and translates into ‘smell of a horse’ – this also means that its effects are similar to the power of a noble steed!
Although, in other accounts, it has also been referred to as ‘the scripture of longevity’.
This herb is native to India but is now used in many parts of the world including the US!
Now that it is under scrutiny, scientists and chemists from all over the world are configuring its use as a potential (and natural) anti-depressant.
Its mood-elevating properties can be compared to many potent drugs in the pharmaceutical industry!
For this purpose – it has also been quoted as an adaptogen (herbs that have the ability to tame down stress and anxiety).
An elevated mood makes way for cognitive pathways – and so Ashwagandha is indirectly involved in boosting cognitive function.
Its anti-inflammatory nature is coupled with antioxidant capacity – so it can hunt down harmful free radicals in our body as well!
A Brief Snapshot Of Ashwagandha in Ancient Times
In the reign of Buddha, Ashwagandha was in use and this dates back to the 6th century!
People were inspired by this Ayurvedic herb and loved to research upon it and thus, it brought out many talented scientists, physicians, and researchers of its time!
Even back then it was regarded as a ‘brain tonic’.
Interesting Fact: It grows as a shrub, only 4-5 inches tall.
Backing It Up With Science – Proof That Ashwagandha Works!
A large plethora of researches and articles have formed a condensed piece of consensus over the success of Ashwagandha as a stress reliever and antidepressant.
And not just that, it also holds a good reputation as an ‘anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antistress, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, hemopoietic, and a rejuvenating agent’ according to this research paper. (1)
In an experiment conducted on rats, their stamina showed significant improvement during a swimming test. (2)
Its anti-cancer and stress-reducing properties were also highlighted in the same study!
Ashwagandha is a Neuroprotectant Too?
It also plays a role as a neuroprotectant and can work to enhance memory, cognition, and mood in debilitated patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases. (3)
A pilot study conducted amongst 50 adults demonstrated the use of Ashwagandha as a memory and cognition booster.
The results when recorded on the Wechsler Memory Scale proved to be conclusive towards its success!
It not only improved immediate memory recall amongst the subjects but also aided their ability to process information rapidly with the added benefits of a markedly increased attention span! (4)
The effects of cognitive dysfunction are also said to be alleviated by the use of the herb amongst elderly patients. (5)
Neurodegenerative events are so often linked with the inflammation of nerves.
This leads to a compromise in the quality of cognitive function.
It helps restore this function by decreasing the inflammation in the neuronal region. (6)
It may also help to combat the neuropathological events associated with Alzheimer’s disease. (7)
The oxidative stress and cognitive disabilities caused by the exposure of Bisphenol compounds (commonly found in plastics) were very well dealt with by Ashwagandha – which managed to counteract the effects and restore normalcy. (8)
Even Bipolar Disorders may lead to some form of cognitive disability – and yet again Withania Somifera comes to the rescue!
Ashwagandha’s Main Mechanism of Action: Stress Reduction
Now that we have enough proof about its ability to restore cognition and memory – let us hover towards its main mechanism of action: stress reduction.
Ashwagandha has proven anxiolytic mechanisms – and its potency can be compared to pharmaceutical medications used for depression and anxiety!
In an experiment, rats were socially isolated from one another and simultaneously dosed with either Diazepam (a Benzodiazepine used for anxiety/stress) or Ashwagandha.
After 6 weeks, results showed that the use of this amazing Ayurvedic herb was successful in reducing stress!
Its results were also at par with the performance of the might Diazepam! (9)
Body positivity is important.
Those who happen to gain a lot of weight often suffer from some form of stress or anxiety as well.
In this experiment, Ashwagandha was employed in chronically stressed individuals suffering from obesity. The results were recorded at 4 and 8-week intervals – and at every checkpoint, an improvement in mood was observed! (10)
So it is a really good motivating agent for those who plan on reducing weight without stress!
Also known as Withania Somifera, it works by controlling cortisol levels (a stress hormone) – which explains its major stress-reducing capability.
In some studies, it was chosen as the ‘alternative treatment for anxiety’ – and it worked! (11)
This means an adaptogenic herb can beat some anti-depressant medications out there!
Where its role in anxiety and depression is commendable, science is also probing deep to study its effects as a treatment for Schizophrenia.
So far, it has shown good results!
Another one of its mechanisms to reduce stress includes the moderation of our hypothalamus-pituitary axis.
This means it gets to control the release of many hormones that are directly or indirectly involved in imparting the feeling of stress.
Ashwagandha also has anti-oxidant activity.
Some of which are employed to reduce the events of malignancies or cancer.
Science is also introducing Ashwagandha as a candidate for the treatment of male infertility and also to improve libido in women!
Lastly, Ashwagandha has been declared the ‘Queen of Ayurveda’ – because its role as a nootropic agent is being probed into rapidly!
How Does Ashwagandha Work?
Ashwagandha is rich in ‘Withanolides’ – which are a mix of lactones and alkaloids.
These Withanolides are the active ingredient, hence responsible for the numerous benefits that it has to offer us.
They actively participate in balancing the concentration of GABA and Monoamine-oxidase – which results in a calming effect and markedly increased antioxidant activity.
It can also cause the formation of nerves/dendrites and hence enhance the neuronal system.
Its antioxidant activity further contributes to keeping inflammation levels at bay and promotes a healthier environment – so that your brain can perform its best!
It is very rich in minerals as well and can lead to an increase in muscle mass and bone density!
What Is The Proper Dosage Of Ashwagandha?
To get straight to the point, you should take 500-1200 mg of ashwagandha per day every day.
(I personally take 1200 everyday, while some people only take 250 per day – Don’t forget the 3 months on, 3 months off)
I’d recommend starting out somewhere in the middle, and adjusting as needed.
You should take a consistent dose every day for, at least, a month to notice results. It’s important to understand that even though you won’t notice big changes in the first month, they will be happening.
Your body will be getting ready to improve itself.
Now, ideally, you would only take it once. Do not split up your dosage (For example: don’t take one 500 mg pill twice a day.) Instead, take it all at once.
Make sure that you use the right dosage once every day.
Here you can find out the best time to take ashwagandha ; at night, in the morning, or in the afternoon.
As far as the dosage goes, you should only increase your initial dosage after 1-2 weeks of taking ashwagandha without any noticeable side effects.
Notice if your body is responding well. If it does, then it’s time to increase the dosage if possible.
So, make sure that you do take the right dosage. 500-1200 mg per day every day.
Also, make sure that you don’t take it for more than three months, if you do, make sure to listen to your body, and get some professional advice from a licensed physician.
What Are The Benefits Of Taking Ashwagandha?
The great thing about ashwagandha (and one of the reasons people take it so much), is that stress regulation is only one of the many benefits that it can give you.
Not only that, but it can make you more productive long-term because you’ll feel more focused.
The sudden spike in your productivity is that your body was needing higher levels of stress hormones and it wasn’t getting it previously.
This is typical in people with low levels of testosterone, which are typical in people with depression.
This leads to the conclusion that ashwagandha is great for depression as well. Not only that but it also helps with anxiety.
Benefits of Ashwagandha:
These are the main benefits that you’re going to experience if you decide to take it every day for a long period of time.
Imagine what you could do if you had way more energy to finish your daily tasks.
Not only that, but what if you were even more focused? You’d become a high level producer as far as work goes, along with a massive increase in quality of work done.
Compound that with better sleep quality, and it’s a recipe for success.
What About The Long-Term Benefits of Taking Ashwagandha?
The long-term benefits of taking ashwagandha are worth the trouble.
It’s one of the few substances that can help you not only sleep better, but be more alert when you need it the most.
All happening at the same time!
The only thing that you need to make sure you do, is to take it at the right time of the day.
If you do, you’ll notice that you’ll be more productive during the mornings, and you can fall asleep at the right moment in the night.
This happens because your cortisol and melatonin levels will be in balance.
When your cortisol levels are high, your body is alert. It understands that it has to stay awake and be ready for a flight or fight response.
That’s why when this happens, you can’t seem to fall asleep.
So, if you want to sleep better and be able to produce more during the day with better focus and energy, ashwagandha is a great place to start.
You can either drink more tea, or get just take ashwagandha pills like I do.
Long-Term Ashwagandha Benefits:
Are There Any Side Effects Of Ashwagandha?
It’s always important to point out that there aren’t magic pills out there, but there are those that do produce spectacular results.
This popular herbal supplement is not by any means a magic pill, but it can do some absolute wonders for your mind and body.
However, it can also come with side effects.
The good news is that the side effects of ashwagandha aren’t really much of a problem, and you can easily reduce these side effects simply by controlling how you often you take it.
The main problems with taking high doses of it are diarrhea and upset stomach.
Note: These are only experienced when you take the wrong dosage.
If you take the ideal / recommended dosage of ashwagandha, you should have no problems at all with this adaptogen.
What you should focus on is taking the right dosage and switching up your nootropic stacks after three months.
There may not be a problem with taking it more than three months, but most studies have only tested its safety for a three months period of ingestion of the pill.
So, make sure that you don’t overdo it and that you change up your stack after three months.
This is the safest way to take it and minimize the side effects, which are rarely experienced.
I always tend to side with caution, but some people take it all year long. If you plan on taking it longer than 3 months at a time, it would be a wise decision to talk it over with your doctor.
For clarification over the debate of which time during the day or night you should be taking Ashwagandha – refer to our article here.
Ashwagandha Warnings / Interactions!
Do not take Ashwagandha if you have the following condition(s):
Do not take Ashwagandha if you are on the following medication(s):
- Immunosuppressants because Ashwagandha works to boost immunity.
- Sedatives because it will result in excess drowsiness due to some of the sedative effects of Ashwagandha
- Thyroid hormones because Ashwagandha causes thyroid hormones to level up.
Where Can I Buy Ashwagandha?
My Favorite Ashwagandha Supplement?
There are a lot of different ashwagandha supplements out there since it started getting extremely popular over the last few years. I have tried at least 5 or 6 different ones in the form of capsules and powders.
The one that I have noticed worked the best for me (Just my personal experience), is the Organically Grown Ashwagandha from Nutra Herbals.
It’s the perfect balance of potency and price.
(You can Buy it Here…)
The Art Of Stacking Ashwagandha!
The calming effects of Ashwagandha combined with the jam-packed cognition that this racetam imparts is a killer combo!
Phenibut is a GABA analogue.
And I’ve mentioned earlier how the mechanism of action of Ashwagandha involves balancing GABA.
It pairs well with Phenibut to double up the cognitive effects.
Do remember to tame down the dose of Ashwagandha for this stack.
Pairing Adrafinil or even Modafinil with Ashwagandha has long been fantasized by nootropic junkies.
That is because Ashwagandha has slightly sedative effects – and Adrafinil can work to counteract those effects whilst also giving a boost of concentration and focus!
A calmed and focused mind is the key to success!
We suggest lowering the dose of Ashwagandha with this stack as well.
Finding legitimate Adrafinil can be challenging and hard to come by, however you can buy real Adrafinil from our trusted partner here: Buy Adrafinil Online
With Rhodiola Rosea…
This is also an adaptogen and synergizes well with Ashwagandha.
Their use as a stack is to promote anxiolytic activity and high physical performance!
This does remain a controversial stack.
L-Theanine synergizes with Ashwagandha.
Mind Lab Pro, one of our top recommended pre-formulated nootropic stacks actually contain BOTH Rhodiola Rosea AND L-theanine as part of it’s ingredient profile. A lot of Mind Lab Pro users have noticed amazing benefits by adding in an ashwagandha supplement to their Mind Lab pro Supplementation.
More Awesome Products (That Contain Ashwagandha)!
BRI Nutrition Ashwagandha
This one contains 500 mg Ashwagandha per serving – and you are supposed to take 2 capsules per day.
In my opinion, that’s great!
You can also familiarize yourself with this adaptogen and build the dose accordingly.
BRI Nutrition holds a good reputation and remains a consumer-friendly brand.
Nature’s Bounty Ashwagandha
So firstly, they use the KSM-66 variant of Ashwagandha (more on this below).
And secondly, it’s paired with L-Theanine.
In my opinion, this is a good stack for those who wish to enjoy the serenity and peaceful nights – since Ashwagandha’s synergy with L-Theanine is said to support better sleep.
And of course, it’s very affordable too!
Garden Of Life Ashwagandha
Since Ashwagandha MAY cause some gastrointestinal issues, this brand has coupled it up with a probiotic and ginger root blend to aid digestion.
Good for those who wish to enjoy the benefits of Ashwagandha whilst keeping stomach inflammation at bay!
Garden of Life makes A lot of great quality supplements, and their Ashwagandha is no exception!
The Genius Brand: Mindfulness
If you are a bit looser with your budget, you may want to pick up a bottole of this stuff! This supplement carries the Sensoril variant of Ashwagandha – it is standardized to 10% withanolides!
For reference, most supplements carry 5% withanolides.
These are actives, as I mentioned earlier – and this also means that this stack is potent, as well as packed with anti-oxidants. If you don’t mind spending just a little bit more money, then I think you’ll love the effects of Mindfulness.
The Two Variants Of Ashwagandha: KSM-66 & Sensoril
Both of these are forms of Ashwagandha that have undergone a lot of research.
They are also very concentrated or potent versions of this adaptogen and hence are preferred to be incorporated in nutritional supplements – especially in a stack form.
This one carries with it the label of 5% withanolides and has been praised for its full spectrum properties.
By the full spectrum, I mean to say that much of its integrity remains intact during its extraction – including both its hydrophilic and lipophilic extensions.
This means you get to benefit the most from this extract.
Its patents belong to Lxoreal Biomed.
The major difference from the former is the striking 10% withanolide concentrate!
Where you might experience an enhanced bundle of benefits of Ashwagandha, you may also likely feel its sedative properties kick in strong.
We suggest you try both variants and your body will approve which one it likes the most!
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions:
Are Ashwagandha and Ginseng the same?
Ashwagandha is known as the Indian Ginseng – true.
But it is often confused with Panax Ginseng, which is an entirely different herb.
Are Ashwagandha products generally safe?
For 3 months, yes.
But its long term use is still under trials – hence safety for prolonged usage can not yet be established.
Why do people take Ashwagandha powder with milk?
It synergizes well with milk, especially if you take it at night.
You’ll get a nice peaceful sleep!
Can Ashwagandha lead to an increase in height?
It is rich in many minerals and whence taken with milk – it may lead to denser bones and hence an increase in height.
Which Ashwagandha is the best?
We suggest giving both the variants (KSM-66 and Sensoril) a try – you never know which one might suit you!
Where does Ashwagandha grow?
India, Pakistan, Northern Africa, and the Middle East.
However, it is now being cultivated around many parts of the world.
Can Ashwagandha give me acne?
Technically, it should decrease acne since it lowers cortisol levels.
There aren’t many studies yet to back it up by science though!
Can Ashwagandha cause you to gain weight?
In a good way perhaps – since it can increase muscle mass.
But then again, research lacks in this area.
Will Ashwagandha help me sleep?
Its leaves are rich in triethylene glycol – which promotes sleep.
Can Ashwagandha boost immunity?
It may increase cell-mediated immunity due to its antioxidant activity.
How does Ashwagandha taste raw?
It translates to ‘smell of a horse’ and tastes very earthy.
A good beverage to neutralize its taste and smell would be milk.
Does Ashwagandha boost Testosterone levels?
Yes! It contributes to increased libido in both men and women!
Are Ashwagandha leaves safe to consume orally?
No reports of its toxicity have been reported as of yet.
This was also the route that must have been used in ancient times – so it would be fair to say yes!
But we always advise to stay on the safe side and opt for KSM-66 or Sensoril for guaranteed safety and maximum benefits.
Should I take Ashwagandha during the day or at night?
Refer to our article here for a satisfactory answer.
How long does Ashwagandha last?
Its half-life is 5-6 hours.
What sort of Ashwagandha should I take for my thyroid issues?
I don’t recommend dosing on Ashwagandha amidst thyroid issues.
Consult your physician first!
Can Ashwagandha lower cholesterol levels in the body?
And thankfully so, it causes dampening of LDL cholesterol – the bad sort of cholesterol! (study)
Words Of Wisdom
One often underestimates the capabilities of herbs or adaptogens.
Ashwagandha is one of the most potent nootropics that had been dwelling in the soil right under our noses!
Its use can be used to deal with occasional stress or anxiety – and since you should cycle it, it’s best to start taking it at the start of your exam seasons!
However, do stack it with Adrafinil in that case so that you don’t end up falling asleep every now and then!
No matter what profession you might belong to, Ashwagandha can prove to be helpful because apart from its stress-reducing properties, it also helps you gain cognitive control.
List Of Nootropics Related to Ashwagandha
(Read our article on Modafinil VS Adrafinil Here)
- Rhodiola Rosea