7 Incredible benefits of Ashwagandha

7 Incredible benefits of Ashwagandha

This phenomenal Ayurvedic medicine has a treasured history of use for over 4000 years – first appearing in sacred texts such as the Charaka, the Sushruta Samhitas and is traced back to an esteemed sage, Atreya Punarvasu, who is said to have founded the six schools of Ayurveda. 

Translated Ashwa-gandha  means “the smell of the horse” referring to the incredible stamina and nourishment it is able to give us as one of the most esteemed adaptogens/ rasayanas. Along with being incredible herb of longevity and rejuvenation, it is especially nourishing to the male and female endocrine and reproductive systems – aiding in bringing balance and harmony. The botanical name somnifera translates to ‘sleep inducing’ exhibiting its abilities to aid in restoration.

Traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine it is used as a tonic medicine for those who are in need of support – being an ally for people of all ages including babies and people in old age, promoting development and reducing inflammation for the respective stages of life and almost all needs in between. As a herb of longevity it aids in counteracting the damaging effects which stress and inflammation have on the body, mind and spirit.

In Ayurveda

In traditional Ayurvedic medicine it belongs to a group of rasayanas which are known for their abilities to rejuvenate the body, this section of medicines is known to be nootropic herbs called ‘medhya rasayana’. Other herbs in this group include Gotu Kola, Liquorice root, Shankapushpi and Guduchi.

Rasayanas are said to possess soma – the nectar or ambrosia of immortality – alchemizing the elements which form the basis for wellbeing developing in what is known as ‘ojas’ – this is our radiance and vigour and influences strength, sleep, mood, skin health, immunity, digestion and spiritual wellbeing. Ashwagandha as a nutritive herb has the ability to build levels of ‘ojas’ in the body bringing overall wellbeing and balance into the being.

FUN FACT: known as ubuvuma in Xhosa, and Winter Cherry in general, it is a widespread medicine and grows in all provinces of South Africa.

The Science

One of Ashwagandhas best claims to fame is its unmatched abilities in regulating and interacting with Cortisol – the stress hormone.

Following a natural cycle and rhythm cortisol usually rises in the morning allowing for motivation and mobilisation, and decreases as the day goes on in order to allow for rest and rejuvenation – spikes in cortisol can happen with the adrenal glands recognise a need to fight, flight or freeze, in other words when there is a perceived stressor or danger which requires a response. With the impacts of modern life and ‘hustle culture’ we face an almost continuous attack on our adrenals – creating a chronic cortisol response -  in which our adrenals become fatigued and we no longer have the ability to regulate our stress levels. Ashwagandha is able to interact and intercept our cortisol levels and aid in promoting a healthy anti-inflammatory response, therefore reducing the levels of stress present, acting as an adaptogenic tonic and promoting functioning of the immune, cardiovascular, nervous, gastrointestinal, cognitive systems as well as promote regeneration of muscles and joints.

 Active constituents:

The main bioactive constituents in Ashwagandha root include steroids with ergostane skeletons – a class of constituents called withanolides, withaferin A, withasomnine, alkaloids and saponins.

Withanolides have been extensively studied for their antioxidant and antibiotic effects within the body, they also act as an incredible hormone precursor which the body is able to utilise to convert into hormones – likewise when there is an excess of certain hormones this precursor inhabits the hormone receptor sites without converting to human hormones in order to block absorption. The alkaloids have also been studied in their sedative and adaptogenic activities. They are then considered what is known as ‘amphoteric’ and aid in regulating physiological processes which provide the body and mind with a normalising action.

On to the 7 Science backed benefits

(for all journals referenced please see Sources at the end of the blog) 

The nerve cell regenerating alkaloids have shown to stimulate neural growth in both humans and animals – this takes place where stimulation of communication between nerve cells aid in enhancing brain function, cognitive  wellbeing and circulation to the brain. Small studies found that Ashwagandha significantly improved reaction times during psychomotor and cognitive testing. It has additionally shown to improve attention span and memory. Antioxidant content has shown to aid in decreasing the brain degeneration and prevent the development and progression of Alzheimers disease.


Studies have shown that the use of Ashwagandha can aid women and men in their intimate lives – promoting healthy hormonal balance as well as increase their experience of pleasure. One clinical trial showed that women reported increased arousal, satisfaction and feelings of fulfilment in their sex lives and sexuality. For male physiologies Ashwagandha showed to aid in increasing fertility and sperm quality, rebalancing hormonal levels and allowing for better experiences of energy and overall sexual wellbeing.

In a separate study what was interestingly noted was that Ashwagandha increased testosterone levels in men but not in women – it also aided women in regulating their menstruation and allowed in balancing hormonal levels , exhibiting its phenomenal action as an endocrine adaptogenic tonic medicine.


As a nervine tonic Ashwagandha has shown to aid in treating chronic and acute stress, overall wellbeing and improving the experience of happiness. Further investigation and studies have shown that it also has the ability to balance hormones, stabilise mood swings, aid in reducing anxiety and depression related symptoms.


A recent experiment conducted demonstrated that Ashwagandha has a significant anti-proliferative effect in human tumorigenic cells – being recognised as a preventative tonic to the treatment of cancers. The Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology has shown that Ashwagandha has a success rate when used as an adjuvant treatment alongside chemotherapy in order to prevent the depression of bone marrow, as well as in rebuilding immunity post-chemo. Its immunomodulatory effects have also been examined when looking at the treatment of colon and breast cancers.


As an antioxidant it is protective to the body and cells from the damage of oxidative stress, thereby boosting longevity. The antioxidant profile is known to increase Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), protecting cell and inflammatory damage induced through stress, this is key in aiding to boost longevity and lessen the negative side effects of age in the body.


Research shows that Ashwagandha can aid in increasing strength, muscle size, stamina, muscle power, lower body fat percentage as well as reduce cholesterol levels. It has additionally shown in aiding in treating anxiety induced food cravings, allowing for a holistic healing approach when it comes to managing food related weight-loss programs. In a study conducted on male participants, results showed that compared to the placebo group, men who supplemented with Ashwagandha saw gain in muscle strength, size and also reported less post-workout muscle damage.


As an adaptogen and nervine tonic, regulating nervous system function as well as managing stress aids in the care of OCD, ADHD and related conditions. In two human based trail conducted, 120mg of Ashwagandha extract were administered to the patients alongside their usual medication – their reports showed that it aided substantially in reducing their symptoms.


When it comes to the administration of Ashwagandha it is important to ensure that an appropriate dosage is taken in order to achieve the desired treatment

Extract: 10 drops up to 3 times daily. (Aether makes use of a hydro-ethanolic extract)

Powder: 3-6 grams daily, or an average of 5 grams up to x3 daily

Decoction: 16 to 30 grams (1/2-1oz) simmered in water for about 20min.

As always - be sure to connect and communicate with your trusted healthcare provider and listen to your body when utilising a new medicine and incorporating it into your herbal protocol

Sending blessings of radiant wellbeing