Herbal Ergogenics: Ashwagandha

two girls inquisitiveAshwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a plant growing in Africa, India, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. Ashwagandha is also known as Ayurvedic Ginseng, Indian Ginseng, Winter Cherry, Ajagandha, and Kanaje Hindi. The roots and leaves of Ashwagandha have been used in India for thousands of years for a large number of purposes. The main uses of Ashwagandha in traditional medicine are as an aphrodisiac, to relieve anxiety, and to improve energy and general health.

Current research has shown Ashwagandha to act as an adaptogen, increasing the ability of the body to deal with physical and mental stress. Many adaptogens act as mild stimulants. While Ashwagandha may be useful for improving day to day energy, it actually may have a mild sedative effect, making it useful for decreasing stress and anxiety. Additional benefits of Ashwagandha that are supported by research are that it may reduce fatigue and boost immune system function. In mice, Ashwagandha has been shown to elevate levels of white blood cells as well as increase the antibody response to human red blood cells that were introduced, showing an improved immune response.

Ashwagandha is included in many supplements including adaptogenic blends and supplements for immune health. Ashwagandha is also available by itself in capsules and powder.


1. Ziauddin M, Phansalkar N, Patki P, Diwanay S, & Patwardhan B. (1996). Studies on the immunomodulatory effects of Ashwagandha. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 50(2), 69-76.

2. Sandhu JS, Shah B, Shenoy S, Chauhan S, Lavekar GS, & Padhi MM. (2010). Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Terminalia arjuna (Arjuna) on physical performance and cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy young adults. International Journal of Ayurveda Research. 1(3), 144-9.

3. Khan S, Malik F, Suri KA, & Singh J. (2009). Molecular insight into the immune up-regulatory properties of the leaf extract of Ashwagandha and identification of Th1 immunostimulatory chemical entity. Vaccine. 27(43), 6080-7.

4. Mishra LC, Singh BB, & Dagenais S. (2000). Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha): a review. Alternative Medicine Review : a Journal of Clinical Therapeutic. 5(4), 334-46.

5. Andrade C. (2009). Ashwagandha for anxiety disorders. The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry : the Official Journal of the World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry. 10(4), 686-7.

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