Testosterone is the main androgenic hormone in the human body . Androgens are male sex hormones, although everyone synthesizes and needs some level of testosterone for daily health. Low testosterone can contribute to various problems. Common symptoms of low testosterone include reduced bone mass, loss of muscle mass, general fatigue, and low libido.
As you age, testosterone levels naturally decline. Type 2 diabetes, metabolic disorders, and other health conditions can further reduce testosterone levels. To counter this, many people try to increase testosterone with supplements, foods, and/or lifestyle changes. A supplement that is gaining popularity is Ashwagandha. Learn more about Ashwagandha, its potential effects on testosterone levels, and whether you should consider a testosterone level test.
What is Ashwagandha?
Scientifically known as Withania somnifera, ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub that grows in parts of the Middle East, Africa, and India . Ashwagandha, also known as “Indian ginseng” and “Indian winter cherry”, is one of the fundamental ingredients used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. These traditions use a combination of herbs, nutrition, and mindfulness to promote good health and balance mind, body, and spirit.
Ashwagandha is a sort of panacea in traditional medicine. Modern drug and supplement makers have since jumped on the humble root to capitalize on its potential health benefits.
What can Ashwagandha do?
As mentioned, ashwagandha is used as a panacea or Swiss army knife in traditional medicine. Its purported uses include everything from improving digestion to reducing body fat to increasing muscle mass. Some reports even suggest that the herb and its extracts may have anti-cancer properties .
Much of ashwagandha’s reported benefits come from its rich concentration of withanolides. Withanolides are a type of compound (specifically steroidal lactones) that can produce a wide range of potential physiological effects. Studies have specifically examined the potential of withanolides in ashwagandha to reduce inflammation and inhibit tumor growth .
What ashwagandha is really known for is stress reduction. Ashwagandha is often classified as an adaptogen, which basically refers to herbal pharmaceuticals that help reduce stress and the potential effects of stress on the body. Chronic stress is quickly becoming a modern epidemic. Stress can have a massive negative effect on physical and mental health.
Stress causes the release of the hormone cortisol, which triggers the fight or flight response. While essential for survival, chronic stress leads to a constant flood of cortisol and a constant fight or flight state, which is naturally bad for the brain and body. Chronic stress contributes to persistent inflammation, an increased risk of other chronic diseases (such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer) and various potential problems.
Although you can do different things to deal with stress in healthy and constructive ways, such as exercising or meditating, if you need some extra help, ashwagandha can help. Studies show that ashwagandha root extract can significantly reduce cortisol levels, thereby reducing the stress response . In addition to reducing stress, ashwagandha can reduce symptoms associated with anxiety.
Ashwagandha and testosterone
In terms of testosterone and hormonal balance, ashwagandha has shown promise in supporting testosterone levels. In a study of men between the ages of 40 and 70, subjects who were supplemented with ashwagandha extract showed an average increase in testosterone of about 15% and an increase in DHEA of 18% ( a hormone that helps produce other hormones, including testosterone)  . The results were greater in men who completed the full 16-week study.
Additionally, in a double-blind study, subjects supplemented with ashwagandha root extract twice daily showed significant improvements in muscle strength, size, and recovery . The supplement also seemed to increase testosterone levels, which were about five times higher than those in the placebo group. Both groups also underwent resistance training programs.
Some studies also suggest that ashwagandha root can help with forms of infertility. For example, one study found that ashwagandha improved sperm count, motility, and quality . A similar study found that ashwagandha root powder supplementation improved sperm quality in men with stress-related infertility issues . However, it is important to note that improving fertility is not necessarily the same as increasing testosterone.
How Ashwagandha Boosts Testosterone
The exact mechanisms of action involved in increasing testosterone still require further study, and existing research and clinical trials are limited. However, ashwagandha can work in several ways to boost your testosterone levels.
Ashwagandha is known for its robust antioxidant properties. Taking ashwagandha can protect testicular cells from oxidative damage. The testicles are where most testosterone is produced, so less damage to the testicles can support testosterone levels.
Ashwagandha has also been found to increase luteinizing hormone production. Luteinizing hormone is made in the pituitary and supports the reproductive system. In men, the luteinizing hormone is essentially what triggers testosterone production. Higher levels of luteinizing hormone can contribute to more testosterone.
More importantly, the stress-relieving properties of ashwagandha may be a big factor in boosting testosterone levels. Remember that chronic stress and a constant flow of cortisol can have a wide range of physiological effects. High stress, especially oxidative stress, can affect libido and sperm quality, and cortisol can potentially interfere with testosterone levels and functions. As a natural testosterone booster, an ashwagandha supplement could help reduce oxidative stress in the body while reducing some of the symptoms of low testosterone.
How to use Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is easily found in a variety of supplements in different forms. Capsules and powders are the most common, although they are also available in extract and liquid form. You can buy ashwagandha supplements at just about any health food store, pharmacy, or natural supplement supplier.
There are no set guidelines for dosage, although clinical trials have used doses up to 5 grams per day. Fortunately, ashwagandha is relatively well tolerated by everyone and is considered safe for everyone. Side effects are rare and the side effects that appear are usually minor. However, it is important to speak with your health care provider before you start using ashwagandha or any dietary supplement. Ashwagandha can potentially interact with some existing medications. Additionally, the long-term effects of ashwagandha are not known.
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It should also be noted that ashwagandha supplements are not regulated by the FDA. It’s important to buy from a company you trust to avoid products that could be harmful.
Although studies suggest a link between ashwagandha and testosterone, keep in mind that everyone’s health is different, which means how you react to any supplement may not be the same. how others react to that same supplement. Other known ways to improve testosterone levels are to do more strength training exercises, sleep better, and reduce overall stress.
Additionally, even if you make lifestyle changes or incorporate supplements into your diet, you may have an underlying health condition contributing to low testosterone. Consider seeing your healthcare provider to determine the true cause of hormonal fluctuations.
Ashwagandha can be a useful supplement for increasing testosterone levels. If you suspect you have low testosterone, consider seeing your healthcare provider first or taking the 1000+ test
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