Research on ashwagandha continues to evolve as scientists around the world study its efficacy against a variety of ailments.
Here are a few science-backed benefits of ashwagandha.
1. Relieves Stress and Anxiety
Ashwagandha is perhaps best known for its stress-relieving properties. Several studies highlight this advantage, observing ashwagandha’s ability to decrease participants’ stress and anxiety levels significantly.
One particular study indicated that ashwagandha can benefit sleep quality as well—researchers confirmed participants slept much better with doses of the herb compared to placebo doses.
2. Lowers Blood Sugar and Fat
A couple of small clinical studies found ashwagandha to be helpful in reducing blood glucose levels and triglycerides (the most common type of fat in the blood). One study likened ashwagandha’s blood sugar-lowering effects to those of medications prescribed for type 2 diabetes.
3. Increases Muscle and Strength
Researchers continue to study ashwagandha’s efficacy in improving strength and muscle size. One study found participants experienced increased speed and strength. Another study observed an increase in muscle power, alongside a lower body fat percentage and reduced cholesterol levels when ashwagandha was consumed. Some participants also experienced better sleep, but this study did not compare ashwagandha consumption against a placebo.
Ashwagandha treatments produced positive results in another study conducted solely with male participants. Compared to the placebo group, men who received ashwagandha saw significant gains in muscle strength (measured using bench press and leg extension exercises) and muscle size in their arms and chests, as well as a significant reduction in body fat percentage and post-workout muscle damage.
4. Improves Sexual Function in Women
At least one clinical study indicates ashwagandha can benefit women experiencing sexual dysfunction. The administration of ashwagandha resulted in significant improvements in arousal, lubrication, orgasm and satisfaction, as self-reported by the participants. It also significantly improved the number of successful sexual encounters and improved metrics of distress around their sex lives and sexuality.
5. Boosts Fertility and Testosterone Levels in Men
Ashwagandha may also provide reproductive benefits for men. Administering ashwagandha to infertile men has shown to improve sperm quality significantly by rebalancing reproductive hormone levels. After one study, 14% of the male patients’ partners became pregnant.
Separately, in a stress-related ashwagandha study, researchers found the herb increased testosterone levels in male but not female participants. Another study testing ashwagandha’s effect on muscle strength in men also measured a significant increase in testosterone.
6. Sharpens Focus and Memory
Ashwagandha may help improve cognition, memory and the ability to perform motor responses after instruction. Small studies have found that, compared to a placebo, ashwagandha significantly improved participants’ reaction times during cognition and psychomotor tests (which measure the ability to respond to instructions and perform an indicated action).
One study even found that ashwagandha significantly improved participants’ attention spans, as well as their immediate and general memory across a variety of tests.
7. Supports Heart Health
At least two studies have shown that ashwagandha can increase VO2 max levels, which is the maximum amount of oxygen you take in while physically exerting yourself. These levels are used in measuring cardiorespiratory endurance—how well the heart and lungs deliver oxygen to muscles during physical activity. Thus, higher VO2 max levels can indicate a healthy heart that performs well under those circumstances.
With that said, this one study’s results may not apply universally since it was conducted with healthy, athletic adults exclusively as opposed to a more diverse group of participants.