WRITTEN BY NATHALIE | ACADEMY OF LIONS NUTRITIONIST | TORONTO
This root has been a staple in Ayurvedic Apothecaries for centuries. The name literally translates to “smell of horse” which explains why you may not want to add it to your yogurt parfait in the morning. That being said, its list of benefits is long in spite of the fact that it’s mechanism of action is still under study.
Consider this list of benefits:
- Immune system modulation (meaning it neither boosts nor suppresses but rather supports optimal function)
- Anti Anxiety
- Relieves Insomnia
- Helps with Stress induced depression
- Lowers Cortisol levels
- Improves Power Output in untrained people and athletes undergoing strength training
- Decreases LDL
- Stabilizes Blood Sugar
- May help support healthy testosterone levels in infertile men and men undergoing strength training
- May help improve muscular recovery
That is quite a list and it isn’t even complete - while there are still dozens of clinical trials and studies being done on this powerful herb it has shown enough good results to warrant consideration by athletes looking to optimize performance and possibly mitigate some of the more deleterious effects of the stress of heavy workouts - CrossFit Open for example?
How much should you take?
The minimum effective dose seems to be in the range of 300mg-500mg a day while the optimal dose seems to be closer to 6000mg a day spread out in 3 doses. I always recommend that my clients start low and build gradually over a week or two to avoid any shocks to their system.
What form should it be taken in?
Many practitioners in my field tend to prefer tinctures over powders and pills for the simple reason that they are more consistent in potency and tend to be more potent. In the case of Ashwaghanda you can take it as a tincture, in a capsule or as a powder that you can add to your shakes. Whatever you choose make sure it is a reputable company to ensure that you are getting what you pay for… and make sure that what you are buying is from the ROOT of the plant.
One more thing
Ashwaghanda is also most often found as part of larger adaptogenic or adrenal support formulas with herbs like Rhodiola (another powerful adaptogen), Eleuthero and other elementslike certain B vitamins. Depending on your needs and state of health you can try one of these or just the straight herb.
Like any other supplement Ashwaghanda cannot make up for improper nutrition, sleep, stress management or overtraining but assuming that you have most if not all of these in order, it might just help you raise the bar that little bit you need to hit your next PR.