While at SuperFeast we are lovers of the tonic herbs within the Taoist philosophy, we knew we had to get the very potent and adaptogenic Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) into our apothecary. Traditionally known as an Ayurvedic botanical, this herb packs a huge punch; notably to promote vitality, positively influence endurance, for its rejuvenatory effects, ability to enhance strength and sharpen memory and cognition.
Today, we want to share why this power herb can really take a male's health, strength and virility to the next level.
Let's dive deeper into each of these benefits of ashwagandha...
1. Testosterone and Sexual Health
A four month double-blind, randomised study explored healthy, overweight men aged 40 to 70 ingesting a supplement of withanolide glycosides (an ashwagandha extract), along with a placebo group. The results demonstrated significant changes in testosterone and DHEA-S (dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate). Participants noted positive changes in their sexual and psychological well-being too.
Testosterone and DHEA-S are both known as steroid hormones, meaning they play key roles in sexual health, bone density, body mass and mental health to name a few. Both testosterone and DHEA-S tend to decrease as a male ages and low testosterone levels are associated with chronic disease and a decrease in lifespan. Reductions in these hormones, paired with an oft experienced increase in general fatigue, can lead to some really crappy life feels, ammi right??!
Ashwagandha is a wonderful natural alternative that can help maintain and boost testosterone and DHEA-S, without the side effects of medications.
2. Sperm Health
An evidence based, systematic review was completed across five studies, investigating the fertility effects of ashwagandha on men. The review concluded that Withania somnifera supplementation can have profound effects on sperm: increasing the concentration, increasing the volume of semen and increasing sperm motility, in males presenting with low sperm counts. Other research suggested that over a 12 week time frame, males with oligozoospermia (a low concentration of sperm) experienced an increase in their testosterone levels, whilst ingesting ashwagandha root. Yet another study on 75 men, demonstrated how ashwagandha improves sperm quality, in those experiencing varying levels of infertility based on sperm issues. The powerful fertility herb acted as an antioxidant and decreased oxidative stress, while positively effecting essential metal ion amounts in the semen.
So we're getting the picture here right?! Ashwaghanda pretty consistently shows to improve the health of sperm across all parameters; amount, quality, motility.
3. Stress and Nervous System
A consistent dose of ashwagandha over two months across a group of 60 individuals demonstrated some impressive stress-busting effects. Compared to a placebo group, those taking ashwagandha reported lower anxiety rating scales, a reduction in morning cortisol levels AND an increase in testosterone (but the latter, only in males, not females. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen remember, it gives the body what it needs).
Now it's well established that high cortisol (a sure sign of stress) is often associated with lower testosterone. So anything that can play a role in stress reduction, is likely very beneficial to a man's testosterone levels. So you can see why ashwagandha can be so beneficial for men, via its actions on cortisol, which feeds into testosterone levels, which feeds into strength levels...
Warning: Consistently taking ashwagandha may lead to zen-master vibes
4. Strength, Endurance and Vitality
In the same research mentioned above, which saw positive effects on testosterone, those same participants observed positive changes in their fatigue levels and overall vitality. Impressive findings. Overall power, barbell velocity and maximal oxygen consumption (VO2Max) were found to be increased in other research. A group of 10 healthy individuals experienced these gains after ingesting ashwagandha for 8 weeks. Ashwagandha has further been shown to improve both upper and lower body strength. In research completed over 12 weeks, on a group of physically active men, the participants experienced a higher squat performance, increased ability to bench press and quicker time trial results (note: this research involved the business who created the 'Sensoril' ashwagandha product, so let's keep our take-with-a-grain-of-salt hats on for these results ;P)
It seems clear though, that with no side effects, incorporating ashwagandha into your daily flow is a no brainer. Need some ideas as to how?
This botanical certainly has a challenging taste, so your best bet is to add it to flavourful drinks and food (it will help hide the taste!)
If we were wanting to be honest yet... nice to the flavour of ashwagandha, we'd write it is has notes of campfire in a dry pine forest, bitter greens and white ash, and although this is correct, it *also* has a grassy taste with a hint of wet, sweaty horse (it really does).
Why does SuperFeast ashwagandha taste this way? First of all we source very conscientiously, and our ashwag root is VERY high quality and effective, hence the strong flavour. We also don't standardise the herb extraction, we never do (read more about our stance on why we never standardise, here). Pretty much all on the market do this to increase the level of "active" ingredient in the powder. Although this can be useful for clinical settings, it means you eliminate many unknown compounds that are essential to get long term results. Since we do very effective full-spectrum extracts where we also capture and add back in the essential/volatile oils that normally escape during heat extraction (a patented process), the taste is intense, but it means you've got a high quality herb that will actually deliver you benefits.
Like all our SuperFeast herbs, we suggest start small, around 1/4 teaspoon and build up. A nice maintenance dose is 1 heaped teaspoon. Our SuperFeast Ashwagandha powder is ready-to-ingest and bioavailable, not heat or cold sensitive, so can be added to anything you like!
We love it in:
So head over to our Ashwagandha product page here and check it out. And if you're keen on tuning into to some more men's health tips, you'll love this podcast episode between Mason (founder of SuperFeast) and Dr Ralph Esposito, an absolute champ in the men's health field. Tune in here.