Ashwagandha's Effects on Muscle Growth and Recovery
When we think of supplements for strength and muscle building, modern options like creatine monohydrate, whey protein, or BCAAs likely come to mind. But research continuously shows that Ashwagandha also known as Withania or Winter Cherry, a herbal supplement with ancient roots, deserves equal attention from today's performance and strength building communities.
Ashwagandha is a herbal supplement that has been used in Ayurvedic naturopathic medicine for centuries. It's made from the roots of the Indian Withania somnifera plant and is typically classified as an adaptogen, as it helps our bodies adapt to certain situations.
We consider cortisol a catabolic hormone, meaning it stimulates the breakdown of muscle. This is done to increase the amount of energy available to our bodies in times of need, as the body can use amino acids (the building blocks of muscle) for fuel. However, this can negate some of our hard work and training in the gym if left unchecked. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there, either. High cortisol levels will also slow down digestion and stimulate the storage of fats.
Here are a few other ways that chronically high cortisol can affect your quality of life:
High cortisol levels can slow down testosterone production. When compounded with cortisol's impact on muscle breakdown, this can be crucial for gains—testosterone is an important player in muscle repair, growth and recovery.
Elevated cortisol prevents deep sleep. Cortisol levels naturally rise in the morning to stimulate a wakeful state. Chronically elevated cortisol can disrupt your natural sleep/wake cycle and ultimately prevent the body from entering restorative deep sleep and contributing to fatigue.
Increased cortisol suppresses the immune system. High levels of cortisol will slow down immune function, making us more susceptible to getting sick and preventing recovery.
We prove Ashwagandha to be effective at mediating the negative effects elevated cortisol has on our strength, as well as lots of other important markers in the body. While Ashwagandha can’t remove the stresses from our lives, it can certainly help us cope with them. Keeping an eye on your cortisol levels and having an arsenal of solutions that work with your lifestyle will help you stay strong both physically and mentally.
Ashwagandha has proven to:
Decrease serum cortisol by up to 27%
Contribute to a 17% increase in total testosterone
Increase raw strength and muscle size
Lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, blood glucose, triglycerides and hsCRP
Increase HDL (good) cholesterol and DHEAS
Interested? Ask us for more information!
Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. (2012) Indian J Psychol Med. 34(3):255-62.
Lopresti AL, Smith SJ, Malvi H, Kodgule R. An investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. (2019) Medicine. 98(37)
Wankhede S, Langade D, Joshi K, Sinha SR, Bhattacharyya S Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. (2015) J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 12:43
Shweta Shenoy, Udesh Chaskar, Jaspal S. Sandhu, Madan Mohan Paadhi. Effects of eight-week supplementation of Ashwagandha on cardiorespiratory endurance in elite Indian cyclists. (2012) J Ayurveda Integr Med. 3(4): 209–214.
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