I tried taking Ashwagandha supplements for 30 days. Here’s what happened

Ashwagandha is an herb commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine, a system of medicine based on more than 6,000 years of Indian tradition. The ashwagandha plant is a small shrub with yellow flowers native to India and Southeast Asia. Its botanical name is Withania somniferaand is also known as Indian ginseng and winter cherry.

Ashwagandha is not a recent herb or invention, but its popularity has skyrocketed since adaptogens entered the wellness market. Adaptogens are herbs and plants that are used to help your body “adapt” to stress. They are also used to help support the body’s adrenal glands, regulate hormones, and even increase stamina. Although studies show potential benefits, there isn’t enough strong research to say whether ashwagandha actually improves all the conditions it’s used for.

While I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a chronically stressed or anxious person, I do exercise frequently, which means my body sees its fair share of stress. I also struggle pretty consistently with interrupted sleep, which means I tend to wake up at least once almost every night, either to use the bathroom or just because.

I wanted to see if taking ashwagandha supplements would reduce my workout recovery time and improve my sleep. I did a little experiment to take ashwagandha for 30 days and record what I found, if anything.

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There are many purported benefits of taking ashwagandha. The most common and studied benefits include improved sleep, reduced anxiety and stress, and increased energy. Less common benefits include increasing testosterone levels, lowering blood sugar, and improving arthritis symptoms. As for me, here are some of the potential benefits I was on the lookout for.

Reducing stress and anxiety

Ashwagandha supplements can help reduce stress and anxiety. A small 2019 study of 58 people found that those who took 250 to 600 milligrams (mg) of ashwagandha extract for eight weeks had less perceived stress and lower levels of cortisol, the hormone ‘Stress. Other small studies of people who took ashwagandha for 60 days found that the supplement reduced symptoms of anxiety and stress.

However, a 2021 review of preclinical and clinical studies concluded that there is insufficient evidence to form a consensus on the appropriate dose and form of ashwagandha to treat stress and anxiety.

Fortunately, I don’t quit work, but I tend to over-commit and engage socially, and I sometimes struggle with the stress and anxiety that comes with trying to be in too many places at once. Know the signs: elevated heart rate, racing mind, rushed pace, and sweaty palms.

I was hoping to see if taking ashwagandha would help me stay more calm and at ease while delicately juggling my personal commitments. To be honest, I didn’t see any real difference. I still felt the same racing thoughts and other physiological responses as I ran from one engagement to the next.

Improvement of sleep quality

The results of a few clinical trials suggest that taking ashwagandha may help improve sleep. A 2021 review of five studies found that taking an ashwagandha supplement ranging from 250 to 600 mg per day had a small but significant effect on improving sleep compared to a placebo. These benefits were most prominent when the dose was 600 mg per day and when the supplement was taken for at least eight weeks.

I have always struggled to wake up in the middle of the night, often multiple times. I think I’m generally a pretty light sleeper, but having interrupted sleep disrupts your sleep cycle, and can cause you to “need” more sleep than the standard eight hours. During sleep, a person progresses through a series of sleep cycles, each consisting of different stages of sleep. If you experience repeated interruptions in your sleep, it can definitely disrupt this process.

I wanted to see if taking ashwagandha would help me feel more tired earlier and sleep more soundly. Again, I haven’t noticed a significant difference. I still woke up throughout the night as I usually do. That said, I felt a little more sleepy during the day and by 9:30-10:00pm I was in bed. That said, I took ashwagandha during the winter months when the days are generally shorter anyway. So there is a possibility that my earlier self was more a result of the decreased daylight and cold weather.

Improved sports performance

Some research has shown that ashwagandha may play a role in improving athletic performance. A 2020 review found that taking ashwagandha significantly improved maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) in healthy adults and athletes, which may contribute to improved aerobic capacity.

I exercise at least four times a week and do a combination of strength training and high intensity interval training (HIIT). I was hoping that taking ashwagandha would improve my performance and recovery time during workouts, more specifically I wanted to see if it would decrease the amount of rest time I need between sets.

When I do strength training, I usually rest between a minute and a half to two minutes. When I do a HIIT workout, I tend to rest about a minute between sets of exercises. My goal was to get under 90 seconds for strength training and under a minute for HIIT. I never really felt comfortable achieving this; I definitely still needed my usual time to rest.

To begin my journey of trying ashwagandha for 30 days, I chose Moon Juice Ashwagandha. It is a full spectrum root extract powder.

In summary, my goals were to see if ashwagandha:

  • The recovery time from training helped me
  • It helped me sleep more uninterruptedly throughout the night
  • Overall, I improved my mood, especially my stress levels throughout the day

For consistency, I decided to take ashwagandha every morning with my coffee, mixed into a smoothie, or mixed with oatmeal. Moon Juice Ashwagandha Powder is a light brown root powder with a slightly bitter, earthy, molasses-like flavor. Moon Juice says it pairs well with chocolate, coffee and baked goods, and you should use between 1/41/2 teaspoons daily to see benefits. I took 1/4 teaspoon daily, which is 600 mg.

Adding it to my coffee and oatmeal was my preferred method. It changed the flavor of my coffee slightly and made it a little more bitter, but adding it to the oatmeal didn’t cause any noticeable differences in flavor. Using 1/4 teaspoon daily isn’t much, so the taste changes were minimal.

I didn’t change my usual life routine so I worked out 3-4 times a week and slept about 8-9 hours every night. On any normal day, I go to bed around 11pm (although with the shorter winter days, I can get to bed around 10pm), but I usually wake up at least once throughout the night around 3 or 4 in the morning. i have to use the bathroom Sometimes I wake up twice! I was curious to see if taking ashwagandha would help me wake up less often during the night and feel more rested when I woke up.

Melanie Perez

Since most ashwagandha research studied participants after at least eight weeks, I’m not entirely surprised that I didn’t see a significant difference in my sleep, mood, or recovery. Moon Juice itself says that, like any supplement, ashwagandha takes time to regulate in the body, and you can usually expect to see overall results “within a few weeks.”

I made sure to have ashwagandha mixed with my coffee every morning, mixed with oatmeal, or mixed into a smoothie with almond milk, bananas, peanut butter, cinnamon, and maca powder.

I still got up to use the bathroom about the same as I always have, and I still turned down the bed at the same time every night. Although I have gone to sleep earlier, I mostly chalked it up to it being winter and the days being much shorter.

I saw no significant change in my ability to rest for a shorter period of time after workouts or any difference in my mood.

Generally speaking, I don’t think taking ashwagandha did much for me after all. That said, this experiment was not without its challenges.

On the one hand, it’s probably fair to point out that during this time, I didn’t experience any real significant amounts of stress that would disrupt my usual sleep routine, and I didn’t engage in any new forms of exercise that would tax my muscles. in a way they usually didn’t before. I worked out my usual amount and did exercises that I am familiar with.

Some research has also noted that ashwagandha may be most effective when taken consistently for at least eight weeks. I saw no difference after taking this herb for just 30 days. That said, there isn’t enough evidence to say whether taking ashwagandha long-term over many months is safe. It’s best to check with your doctor before adding a new supplement to your diet.

Ashwagandha has been taken for hundreds of years in Ayurvedic medicine to improve symptoms of stress and anxiety, increase cognitive function, improve sleep and athletic performance, and more. I took ashwagandha for 30 days and saw no noticeable results. That said, most studies note that ashwagandha takes time to settle in the body, and it may be best to try taking it for at least 8 weeks to see results.

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