Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a plant with a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine. Ashwagandha is an example of both a nootropic and an adaptogen. An adaptogen is a supplement which improves the ability of the body to cope with fatigue, stress, and anxiety.

Benefits:

  • Reduces stress/anxiety and may prevent conditions caused by stress/anxiety including premature aging and depression [1][5][6][7]
  • Repairs damage to brain cells caused by alcohol abuse [1]
  • Enhances communication between nerve cells [1]
  • Enhances memory and general cognitive functions [4][7]
  • Improves the immune system and protects red blood cells [2][7]
  • Has anti-tumor and anti-cancer properties [3][7][1]
  • Has neuroprotective and antioxidant properties [7][1]

What Is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is an herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Since its introduction to Western Cultures, it has gained popularity as a nootropic supplement and adaptogen. People now use it for benefits ranging from reducing stress and anxiety, to protecting brain cells, all the way to improving memory and cognitive functions.

Medical Uses of Ashwagandha

In Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha was used to treat a variety of symptoms and conditions and was applied locally to tumors and ulcers. Some research has shown that Ashwagandha can repair brain damage caused by excess alcohol consumption, as well as that it may be an effective treatment for the withdrawal symptoms experienced by alcoholics.

Using Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is sold extremely cheaply in capsules. It is most often taken daily as a dietary supplement for its nootropic effects, or just in times of exceptional stress or fatigue due to its ability to help the body cope with these conditions.

Dosing Ashwagandha

There is little hard information on what is an effective dose of Ashwagandha. However, anecdotal evidence points to anywhere between a 200mg- 1,500mg dose per day. This dose can be spaced out throughout the day or taken all at once. I recommend that people taking Ashwagandha start with a low dose and work their way up as needed.

How Does Ashwagandha Work?

Even though the exact way Ashwagandha works is not fully understood, certain mechanisms of action have been identified:

  • Increases hemolytic antibody response which helps protect red blood cells [2]
  • Acts as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor cause increase levels of acetylcholine in the brain [4]
  • Inhibits notch-1 signaling
  • Down-regulates prosurvival pathways
  • Supports the growth of nerve cell dendrites increasing communication between nerves [1]

Safety and Side Effects of Ashwagandha

Studies have shown that Ashwagandha has little to no toxicity. [7] Common side effects include drowsiness and upset stomach.

Taking Ashwagandha with sedative medications may cause extreme drowsiness. You should not operate machinery until you know how this reaction may affect you.

Ashwagandha may also mitigate the effectiveness of a medication that decreases the immune system.

 Ashwagandha FAQ

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about Ashwagandha. If you have a question that’s not on this list, send it to us at [email protected] and we will answer it for you.

Should I Take Ashwagandha?

If you are strictly looking for a nootropic that acts as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor there are better ones out there. However, Ashwagandha brings some other benefits to the table that these other ATCe inhibitors do not provide. If you suffer from severe stress or anxiety and also want an ACTe inhibitor then look no further. One other benefit to take note of is Ashwagandha’s ability to grow and regenerate dendrites in the brain. Dendrites act as a way for nerves to receive and put our neurotransmitters. They are vital for your brain cells’ ability to communicate.

Recent research has also determined that Alcohol does not destroy your brain cells; it destroys the dendrites on your brain cells. [8] This means that Ashwagandha may help mitigate and even reverse damage caused to your brain by alcohol abuse. If you abused alcohol in college, or still do, then this nootropic may be very helpful when it comes to repairing your brain.

Does Ashwagandha Have Synergy With Other Nootropics??

Ashwagandha has a synergetic relationship with Choline supplements. Ashwagandha acts as an acetylcholine inhibitor meaning it slows your brain’s ability to break down choline. Taking a choline supplement will introduce choline to your brain that will be broken down slower if you are also taking AshwagandhaAshwagandha also will act in synergy with Piracetam, Aniracetam, Oxiracetam, and Pramiracetam. These nootropics increase the functionality of acetylcholine also causing your body to use it at a quicker rate. Since Ashwagandha increases levels of acetylcholine, it makes more available for use by these three nootropics.

How noticeable are the effects of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha produces no “high” so you shouldn’t expect to feel differently immediately after taking Ashwagandha. It’s nootropic benefits are subtle but can be noticed when doing mentally taxing work. In addition, if taking Ashwagandha during a time of high stress or fatigue you should notice that you are able to perform much better under these conditions.

Is it possible to overdose on Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is extremely non-toxic, and safe to take at doses far exceeding what it recommended. That said, taking more than 6 grams in one day may result in vomiting and diarrhea.

Is it safe to drink alcohol while taking Ashwagandha?

It is perfectly safe to drink alcohol while taking Ashwagandha. In fact, research has shown that it may be a good idea to take Ashwagandha if you happen to be a heavy drinker, as it helps repair damaged dendrites.

Can I take Ashwagandha every day?

Ashwagandha is perfectly safe to take every day, and when taken as a nootropic supplement it will be most effective this way. It is completely non-addictive and there are no withdrawal symptoms when a regimen is ceased.

What Are Some Noticeable Studies Performed on Ashwagandha?

An excellent article was published in Life Extension Magazine in 2006. It outlined the results of countless studies pertaining to Ashwagandha’s effects. You can read the entire article here. Some interesting things it noted included that Ashwagandha does the following:

  • Supports the regeneration and growth  of nerve cell dendrites
  • Helps reconstruct nerve synapses (junctions where nerve cells communicate)
  • Possesses stress relieving and anti-anxiety effects as powerful as Ativan and anti-depressant effects as strong as Tofranil. Both are prescription drugs.
  • Possesses a strong anti-cancer ability
  • Inhibits acetylcholinesterase
  • Has powerful  anti-oxidant properties

Cited Studies

1.  http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2006/jun2006_report_ashwa_01.htm

2.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8866726

3.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16375880

4.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9017665

5.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10075127

6.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11194174

7.http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/5/4/334.pdf

8.http://health.howstuffworks.com/human-body/systems/nervous-system/10-brain-myths9.htm