The use and mention of Ashwagandha can be dated back to the iron age. Basically, the plant is native mainly to India, some parts of Africa, and the Middle East. In every region, it has been used by people to treat various ailments. Though the common use of Ashwagandha in various streams of medicine is a potential aphrodisiac and dietary supplement. The plant is a short shrub of only 30 inches in height with small green flowers. And the Latin name of the plant is Withania Somnifera.
Origin of the Name
The word Somnifera means in Latin as a sleep enhancer. Because of its nerve and stress reliever properties. But the common name is of Sanskrit origin. In Sanskrit, Ashwa means horse, and Gandha means smell. As the plant’s root has a strong smell like a horse.
Ashwagandha and Ayurveda
Modern medicinal science has accepted the multilevel benefit of ashwagandha. But Ayurveda, the oldest of all medicinal streams, had adopted and praised its healing properties well before its wide usage. In Ayurveda, it is classified under Madhya Rasayana.
A medicinal group that deals with ailments of mental and intellectual health. But also it is mentioned in Charak Samhita,(the oldest written book in Ayurvedic medicine)that it has many magical benefits if used in different formulations with other herbs. According to Ayurveda the most revered benefits of ashwagandha are many. To name a few
- It improves memory and rational thinking by relieving stress.
- Works as an excellent sedative
- Increases stamina and boosts immunity after a prolonged illness.
- Have a positive effect on thyroid hormone, resulting in excellent thyroid health
Ashwagandha and Libido
From ancient times to the modern age, ashwagandha has been used in India as an excellent natural aphrodisiac to boost sexual urges in men and women. Even in Kamasutra, it is prescribed to take ashwagandha powder with clarified butter regularly, for better sexual health.
Nowadays modern medical science has also accepted the benefit of ashwagandha for treating various sexual problems including erectile dysfunction and impotence. But one may think, how Ashwagandha can treat all this! Well, studies have proved that the main reason behind this problem comes from the stress of modern hectic life. Which In turn comes through the secretion of cortisol from the adrenal gland. During mental pressure, the adrenal gland releases cortisol hormone, which is responsible for stress.
Ashwagandha restricts and lowers the secretion of cortisol, which in turn lowers the stress and blood pressure level in vessels. So free mind better urge. Side by side regular intake of ashwagandha in any form increases the nitric acid production in the body. Which stimulates and dilates the blood vessels in the penis. Causing an increase in sexual desire.
It is seen through studies that oil extract from ashwagandha mixed with Nirgundi, another herb, may act as a penis enhancer. Further, the study revealed that ashwagandha taken for one week has helped to increase endurance while having sex. So far the discussion is all related to men’s sexual health. But what about his other half? Does the plant have any effect on women? Well..yes.
During the time of intercourse, most of the time, the pleasure and satisfaction of women are ignored. As a result, most of them suffer from sexual frigidity. A recent study by Cleveland Clinic in the year 2015, has shown that women taking ashwagandha for a definite period, have developed better sexual urges and orgasms. Even the herb has helped many to cope with period cramps and PCOS. Though it is not proven, how it works.
Ashwagandha and Testosterone
Testosterone is basically a hormone in the human body. It is mainly produced in the testicles in men and in the ovaries in women. Though adrenal gland in humans also produces a little amount of it. This hormone is mainly responsible for gearing sexual drive and libido. During the time of puberty, the secretion of this hormone along with androgen causes a change in physical and mental structure in men and women.
Secondarily this hormone helps in building up body mass, muscle, and bone density. Naturally, the production of testosterone is high during the time of puberty and lowers gradually after the age of 30 onwards. Low testosterone levels may have many adverse effects. Most common are.
- Thinner and weak bones
- Sexual frigidity
- Mood swing.
Taking all this in mind, ashwagandha fits here as a “cure-all” medicine for all ailments. Ashwagandha is classified as an adaptogen by clinical research. Which helps to lower stress. And nowadays stress is the main key factor for any health issue. Stress alone plays a pivotal role in low testosterone production. Though there are other ways to fight stress like meditation and deep breathing. But ashwagandha can act as an excellent supportive therapy.
Clinical study has proved that testosterone level rises with the lowering of stress level. Here ashwagandha promises a magical role in the level of testosterone production. Some studies conducted by Havard Health and Cleveland Clinic showed that consumption of ashwagandha powder for two weeks by a group of men aged above 40 had an increase of testosterone level by 15- 20 percent.
Which in turn developed the body’s muscle and mass to an extent. Further study revealed that continuous consumption for more than two months actually increased not only testosterone but also DHEA(the parent of all hormones). And this group developed excellent muscle growth and body mass when put under resistance training.
How ashwagandha works is not proven and needs more intense clinical study. But some of its properties have some proven benefits.
- Ashwagandha has robust antioxidants, which protect and rejuvenate cells including cells in the testes. So less damaged testes better testosterone production.
- Through clinical study, it is found that ashwagandha can increase the production of luteinizing hormone in the pituitary gland. This hormone is responsible for increasing testosterone levels in men. So higher luteinizing, higher testosterone level.
Lastly, we can conclude in a nutshell that taking ashwagandha in a prescribed form for a specific prescribed period may increase testosterone levels. Resulting in greater body mass and better sexual drive.