Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb, meaning that it has the ability to help the body adapt to stress. Many herbalist claim that plants of this type can help the body to relax if it needs or give it energy if it needs. Meaning, that it can work differently for different people. Traditionally the root is the part of the plant that is used and can be crushed into powder. It can also be taken in pill form or the powder can be mixed with tea to make a warm drink. So why might an athlete be interesting in taking this?
Here is what you need to know:
1. Ashwagandha has no known side effects and is considered a relatively safe herb.
2. Athletes have used it to rejuvenate and strengthen tissues and for muscle weakness and overall depletion. There is no scientific evidence for this yet.
3. There is some evidence of its anti-inflammatory effects, which can be a great support for many times of athletes. Also some studies have shown it has a positive effect improving power output in sprinting and lifting.
4. The generally recommended dose is half of a teaspoon of powdered ashwagandha in tea or another liquid (protein shake perhaps) and can be taken up to three times a day.
5. Some athletes have found it to be very successful in helping to increase the quality of sleep and improve immune function.
Again, please be very cautious of any supplements or herbs that you are taking. Look for third party tested products. Consult with an experienced herbalist or your health care provider before taking anything. Safety first!
Sumantran VN, Chandwaskar R, Joshi AK, et al. The relationship between chondroprotective and antiinflammatory effects of Withania somnifera root and glucosamine sulphate on human osteoarthritic cartilage in vitro. Phytother Res . 2008;22(10):1342-1348.
Ghosal S, Lal J, Srivastava R, et al. Immunomodulatory and CNS effects of sitoindosides IX and X, two new glycowithanolides from Withania somnifera . Phytother Res . 1989;3(5):201-206.