Dr. Richard Harris
One of my favorite supplements to discuss is ashwagandha. This small evergreen shrub is indigenous to dry areas of India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. Like turmeric, ashwagandha is used in traditional Indian (Ayurvedic) medicine. It belongs to a class of molecules called adaptogens which help the body resist physiological and psychological stressors.
Chronic stress is an insidious root cause of chronic illnesses. Chronic stress can adversely impact cardiometabolic health, mental health, and immune system health. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone, and chronic stress can lead to elevations in cortisol levels. Ashwagandha supplementation can significantly reduce cortisol and stress levels in clinical trials. 1 While reducing stress is beneficial for our overall health, it is also helpful for testosterone. Cortisol and testosterone usually have an inverse relationship. Testosterone levels tend to decrease as cortisol levels increase. 2 , 3
It would be logical then to assume supplementation with ashwagandha would increase testosterone levels, and clinical research validates this. Human research shows ashwagandha can indeed increase testosterone and DHEA levels. 4 Another trial indicated that ashwagandha supplementation increased testosterone levels and improved sexual performance and the sense of well-being in adult men. 5
Another important factor for optimal testosterone is sleep. Sleep restriction can significantly lower testosterone levels. 6 , 7 Ashwagandha can improve several aspects of sleep, including sleep quality, sleep onset latency, total sleep time, and sleep efficiency. Subjective measures of sleep quality were also improved in research participants taking ashwagandha. 8
Routine physical activity is another crucial ingredient for optimal hormone health. Ashwagandha supplementation improves several aspects of physical performance, including strength and power, cardiorespiratory fitness, and fatigue and recovery in healthy men and women. 9 Adverse effects in the studies mentioned above were rare, with sleepiness being the most common effect attributed to ashwagandha.
When Alpha Male X and Alpha Female were formulated, the first ingredient we had to include was ashwagandha. I take two Alpha Male X capsules nightly to help with sleep, recovery, and testosterone optimization. It is one of my favorite adaptogenic herbs, and I hope you have as great an experience with it as I had. Please speak with your physician before taking any supplements, and of course, ensure that your supplements are of the highest quality!
1 Akhgarjand C, Asoudeh F, Bagheri A, et al. Does Ashwagandha supplementation have a beneficial effect on the management of anxiety and stress? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Phytother Res. 2022;36(11):4115-4124. doi:10.1002/ptr.7598
2 Pasquali R. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and sex hormones in chronic stress and obesity: pathophysiological and clinical aspects. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2012;1264(1):20-35. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2012.06569.x
3 Pletzer B, Poppelaars ES, Klackl J, Jonas E. The gonadal response to social stress and its relationship to cortisol. Stress. 2021;24(6):866-875. doi:10.1080/10253890.2021.1891220
4 Lopresti AL, Drummond PD, Smith SJ. A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Study Examining the Hormonal and Vitality Effects of Ashwagandha ( Withania somnifera) in Aging, Overweight Males. Am J Mens Health. 2019 Mar-Apr;13(2):1557988319835985. doi:10.1177/1557988319835985. PMID: 30854916; PMCID: PMC6438434.
5 Chauhan S, Srivastava MK, Pathak AK. Effect of standardized root extract of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) on well-being and sexual performance in adult males: A randomized controlled trial. Health Sci Rep. 2022 Jul 20;5(4):e741. doi: 10.1002/hsr2.741. PMID: 35873404; PMCID: PMC9297375.
6 Leproult R, Van Cauter E. Effect of 1 week of sleep restriction on testosterone levels in young healthy men. JAMA. 2011 Jun 1;305(21):2173-4. doi: 10.1001/jama.2011.710. PMID: 21632481; PMCID: PMC4445839.
7 Su L, Zhang SZ, Zhu J, Wu J, Jiao YZ. Effect of partial and total sleep deprivation on serum testosterone in healthy males: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep Med. 2021;88:267-273. doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2021.10.031
8 Cheah KL, Norhayati MN, Husniati Yaacob L, Abdul Rahman R. Effect of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2021;16(9):e0257843. Published 2021 Sep 24. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0257843
9 Bonilla DA, Moreno Y, Gho C, Petro JL, Odriozola-Martínez A, Kreider RB. Effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) on Physical Performance: Systematic Review and Bayesian Meta-Analysis. J Funct Morphol Kinesiol. 2021 Feb 11;6(1):20. doi: 10.3390/jfmk6010020. PMID: 33670194; PMCID:PMC8006238.