Although it’s a fairly new dietary supplement in the West, ashwagandha has been part of Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. It is used primarily to reduce stress and balance the body’s hormones.
However, it turns out that this powerful plant has many remarkable health benefits that can enhance your fitness and improve your performance in martial arts. The following are a few of the reasons you should consider adding ashwagandha to your supplement stack.
Ashwagandha helps relax the nervous system. When your nervous system is relaxed, you can sleep better. It also can improve your focus, boost your fitness, enhance your memory and make you feel better all around. Of course, all these will help maximize your martial arts practice.
Ashwagandha helps protect your brain against Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of age-related dementia.
Based on a study that had participants take 300mg of ashwagandha every day for 12 weeks, these benefits were observed:
- Increased VO2 by 13 percent
- Increased strength by 15 percent
- Improved muscular and nervous system recovery
- Increased testosterone
- Decreased body fat
- Reduced muscle inflammation
- Enhanced the immune system
- Helps prevent cell death caused by oxidative stress
- Lowers blood-sugar levels
- Boosts testosterone and increases fertility in men
- Boosts natural immunity
- Lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Supports thyroid health
Vulnerable populations, including pregnant and lactating women, should refrain from using ashwagandha because it affects hormones.
Ashwagandha can negatively interact with common medications, including immunosuppressants, thyroid medications and sedatives.
Additional side effects can include an upset stomach, a drop in blood sugar and a decrease in blood pressure. You should avoid ashwagandha if you take heart medications or have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diabetes or a heart condition.
People with autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus should avoid taking ashwagandha because it could worsen your condition.
It also can cause nausea, loose stools and vomiting. Excessive intake of ashwagandha can lead to gastrointestinal problems.
It is important to heed all warnings and understand the downsides because, as stated above, ashwagandha directly affects hormones. If you don’t take medications and are healthy, however, you might want to consider giving it a try — after consulting your healthcare provider.
Ashwagandha is known as an adaptogen plant. This means it helps the body normalize hormones, enhance functions and prevent stress. It is considered safe for adults when taken by mouth in the short term.
You can buy it online because it’s not banned anywhere. You can also get it in herbal, powder or capsule form.
It’s often recommended to start with 100mg. If you feel OK, gradually increase to 300mg during the next few days. Note that 300mg is the maximum that’s recommended. More is not better and can actually produce a countereffect. In contrast, balance optimizes its function, which produces maximal results. You need to find the right balance for you.
For more information about supplements, exercise and training, check out my YouTube channel Balanced Body.
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