Ashwagandha Health Benefits for A Long and Healthy Life
Yes, it's hard to pronounce, and I still must check my spelling when I type "ashwagandha", but surely this is one herb you'll want to know about and try out, because there are at least nine ashwagandha health benefits that may improve your health and help you in your quest to live a long and healthy life.
Whether you're stressed, need a testosterone boost, want to better control your blood sugar or cholesterol, or support immune health - ashwagandha just might be the best single herb you can consume, particularly the KSM-66® enhanced version.
Some Ashwagandha Background
In Sanskrit, ashwagandha means "the smell of a horse," but it doesn't, not to my nose. The horse reference was used because in traditional cultures the herb was thought to impart the vigor and strength of a stallion, and it has thus been traditionally prescribed to help people strengthen their immune system after an illness.Ashwagandha belongs to the same family as the tomato, the "nightshades". It's a plump shrub with oval leaves and yellow flowers that produce a red fruit about the size of a raisin. The herb is native to the dry regions of India, northern Africa, and the Middle East, but today is also grown in mild climates, including in the United States.
Both the berries and the root of the plant are used to make ashwagandha root extract in powder form. The powder can be consumed in capsule form or as a powder drunk in some liquid medium.
Reportedly, the type of ashwagandha extract that is the most concentrated and highly absorbable is KSM-66®. I have more to tell you about this later on, but first let's turn to the three ashwagandha health benefits that could help you thrive.
1. Ashwagandha May Reduce Stress and Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is known as a "stress hormone" because your adrenal glands release it in response to stress, as well as when your blood sugar levels get too low. Unfortunately, in some cases, cortisol levels may become chronically elevated, which can lead to high blood sugar levels and increased fat storage in the abdomen. Studies have shown that ashwagandha may help reduce cortisol levels. [1,2,3]
In one study of chronically stressed adults, those who supplemented with ashwagandha had significantly greater reductions in cortisol, compared to the control group. Those taking the highest dose had a 30% reduction, on average. 
Herbs like ashwagandha are called adaptogens because of their unusual ability to "adapt" their function according to our bodies' specific needs. It's subtle and may take a month or so, but after a while it dawns on you that you're somehow feeling better about things, less frantic - that all is fine in the world.
Adaptogens help aid the brain by improving the health of our adrenals, which manage our physical response to stress. Cortisol is the hormone that our adrenals produce in response to a "fight or flight" situation. If you're not running or fighting, that surging cortisol is not dissipated by the energy produced by your physical response to the stress-producing situation (a tiger leaping for you), but instead, the cortisol lingers. Elevated cortisol causes a host of problems, such as decreasing immunity, increasing abdominal fat, inhibiting thyroid hormone activation, and shortening your telomeres.
High intensity exercise also elevates cortisol. This is what initially attracted me to supplementing with ashwagandha. At the time, I didn't know about the many ashwagandha health benefits. What I wanted is to avoid having my exercise regime keep my cortisol at high, unhealthy levels. To combat cortisol, I began consuming several adaptogens, such as Siberian Ginseng, Rhodiola and the KSM-66® version of Ashwagandha.
Although ashwagandha may be best known for its role as an effective stress-reducing adaptagon, this ancient Indian herb may benefit you in many other ways.
2. Ashwagandha May Promote Lean Muscle and Strength
As reported by ergo-log.com, researchers at the ICMR Advanced Centre for Reverse Pharmacology in Traditional Medicine discovered that participants in a study of 12 men and 6 women, aged 18 through 30, averaged an increase in lean body mass of a bit less than 4.4 pounds, and their fat composition decreased by more than 2%.
This happened over a period of 60 days, during which participants gradually increased their ashwagandha dose:
- Days 1-10, 750 milligrams/day
- Days 11-20, 1,000 milligrams/day
- Days 21-30, 1,250 milligrams/day
(These were the total daily doses, half of which were taken twice each day.)
Typically, along with more muscle comes more strength, and so it was with these participants. They measured grip, quadriceps and lower back strength. The change in grip was statistically insignificant, but quadriceps strength increased by an average of just under eight pounds, and lower back strength improved by nearly four pounds.
Of course, these strength gains are trivial over the course of a month if you're weightlifting three times a week, but remember that these participants were not doing any exercise during the study. That they made these muscle gains recorded without any resistance training was remarkable.
3. Ashwagnada May Improve Brain Function, Including Memory
Test-tube and animal studies suggest that ashwagandha may support brain health. [29, 30, 31]
Research has shown that it promotes antioxidant activity that protects nerve cells from harmful free radicals. For instance, in one study, epileptic rats treated with ashwagandha had nearly a complete reversal of spatial memory impairment, likely caused by a reduction in oxidative stress. 
Although ashwagandha has traditionally been used in Ayurvedic practice to boost memory, there's only a small amount of human research in this area. In one controlled study, healthy men who took 500 mg of standardized extract daily reported significant improvements in their reaction time and task performance, compared to men who received a placebo. Another eight-week study in 50 adults showed that taking 300 mg of ashwagandha root extract twice daily significantly improved general memory, task performance and attention.
Why You Should Consider KSM-66®
KSM-66® is considered the most potent form of extract you could take to get all the various ashwagandha health benefits that this herb offers. KSM-66 is an ashwagandha extract made by Ixoreal Biomed, created via a process that took 14 years of R&D to develop and refine, says the manufacturer.
The makers of KSM-66® ashwagandha claim that it's a full-spectrum extract, with the highest concentration of all major root only extracts available on the market today. It is produced using a unique proprietary extraction process, based on "Green Chemistry" principles, without using alcohol or any other chemical solvent.
KSM-66® ashwagandha has been clinically proven to:
- Help reduce stress, cortisol levels and stress-related food cravings*
- Help promote enhanced memory and cognitive function*
- Help promote endurance, strength, muscle size and muscle recovery rate*
- Help enhance sexual performance health in both men and women, and testosterone in men*
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
The clinical results reference by the manufacturer support the research cited in the nine ashwagandha health benefits detailed above. Clearly, KSM-66® Ashwagandha is worthy of your consideration.