Ashwagandha And Weight Management

Can Ashwagandha Be Used For Muscle Growth? Know Ayurveda's Take

The Ayurveda Experience May 07, 2019

Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng, is a popular Ayurvedic supplement and known for its extraordinary health-boosting properties. However, a commonly asked question is whether ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) interferes with one’s weight loss/weight gain goals or not. Well, find out the detailed answer in this article!

Ashwagandha has been used extensively around the world to deal with many problems like lack of sleep, male sexual problems, anxiety, depression, female disorders, generalized weakness, neurodegenerative diseases, and arthritis. It is also used as an adaptogen.

Ashwagandha is not only used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine, but is also used in Unani medicine, Siddha medicine, homeopathic medicine, and African medicine for treating various ailments. Due to its numerous benefits, ashwagandha has also managed to catch the attention of the western world.

Ashwagandha is used as an Ayurvedic supplement by itself, as a nutritional supplement, and also as part of various Ayurvedic formulations.

READ MORE: 21 Ways to Take Ashwagandha (Remedies + Recipies)

ashwagandha weight

Ayurvedic perspective of ashwagandha and weight gain

In the renowned Ayurvedic text Charak Samhita, ashwagandha has been mentioned as a bhrimaneeya and balya herb.1,2 Bhrimaneeya herb means that one which improves body mass and nourishment while balya means, one which improves strength and immunity.

Both of these categories support the idea that this medicinal herb is helpful in gaining healthy weight. Besides this, many other Ayurvedic texts and scholars support the notion, which is explained below:

In the renowned Ayurvedic text Sushruta Samhita, it has been mentioned that ashwagandha is helpful in managing malnutrition,which indicates that the herb is helpful in gaining weight.

According to Chakra Dutt, ashwagandha improves the nourishment, strength, and immunity of the body and is helpful in addressing conditions like malnutrition and emaciation in children.Ayurvedic texts Bhav Prakash and Raj Nighantu mentions that ashwagandha is helpful in conditions like emaciation and that it provides strength to the body.

Thus, Ayurveda clearly supports the idea that this medicinal herb might help with healthy weight gain in conditions like malnutrition and emaciation.

READ MORE: Why You Should Take Ashwagandha with Milk

Scientific research done on ashwagandha and weight gain

weight gain lossA study done on rats for three months concluded that there was a significant increase in body weight after treating rats with ashwagandha.6

Another study was done on 57 young male subjects for eight weeks. Here, two groups were formed. One group had 29 male subjects (treatment group) while the other group had 28 male subjects (placebo group).

In the treatment group, male subjects were given 300 mg of ashwagandha root extract twice daily while the placebo group was given starch. After 8 weeks, the results showed that the group treated with ashwagandha had a significant increase in muscular strength and muscle size.7

Muscular bulk also contributes to weight gain. However, weight gain due to muscular bulk is different from weight gain due to an increase in body fat.

Since we are discussing weight gain here, it is important to mention that ashwagandha contributes to weight gain due to an increase in muscle bulk. Thus, modern research also supports the role of ashwagandha in weight gain.

READ MORE: Ayurvedic Tips to Gain Weight Healthily

However, these studies are done on a limited number of people and require more detailed information.

The role of ashwagandha in weight loss management has also been mentioned in several places. Do not confuse this point with the role of ashwagandha in weight gain. Ashwagandha helps with weight loss when weight is gained due to chronic stress. It helps in managing stress and there are several studies that show its direct effect on weight management.

Ashwagandha is helpful in reducing psychological and physiological markers of stress, serum cortisol level, and food cravings. It also improves eating habits. Therefore, we conclude that ashwagandha root extract may also be useful for body weight management in people experiencing chronic stress.8

One should always take ashwagandha supplements under the supervision of a qualified Ayurveda physician.

References:

  1. Charak Samhita,Sutra Sathan, 4/2 by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt , Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2017
  2. Charak Samhita,Sutra Sathan, 4/7 by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt , Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2017
  3. Sushruta Samhita, Uttar tantra, 41/43, p.no. 326, by Kaviraj Ambikadutt Shastri, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Sansthan,2011
  4. Aadrash Nighantu,vol. 2, page no. 136, by Shri Bapalal Vaidya, Chaukhmbha Bharti Academy,2016.
  5. Aadrash Nighantu, vol.2, page no. 135, by Shri Bapalal Vaidya, Chaukhmbha Bharti Academy,2016.
  6. Singh, Narendra et al. “An overview on ashwagandha: a Rasayana (rejuvenator) of Ayurveda” African journal of traditional, complementary, and alternative medicines: AJTCAM vol. 8,5 Suppl (2011): 208-13.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252722/
  7. Wankhede, Sachin et al. “Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition vol. 12 43. 25 Nov. 2015, doi:10.1186/s12970-015-0104-9https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4658772/
  8. Choudhary, Dnyanraj et al. “Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment With Ashwagandha Root Extract: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial” Journal of evidence-based complementary & alternative medicine vol. 22,1 (2016): 96-106.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871210/

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