Ashwagandha is one of the most important herbs of Ayurvedic medicine, with numerous health benefits credited to its name. Besides reducing stress, it is also known to boost energy and hormone levels.1
Coincidentally, studies suggest that as they age, men frequently experience fatigue and drops in steroid hormone levels, both of which may lead to poor health outcomes. An Australian trial evaluated whether using ashwagandha could help alleviate common ailments in middle-aged men.
In this clinical trial, 43 overweight men with mild-to-moderate fatigue symptoms were given capsules containing ashwagandha extract or a placebo. Since it was a crossover study, all men received both treatments over the course of the study.
Researchers assessed the effects of ashwagandha on participants' symptoms (e.g., mood, fatigue etc.) as well as hormone levels (e.g., cortisol, DHEA-S, testosterone, and estrogen). The trial lasted for 16 weeks.
In terms of symptomatic changes, there were substantial improvements in fatigue and vigor as well as sexual and psychological well-being in both groups.
Regarding hormonal changes, however, there was a 18% greater increase in DHEA-S and a 15% greater increase in testosterone after taking ashwagandha in comparison to the placebo. These beneficial effects have not shown to be sustained over time after treatment termination, suggesting that its benefits are best reaped when it is supplemented continuously.
What Does this Mean?
The results of this trial show that ashwagandha promotes hormonal balance in middle-aged men. The treatment with ashwagandha extract was well tolerated and free of major side effects.
These findings are important as reduced levels of DHEA-S and testosterone in this population have been linked to several health complications, including increased morbidity and reduced lifespan. Ashwagandha supplementation could, therefore, improve not only health parameters, but also the quality of life in aging men.
- American Journal of Men's Health, A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Study Examining the Hormonal and Vitality Effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in Aging, Overweight Males, 2019
- Cleveland Clinic. (2022). Benefits of ashwagandha and how much to take. Retrieved June 23, 2022, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-is-ashwagandha/