1st Phorm Elite Athlete Laura Novotny

What is Ashwagandha?

We live in what I like to call a "wired and tired" world where we're always stimulated ... and always tired. Our daily routines can be so demanding and stressful.

One way we're able to keep up with all this stress and chaos is through caffeine. Ironically, caffeine just leaves our bodies in an even more stressed state.

So it really just becomes a game of pushing through the day, regardless of how you feel. Wouldn't it be great if there was an easy way to combat this stress?

Well, research suggests that ashwagandha is a promising solution.

Never heard of it? Let’s dive into exactly what ashwagandha is and how it can be beneficial for your health. 

What is Ashwagandha? 

Ashwagandha, aka “Indian Ginseng”, is a medicinal herb that’s been around for more than 3,000 years! The comparison to ginseng comes from its ability to help with reducing stress, anxiety and cortisol levels [1]. 

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It is classified as an adaptogen for this very reason! Adaptogens help our bodies manage outside stress, improve mood, performance, and energy. 

Let’s be real … who doesn’t want more energy and less stress?! You can sign me up for sure.

What Are the Benefits of Ashwagandha?

Maybe the most exciting thing about Ashwagandha is its many proposed benefits. Let's dive into some of the several reasons why there's so much hype behind ashwagandha...

1. Improve Endurance and Athletic Performance

A major benefit of ashwagandha is that it increases maximum oxygen uptake during strenuous exercise. This is due to its ability to increase levels of hemoglobin in the blood. This protein, rich in red blood cells, then helps transport oxygen to the rest of the body. 

Simply put, it means that more oxygen is available to muscles during your workout [2].

Ashwagandha is also known to help improve mental focus and give you a boost of energy ... a plus when you are trying to push your limits and knock out some extra reps!

2. Boosts Testosterone

Both men and women can benefit from a boost in testosterone. Did you know that higher levels of testosterone are associated with increased endurance and muscle mass? Yep ... this allows you to push longer during your training session.

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Some research suggests that ashwagandha can increase testosterone production in both men and women [4].

In other words, by adding ashwagandha to your daily health regimen, you’ll be giving your body the boost it needs to help you reach your goals. 

3. Reduces Inflammation and Improves Recovery 

Inflammation is a natural (and necessary) part of training. But, too much inflammation can actually stand in the way of proper recovery.

Ashwagandha is a natural source of the bioactive compound Withaferin A (WA), which functions as an anti-inflammatory. 

Because it is an adaptogen, it can help your body adapt to stress.  

Less stress and less inflammation translates to better recovery ... that way, you can get back to your workouts sooner. 

4. Promotes Restful Sleep

Restful sleep can be just as important to fitness as your actual workouts! 

Sleep gives muscle tissue a chance to repair itself, and provides the energy needed to push past your physical boundaries.

Evidence suggests that ashwagandha supplementation may promote restful sleep and improve sleep quality [5].

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Those who take ashwagandha also tend to feel more mentally alert upon waking. This can be a bonus for anyone who likes to start their day with a few sets before breakfast! 

Now, obviously there is a lot of good to be said for ashwagandha. But, what about the other side of the coin?

Are there any negatives or repercussions to be aware of when supplementing with ashwagandha?

What are the Side Effects of Ashwagandha?

For most, ashwagandha is completely safe.  Doses can range up to 1,000 mg/day depending on if you’re looking to improve your sleep or performance. 

The higher doses of 600-1,000mg may be more beneficial if you're working out with more intensity [2].

In some cases, ashwagandha may have mild interactions (but not moderate or serious interactions) with some prescription or over-the-counter medications. 

For example, in high doses, it can cause some gastrointestinal discomfort. On top of that, ashwagandha is not recommended for pregnant women.

It's also not recommended you use ashwagandha if you have thyroid disease or hormone-sensitive prostate cancer.

That being said, I always recommend discussing this with your primary physician. Really, anything new you start taking, you should ask about.


At 1st Phorm, we include ashwagandha in a wide variety of our supplements. These are everything from cortisol reducers, to adrenal cleansers, and even hormone optimizing supplements for men and women.

If you’re wondering whether ashwagandha would be a good supplement for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! Our team of Certified Personal Trainers and Certified Nutrition Coaches is here to help ... and that's no matter what your goals is!

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[1] Gopukumar K, Thanawala S, Somepalli V, Rao TSS, Thamatam VB, Chauhan S. Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract on Cognitive Functions in Healthy, Stressed Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2021 Nov 30;2021:8254344. doi: 10.1155/2021/8254344. PMID: 34858513; PMCID: PMC8632422.

[2] 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.

[3] Wankhede S, Langade D, Joshi K, Sinha SR, Bhattacharyya S. Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015 Nov 25;12:43. doi: 10.1186/s12970-015-0104-9. PMID: 26609282; PMCID: PMC4658772.

[4] Nasimi Doost Azgomi R, Zomorrodi A, Nazemyieh H, Fazljou SMB, Sadeghi Bazargani H, Nejatbakhsh F, Moini Jazani A, Ahmadi AsrBadr Y. Effects of Withania somnifera on Reproductive System: A Systematic Review of the Available Evidence. Biomed Res Int. 2018 Jan 24;2018:4076430. doi: 10.1155/2018/4076430. Erratum in: Biomed Res Int. 2019 Nov 21;2019:7591541. PMID: 29670898; PMCID: PMC5833251.

[5] Kelgane SB, Salve J, Sampara P, Debnath K. Efficacy and Tolerability of Ashwagandha Root Extract in the Elderly for Improvement of General Well-being and Sleep: A Prospective, Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study. Cureus. 2020 Feb 23;12(2):e7083. doi: 10.7759/cureus.7083. PMID: 32226684; PMCID: PMC7096075.