Ashwagandha is an herbal supplement derived from the Withania somnifera root. Its primary use is for combating anxiety, which we’ve written about before. But it has many other documented benefits besides reducing anxiety.
Some of these benefits may be of particular interest to men, particularly men who want greater sexual vitality or an extra boost in building muscle and athletic performance. Read below to find out more—but if you’re interested in buying an ashwagandha supplement, check out our recommendations for the best ashwagandha brands containing high withanolides content. You can also read our review of ashwagandha and rhodiola rosea combination supplements. As well, if you’re looking for ashwagandha tea, check out our ashwagandha tea review here.
Ashwagandha Benefits For Men
There are many ashwagandha powder benefits for men. Because ashwagandha reduces stress, it will boost processes previously hindered by chronic stress, such as libido, erectile function and fertility.
By reducing stress, and by extension reducing cortisol production, ashwagandha restores essential hormonal balances that control men’s health. Therefore, we recommend ashwagandha for men who suffer from hormonal imbalances.
Of course, ashwagandha has many benefits relevant to people of any gender; it’s particularly good for sleep. For a full discussion of all of ashwagandha’s benefits, check out our benefits of ashwagandha article here.
Ashwagandha And Testosterone
Does ashwagandha increase testosterone levels? Yes, at least sometimes.
Studies have consistently shown increases in testosterone. For example, in infertile men, a study found improved semen quality partly due to their testosterone levels recovering to healthy levels.
As men age, their testosterone levels slowly decrease, and older men feel more tired as a result. Consequently, they stop exercising and become overweight. One study found that ashwagandha increased testosterone in older men. Though the study saw no significant difference in fatigue levels, other studies have.
The relationship between ashwagandha and testosterone levels suggests benefits for men who strength train. A study explored this and found that ashwagandha enabled significant gains in muscle strength and a marked reduction in muscle tissue damage, alongside an increase in testosterone.
So far, no studies have explored the potential for ashwagandha increasing testosterone in healthy men who don’t lift. That said, you should be strength training anyway for your general health.
Interestingly, ashwagandha increases luteinizing hormone as well. LH signals the testes to make testosterone,so this seems to at least partly explain the rise in testosterone.
Ashwagandha Dosage For Testosterone Increase
Studies showing a testosterone boost have usually used 300 mg of a 5% withanolides extract or 5 grams of raw ashwagandha root. At least two studies have used substantially higher dosages, but those didn’t get better results.
Therefore, 300 mg of the standard extract a day seems the ideal ashwagandha dosage for testosterone and is in line with typical ashwagandha dosing. Given how testosterone is produced in men (largely at night), evening dosing is presumably ideal.
Ashwagandha For Sex And Libido
Higher testosterone generally means more libido, although the link isn’t as consistent as one might think. One study found that this link occurs at a population level, but on an individual basis, reduced libido isn’t always associated with low testosterone.
Human studies haven’t thoroughly looked at libido specifically, but a couple of rat studies have. A study showed that ashwagandha protects rats from the effects of chronic stress, including reduced libido. Notably, a much higher dose reduced libido in rats, presumably due to excessive sedation.
Anxiety can also decrease libido, so there is a strong theoretical basis for using ashwagandha for sex.
In short, libido is likely to increase mainly if it has been impaired by chronic stress, at least based on what we know so far.
The Optimal Ashwagandha Libido Dosage
The rat study that showed a libido increase used a dosage equivalent to about 250-300 mg a day of ashwagandha extract in humans. That’s towards the lower end of the standard dosing range and in line with most studies showing a testosterone boost.
Given that increased libido from ashwagandha primarily stems from reduced stress, but secondarily from increased testosterone, dosing ashwagandha for libido should be broadly in line with ashwagandha dosing for stress management and sleep. That means either 300 mg a day in the evening or 200 mg twice a day, morning and evening.
The first dosage plan will likely help more with sleep and testosterone, the second with all-day stress, so make a judgment call as to which you think affects your libido more.
Ashwagandha For Erectile Dysfunction
There are many potential causes of erectile dysfunction (ED): low testosterone, anxiety, high cholesterol, poor cardiovascular fitness, weak pelvic floor muscles. Ashwagandha can theoretically help with all of those, but some more than others. As such, effects on erectile function are likely to be inconsistent.
The only study that specifically looked at using ashwagandha for ED found no benefit, however, it used a whopping 2 grams a day of root extract powder – several times too much! This was on men with psychogenic ED.
In theory, ashwagandha should help with ED caused by anxiety because it is anxiolytic, if the dosage is reasonable. It can potentially help with other causes, but probably only in combination with exercise – so ashwagandha would only be a secondary part of your ED treatment plan.
Ashwagandha Fertility Effects
Ashwagandha increases sperm count and quality in men. This appears to work by the same mechanism as raising testosterone: it reduces stress, and thereby increases luteinizing hormone (LH).
Interestingly, at least one study found that ashwagandha actually decreased follicular stimulating hormone, the main hormone responsible for telling the testes to produce sperm, despite increasing sperm count and quality. This may be because LH has a synergistic effect with FSH, so infertile men sometimes overproduce FSH to compensate for low LH ー the men in that study in fact had too much FSH pre-treatment.
Anyway, you’d expect improved fertility in the same men who would experience a testosterone boost – they happen for the same reasons.
Ashwagandha Bodybuilding Benefits
An increase in testosterone will, of course, help you build muscle. But ashwagandha also improves strength, power, endurance, and other parameters of athletic performance.
How does an herb with mostly sedating effects make you stronger?
The primary mechanism behind using ashwagandha for muscle growth is that it aids recovery by reducing stress and cortisol and helping you sleep. Faster recovery means you can return to the gym sooner to keep building muscle. You should expect the effects to take at least a month or two to really materialize.
We can see that as ashwagandha reduces anxiety and consequently restores healthy hormonal balance, men regain sexual performance. Not just that, ashwagandha will even help you smash your personal bests in the gym and on the track.