Carried out by researchers from the Center for Applied Health Sciences and Lindenwood University, the study looked at the effects of aqueous extract of the roots and leaves of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) on strength training performance – which includes muscle strength, body composition, muscle endurance, power, and recovery.
Earlier studies have shown that ashwagandha exhibits anti-inflammatory, anabolic, and antioxidant effects. Therefore, the researchers hypothesized that the Ayurvedic herb may also be beneficial to physical performance and muscle recovery in a sports setting.
To test their hypothesis, the researchers recruited 38 recreationally active men who were first matched according to their training experience and body weight before the intervention. Then, the researchers divided them into two groups: a treatment group and a placebo group. The treatment group received 500 milligrams (mg) of ashwagandha extract in capsules, while the placebo group received capsules containing rice flour. They took their assigned capsule every morning with 12 fluid ounces of cold water for 12 weeks.
All participants visited a clinic four times throughout the study. During their visits, they did bench presses and squats and the researchers measured how many sets each one of them could complete and for how long. The researchers also measured their power output using specialized equipment. Throughout the study, they also collected the participants' body measurements and blood samples.
The findings of the study revealed that taking 500 mg of ashwagandha for 12 weeks significantly improved the participants' upper- and lower-body strength, as shown through the improvements in squat power and peak bench press power. It also led to better recovery after training, reducing muscle soreness.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, which is a class of ancient herbs that regulate hormones, reduce stress, and combat fatigue. Ashwagandha also provides the following health benefits:
Find out more about the health benefits of ashwagandha by visiting AlternativeMedicine.news.