Hi everyone! I'm here to share my personal journey on biohacking with Ashwagandha. Over several months, I've experimented with this powerful herb, did tons of research, shared & received feedback from other people using it and I believe it can be great tool for anyone looking to manage his stress, cortisol levels or looking to upgrade his performance with some aid in controlling emotions, being more calm and handling stressful situations.
While its benefits such as stress reduction, improved muscle recovery, and heightened focus have significantly improved my well-being, it wasn't without some side effects.
This post will delve into my experiences, the ups, the downs, some research and everything in between.
If anyone in EA community is curious about Ashwagandha and considering it as a part of his biohacking regimen, this insight might just be what you need.
Biohacking & Ashwagandha
Biohacking, as the name suggests, is all about 'hacking' or tweaking your biology to optimize your health, performance, and well-being. It's a broad term that encompasses a range of activities, from tweaking your diet and exercise routine to using cutting-edge technology to monitor and improve your health.
Sara Gottfried, MD, explains biohacking as being aware of genetic tendencies and optimizing the biological consequences with diet and lifestyle changes. It's about taking control of your own health and making informed decisions about what's best for your body.
On the other hand, Ashwagandha is a powerful herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years and now creating huge buzz all around because of its potential health benefits. Known for its stress-reducing, immunity-boosting, and rejuvenating properties, Ashwagandha is a popular choice among those seeking natural ways to improve their health and well-being. According to Healthnews, Ashwagandha has a plethora of science-backed benefits, including improved fertility, weight loss, and more.
So, how do biohacking and Ashwagandha intersect? By incorporating this potent herb into your routine, you're essentially 'hacking' your biology to reduce stress, boost energy, and improve overall health. It's a natural biohack that's accessible to anyone and can be easily integrated into your daily routine, as simple as taking an Ashwagandha tea!
Imagine you're a busy professional juggling multiple responsibilities. You're constantly under stress, and it's taking a toll on your health. Ashwagandha may help you to have better stress resilience and improved mental health. It's like giving your body the tools it needs to better handle the challenges of modern life.
My personal experience with Ashwagandha
To give some background, I'm a 24-year-old male, with a height of 1.74m and weight of 67kg. I follow a vegetarian diet, which I believe to be diverse and balanced - no junk food, lots of vegetables, and I consume tofu, seitan, and legumes to meet my protein needs. Although I'm not actively involved in sports, I enjoy walking and frequently use my mountain bike to commute to work. I don't have any known health conditions. As for my vices, I vape around 10 to 15mg of nicotine daily and smoke cigarettes occasionally.
Over the past few months, I've completed around three cycles of Ashwagandha. I've been taking 1,100mg of KSM66 extract daily at 5% withanolides. My routine has been something like two weeks on, then two weeks off, another two weeks on, four weeks off, and once again two weeks on.
Currently, I've been off it for about four days and intend to stay off Ashwagandha for a few months due to some side effects I'd rather not intensify.
What benefits I experienced?
Now, onto the benefits: Firstly, it significantly improved my muscle recovery. During my first cycle, I was working out at the gym and found it incredibly helpful in easing muscle soreness, especially when paired with bromeline. I experienced remarkably quick recovery times.
Next, the stress management aspect was truly noteworthy. Being a university student, I found that it helped in dealing with burnout induced by both academic pressure and the challenging environment of Italian universities.
More recently, as I began my professional career, I undertook my last Ashwagandha cycle to cope with the initial stress of work. The results were impressive. It also positively impacted my personal relationships, as I noticed that I was more confident, calm, and capable of problem-solving without losing my temper.
One aspect of Ashwagandha that I particularly appreciate is its gentle, supportive nature. It gives you just the right amount of boost to start making positive changes, but it doesn't function like a drug where you lose all benefits once you stop taking it.
The Side Effects & Concerns
I'd now like to delve into a few, yet significant, side effects I've encountered while using Ashwagandha.
First and foremost, starting from my second cycle, I began experiencing some decrease in libido. I did some research on the subject and it seems that it might be because of the “calming” sensations. For some people, it also comes along with emotional numbness. Depending on the individual, “more calming” and “emotional numbness” may affect your performance in various aspects of life, both in a positive way or negative way.
I noticed I am better able to handle real-life stress situations because of this “emotional numbness”, but yes, it kind of makes you weird, in the sense you are not affected emotionally and mentally by things that should have otherwise gotten you to give a “reaction” or something!
The second side effect, which feels more like a rebound effect, is an increase in blood pressure on the first day off the cycle. Yesterday, I noticed my hands were particularly warm due to the elevated pressure. Given that Ashwagandha is known to reduce blood pressure, it's possible that my body has been compensating by raising it. I believe I simply need to allow some time for my body to readjust.
The Science of Ashwagandha and its benefits
The reason why I got so interested in Ashwagandha & its stress handling trait, is because of treasure trove of bioactive compounds. It's like a natural pharmacy packed into a single plant. The magic of Ashwagandha lies in its unique components, including alkaloids, steroidal lactones, saponins, and withanolides. These compounds are the driving force behind the herb's potent health benefits.
But what's really fascinating is how these components interact with our bodies. When you consume Ashwagandha, these bioactive compounds get to work, interacting with your cells and systems in ways that promote health and well-being. It's like a symphony of biological interactions, all orchestrated by this one powerful herb.
According to comprehensive reviews on Healthnews, Healthline.com etc. Ashwagandha has a wide range of benefits, from boosting fertility to aiding weight loss to hormonal optimization. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Of course, the most well-known benefits of Ashwagandha is its ability to reduce stress and anxiety and lower cortisol levels. Studies have shown that Ashwagandha can lower cortisol levels, the body's primary stress hormone.
If you're a student preparing for a big exam. The pressure is on, and your stress levels are through the roof. By incorporating Ashwagandha into your routine, you could potentially lower your cortisol levels, helping you to feel calmer and more focused.
Ashwagandha is also a powerful adaptogen. This means it helps your body adapt to stress and resist its damaging effects. Whether you're dealing with work stress, relationship stress, or the stress of a global pandemic, Ashwagandha can help your body better cope with these challenges.
This potent herb has also been shown to improve brain function, boost immunity, and enhance physical performance. It's like a multi-tool for your health, offering a range of benefits that can help you feel your best.
When it comes to biohacking with herbs, Ashwagandha can also be combined with other herbs for enhanced benefits. For instance, Human Tonik discusses the benefits of combining Rhodiola and Ashwagandha. Both herbs have a long list of health benefits, and when taken together, they can offer a powerful boost to your health and well-being.
So, the science of Ashwagandha is a testament to the power of nature. This ancient herb, packed with bioactive compounds, offers a range of science-backed benefits that can support your health and well-being. Whether you're looking to reduce stress, boost your immunity, or enhance your cognitive function, Ashwagandha is a potent biohack that's worth considering.
At the heart of Ashwagandha's effects is its ability to interact with various systems in your body. It can influence your endocrine system, helping to regulate hormone production and balance. It can also interact with your nervous system, promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety.
Ashwagandha has been shown to support brain health in several ways, from reducing stress to enhancing cognitive function. It's like a brain tonic, offering a range of benefits that can help you think more clearly, focus better, and feel more mentally balanced.
The Role of Ashwagandha in Stress Reduction and Energy Boost
According to Optimized, Ashwagandha is one of the top five biohacks for reducing stress. It's like a natural stress-buster, helping to calm your mind and body and promote a sense of well-being.
Imagine you're a busy parent, juggling work, household chores, and childcare. Your stress levels are high, and you're feeling overwhelmed. By incorporating Ashwagandha into your routine, you could potentially lower your stress levels, helping you to feel more relaxed and in control.
But Ashwagandha doesn't just reduce stress. It can also give your energy levels a natural boost. It's also like a natural energy drink, giving you a boost without the crash. But, timing of drink is important, as because of its calming properties, it’s recommended to not take it right before a workout session!
Practical Ways to Biohack with Ashwagandha- Feedback & Experiences
Below, I share some of the insights I got by interacting with several people using Ashwagandha, for different purposes.
Dosage and Usage Guidelines
So, you're ready to start biohacking with Ashwagandha and you need to consider dosage and usage guidelines. Ashwagandha is generally considered safe for most people, but it's important to use it correctly to get the most benefits.
The recommended dosage of Ashwagandha can vary depending on the specific product and your individual needs. However, a common starting dosage is 300-600mg per day, taken with meals. It's always a good idea to start with a lower dose and gradually increase it as your body adjusts.
But remember, everyone is different. What works for one person might not work for another. It's important to listen to your body and adjust your dosage accordingly. And of course, if you have any health conditions or are taking any medications, it's always a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider before starting a new supplement.
Choose an extract – KSM-66, Sensoril, Shoden
While I'm not an expert on all the different extracts out there, I do have experience with KSM-66, considered best for workouts, stress, testosterone & hormonal benefits. The dosage could be started around 600mg, but this really depends on your individual needs and experiences.
Some people have shared with me that KSM-66 tends to be more energizing and is better taken in the morning, while Sensoril extract is more anxiolytic and sedating, making it suitable for evening use. (For best KSM-66 extracts, I recommend reading this article.)
I've tried both, predominantly KSM, and honestly, I didn't feel much difference. However, I did notice a gradual increase in anxiolytic effects over time, which aligns with findings from numerous studies.
Combining Ashwagandha with Other Biohacks
Another exciting aspect of biohacking with Ashwagandha is the potential to combine it with other biohacks. By pairing Ashwagandha with other strategies or supplements, you can potentially enhance its benefits and take your health to the next level.
Consider combining Ashwagandha with a healthy diet and regular exercise. These lifestyle changes can complement the effects of Ashwagandha, helping to reduce stress, boost energy, and improve overall health.
Or, you might consider combining Ashwagandha with other supplements. For instance, Human Tonik discusses the benefits of combining Rhodiola and Ashwagandha. Both herbs have a long list of health benefits, and when taken together, they can offer a powerful boost to your health and well-being.
1). One person I know experienced a notable relief from anxiety upon using Ashwagandha, which led to a state of profound relaxation and enhanced focus during work. However, this absence of anxiety also brought about an emotional flatline. The person neither felt bad nor particularly happy, describing their emotional state as robotic.
2). Another guy highlighted that the common negative side effects of Ashwagandha typically involve either induced hyperactivity of the thyroid or a drop in cortisol levels beyond a healthy range. The individual recommended taking a break, then resuming its use at a lower dosage, while continuing to cycle it if it remains a part of the regimen.
3). Using Ashwagandha as a workout supplement, one guy encountered an unexpected reaction. After consuming a 300mg caffeinated drink and an Ashwagandha pill followed by a snack, he felt sleepy and took a nap, expecting to be awakened by the caffeine. Surprisingly, they slept for two hours, missed their workout, and woke up feeling extremely calm. This experience suggests that it might be better to avoid Ashwagandha prior to exercise, as it buffers cortisol, affecting recovery and sleep patterns.
4). Based on several anecdotal reports, it is advised choosing a patented version of Ashwagandha such as KSM-66 for a stimulating effect, Sensoril for a calming effect (often used to aid sleep), or Shoden, which offers a balance of both and could be ideal for social situations.
5). If side effects are more prominent & overwhelming, consider lowering your dose.
Potential Risks and Considerations
Possible Side Effects of Ashwagandha
While Ashwagandha is generally considered safe for most people, it's important to be aware of potential side effects. After all, even natural substances can cause adverse reactions in some individuals.
Some people may experience mild side effects such as upset stomach, diarrhea, or drowsiness. These are typically temporary and resolve on their own as your body adjusts to the supplement. However, in rare cases, Ashwagandha may cause more serious side effects. For instance, Mark Bell's Power Project discusses some of the potential downsides of Ashwagandha, including the possibility of liver damage in rare cases.
It's also worth noting that Ashwagandha can interact with certain medications, including those for thyroid disorders, blood pressure, and diabetes. If you're taking any of these medications, it's important to talk to your healthcare provider before starting Ashwagandha.
Who Should Avoid Ashwagandha
While Ashwagandha has many benefits, it's not for everyone. Certain individuals should avoid Ashwagandha or use it with caution.
For instance, pregnant and breastfeeding women are typically advised to avoid Ashwagandha, as there's not enough research to confirm its safety during these periods.
Similarly, individuals with autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or Hashimoto's thyroiditis, should use Ashwagandha with caution, as it may stimulate the immune system.
Moreover, biohacking, in general, should be approached with a balanced perspective. While Ashwagandha is a powerful tool for biohacking, it's important to use it responsibly. Always listen to your body, be aware of potential side effects, and consult with a healthcare provider if you have any concerns.
With the right approach, biohacking with Ashwagandha can be a safe and effective way to optimize your health and well-being.
On the whole, Ashwagandha is one of the most potent adaptogens & nootropics I've tried. I'm glad about the results I've experienced, however it’s important to cycle it and allow body some time to recover from it.
For the record, I've also tried other nootropics, including Noopept, Huperzine A, Rhodiola Rosea, Bacopa Monnieri, L-Theanine, and ALCAR.