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Ashwagandha Root

Ashwagandha Root


Ashwagandha is one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing.  This ancient herbal remedy has remarkable anti-depressant qualities. And has been shown to be as good as many prescription pharmaceuticals in treating or preventing depression and anxiety.

Other Common Names

Withania somnifera, Ashwagandha, Indian ginseng.


Top Benefits

Supports healthy aging
Supports energy
Supports a healthy stress response
Supports exercise performance
Supports healthy weight
Supports healthy metabolism
Supports mitochondrial structure and function
Supports antioxidant defenses
Supports brain function and mental cognition
Supports thyroid function
Supports healthy joint function
Supports blood sugar balance
Supports sleep


What Is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb with adaptogenic properties—it’s often referred to as “Indian ginseng.” Ashwagandha has a long history of use and has been reported to have several health-promoting effects, supporting healthy energy, metabolism, stress response, physical performance, sleep, joint health, and cognitive performance. The novel active constituents are a group of plant compounds called withanolide glycosides or withanolides.


Ashwagandha Dosing Principles and Rationale

We consider Ashwagandha to be an herbal adaptogen, so expect it to follow hormetic dosing principles (see Marco’s Grounds Dosing Philosophy). Herbal adaptogens tend to have a hormetic zone (or range) where there’s a favorable biological response. It’s important to be in this zone; it’s just as important not to be above it. So, it’s important to identify the lowest dose that can produce the desired response. The standardized extract we use—produced a threshold  response in a study that gave different daily dosages—125 mg, 250 mg, 500 mg. Effect size was slightly greater for the higher doses, but most of the change was evident with the lowest dose [1].

We opted for this lower dose to be consistent with a core hormetic principle—only do or use as much as something as would be needed to stimulate the desired response.


Ashwagandha Key Mechanisms

Mitochondrial structure and function

Supports mitochondrial membrane potential and structural integrity [2]

Protects from mitochondrial damage [2]

Protects from mitochondrial membrane permeabilization [3]

Protects from complex I-V Inhibition (protects electron transport chain and oxidative phosphorylation performance) [2, 4–6]

Upregulates citric acid cycle enzymes [6]

Improves exercise performance (ergogenic effect)

Supports endurance performance [7, 8]

Supports muscle strength [9, 10]

Supports post-exercise recovery [10]


Supports healthy insulin sensitivity [11–15]

Supports healthy blood glucose levels [12–16]

Supports healthy leptin signaling [11, 15]

Body weight 

Supports healthy body weight [11, 15]

Supports healthy feeding behaviors [11, 17]

Upregulates lean mass [10]

Antioxidant defenses

Upregulates antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase [SOD], catalase [CAT], glutathione peroxidase [GPx]) [2, 4, 5, 16, 18]

Replenishes glutathione (GSH) levels [2, 4, 16]

Downregulates oxidative stress and reactive oxygen species levels [2–4, 19]

Cellular signaling 

Downregulates the expression of proinflammatory cytokines – tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα), interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β), and IL-6 [11–13]

Brain function

Supports cognitive and psychomotor performance [20, 21]

Supports memory, executive function, attention, and information processing speed [22]

Neuroprotective – protects from neuronal mitochondrial swelling and apoptosis; protects cognitive function (ischemia, oxidative stress) [2]

Protects from neurotoxicity [4, 5]

Downregulates the basal activity levels of acetylcholine esterase [4]

Upregulates dopamine levels [4]

Supports mood [11]

Regulates neural cytokine signaling [11]

Supports quality of sleep [9]

Thyroid function

Supports thyroid function [23–25]

Stress response

Supports stress management [1, 17, 26]

Downregulates serum cortisol levels [1, 17, 26]

Downregulates endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress [15]

Healthy aging and longevity 

Lifespan extension effects (Caenorhabditis elegans) [19, 27]

Upregulates insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) signaling pathway [19, 27]

Downregulates α-synuclein and amyloid-β aggregation [19]

Upregulates FOXO3A and SIRT3 [28]


Ashwagandha Deep Dive

Marco’s Grounds Blog



  1. Pratte, M. A., Nanavati, K. B., Young, V., & Morley, C. P. (2014). An alternative treatment for anxiety: a systematic review of human trial results reported for the Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 20(12), 901-908.
  2. Sood, A., Mehrotra, A., Dhawan, D. K., & Sandhir, R. (2018). Indian Ginseng (Withania somnifera) supplementation ameliorates oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunctions in experimental model of stroke. Metabolic brain disease, 33(4), 1261-1274.
  3. Solanki, I., Parihar, P., & Parihar, M. S. (2016). Neurodegenerative diseases: from available treatments to prospective herbal therapy. Neurochemistry international, 95, 100-108.
  4. Manjunath, M. J. (2015). Standardized extract of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) markedly offsets rotenone-induced locomotor deficits, oxidative impairments and neurotoxicity in Drosophila melanogaster. Journal of food science and technology, 52(4), 1971-1981.
  5. Kumar, P., & Kumar, A. (2009). Possible neuroprotective effect of Withania somnifera root extract against 3-nitropropionic acid-induced behavioral, biochemical, and mitochondrial dysfunction in an animal model of Huntington’s disease. Journal of medicinal food, 12(3), 591-600.
  6. Senthilnathan, P., Padmavathi, R., Magesh, V., & Sakthisekaran, D. (2006). Modulation of TCA cycle enzymes and electron transport chain systems in experimental lung cancer. Life sciences, 78(9), 1010-1014.
  7. Sandhu, J. S., Shah, B., Shenoy, S., Chauhan, S., Lavekar, G. S., & Padhi, M. M. (2010). Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Terminalia arjuna (Arjuna) on physical performance and cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy young adults. International journal of Ayurveda research, 1(3), 144-149.
  8. Choudhary, B., Shetty, A., & Langade, D. G. (2015). Efficacy of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera [L.] Dunal) in improving cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy athletic adults. Ayu, 36(1), 63-68.
  9. Raut, A. A., Rege, N. N., Tadvi, F. M., Solanki, P. V., Kene, K. R., Shirolkar, S. G., … & Vaidya, A. B. (2012). Exploratory study to evaluate tolerability, safety, and activity of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in healthy volunteers. Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine, 3(3), 111-114.
  10. Wankhede, S., Langade, D., Joshi, K., Sinha, S. R., & Bhattacharyya, S. (2015). Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12(1), 43.
  11. Kaur, T., & Kaur, G. (2017). Withania somnifera as a potential candidate to ameliorate high fat diet-induced anxiety and neuroinflammation. Journal of Neuroinflammation, 14(1), 1-18.
  12. Kaur, T., & Kaur, G. (2017). Withania somnifera as a potential candidate to ameliorate high fat diet-induced anxiety and neuroinflammation. Journal of Neuroinflammation, 14(1), 1-18.
  13. Noshahr, Z. S., Shahraki, M. R., Ahmadvand, H., Nourabadi, D., & Nakhaei, A. (2015). Protective effects of Withania somnifera root on inflammatory markers and insulin resistance in fructose-fed rats. Reports of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, 3(2), 62-67.
  14. Anwer, T., Sharma, M., Pillai, K. K., & Iqbal, M. (2008). Effect of Withania somnifera on insulin sensitivity in non‐insulin‐dependent diabetes mellitus rats. Basic & clinical pharmacology & toxicology, 102(6), 498-503.
  15. Lee, J., Liu, J., Feng, X., Hernández, M. A. S., Mucka, P., Ibi, D., … & Ozcan, U. (2016). Withaferin A is a leptin sensitizer with strong antidiabetic properties in mice. Nature medicine, 22(9), 1023-1032.
  16. Anwer, T., Sharma, M., Pillai, K. K., & Khan, G. (2012). Protective effect of Withania somnifera against oxidative stress and pancreatic beta-cell damage in type 2 diabetic rats. Acta Pol Pharm, 69(6), 1095-1101.
  17. Choudhary, D., Bhattacharyya, S., & Joshi, K. (2017). Body weight management in adults under chronic stress through treatment with Ashwagandha root extract: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of evidence-based complementary & alternative medicine, 22(1), 96-106.
  18. Gupta, S. K., Dua, A., & Vohra, B. P. (2003). Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) attenuates antioxidant defense in aged spinal cord and inhibits copper induced lipid peroxidation and protein oxidative modifications. Drug metabolism and drug interactions, 19(3), 211-222.
  19. Akhoon, B. A., Pandey, S., Tiwari, S., & Pandey, R. (2016). Withanolide A offers neuroprotection, ameliorates stress resistance and prolongs life expectancy. Experimental gerontology, 78, 47-56.
  20. Pingali, U., Pilli, R., & Fatima, N. (2014). Effect of standardized aqueous extract of Withania somnifera on tests of cognitive and psychomotor performance in healthy human participants. Pharmacognosy research, 6(1), 12-18.
  21. Chengappa, K. R., Bowie, C. R., Schlicht, P. J., Fleet, D., Brar, J. S., & Jindal, R. (2013). Randomized placebo-controlled adjunctive study of an extract of Withania somnifera for cognitive dysfunction in bipolar disorder. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 74(11), 1076-1083.
  22. Choudhary, D., Bhattacharyya, S., & Bose, S. (2017). Efficacy and safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal) root extract in improving memory and cognitive functions. Journal of Dietary Supplements, 14(6), 599-612.
  23. Sharma, A. K., Basu, I., & Singh, S. (2018). Efficacy and safety of ashwagandha root extract in subclinical hypothyroid patients: a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 24(3), 243-248.
  24. Gannon, J. M., Forrest, P. E., & Chengappa, K. R. (2014). Subtle changes in thyroid indices during a placebo-controlled study of an extract of Withania somnifera in persons with bipolar disorder. Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine, 5(4), 241-245.
  25. Jatwa, R., & Kar, A. (2009). Amelioration of metformin‐induced hypothyroidism by Withania somnifera and Bauhinia purpurea extracts in Type 2 diabetic mice. Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological and Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives, 23(8), 1140-1145.
  26. Chandrasekhar, K., Kapoor, J., & Anishetty, S. (2012). A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian journal of psychological medicine, 34(3), 255-262.
  27. Akhoon, B. A., Rathor, L., & Pandey, R. (2018). Withanolide A extends the lifespan in human EGFR-driven cancerous Caenorhabditis elegans. Experimental gerontology, 104, 113-117.
  28. Pradhan, R., Kumar, R., Shekhar, S., Rai, N., Ambashtha, A., Banerjee, J., … & Dey, A. B. (2017). Longevity and healthy ageing genes FOXO3A and SIRT3: Serum protein marker and new road map to burst oxidative stress by Withania somnifera. Experimental Gerontology, 95, 9-15.

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