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Is Ashwagandha Good for Athletes?

Ashwagandha is an Indian herb that is part of a family of plants called adaptogens. Adaptogens are so-called because they help your body functionally adapt when it is under intense physical or mental stress by improving your resistance to stress as well as your ability to perform.
femal swimmer
Written by: Tom Whittle 26 June 2020

What is Aswhagandha? 

Ashwagandha is an Indian herb that is part of a family of plants called adaptogens. Adaptogens are so-called because they help your body functionally adapt when it is under intense physical or mental stress by improving your resistance to stress as well as your ability to perform. 

How Does Ashwagandha Function as an Adaptogen? 

Intense physical exercise, especially over a long period of time such as in endurance events, exerts a large amount of stress on your body. In order to manage this stress, your body has to have certain mechanisms in place to help it adapt. Ashwagandha, as an adaptogen, enhances these mechanisms and helps your body to adapt to stress, therefore assisting recovery through:

• Improving muscle recovery by speeding up muscle growth, relieving pain, and reducing lactic acid levels.

• Reducing harmful inflammation (through increasing antioxidant activity which helps to inhibit pro-inflammatory molecules).

• Decreasing levels of stress hormones such as cortisol.

The compounds in Ashwagandha thought to be behind these adaptogenic effects include steroidal lactones such as withanolides, as well as other compounds such as saponins and alkaloids.

How Can Ashwagandha improve recovery?

Ashwagandha will reduce harmful inflammation by increasing antioxidant activity in your body, helping to counter the damaging effects of sustained, high-intensity exercise. It too has the added benefit of also improving muscle growth to specifically target skeletal muscle recovery. 

How to Take Ashwagandha

Recent studies have demonstrated these benefits at a wide range of doses over 10 days or more. This means that regular small doses of Ashwagandha extract from Mission's Recover Tea can help to speed up your recovery time and improve your athletic performance.

1. Wankhede, S., Langade, D., Joshi, K., Sinha, S. R. & Bhattacharyya, S. Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. J. Int. Soc. Sports Nutr. 12, 43 (2015).

2. Kour, K. et al. Restoration of stress-induced altered T cell function and corresponding cytokines patterns by Withanolide A. Int. Immunopharmacol. 9, 1137–1144 (2009).

3. Ziegenfuss, T. N. et al. Effects of an Aqueous Extract of Withania somnifera on Strength Training Adaptations and Recovery: The STAR Trial. Nutrients 10, (2018). 

 

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