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in #health3 years ago

 Body builders and those interested in keeping their bodies tuned  often reach for supplements with dubious ingredients. Certainly not all,  but some of these can stress the body in different ways. One of these  stresses is an overloading of chemicals and amino acids onto the body,  which can stress the liver. The liver needs to process all of these  chemicals. If they are foreign to the body, the immune system must kick  in and break them down.Thus we find that many body building  supplements that claim to boost muscle size and testosterone levels can  have a harmful effect upon the body. Some can contain ingredients that  can race the heart and combine to cause cardiovascular concerns.

Is Ashwagandha a body-building supplement?

In an article published a couple of years ago, I listed more than fifty medical conditions that Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)  can be used for. As we are constantly updating my articles with new  research, we will be adding a newly-found effect of Ashwagandha soon:  The ability to boost muscle size and increase testosterone levels.

Ashwagandha boosts muscle strength

Ayurvedic  medicine texts suggest that Ashwagandha encourages bala – which means  strength. Does modern research back up this claim?Clinical  research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports  Nutrition says yes. The study tested 57 men between 18 and 50 years  old. They were not involved in any weight lifting training prior to the  study. The men were divided into two groups. One group of 29 men was  given 300 milligrams of an Ashwagandha extract twice a day for eight  weeks (600 milligrams per day).The other group was given a  placebo for the same period. Both groups underwent a supervised muscle  training program for the two months.Before and after the study,  the researchers tested the subjects for muscle strength using the bench  press and leg extension workouts. They also measured muscle size, fat  composition and muscle recovery.They  measured muscle recovery levels by testing blood levels of creatine  kinase. This is a marker for muscle injury – which increases after  strenuous workouts.The subjects were measured prior to and after the two months of Withania supplementation.The  research found that those who took the Ashwagandha were significantly  stronger after the eight weeks. The Ashwagandha group bench-pressed an  average of 46 kilos (101 lbs) while the placebo group benched an average  of 25 kilos (55 lbs).The Ashwagandha group lifted an average of  14.5 kilos on the leg extensions, and the placebo group lifted an  average of 9.8 kilos.

Withania somnifera boosts muscle size

The  Withania group’s average muscle size was also significantly larger than  the placebo group. The Ashwagandha group’s average arm muscle size was  8.6 centimeters, while the placebo group’s was a measly 5.3 cm.  Meanwhile, the Ashwagandha group’s chest muscle size average was 3.3 cm  while the placebo group’s was 1.4 cm.

Ashwagandha helps reduce muscle damage

Any  weight training regimen that builds muscle strength will cause damage  to the muscle fibers. These slight tears must be healed by the body. The  quicker the better.The Ashwagandha group also had a greater  reduction of muscle damage resulting from their workouts. This again was  seen in creatine kinase reductions. The Ashwagandha group had  reductions of 1462 U/L following their workouts, while the placebo  group’s reduction was 1307 U/L.This means that the Withania group healed faster than the placebo group after their workouts.

Ashwagandha reduces body fat levels

The  researchers also found that the Ashwagandha group’s body fat percentage  was significantly less than the placebo group. Their body fat level  decreased by 3.5 percent, while the body fat levels of the placebo group  went down by 1.5 percent.

Ashwagandha increases testosterone levels

The  researchers also found that after the eight weeks, the Withania group  had significantly higher levels of blood testosterone than the placebo  group. The Ashwagandha group’s testosterone levels were 96.2 ng/dL while  the placebo group was 18 ng/dL. This is a significant difference.

Ashwagandha boosts testosterone in other research

This  is not the first study that has shown that Ashwagandha boosts  testosterone. In a study published in 2013, researchers tested 46 men.  About half the men were given 675 milligrams of Ashwagandha extract per  day for three months. The other half was given a placebo.After  the 90 days, the Withania group had 17 percent higher testosterone  levels compared to the placebo group. (They also had 53 percent higher  sperm counts compared to the placebo group.)In a study published  in 2009, researchers found that Ashwagandha contained a set of steroidal  chemicals. These are called withanolides. They contain several  steroidal lactone triterpenoids.

Body building, testosterone and health

Research  clearly shows that bodybuilding can be a healthy form of exercise – one  that can be supplemented with healthy products that aid muscle strength  and recovery.The bonus round here is that testosterone levels  can be boosted. Testosterone levels will often go down as men and women  age. This can reduce immune system strength and slow recovery. It can  also increase the risk of hair loss, enlarged prostate and other  conditions.Increasing testosterone levels doesn’t require  pharmaceuticals that can upset our body’s natural balance. Certainly,  weightlifting can also lift natural testosterone levels to some degree.  But as this research shows, adding Ashwagandha to a weight training  regimen can significantly boost testosterone levels to new heights.One  doesn’t have to become a bodybuilder to take advantage of this effect.  Adding some weight lifting or resistance workouts to our regimen is  easy. Remember that pushups and pull-ups are considered weight lifting,  so a gym isn’t even necessary.