Concentration

Ashwaganda for stress, boosting testosterone, fertility, brain function, and more

Ashwaganda is an amazing herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. It’s recently been gaining attention in the United States as a result of numerous very positive scientific studies. It’s wonderful when herbs that have been used for thousands of years are then confirmed by science!  I’ve been collecting research studies on ashwaganda for some time now, so I’ll briefly post some of the findings below.

 

Ashwaganda for boosting testosterone and fertility

One study found that ashwaganda root extract increased testosterone and improved sperm counts in a group of men who had fertility problems. The men took ashwaganda supplements for 90 days and the results documented that their testosterone levels rose by seventeen percent and their sperm counts more than doubled.

 

Ashwaganda for strength and muscle growth

Healthy men who took ashwaganda supplements during a strength and weight training program had significant gains in strength when compared to those taking a placebo. The study gave 300mg of ashwaganda extract to men twice a day for eight weeks. At the end of the eight weeks, the participants who received ashwaganda showed significant increases in muscle mass in the arms and chest. In addition, the ashwaganda group has larger gains in their ability to do bench press and leg extension exercises, with less muscle damage. The men who took ashwaganda also had improved testosterone levels as well as a reduction in body fat.

 

Ashwaganda and cognitive function

Ashwaganda extract was found to be effective in boosting cognition in people with bipolar disorder. An eight week study gave participants 500mg of ashwaganda extract to participants (or a placebo) in addition to their regular medications. Significant improvements in auditory-verbal working memory, reaction time, and social cognition were seen in the ashwaganda group. Ashwaganda has also been shown to have positive effects on stress and sleep issues.

 

Ashwaganda and stress

In one study, ashwaganda extract was shown to be able to reduce the physical effects of mental stress. Researchers gave young, healthy men 1,000mg of ashwaganda extract daily. After two weeks, the participants were given tests to measure stress. Blood pressure readings and other measurements of stress-induced compounds were significantly lower in the ashwaganda group compared to the group of men who received the placebo.

Another placebo controlled study on ashwaganda and stress gave participants 300mg of ashwaganda extract twice daily. After two months, the ashwaganda group had significant reductions of stress on a variety of stress assessments. Cortisol levels (a stress hormone) were also greatly reduced.

 

Ashwaganda for neurodegenerative diseases

Ashwaganda has shown benefit for numerous neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Ashwaganda has been shown to slow (and may even stop or reverse) atrophy of the nerves and synaptic loss as well as having protective effects against further damage.

 

Ashwaganda- which type is best?

We recommend Jarrow Formula’s Ashwaganda because it uses a one of a kind extract known as KSM-66. This specialized ashwaganda extract is the highest concentration available and has been shown specifically to be more effective than standard ashwaganda extracts. The strength of the beneficial properties in ashwaganda can vary widely, which why it’s important to choose a branded extract like the one in Jarrow’s formula, so you know you’re taking the most effective product available, as well as one that is backed by scientific research.

 

Healthy Q & A: Improving Children's Concentration in School

Q:  My son has started first grade this year, and he’s been having a terrible time.  His teacher has a system of warnings that they get and then they have to stay inside for recess.  He’s already had to stay in for recess now a couple times, which I really think just makes things worse.  He’s not a bad kid, he just has a difficult time concentrating I think.  Is there anything you’d recommend?  I feel horrible about this whole situation.

 

A: Transitioning from kindergarten to first grade is a huge step, and many children, particularly boys, have a difficult time. As a young child (or person of any age!), sitting in a desk all day can be really hard.  I wonder if you might be able to speak to his teacher about the punishments in her class, since staying in for recess seems like the last thing that a child who has trouble paying attention needs.  Free play and being outdoors has been shown to increase concentration and behavior in the classroom, which is exactly the goal you’re looking for.

There are a number of supplements which have been shown to help with brain function and concentration in children.  The first I’d recommend is omega 3 fish oil.  The body cannot manufacture omega 3 fatty acids, and fatty acids which are essential to the body and play a large role in brain function, so if a child isn’t eating fatty fish multiple times a week (and few are), it is likely they’re deficient in those nutrients.  Omega 3 fatty acids have been studied extensively for their role in proper brain functioning, and are safe and beneficial for people of all ages.

Omega 3 fish oil can aid in concentration as well as helping with improving learning and behavior.  Science Daily has reported on a recent study which found, “From a sample of nearly 500 schoolchildren, we found that levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in the blood significantly predicted a child's behavior and ability to learn. Higher levels of Omega-3 in the blood, and DHA in particular, were associated with better reading and memory, as well as with fewer behavior problems as rated by parents and teachers.”

Correcting an omega 3 deficiency can go a long way in improving school performance in children, especially for kids who are having a difficult time.  There have even been positive results for children suffering from ADD/ADHD and autism as well. 

I have personally had a number of our customers have very impressive results with omega 3s for their children.  I remember one woman who came back in tears because she was so happy with the change in her daughter’s behavior after taking fish oils.  She said it was like night and day.  I won’t try to suggest that that is a typical response, though I do truly believe that fish oil does make a difference for the brain functioning, especially in children.

Most parents can’t picture their children being willing to take a fish oil, though we do have several great, non fishy tasting omega 3 supplements.  The one I would most recommend is Barlean’s Omega Swirl It comes in a variety of flavors- my daughter likes the lemon best- and it’s made in a way that it has a creamy consistency, rather than an oil, similar to yogurt or custard.  I don’t tell her its fish oil, just a “liquid vitamin”, but she absolutely loves the taste, and would literally drink the whole bottle if I let her.

Next, I’d suggest phosphatidyl serine, also known as PS.  PS is a type of fat which is very prevalent in brain tissue.  It’s been researched with impressive results for enhancing memory, but has also been found more recently to help children with ADD/ADHD, not only with memory, but also attention and impulsivity.  In the study, children were given 200mg a day of PS.  The results of the study found significant improvements in each of those areas in the participants.  The abstract of the study is here if you’d like to read about the study in more detail.

Jarrow has a new chewable phosphatidyl serine called PS-100 Gummies.  I’d recommend doing 200mg a day, which were the amounts used in the research study.  Often you can reduce the amount of PS after an initial period of a higher dose.

 

I’d very much recommend both supplements, and they work in different ways, so they could be taken together if desired.