Ashwagandha: For a Breath of Fresh Air
Whether you compete in amateur sports, or simply enjoy a brisk run or walk as part of your exercise routine, you know how important it is to make every breath count. But some days, being able to refresh your lungs and bloodstream with energizing oxygen may seem elusive. And so do the solutions.
Ashwagandha, an herb with a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine, may provide an answer. This review found that ashwagandha has remarkably beneficial effects for maximum oxygen consumption, also known as “VO2max”, which defines a person’s aerobic capacity.
While ashwagandha levels varied in the reviewed clinical studies, they also showed that ashwagandha was well-tolerated, even at higher doses. An interesting finding was that the best increases were seen in athletes, versus healthy adults. Since athletes are already operating from a higher baseline for lung capacity, it was a surprising statistic for the researchers. Nonetheless, ashwagandha appears to be an effective botanical for helping people get the most out of every breath.
Pérez-Gómez J, Villafaina S, Adsuar JC, Merellano-Navarro E, Collado-Mateo D. Effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) on VO2max: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2020;12(4):1119. Published 2020 Apr 17. doi:10.3390/nu12041119
The purpose of this study was to systematically review the scientific literature about the effects of supplementation with Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) on maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max), as well as to provide directions for clinical practice. A systematic search was conducted in three electronic databases following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Guidelines (PRISMA). The inclusion criteria were: (a) VO2max data, with means ± standard deviation before and after the supplement intervention, (b) the study was randomized controlled trial (RCT), (c) the article was written in English. The quality of evidence was evaluated according to the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach. A meta-analysis was performed to determine effect sizes. Five studies were selected in the systematic review (162 participants) and four were included in the meta-analysis (142 participants). Results showed a significant enhancement in VO2max in healthy adults and athletes (p = 0.04). The mean difference was 3.00 (95% CI from 0.18 to 5.82) with high heterogeneity. In conclusion, Ashwagandha supplementation might improve the VO2max in athlete and non-athlete people. However, further research is need to confirm this hypothesis since the number of studies is limited and the heterogeneity was high.