Do you want to reduce stress, fatigue, or improve your performance at the gym?
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a plant in the nightshade family with a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine. It’s regarded as an adaptogen, or a product that might help your body manage stress, whether that’s stress derived from long hours in the office or ferocious workouts at the gym.
While it’s hard to pinpoint which dosage is the most effective, studies using a dosage between 50 to 500 milligrams report positive results. Ashwagandha provides anti-anxiety effects, helps regulate fatigue, reduces levels of cortisol, and may even improve athletic performance.
So, is Physician’s Choice KSM-66 Ashwagandha supplement effective? Can you trust the manufacturer and the claims that they make? In this article, we are going to analyze Physician’s Choice KSM-66 Ashwagandha supplement and let you know whether it’s something you should take.
What is Physician’s Choice Ashwagandha?
To put it simply, Physician’s Choice KSM-66 Ashwagandha is a supplement designed to help you cope with stress, anxiety, fatigue, and other distressing factors in your daily life.
They do so using Ashwagandha, a major component of the Ayurveda and the Ayurvedic diet and used for many centuries as a powerful medicine.
Nowadays, it’s referred to as an adaptogen, meaning it promotes balance in many systems of the body, which according to Russian scientist N.V. Lazarez, it must meet three specific criteria.
According to Lazares, who is best known for discovering another adaptogen called Siberian Ginseng, and teaching the renowned adaptogen research scientist Israel Brekhman, an adaptogen must follow three criteria:
- Must not be toxic
- Must reduce and regulate stress by helping the body adapt
- And must benefit your overall wellbeing.
However, it is also important to note that even though this product is an Ashwagandha supplement, it also contains an additional ingredient called Black Pepper Extract, known for containing a property called piperine that improves nutrient absorption.
Does Ashwagandha Reduce Stress?
Ashwagandha has several biologically active chemical constituents such as alkaloids (isopelletierine, anaferine, cuseohygrine, anahygrine), steroidal lactones (withanolides, withaferins), saponins containing an additional acyl group (sitoindoside VII and VIII), and withanolides with a glucose at carbon 27 (sitoindoside IX and X).
These chemical constituents trigger specific events in the body, for instance, sitoindosides and acylsterylglucosides are anti-stress agents, so they increase your resistance against stress. We can partially attribute this to their effect on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which regulates serum cortisol concentration. 1
One study in chronically stressed adults, those who supplemented with ashwagandha, experienced a reduction in cortisol levels, when compared to the control group. Those taking the highest dosage experienced a 30 percent reduction, on average. 2
Still, it’s important to note the existence of conflicts of interest, because the companies that profit from Ashwagandha are behind the study.
Besides the aforementioned study, you can also find several studies that show Ashwagandha can reduce symptoms in people with stress or anxiety. 3 4 5
One systematic review even points out that Ashwagandha intervention resulted in greater score improvements (significantly in most cases) than placebo in outcomes on anxiety or stress scales. 6
However, and this is me trying to be as unbiased as possible, the studies have a low sample size, and the systematic review covers five studies, some of which may be potentially bias (because of conflicts of interest) while others have small sample sizes.
So even though the evidence is promising, we need more studies before we can draw a more solid conclusion about the relationship between ashwagandha and stress regulation.
Ashwagandha’s Effect on Testosterone and Fertility
Ashwagandha may have powerful effects on testosterone levels and reproductive health. 7 8 9 10
Researchers argue the constituents present in ashwagandha may balance hormone levels, reduce oxidative stress, and possibly improve detoxification processes in the body.
There is a correlation between disturbed hormone levels and infertility, so the correction of hormone imbalance by ashwagandha may be one of the major factors in contributing to fertility improvement.
They also point out that stress is a very relevant factor in male infertility, and ashwagandha plays a role in stress and cortisol regulation, which impacts testosterone production.
However, we have to question the validity of these studies because they have a small sample size, so even though these results are quite positive, we require more research to find out if they’re accurate.
Ashwagandha’s Effect on Muscle Mass and Strength
Ashwagandha may also improve body composition and increase strength.
One study evaluated the effect of ashwagandha and arjuna (another herb) on physical performance and cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy young adults. The researchers concluded that may be useful to use ashwagandha for generalized weakness, muscular strength, and neuro-muscular co-ordination. 11
But again, they conducted the study with 40 subjects, a rather small sample size.
In a 8-week, randomized, prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study with 57 young male subjects, examining the effects of ashwagandha supplementation on muscle strength and recovery, the researchers report ashwagandha may significantly increase muscle mass and strength. 12
This study, however, also bears some limitations. It has a duration of 8 weeks and a pool of 57 subjects, so the researchers mention we should interpret the study with caution.
With that being said, the effects of ashwagandha on muscle mass and strength are quite promising.
What about Black Pepper Extract?
Physician’s Choice claims that piperine, an antioxidant within black pepper, has extensive clinical evidence “showing its ability to improve nutrient absorption”.
We did not find “extensive clinical” evidence to support that fact. However, piperine has several biological properties, including analgesic, anti-convulsant, anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory activities. 13
Several studies show that piperine could attenuate the inflammatory response associated with chronic diseases such as AD, asthma, arthritis, chronic gastritis, endometritis, Parkinson’s disease, and others. 14 15 16
The anti-inflammatory activity of piperine in these chronic diseases happens via downregulation of inflammatory pathways such as NF-κB, MAPK, AP-1, COX-2, NOS-2, IL-1β, TNF-α, PGE2, STAT3, and others. 17
Also, given that piperine is a powerful antioxidant, it may help prevent free radical damage to your cells, protecting you against major health problems, including heart disease and certain cancers.
So, while piperine does not have enough evidence to support Physician’s Choice nutrient-absorption enhancing claims, there are many studies that show probable anti-inflammatory activity against certain chronic diseases.
Does It Have Side Effects?
An ashwagandha supplement (including Physician’s Choice KSM-66 Ashwagandha) is safe for most people, but its long-term effects are still unknown.
Individuals such as pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take them, and people with autoimmune disease should also avoid ashwagandha unless allowed by a health care provider.
Those on medication for thyroid disease also need to be careful when taking ashwagandha, as it may increase thyroid hormone levels in some people.
It may also decrease blood sugar and blood pressure levels, so probably seek healthcare advice if you’re taking medication for those.
Does Physician’s Choice Ashwagandha Contain the Right Dosage?
Studies using a dosage between 50-500 milligrams report positive results, but for stress-lowering effects, which is the benefit ashwagandha is most associated with, daily doses between 125 mg and 5 grams may lower cortisol levels, so we assume high dosages are more effective.
Physician’s Choice ashwagandha supplement contains 1,900 mg of ashwagandha, which is equivalent and/or superior to the dosages used in studies.
It also has hundreds of reviews, and many of them claim the supplement provides many of the promised benefits, so I believe it’s worth the shot.
Conclusion: Is Physician’s Choice Ashwagandha Worth Your Money?
Based on the evidence available, we believe that this ashwagandha supplement may be quite effective, given the promising results reported in clinical studies, and more importantly, the dosage amount it contains.
Most studies use between 50-500 milligrams of ashwagandha (some even more), and Physician’s Choice ashwagandha supplement contains a whopping 1,900 milligrams, so in terms of effectiveness, it should guarantee you several health benefits, including stress reduction.
Within it, you can also find Black Pepper Extract, which contains an antioxidant called piperine, which has a growing body of clinical evidence supporting its anti-inflammatory activity against chronic diseases.
In terms of price, KSM-66 Ashwagandha by Physician’s Choice is not expensive, but it’s also not the cheapest ashwagandha supplement in the market. Quality-wise, however, it’s second to none, and the dosage amount and the fact they include Black Pepper Extract make it more valuable than most.
If you’re interested in acquiring it, the best place to do so is through Physician’s Choice official website, although you can also do it via different retailers, including Amazon and Walmart.
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2 – Auddy, Biswajit & Hazra, Jayram & Mitra, Achintya & Abedon, Bruce & Ghosal, Shibnath. (2008). A Standardized Withania Somnifera Extract Significantly Reduces Stress-Related Parameters in Chronically Stressed Humans: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. Journal of American Nutraceutical Association. 11. 50-56.
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