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Ashwagandha and Testosterone: What's the Link?

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Written by Geoffrey C. Whittaker

Published 11/22/2020

Updated 03/14/2024

Ashwagandha has been called many things over the course of humanity’s existence. The Latin name is Withania somnifera. Some call it an antioxidant or an adaptogenic — others call it an alternative medicine because of its traditional Indian use in Ayurveda.

Should you call it your pathway to better testosterone levels? That’s harder to say. 

Like the claims of many supplements on the market today, ashwagandha’s ability to boost testosterone levels is hazy. Clinical trials and systematic reviews of the root (also known as Indian ginseng) still leave unanswered questions about the potential effects of Withania somnifera on your T levels.

Below, we’ll share what the research says so far, what it means for you and what to consider if you’re interested in dealing with testosterone issues with a supplement.

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Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub in the nightshade family, which is shared by the likes of tomatoes. Its traditional use in Ayurvedic medicine in India is mostly in the form of a tonic for varying ailments.

Some research suggests that compounds within ashwagandha called withanolides could reduce cortisol levels (cortisol is a stress hormone). It might help people with chronic stress and other mental health conditions that affect well-being while reducing the risk of stress-related issues down the line. As an antioxidant, it can also help relieve oxidative stress.

The FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration) doesn’t regulate herbal supplement ingredients the same way as prescription medications. So ashwagandha supplements aren’t subject to the same strict approval process to validate their claims. 

Ashwagandha hasn’t been proven to be an effective treatment for any of the above issues, nor has it been shown to be safe and effective for weight loss, erectile dysfunction (ED) or any other men’s health issue.

As such, you may have seen it labeled as or included in testosterone boosters — one of its purported health benefits.

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The effects of ashwagandha supplementation on testosterone aren’t the subject of any high-quality, double-blind or placebo-controlled studies currently published. And no randomized controlled trial has taken place.

The few clinical studies on the topic do suggest that ashwagandha could have a mild but noticeable positive effect on levels of testosterone in healthy males.

Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone responsible for maintaining sex drive, erections, muscle mass, bone density, consistent energy levels and cognitive function.

Low testosterone levels are associated with a variety of negative effects, including mild fatigue, depression and difficulty concentrating. Some health conditions and medications may affect steroid hormone levels and contribute to low testosterone (aka low T).

Here’s what we know:

  • A study published in 2010 in the sexual health journal Fertility and Sterility investigated the effects of ashwagandha root on semen profile and infertility. It found that treatment with ashwagandha improved testosterone, luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone and prolactin in infertile men — all major factors linked to sperm quality, motility and overall male fertility. 

  • Another study from 2015 looked at what effects the extract of ashwagandha could have on muscle mass, strength and testosterone in men aged 18 to 50 who were asked to take part in resistance training. Ashwagandha root extract supplementation created significant improvements in strength when performing bench presses and leg extensions, along with a significant increase in muscle size in the chest and arms.

  • A more recent study published in 2019 looked at the effects of ashwagandha on several hormones in overweight males. Participants who used ashwagandha showed a 14.7 percent greater increase in testosterone than the guys in the placebo group.

While these findings are promising, it’s important to put them in perspective:

  • Currently, we don’t know if ashwagandha increases testosterone more than a small amount — or how it compares to other options for increasing testosterone production.

  • It’s also unclear if using ashwagandha produces any noticeable improvements in the symptoms of low testosterone.

As such, it’s best to think of ashwagandha as a “maybe” when it comes to boosting testosterone levels — not as a proven treatment for a weak sex drive or other symptoms of low testosterone.

Does Ashwagandha Increase Size?

There’s no evidence to suggest that ashwagandha increases penis size or anything having to do directly with sexual function. Sorry, fellas.

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To use ashwagandha, follow the instructions provided with your supplement. Additionally, it’s best to talk with your healthcare provider before using ashwagandha, as it may cause interactions when taken at the same time as several common medications.

Ashwagandha is widely available as an over-the-counter supplement. It usually comes in tablet, powder or liquid form. You can buy supplements containing ashwagandha from many health stores, pharmacies and online vendors of natural supplements. 

Remember, each product will have its own instructions on dosage amount and frequency — if you’re not sure what to do, talk to a healthcare provider.

How Much Ashwagandha Should You Take Per Day for Testosterone?

Since ashwagandha is a dietary supplement and not an FDA-approved treatment for low testosterone, there’s no officially recommended ashwagandha dosage for testosterone. 

Most studies on ashwagandha involve a dosage of approximately 500 milligrams (mg). For example, a study of ashwagandha as a physical-activity supplement involved one 500-milligram daily dose, while a similar study that focused on muscle strength involved a dose of 300 milligrams taken twice daily.

Again, this is why it’s always best to check with a healthcare provider before using ashwagandha (or any other herbal supplement) as a testosterone booster. A medical professional can provide guidance on how to take it.

Ashwagandha is generally safe to use, but talk to your healthcare provider before taking new supplements.

Why? Ashwagandha supplements and other over-the-counter herbal remedies could interact with certain medications, including those used to treat high or low blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety, autoimmune disorders and some thyroid conditions.

Ashwagandha may also trigger immune disorders, affect recovery from surgery and worsen thyroid disorders.

It’s crucial to note that the long-term effects of ashwagandha are unknown. While it’s possibly safe to take for up to three months, more research is needed about long-term use for us to know the true side effect profile of this supplement.

So, please check in with your provider before using ashwagandha, especially if you take medication or have an existing health issue. 

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Here’s what to keep in mind when considering taking ashwagandha to boost T levels.

  • At this point, research on the benefits of ashwagandha is mixed and pretty limited. But there’s some real evidence suggesting it can boost testosterone, with several studies showing measurable increases in testosterone levels for men who used ashwagandha supplements.

  • Ashwagandha also appears to help with physical fitness, with a few small studies demonstrating an increase in strength and muscle mass.

  • However, these studies are small in scale. So it’s best to view ashwagandha as a supplement that might help increase testosterone production, not as a proven option for treating issues such as low testosterone. 

  • Since ashwagandha is available over the counter, it may be an option worth considering if you want to increase testosterone with something that’s easy to add to your daily routine.

Interested in exploring other natural solutions for ED and other men’s health issues? See our blog on the benefits of lecithin sexually.

You can also look into science-backed, FDA-approved treatments and online therapy options on our sexual health platform.

8 Sources

  1. Sandhu, J. S., Shah, B., Shenoy, S., Chauhan, S., Lavekar, G. S., & Padhi, M. M. (2010). Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Terminalia arjuna (Arjuna) on physical performance and cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy young adults. International journal of Ayurveda research, 1(3), 144–149. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2996571/.
  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.-a). Ashwagandha: Medlineplus supplements. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/953.html.
  3. Lopresti, A. L., Drummond, P. D., & Smith, S. J. (2019). A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Study Examining the Hormonal and Vitality Effects of Ashwagandha ( Withania somnifera) in Aging, Overweight Males. American journal of men's health, 13(2), 1557988319835985. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6438434/.
  4. Singh, N., Bhalla, M., de Jager, P., & Gilca, M. (2011). An overview on ashwagandha: a Rasayana (rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. African journal of traditional, complementary, and alternative medicines : AJTCAM, 8(5 Suppl), 208–213. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252722/.
  5. Commissioner, O. of the. (n.d.). FDA 101: Dietary supplements. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/fda-101-dietary-supplements.
  6. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.-a). Could you have low testosterone?: Medlineplus medical encyclopedia. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000722.htm.
  7. Ahmad, M. K., Mahdi, A. A., Shukla, K. K., Islam, N., Rajender, S., Madhukar, D., Shankhwar, S. N., & Ahmad, S. (2010). Withania somnifera improves semen quality by regulating reproductive hormone levels and oxidative stress in seminal plasma of infertile males. Fertility and sterility, 94(3), 989–996. https://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(09)01014-0/fulltext.
  8. Wankhede, S., Langade, D., Joshi, K., Sinha, S. R., & Bhattacharyya, S. (2015). Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12, 43. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4658772/.
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Kelly Brown MD, MBA
Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Dr. Kelly Brown is a board certified Urologist and fellowship trained in Andrology. She is an accomplished men’s health expert with a robust background in healthcare innovation, clinical medicine, and academic research. Dr. Brown is a founding member of Posterity Health where she is Medical Director and leads strategy and design of their Digital Health Platform, an innovative education and telehealth model for delivering expert male fertility care.

She completed her undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Heels!) with a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science and a Minor in Chemistry. She took a position at University of California Los Angeles as a radiologic technologist in the department of Interventional Cardiology, further solidifying her passion for medicine. She also pursued the unique opportunity to lead departmental design and operational development at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, sparking her passion for the business of healthcare.

Dr. Brown then went on to obtain her doctorate in medicine from the prestigious Northwestern University - Feinberg School of Medicine and Masters in Business Administration from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, with a concentration in Healthcare Management. During her surgical residency in Urology at University of California San Francisco, she utilized her research year to focus on innovations in telemedicine and then served as chief resident with significant contributions to clinical quality improvement. Dr. Brown then completed her Andrology Fellowship at Medical College of Wisconsin, furthering her expertise in male fertility, microsurgery, and sexual function.

Her dedication to caring for patients with compassion, understanding, as well as a unique ability to make guys instantly comfortable discussing anything from sex to sperm makes her a renowned clinician. In addition, her passion for innovation in healthcare combined with her business acumen makes her a formidable leader in the field of men’s health.

Dr. Brown is an avid adventurer; summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (twice!) and hiking the incredible Torres del Paine Trek in Patagonia, Chile. She deeply appreciates new challenges and diverse cultures on her travels. She lives in Denver with her husband, two children, and beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. You can find Dr. Brown on LinkedIn for more information.

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