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      Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial

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          Abstract

          Background

          Withania somnifera (a shwagandha) is a prominent herb in Ayurveda. This study was conducted to examine the possible effects of ashwagandha root extract consumption on muscle mass and strength in healthy young men engaged in resistance training.

          Methods

          In this 8-week, randomized, prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study, 57 young male subjects (18–50 years old) with little experience in resistance training were randomized into treatment (29 subjects) and placebo (28 subjects) groups. Subjects in the treatment group consumed 300 mg of ashwagandha root extract twice daily, while the control group consumed starch placebos. Following baseline measurements, both groups of subjects underwent resistance training for 8 weeks and measurements were repeated at the end of week 8. The primary efficacy measure was muscle strength. The secondary efficacy measures were muscle size, body composition, serum testosterone levels and muscle recovery. Muscle strength was evaluated using the 1-RM load for the bench press and leg extension exercises. Muscle recovery was evaluated by using serum creatine kinase level as a marker of muscle injury from the effects of exercise.

          Results

          Compared to the placebo subjects, the group treated with ashwagandha had significantly greater increases in muscle strength on the bench-press exercise (Placebo: 26.4 kg, 95 % CI, 19.5, 33.3 vs. Ashwagandha: 46.0 kg, 95 % CI 36.6, 55.5; p = 0.001) and the leg-extension exercise (Placebo: 9.8 kg, 95 % CI, 7.2,12.3 vs. Ashwagandha: 14.5 kg, 95 % CI, 10.8,18.2; p = 0.04), and significantly greater muscle size increase at the arms (Placebo: 5.3 cm 2, 95 % CI, 3.3,7.2 vs. Ashwagandha: 8.6 cm 2, 95 % CI, 6.9,10.8; p = 0.01) and chest (Placebo: 1.4 cm, 95 % CI, 0.8, 2.0 vs. Ashwagandha: 3.3 cm, 95 % CI, 2.6, 4.1; p < 0.001). Compared to the placebo subjects, the subjects receiving ashwagandha also had significantly greater reduction of exercise-induced muscle damage as indicated by the stabilization of serum creatine kinase (Placebo: 1307.5 U/L, 95 % CI, 1202.8, 1412.1, vs. Ashwagandha: 1462.6 U/L, 95 % CI, 1366.2, 1559.1; p = 0.03), significantly greater increase in testosterone level (Placebo: 18.0 ng/dL, 95 % CI, -15.8, 51.8 vs. Ashwagandha: 96.2 ng/dL, 95 % CI, 54.7, 137.5; p = 0.004), and a significantly greater decrease in body fat percentage (Placebo: 1.5 %, 95 % CI, 0.4 %, 2.6 % vs. Ashwagandha: 3.5 %, 95 % CI, 2.0 %, 4.9 %; p = 0.03).

          Conclusion

          This study reports that ashwagandha supplementation is associated with significant increases in muscle mass and strength and suggests that ashwagandha supplementation may be useful in conjunction with a resistance training program.

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          Most cited references48

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          Neural adaptation to resistance training.

          D G Sale (1988)
          Strength performance depends not only on the quantity and quality of the involved muscles, but also upon the ability of the nervous system to appropriately activate the muscles. Strength training may cause adaptive changes within the nervous system that allow a trainee to more fully activate prime movers in specific movements and to better coordinate the activation of all relevant muscles, thereby effecting a greater net force in the intended direction of movement. The evidence indicating neural adaptation is reviewed. Electromyographic studies have provided the most direct evidence. They have shown that increases in peak force and rate of force development are associated with increased activation of prime mover muscles. Possible reflex adaptations related to high stretch loads in jumping and rapid reciprocal movements have also been revealed. Other studies, including those that demonstrate the "cross-training" effect and specificity of training, provide further evidence of neural adaptation. The possible mechanisms of neural adaptation are discussed in relation to motor unit recruitment and firing patterns. The relative roles of neural and muscular adaptation in short- and long-term strength training are evaluated.
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            Neural factors versus hypertrophy in the time course of muscle strength gain.

            The time course of strength gain with respect to the contributions of neural factors and hypertrophy was studied in seven young males and eight females during the course of an 8 week regimen of isotonic strength training. The results indicated that neural factors accounted for the larger proportion of the initial strength increment and thereafter both neural factors and hypertrophy took part in the further increase in strength, with hypertrophy becoming the dominant factor after the first 3 to 5 weeks. Our data regarding the untrained contralateral arm flexors provide further support for the concept of cross education. It was suggested that the nature of this cross education effect may entirely rest on the neural factors presumably acting at various levels of the nervous system which could result in increasing the maximal level of muscle activation.
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              • Record: found
              • Abstract: found
              • Article: not found

              Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha): a review.

              The objective of this paper is to review the literature regarding Withania somnifera (ashwagandha, WS) a commonly used herb in Ayurvedic medicine. Specifically, the literature was reviewed for articles pertaining to chemical properties, therapeutic benefits, and toxicity. This review is in a narrative format and consists of all publications relevant to ashwagandha that were identified by the authors through a systematic search of major computerized medical databases; no statistical pooling of results or evaluation of the quality of the studies was performed due to the widely different methods employed by each study. Studies indicate ashwagandha possesses anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antistress, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, hemopoietic, and rejuvenating properties. It also appears to exert a positive influence on the endocrine, cardiopulmonary, and central nervous systems. The mechanisms of action for these properties are not fully understood. Toxicity studies reveal that ashwagandha appears to be a safe compound. Preliminary studies have found various constituents of ashwagandha exhibit a variety of therapeutic effects with little or no associated toxicity. These results are very encouraging and indicate this herb should be studied more extensively to confirm these results and reveal other potential therapeutic effects. Clinical trials using ashwagandha for a variety of conditions should also be conducted.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                dr.sauvik.bhattacharyya@gmail.com
                Journal
                J Int Soc Sports Nutr
                J Int Soc Sports Nutr
                Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition
                BioMed Central (London )
                1550-2783
                25 November 2015
                25 November 2015
                2015
                : 12
                Affiliations
                [ ]Sports Medicine, SrimatiKashibaiNavale Medical College, Pune, India
                [ ]Department of Pharmacology, BVDU Dental College & Hospital, Navi Mumbai, India
                [ ]Department of Pharmacology, BharatiVidyapeeth Medical College & Hospital, Sangli, India
                [ ]Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Grant Government Medical College, SirJamshedjeeJeejeebhoy Group of Hospitals, Mumbai, India
                [ ]Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, NSHM Knowledge Campus, 124 B.L. Saha Road, Kolkata, 700053 India
                Article
                104
                10.1186/s12970-015-0104-9
                4658772
                26609282
                959a20da-62a9-4c34-9f55-e672ae74a6b8
                © Wankhede et al. 2015

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Categories
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2015

                Sports medicine
                ashwagandha,adaptogen herbs,muscle,muscle strength,muscle mass,testosterone,body fat,creatine kinase

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