Ashwagandha has the potential to relieve stress and anxiety, boost energy and promote optimum sleep. But it’s the benefits of ashwagandha for focus and concentration that's seen its popularity booming recently, despite its use dating back thousands of years in alternative medicine circles.
What is ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is an ancient herb rooted in Ayurveda – an alternative medicine system originating in India. It has been around for thousands of years but with a recent surge in interest surrounding health, nutrition and wellness in the West, Ayurveda has piqued the interest of people who lead busy, modern lifestyles and are looking for balance in their lives.
Ashwagandha (which translates from Sanskrit into ‘horse smell’, although don’t let that put you off) is a favourite among performance experts and biohackers, and with its extensive and impressive range of brain health benefits, it's easy to see why.
The herb – which you might have heard referred to as Indian ginseng – is said to boast anti-inflammatory effects, help with pain management and even have a positive impact on mental health, according to a study looking at the wellbeing of adults who were under stress published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine (1).
Does ashwagandha improve focus and concentration?
With life showing no signs of slowing down, many of us are constantly finding ourselves in search of the next big thing that promises to help us level up – especially when it comes to boosting our capacity for focus and concentration.
If this applies to you, you’ll be pleased to know that a study looking at the effect of a standardised ginseng extract on psychomotor performance (2) found that ashwagandha consumption led to improvements in cognitive function in all areas – including focus and concentration. In particular, skills relating to attention, processing (such as mental arithmetic) and reaction speeds were noticeably enhanced.
Whether its athletic ability, work productivity rate or overall mental acuity you want to work on, ashwagandha is scientifically proven to contribute towards improved performance.
Can ashwagandha be harmful?
The world of Ayurvedic herbs can be overwhelming, especially if you're new to wider alternative medicine in general. But don’t let anxieties around the safety of ashwagandha hold you back from reaping its benefits for focus and concentration.
Ashwagandha is not harmful. There are, of course, exceptions for those with underlying health conditions and if you're pregnant or breastfeeding you will need to check with your GP. It's also recommended to check with a healthcare professional if you have an autoimmune disease or are on prescribed medication for blood pressure.
The benefits of ashwagandha for focus and concentration: Summary
This ancient herb has the potential to improve your focus and concentration, but that's just the start of the potential benefits of ashwagandha. As well as the role ashwagandha can play in promoting good brain health, it could also boost your performance through benefits such as increased reaction speeds and better sleep quality.
If you want to take control of your health – both mental and physical - ashwagandha can contribute towards that goal. But like all supplementation, it's not some magic fix for poor lifestyle factors and its benefits for focus, concentration and the rest will only complement a healthy approach to recovery, training, mindset and nutrition.
(1) A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults. K. Chandrasekhar, J. Kapoor, and S. Anishetty. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012 Jul-Sep; 34(3): 255–262.
(2) A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Study on the Effect of a Standardized Ginseng Extract on Psychomotor Performance in Healthy Volunteers. L. D'Angelo, R. Grimaldi, M. Caravaggi, M. Marcoli, E. Perucca, S. Lecchini, G.M. Frigo, A. Crema. Journal of ethnopharmacology. Apr-May 1986;16(1):15-22