A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Study Examining the Hormonal and Vitality Effects of Ashwagandha ( Withania somnifera) in Aging, Overweight Males

Am J Mens Health. 2019 Mar-Apr;13(2):1557988319835985. doi: 10.1177/1557988319835985.


Ashwagandha ( Withania somnifera) is a herb commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine to promote youthful vigor, enhance muscle strength and endurance, and improve overall health. In this 16-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, its effects on fatigue, vigor, and steroid hormones in aging men were investigated. Overweight men aged 40-70 years, with mild fatigue, were given a placebo or an ashwagandha extract (Shoden beads, delivering 21 mg of withanolide glycosides a day) for 8 weeks. Outcome measures included the Profile of Mood States, Short Form (POMS-SF), Aging Males' Symptoms (AMS) questionnaire, and salivary levels of DHEA-S, testosterone, cortisol, and estradiol. Fifty-seven participants were enrolled, with 50 people completing the first 8-week period of the trial and 43 completing all 16 weeks. Improvements in fatigue, vigor, and sexual and psychological well-being were reported over time, with no statistically significant between-group differences. Ashwagandha intake was associated with an 18% greater increase in DHEA-S ( p = .005) and 14.7% greater increase in testosterone ( p = .010) compared to the placebo. There were no significant between-group differences in cortisol and estradiol. In conclusion, the intake of a standardized ashwagandha extract (Shoden beads) for 8 weeks was associated with increased levels of DHEA-S and testosterone, although no significant between-group differences were found in cortisol, estradiol, fatigue, vigor, or sexual well-being. Further studies with larger sample sizes are required to substantiate the current findings.

Keywords: DHEA; Withania somnifera; ashwagandha; energy; fatigue; herbal; hormones; testosterone.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fatigue / drug therapy*
  • Hormones / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength / drug effects
  • Overweight / drug therapy*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Western Australia


  • Biomarkers
  • Hormones
  • Plant Extracts
  • Ashwagandha