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Both Ashwagandha and Astragalus are fantastic supplements. But since they’re similar in many ways, it might be tricky for some people to decide between them.
If that’s you, you’ve come to the right place.
I started this Supplement Comparison Series for that precise reason. In each post, I take 2 types of supplement and put them head-to-head on pros, cons, price and more to help you figure out which one to use.
In this article, we’ll take a look at Ashwagandha vs Astragalus.
Let’s get started!
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) is a herb originating from India that’s been used for many thousand years.
Even today, Ashwagandha is used by many to promote feelings of vitality, calmness and strength.
It’s in the same family of plants as potatoes and egg plants, known as the Nightshade family.
In the ancient Indian language, Sanskrit, Ashwagandha’s name refers to the phrase “the smell of a horse”.
(Ashwagandha root apparently smells like horse sweat, whilst Ashwagandha makes you stronger. More on that later…)
What is Astragalus?
Astragalus (Huang Qi) has been a key herb in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) for 100s of years.
It’s included in formulas to support Qi, or the “shield” which protects the system from harmful threats.
Astragalus is traditionally used in its dried powdered form, or as a concoction made from boiling the dried root in water.
Benefits of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha may boost testosterone levels
Lot’s of people have lower than ideal testosterone levels nowadays.
This can be attributed to many things, including increased sugar consumption and poor sleep quality.
But low testosterone levels are no laughing matter…
In fact, research shows that declining testosterone levels may be to blame for depression in aging men.
So if you’re a male, you may want to supplement with Ashwagandha as many studies (including this one) have shown its effectiveness at boosting T levels.
Ashwagandha may increase muscle size and strength
Strength-boosting herbs often get a bad rep (and rightly so…), but Ashwagandha is actually effective at increasing muscle size and strength.
For example, a study of 57 people looked at the effects of Ashwagandha on muscle size and strength.
Out of the 57 subjects, some took a placebo and others took 600mg of daily Ashwagandha.
The results showed that the Ashwagandha takers had greater increases in muscle size, muscle strength, testosterone levels and fat loss.
(Related reading: Best Supplements For Skinny Guys To Bulk Up)
Ashwagandha may improve anxiety
Make no mistake about it, anxiety sucks.
So it’s sad to see that 40 million US adults are affected by it.
Those included in that shocking statistic could see if Ashwagandha helps, as research has shown it may help anxiety.
For example, a 6-week study investigated the effects of Ashwagandha on anxiety.
At the end of the 6 weeks, 88% of the subjects who took Ashwagandha had less anxiety.
Another study over 2 months had some participants take a placebo and some take 600mg of daily Ashwagandha.
The results showed that the Ashwagandha takers had a significant reduction in scores on the “stress test”, compared to those who took the placebo.
(Related reading: Do Cold Showers Help With Anxiety?)
Ashwagandha may lower blood sugar
Like many other adaptogens, Ashwagandha has been shown to lower blood sugar levels.
A study of 12 people investigated the effects of Ashwagandha powder on their blood sugar levels.
After taking Ashwagandha for a month, they had a decrease in blood sugar which was similar to that of a blood sugar lowering drug.
Benefits of Astragalus
Astragalus helps lower blood sugar
Astragalus is one of the most frequently prescribed herbs to help with controlling diabetes in China.
This may be due to its blood sugar lowering effects, which have been seen in studies.
In fact, a review of 13 studies concluded that Astragalus reduced fasting and post-meal blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics.
Astragalus may improve heart function
Research suggests that those with heart conditions may see an improvement in heart function after supplementing with Astragalus.
For example, a study of patients with heart failure had some receive 60g of daily Astragalus alongside standard treatment and others receive just standard treatments.
Those who received Astragalus had better improvements in symptoms than those receiving the standard treatment alone.
Another study of patients with heart failure had some receive 4.5g of daily Astragalus alongside standard treatment and others receive just standard treatments.
As with the other study, those who took Astragalus alongside standard treatment had better improvements in heart function than those who had just the standard treatment.
Astragalus may boost your immune system
Astragalus is rich in plant compounds which may help boost your immune system.
Although human studies are fairly limited, Astragalus root has been shown to help kill viruses in infected mice.
Astragalus may improve kidney function
Abnormal kidney function is often discovered when high amounts of protein are found in your pee.
(This condition is known as Proteinuria.)
Research has shown that Astragalus helps improve proteinuria in patients with kidney disease.
But that’s not all…
Astragalus may help prevent infections in people with weakened kidneys too.
For example, a study had subjects take 7.5-15g of daily Astragalus for 3 to 6 months.
The results showed that this reduced the risk of infection by 38%!
Ashwagandha is typically sold in the form of tablets or as a liquid extract.
Standard prices for these are:
- Tablets: $18 for 100
- Liquid extract: $17 for 2oz
Astragalus comes in many different forms, including capsules, root slices and as a liquid extract.
Here are some average prices for these:
- Capsules: $24 for 100
- Root slices: $20 for 8oz
- Liquid extract: $19 for 2oz
Ashwagandha Side Effects
Ashwagandha supplements are normally well-tolerated by healthy adults, but some people have reported mild side effects in clinical studies, such as:
- Upset stomach
Also, if you’re already taking blood sugar lowering medication, then consult your doctor before using Ashwagandha as it will lower your blood sugar even more, which may cause Hypoglycemia.
This can be deadly in serious cases, so I really can’t stress this enough, guys.
The following people should NOT take Ashwagandha:
- Pregnant women
- People with stomach ulcers
- Those with high/low blood pressure
- People who’re allergic to Nightshade plants, i.e. Potatoes, Tomatoes, etc.
- People with autoimmune conditions, i.e. Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, etc.
Astragalus Side Effects
Astragalus is well-tolerated for most people, but like with Ashwagandha, some folks have reported the following side effects:
- Runny nose
Also, the following people should avoid taking Astragalus due to lack of research, or interactions:
- People with autoimmune diseases
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women
- People taking immunosuppressant drugs
My Ashwagandha Recommendation: NaturaLife Labs Ashwagandha
Long lasting? Tick.
Reasonably priced? Check.
NaturaLife Labs Ashwagandha ticks all of the boxes.
What I like about it
I absolutely love that this Ashwagandha supplement is mixed with Black Pepper extract.
This makes it a lot more effective than other Ashwagandha products, as studies have shown that Black Pepper helps with absorption.
Another great feature is that it only contains natural & organic ingredients, so you don’t have to worry about any artificial chemicals, which could be harmful.
And since it has many amazing reviews, lots of other people are seeing great results from using it.
Since the recommended serving size is 3 capsules each day, the bottle will only last a month or so.
Apart from that, there’s little to complain about!
My Astragalus Recommendation: NatureBell Astragalus
You really can’t go wrong with NatureBell Astragalus capsules.
These super high-strength capsules are loved by many, many people and will last you months upon months.
What I like about it
By checking the dozens of fantastic reviews, you can tell straight away that this is a high quality Astragalus supplement that’s helpful for many people.
And with each capsule 500mg of Astragalus extract, this ranks amongst the strongest Astragalus supplements on the market.
(In fact, it’s quite possibly the strongest Astragalus supplement out there…)
I also love that each bottle provides 200 capsules, meaning a single purchase will provide you with effective Astragalus for more than 6 months!
NatureBell are a relatively unknown company, so you don’t know what standards to expect.
Apart from that, this is what a great Astragalus supplement looks like.
Well, I appreciate you taking your time to read this Ashwagandha vs Astragalus showdown.
Perhaps you’ve already decided which one’s more suited to you!
If not, then the following high-level guide may help:
You might prefer Ashwagandha if:
- You struggle with anxiety
- You want to put on muscle
- You want to boost your T levels
- You want to lower your blood sugar levels
You might prefer Astragalus if:
- You want a stronger immune system
- You want to improve your heart function
- You want to improve your kidney function
Hope this helped!