As a health and fitness writer, I often come across the work of my peers while researching an ingredient or supplement. This is mostly a function of trying to correct myths and address misleading articles on the internet. Which is what brings me to Ashwagandha and increasing adult height.
Ashwagandha Root has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic Medicine. In modern usage it has found its way into T-Boosters, and can even help with muscle development. But I recently came across an unnamed writer promoting Ashwagandha as a way to increase your height as an adult–and my alarm bells started ringing. In this piece I’ll try to put this myth to bed, and show you the science behind how we grow.
How Height Works
Our bones grow throughout our childhood and adolescence, mostly due to the mechanisms of special bone cells commonly called growth plates (scientifically referred to as epiphyseal plates).
These cells are located mostly near the ends of our longest bones: thigh (femur), upper arm (humerus), and certain vertebrae. These cells begin by growing cartilage, and when that cartilage begins to deteriorate, bone cells called osteoblasts take over and grow new bone over that old space.
There are several other cells and numerous hormones involved in this process (such as Chondrocytes, human growth hormone, and Estrogen). But once the cells involved cease functioning, all longitudinal growth ends. That means that there is no more lengthening of bones, and therefore, no increases in height.
Ashwagandha’s Effect on Height
Some people only latch onto the hormonal aspect of height increases. They figure that, since bone cells are triggered by growth hormones, any increase in hormones will spur more bone growth.
But that’s simply not the case. While there is some evidence that Ashwagandha can influence Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and there is even more tenuous evidence that GABA can increase human growth hormone, such as in one study with rats, none of this can reopen the growth plates in our bones once they’re closed.
Ashwagandha CAN Aid Bone Density
All is not doom and gloom, though. Ashwagandha can help us retain what height we have into our later years.
As we age, men and women are susceptible to losing whole inches off of our height. While there are a number of factors at play, one major cause is loss of bone density, or osteoporosis.
Ashwagandha can help by acting in a role similar to Estrogen, and preventing bone loss. Additionally, as we wrote earlier, Ashwagandha can help us build and retain muscle. And when we build our musculature, the stress on our bones triggers several hormone responses, one of which is to build more bone mass.
I do hate to shut down anyone’s dreams of growing taller in their adulthood, but it's a well-established scientific fact that once growth plates close in late adolescence, the body stops getting taller.
But we can always get shorter, and in fact, most people do. To mitigate that, Ashwagandha does help us with muscle building (leading to stronger bones), and by helping prevent bone loss through erosion. So while Ashwagandha won’t help you add any inches, it can certainly keep you from losing them!