Last updated on February 16th, 2018 at 12:13 pm
This ancient natural Ayurvedic herb deserves to take front and center stage as its many health benefits are divulged. Ashwagandha (Sanskrit for “smell of a horse” and also known as “Indian Ginseng” or Withania Somnifera) rejuvenates and restores the body to a low-stress, healthful state and is considered one of the most powerful herbs in the Ayurvedic medical healing tradition. You can find Ashwagandha in its original form as a low-lying shrub with flat, wide green leaves and small, green bell-shaped flowers that produce orange-yellow fruit similar in appearance to cherry tomatoes. But Ashwagandha is no stranger to the tomato as both plants are in the same family. As an adaptogen, Ashwagandha aids the body in managing stress. And who doesn’t need help managing stress? Even though stress is a natural and also normal part of living it can get out of hand at times which puts our body’s systems on the fast-track to ill-health. So what does a little help from our friend look like? You must have heard about the popular herb ashwagandha, which is an incredible medicinal herb. This miracle natural herb is also called Indian ginseng, which has a wide range of health benefits. The power-packed herb is prized for its berries and roots that are utilized to make medicines. Ashwagandha is an ancient natural Indian medicine, which has been used in ayurveda for many centuries now. This wonderful herb has also been used by Africans and Native Americans to keep away several types of infections. Ashwagandha naturally herb is generally useful and beneficial in fighting against cancer and diabetes, it prevents asthma, arthritis, hypertension, and stress, reduces inflammation, lowers blood sugar levels, reduces cortisol, boosts brain function and helps fight symptoms of anxiety and depression. It is a surprising fact that this herb is so popular and provides a lot of benefits that so much is written about its medicinal properties in both traditional Chinese medicine and ayurveda. What’s more? Ashwagandha generally contains abundant antioxidants, immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory, sleep-inducing, anti-bacterial and anti-stress properties that it has the ability to fight all kinds of ailments.
What Is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha, one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing, has been used since ancient times for a wide variety of conditions, and is most well-known for its restorative benefits. In Sanskrit language Ashwagandha word means “the smell of a horse,” indicating that the natural herb imparts the vigor and also strength of a stallion, and it is traditionally been prescribed to help people strengthen their immune system after an illness. Ashwagandha herb is regularly or frequently referred to as “Indian ginseng” because of its rejuvenating properties, even though botanically, ginseng and Ashwagandha are unrelated. Belonging to the same family as the tomato, Ashwagandha herb is a plump shrub with oval leaves and yellow flowers. It bears red fruit about the size of a raisin. The herb is native to the dry regions of India, northern Africa, and the Middle East, and today is also grown in more mild climates, including the United States. Withania somnifera is a natural plant from the nightshade family native to the Indian subcontinent. It’s more commonly known as ashwagandha , Indian ginseng, or winter cherry (not to be confused with Physalis alkekengi). It is fairly generally a small shrub with small pale green colored flowers, simple leaves and red berries. It has a tuberous root, carrot or ginger shaped. It also has a distinct smell, described as horse-like, which is where it gets its name, ashwagandha; Ashwa is Sanskrit for horse and gandha for smell. As one of its qualities is that it’s strengthening, it’s also said to impart strength of the stallion. It’s always been revered in Ayurveda and other traditional medicine practices. It’s fast gaining popularity once again, as scientific studies are proving what the traditional medicine has always stated about the plant’s many medicinal properties. Most of the advantages and benefits from ashwagandha are from the root and the leaves. The leaves are most commonly used in teas. The root can be taken in many ways but it’s most commonly dried, powdered and taken as a supplement these days. It’s used to treat arthritis, anxiety, insomnia, tumors, tuberculosis, asthma, leukoderma (a skin condition marked by white patchiness), bronchitis, backache, fibromyalgia, menstrual problems, hiccups, and chronic liver disease, stress, focus, stamina and strengthening.
Ashwagandha as an Adaptogenic Herb
In Ayurveda, there are specific herbs with adaptogenic benefits, Ashwagandha is one of them. Adaptogens are substances (a combination of amino acids, vitamins, and herbs) that modulate your response to stress or a changing environment. Adaptogens help the body cope with external stresses such as toxins in the environment and internal stresses such as anxiety and insomnia.
Ashwagandha for Energy
Long distance cycling is an endurance sport that requires aerobic fitness and energy. Many health products have been developed to provide energy in a quick, easy form: gel packets, energy chews, sports drinks, and more. Generally, these health products just provide extra calories, that are necessary if you’re expending energy but don’t actually support physical ability. Perhaps even more importantly, research out of Malaysia found that when ashwagandha root extract was regularly administered to persons receiving chemotherapy, it had potential to relieve fatigue and improve their quality of life.
Health Benefits of Ashwagandha
In Ayurvedic medicine, one of the primary uses of ashwagandha root extract is to enhance memory and improve brain function. One of the mechanisms responsible for this effect is ashwagandha antioxidant action. Since oxidative stress contributes to neurodegenerative disorders, lessening oxidative damage may offer neuroprotection. As you all know that ashwagandha has neuroprotective properties, a root extract found that it may prevent some instances of memory impairment and oxidative stress on the brain. As you all know that ashwagandha has many healing properties. You can find all these below.
Reduces blood sugar levels
Adding ashwagandha to your daily diet was found to increase insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity and thus lower blood sugar levels in people with and without diabetes. Generally insulin insensitivity leads to type-II diabetes, which is most often caused by an over-stimulated pancreas and washed out insulin receptors. But if you can improve insulin sensitivity with Ashwagandha, then you are well on your way to better blood sugar management. Combine that with generally lower blood sugar levels after consumption and you’ll be worry-free in no time when it comes to your blood sugar.
Generally ashwagandha is a potent medicine against cancer. It’s been found to reduce the growth of new cancer cells and induce death in pre-existing cancer cells. As you all know that but the data looks promising to treat several cancers. One experiment found 70 to 80 per cent reduction in tumor growth and complete inhibition of metastasis to other organs compared to untreated controls.
Improves heart health
It has been found to significantly reduce the levels of cholesterol and also triglycerides in the bloodstream. Though the effect is far stronger in animals than it is in humans. Still it reduced levels of cholesterol by an average of 17 per cent and levels of triglycerides by an average of 11 per cent in a 60-day study of chronically stressed adults.
Our immunity is worn down by several factors daily and in this modern day and age it’s often intrinsic factors, like stress, inflammation and lack of sleep. By improving on all of those and boosting overall physical health and stamina, ashwagandha has improved our immunity significantly. It also was found to improve the activity of natural killer cells, the immune cells that fight infection.
Reduces cortisol levels and stress
Ashwagandha has been found to have an incredible effect on cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is a stress hormone that causes all the wear and tear in the body if the body is chronically stressed, which it easily can be in modern times. By reducing cortisol, it’s been found to be significantly helpful for those suffering from chronic stress, anxiety and even depression. One experiment found a reported 79 per cent decrease in depression in 60 days by those consuming 600mg of ashwagandha!
Improves male fertility
Stress affects fertility the mosst and men with high stress have low testosterone and a low sperm count. Whether it directly affects the reproductive system or if it’s powerful to bring down stress levels that causes the improvement is unknown but a strong co-relation has been found between ashwagndha and improvement in testosterone production and sperm health. As you all know that ashwagandha for stress experienced higher antioxidant levels and better sperm quality. After 3 months of treatment, 14 per cent of the men’s partners had become pregnant.
Generally chronic inflammation is one of the most widespread causes behind few diseases in our modern life. That generally caused by a number of things, one of its best cures is ashwagandha. It’s been found to reduce a marker of inflammation called C-reactive protein by 36 per cent. Ashwagandha supplements have been found to be effective in dealing with a variety of rheumatologic problems. The herb is known to act as a cyclooxygenase inhibitor that decreases inflammation and pain. Ashwagandha supplements have been anti-inflammatory properties that come from the alkaloids, saponins, and steroidal lactones found within it.
Helps in muscle building
Generally safe amount of ashwagandha dose for people, found that previously healthy people had an increase in muscle and a reduction of fat. Few properties present in ashwagandha helps to build muscles.
Stimulates the Thyroid Gland
In cases of hypothyroidism, Ashwagandha supplements can be used to stimulate the thyroid gland. Generally Ashwagandha effects on the thyroid gland revealed that the root extract if given on a daily basis, would increase the secretion of thyroid hormones.
Ashwagandha capsules are widely used in the world wide for both seizures and convulsions in Ayurvedic medicine. Generally Ashwagandha supplements also showed the presence of anticonvulsant properties in this wonderful plant.
May improve brain function specially memory
It has always been said to improve memory in Ayurveda and human experiments have found it to improve mental performance. More interestingly, many of them found it to reduce mental problems caused by injury and disease, the results look promising for treatment of humans in the future. Above all are the benefits of ashwagandha. You can use ashwagandha in the form of supplements or capsules.