A couple of months ago, while surfing the net, I stumbled upon Ashwagangha; I didn’t know what it was, though it sounded to me like something related to India and Ayurvedic medicine. Actually I was right! So what are the health benefits of ashwagandha?
This valuable plant, also known as Indian gingseng, has been used as a broad-spectrum remedy for centuries, and is a highly effective, evidence-based remedy to help reduce stress levels and anxiety. But there is much more to ashwagandha, and you are going to be amazed at its countless benefits.
As far as I am concerned, I have been taking ashwagandha for almost 2 months now, and I could appreciate its benefits since the very beginning. My concentration has been boosted, and so has my memory. Stress seems to be soothed and my sleep quality is improved. I recommended ashwagandha to a few friends and family members, and they find it really valuable!!!
What is Ashwagandha or Indian ginseng?
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb, popular in Ayurvedic medicine, which has been used for over 2.500 years. Actually, it is the most used and most studied adaptogenic herb. It is very much appreciated for its thyroid-modulating, neuroprotective, anti-anxiety, anti-depressive and anti-inflammatory properties.
In India, it has been traditionally used to boost the immune system. It has also been referred to as “Indian ginseng” for its ability to enhance endurance, and proves to be a very effective natural remedy for stress.
In botanics Ashwagandha is known as “Withania Somnifera” and belongs to the family of Solanaceae. In Sanskrit ashwagandha means “the smell of a horse,” indicating that the herb has the potential to impart the vigor and strength of a stallion.
Ashwagandha is a valuable herb in Ayurvedic medicine due to its several benefits to the organism, and the main aim of Ayurvedic medicine is to help people stay in good health, without prescription drugs and complex surgeries.
What are the health benefits of ashwagandha?
#1 It enhances thyroid function
One of the most valuable aspects of adaptogenic herbs, like Ashwagandha, is they help treat thyroid issues. Ashwagandha has been shown to support patients who have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease.
For millions of people who have thyroid issues, many of them being unaware of that, Ashwagandha might prove to be the right solution.
A 2017 pilot study, published on the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, evaluated Ashwagandha benefits in helping patients suffering from subclinical hypothyroidism. The 50 partecipants were diagnosed with thyroid disorders, though they didn’t show clear any symptoms of either deficiency or excess of thyroid hormones.
During an 8-week period of time, the treatment group got 600 mg of Ashwagandha root extract everyday, whereas the control group got starch as a placebo. The researchers found out that ashwagandha significantly improved TSH and T4 (tiroxina) levels. The study conclusion was that ashwagandha may help normalize thyroid hormonal levels in patients with hypothyroidism.
A study published on the Journal of Ayurveda found out ashwagandha boosts thyroid. In this study, the patients with bipolar disorder used this Indian ginseng to enhance the cognitive function. The laboratory tests showed a few of these patients had higher tiroxina levels during the treatment.
This research also suggests that, as ashwagandha boosts the thyroid function, it might not be fit for people with hyperactive thyroid, like in the case of Graves disease.
#2 It soothes adrenal fatigue
Research has shown ashwagandha may be helpful in supporting adrenal function and treating adrenal fatigue: adrenals are endocrine glands responsible for hormonal secretion, especially cortisol and adrenaline, in response to stress.
If the adrenals secrete too many hormones because of emotional, physical and mental stress, it may cause a condition known as adrenal fatigue. When adrenals pump everything they have into the bloodstream, this process may interfere with the production of other hormones in the body, included progesterone, which may cause infertility and DHEA low levels, a hormone responsible for longevity and endurance.
#3 It combats stress and anxiety
One of the most known benefits of ashwagandha is its ability to function as a natural remedy for anxiety. In a 2009 study published on PLOS One, ashwagandha was shown to be comparable to lorazepam, a benzodiazepine (tranquillizer).
In the 12-week controlled study, 75 partecipants suffering from anxiety were divided into 2 groups, one got naturopathic treament and the other one got standard psychotherapy. The group of naturopathic assistance got relaxation techniques and 300 mg of Ashwagandha twice a day. The other group got psychotherapy, relaxation techniques and placebo pills twice a day.
When anxiety levels were evaluated 12 weeks later, the group who got ashwagandha had anxiety levels decreased by 55%, while the other group had anxiety levels decreased by 30,5%. Significant differences between the two groups were shown also as regards mental health, concentration, social functioning, fatigue and life quality: the Ashwagandha group showing more clinical benefits.
Besided these positive results, the researchers pointed out there didn’t occur major side effects in both groups. One of the main adavantages of Ashwagandha is there aren’t major adverse reactions if compared with antidepressive and anti-anxiety drugs, which may cause drowsiness, insomnia, low libido and increased appetite.
#4 It improves depression
Not only does ashwagandha prove helpful to people who suffer from anxiety and chronic stress, but it may help also people who show signs of . As stress is a known cause of depression, like hormonal imbalance, ashwagadha may help as a natural remedy for depression.
#5 It balances sugar levels in the bloodstream
Ashwagandha has been evaluated for its anti-diabetis effects, due the fact is contains flavonoids. Research has shown flavonoid have hypoglycemic effect.
A study published on Reports of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology suggests Ashwagandha may help improve insuline sensitivity and lower inflammatory markers in human beings.
#6 It reduces the degeneration of brain cells and improves memory
Emotional, physical and chemical may negatively impact the brain and the nervous system. Recent research has shown that Ashwagandha protects the brain from cell degeneration, which may lead to neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. One of the main reasons why ashwagandha is so effective in healing the brain is because it contains strong antioxidants, that destroy free radicals, responsible for premature aging.
A 2017 pilot study published on the Journal of Dietary Supplements found out ashwagandha effectively boosted both long-term and short-term memory in people with a mild cognitve deficit. Indian ginseng boosts attention, the information processing speed and mental abilities. The study involved 50 adults who got Ashwagandha root extract for 8 weeks.
#7 It improves the immune system and promotes the anti-inflammatory process
Ashwagandha works successfully even in reducing inflammation in the body. Research shows ashwagandha may enhances the immune function, by boosting the immunoglobulin production. It also promotes an anti-inflammatory environment, by suppressing pro-inflammatory cytokines.
#8 It boosts endurance
Studies has shown ashwagandha may boost endurance during physical activity, enhancing brain function and lowering body pain caused by extreme fatigue.
A study carried out in India evaluated the effectiveness of Ashwagandha extract in boosting cardiorespiratory endurance in 50 healthy adult athletes. Partecipants were also handed a questionnarie on physical health, psychological health, social relations and environmental factors to evaluate the changes in their life quality after undergoing the ashwagandha treatment. Researchers found out that life quality and physical performances of the 50 partecipants improved after 8-12 weeks of treatment.
#9 It promotes and boosts muscle strength
A surprising benefit of Ashwagandha is its ability to increase muscle mass and strength. This is the reason why it may prove helpful to people who train endurance and engage in other types of physical exercise that put muscles to the test.
A 2015 study published on the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that Ashwagandha supplementation is associated to significant increase in muscle mass and strength. This 8-week study involved 57 male partecipants of 18-50 of age with little endurance training. The partecipants of the treatment group had 300 mg of ashwagandha root extract twice a day, whereas the control group had just placebo. The researchers found out the treatment group showed a significant increase in muscle strength and mass.
#10 It helps enhance sexual function and fertility
In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha has often been used as a natural aphrodisiac that may help enhance sexual dysfunction. Ashwagandha has also been used to increase testosterone levels and boost male fertility.
Another study was carried out to evaluate the ashwagandha-induced spermatogenic activity in patients with low sperm count and potential infertility. 46 males were involved in the study who got 675 mg of ashwagandha (or placebo) three times a day for 90 days. After the treatment researchers found a 167% increase in sperm count, a 53% increase in sperm volume and a 57% increase in sperm motility among the partecipants who got ashwagandha.
And a 2010 study published on Fertility and Sterility found out ashwagandha supplementation could boost testosterone levels in 75 males undergoing infertility screening.
1.000 mg of dehydrated Ashwagandha root powder contain:
0,04 gr of protein
0,32 gr of fiber
0,05 gr of carbs
03 mg of iron
08 mg of caroten
06 mg of vitamin C
L’Ashwagandha contains lots of beneficial elements, among which flavonoids, antioxidants and glutathione. What is more, it contains alcaloids, and amino acids, tryptophan included.
Ashwagandha’s types, uses and doses
The most popular form of Ashwagandha is root extract. You can find extracts in the form of capsules and in powder.
Side effects and precautions for use
Ashwagandha is made of lactones and withanolides. Some parts of the plant are packed with larger concentrations of these compounds than other parts;then choosing the type of supplement should be based upon prior evaluation of these two compounds levels, especially withanolides: the leaves, for instance, seem to be packed with larger amounts of it.
With proper dosage, ashwagandha is absolutely safe. A few possible side effects are stomachache, vomit and diarrhea. If you have any of these effects, stop taking this herb immediately.
Pregnant or nursing women should never take ashwagandha, as it seems it may lead to major issues, even miscarriage.
People taking diabetis and hypertension drugs, or people taking sedatives or thyroid drugs shouldn’t use ashwagandha, at least not before seeking medical advice.
Ashwagandha is likely to intensify autoimmune diseases, like multiple sclerosis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
In case of surgery taking anesthesia, you should stop to take ashwagandha at least 2 weeks earlier.
Now that you read this article, you know what ashwagandha benefits are, and I am really glad to have been able to share this information with all of you. The benefit of Indian ginseng I have been able to appreciate the most is it is a stress-protective agent, as it helps the body maintain homeostasis, even in moments of emotional or physical stress. I take it twice a day and I haven’t had any side effect. Actually it is the natural remedy I was looking for, and I found it!!!
If you liked my article,please share it with your friends. If you have any questions to ask me, I will be more than happy to help you out,