In the recent years, the herbal and natural remedies have become widely popular for various health problems including anxiety, stress, cognitive issues, etc. One such herb which has gained attention in recent years is Ashwagandha. There are various Ashwagandha Health Benefits. Its berry is used for making medicines, supplements, etc.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha’ is a Sanskrit name which means ‘horse smell.’ The name does not refer to the actual horse odor, but it relates to the strength and potency which it provides to the individual who takes it on a regular basis.
It is also called ‘Indian winter cherry.’ The Ayurvedic practitioners have been using the roots of this plant for past thousands of years in making various medicines.
This is because the root has numerous flavonoids and many other active ingredients that belong to withanolide class. It is known by the name of ‘Indian Ginseng’ due to its powerful qualities.
Physical Appearance of Ashwagandha
As it belongs to the tomato family, it appears as a plump shrub that has oval leaves with yellow flowers. It gives a red fruit that is nearly a size of a raisin.
It is a plant that is native to the dry areas of India, North Africa, and the Middle Eastern countries. Nowadays, it is also planted and grown in milder climates which include the United States.
Ashwagandha Health Benefits
Ashwagandha offers to its users’ extensive array of benefits which include its capability of fighting cancer cells, diabetes, reducing inflammation and prevention of arthritis, asthma, stress, Anxiety, hypertension, and rheumatism.
It also boosts the antioxidants supply to the body, helps in regulating the immune system and has antibacterial as well as anticonvulsant qualities.
It is beneficial for men in the treatment of infertility and erectile dysfunction.
The herb is a powerhouse of various chemicals that hold medicinal value including choline, withanolides, fatty acids, (steroidal lactones), alkaloids, amino acids, and a range of sugars.
The root is most commonly used part of the plant in herbal remedies, but its leaves and fruits also hold significant therapeutic qualities.
In an overview of various research studies published with a title, “An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda” in NCBI, Ashwagandha health benefits was found to be useful for decreasing stress levels, anxiety and tumors.
It has also found to hold memory enhancing effects among children and old people. It mimics GABA effect which promotes the formation of dendrites.
It has an anxiolytic effect and helps to improve levels of energy within the body. Another study titled “A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Anxiety and Stress in Adults ” exhibited that ashwagandha significantly decreased stress and anxiety hence improving the quality of life of the participants.
Some of the important healing Ashwagandha health benefits include the following:
- It boosts and protects the immune system.
- It helps to decrease the effects of stress and anxiety.
- It helps in improving memory, learning, and recall.
- It helps in reducing degeneration of brain cells.
- It regulates the blood sugar in the body.
- It helps in lowering cholesterol levels.
- It has anti-inflammatory qualities.
- It also has anti-malarial benefits.
- It helps in enhancing the sexual strength of both men and women.
Adaptogenic herb: Ashwagandha
In Ayurvedic medicine, certain herbs are known for their adaptogenic characteristics; Ashwagandha is one of those herbs.
Adaptogens are those substances (a fusion of amino acids, vitamins, and herbs) that help in modulating your body’s response to anxiety, stress or changes in the environment.
They help in the body’s ability to cope with external distresses such as environmental toxins as well as internal emphasizes like anxiety and insomnia.
Modern research related to Ashwagandha
As the herb grows in popularity, it has become a center of interest for many researchers. There are some recent researches done on the medicinal qualities of this herb.
- It has been under study to look for the effects it has on the immune system.
- It has demonstrated to provide support to healthy levels of cholesterol along with anti-oxidant properties when it is used combining with licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Safed Musli (Chlorophytum borivilianum), and sesame seeds (seeds of Sesamum indicum).
- Many research studies pertaining to the qualities of ashwagandha that can be read in PubMed.
Side Effects of Ashwagandha
Being a herb and natural supplement, Ashwagandha is usually considered safe for the majority of people.
However, it is not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
People who are suffering from the auto-immune disease are also advised not to take it unless prescribed by the physician.
Doctors usually advise observing caution in the use of Ashwagandha health benefits while taking some other medicine because it can interact with the effects of those drugs especially for those people who suffer from diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
Avoid taking ashwagandha in high doses as it may cause side effects like diarrhea, nausea and upset stomach.
If you are a thyroid patient, then you should use it cautiously or avoid its use altogether because it might raise the activity of thyroid hormones.
Aside from these, ashwagandha has been well-tolerated in the few reported research studies that have been done on the herb.
If you are already taking some medicines for some disease, then it is recommended that you consult your physician before you start taking Ashwagandha.
How to take ashwagandha?
The Ashwagandha root is found in the market in different forms including powder, dried or as fresh root.
The dosage of herb depends on various factors such as age, health and the medical conditions of an individual.
According to Examine.com, NCBI research study and Livestrong.com, if you intend to take it for general well-being then it is recommended that you take 1-2 tsp or 5-6 grams of powder in a week.
The recommended dosage daily is approximately 450-500 mg once or twice in a day. If you intend to take it for treatment of any specific disease or disorder, then it is extremely advisable that you consult your physician for dosage.
It should preferably be taken with meals, and if you have it one time in a day, then it is best to make it with breakfast.
You can also apply it in the form of tea. Take one and a half cup of water and add a tsp of ashwagandha powder to it and boil it for 10 minutes.
You can take one tsp of powder with a hot cup of milk before going to bed to have sound and relaxing sleep.
There are lots of Ashwagandha health benefits. It is a natural herbal supplement that improves your quality of life, but it is always desirable to advise your doctor before using any of herbal supplements if you suffer from any health conditions.
Do proper research about the supplement and how it can help you in achieving desired health benefits before you start taking it.