Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an herb that has been used for thousands of years to relieve stress and reduce anxiety.
Since most of us experience stress to some degree, and stress is a known cause of many disorders, getting to know more about this beneficial herb is important to our health.
Ashwagandha is also known by several other names, including Indian ginseng and winter cherry, the word itself means ‘smell of the horse’ and describes the aroma of the herb.
This is one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda, a form of alternative medicine based on Indian principles of natural healing.
The supplement comes from a small shrub that is native to India and North Africa.
The shrub roots and leaves are ground into powder or extracts are created from the plant which are used to treat a variety of conditions.
Many of its health benefits are attributed to the high concentration of withanolides, which have been shown to fight inflammation and tumor growth.
It has been a vital herb in Indian Ayurveda medicine practices and is growing in popularity around the world as a supplement that has a wide array of health benefits.
Read on to discover all the benefits of Ashwagandha.
Blood Sugar Reduction
With the number of diabetics rising each year, a more effective, natural treatment for the condition is needful.
Ashwagandha is showing promising results in study after study by revealing its ability to reduce blood sugar naturally.
A test-tube study found that it increased insulin secretion and improved insulin sensitivity in muscle cells and human studies have confirmed its ability to reduce blood sugar levels in both healthy people and those with diabetes.
Brain Function Improvement
Studies have shown that ashwagandha promotes antioxidant activity that protects nerve cells from harmful free radicals.
The protection of these nerve cells helps to prevent against memory loss as we age and promotes improved brain function at any age level.
Those who have suffered a head injury may also see faster brain function recovery by taking this natural herbal supplement.
One of the ways ashwagandha provides cancer protection is by being toxic to cancer cells but not to normal cells.
Studies suggest that it may also be beneficial for treating several types of cancer, including breast, lung, colon, brain and ovarian cancer.
Tumor reduction is significantly increased when this powerful herb is used along with anti-cancer drugs as a part of an overall cancer treatment plan.
Cortisol Levels Reduced
Cortisol is known as a stress hormone because your adrenal glands release it in response to stress and when blood sugar levels get too low.
If cortisol levels become chronically high it leads to harmful belly fat and elevated blood sugar levels.
The body was never meant to be placed under constant stress with a steady supply of cortisol being released into the system.
With the continuous stress most people are under, it’s easy to understand why so many of us carry around extra weight around the mid-sections and are diabetic.
Ashwagandha was one of the supplements recently tested by a group of chronically stressed adults.
The overly stressed adults that supplemented with ashwagandha had significantly greater reductions in cortisol than those adults who were given other herbal supplements.
The group taking the highest dose of ashwagandha had an average of a 30 percent reduction in their cortisol level.
Cholesterol is found in every cell of the body and has important natural functions when it comes to digesting foods, producing hormones, and generating vitamin D.
It’s naturally manufactured by the body but can also be taken in from food. It’s waxy and fat-like in appearance.
When too much cholesterol is present in the body the excess makes its way into the blood stream where it adheres to the walls of the arteries.
This build-up, called plaque, can clog arteries and impede blood flow to the heart and cause a heart attack.
Small pieces of the built-up plaque can also break off and travel through the blood stream to various parts of the body where it will form a blood clot.
If the blood clot reaches the brain, it results in a stroke. Clots can also cause serious medical issues, or possible death, it they form in the lungs or legs.
Help prevent plaque build-up on your artery walls by using ashwagandha as a cholesterol reducing supplement.
This beneficial herb also works to lower triglycerides to further protect you from coronary heart disease.
A recent study on adults who had been diagnosed with depression saw a significant reduction in symptoms when taking ashwagandha during a two-month trial period.
Severe depression symptoms were decreased by slightly over 75 percent in just two months.
Inflammation is a process by which the body’s white blood cells and substances they produce protect us from infection with foreign organisms, such as bacteria and viruses.
However, that process sometimes get misdirected and the body’s normally protective immune system causes damage to its own tissues.
This out-of-control inflammation causes various types of arthritis, fibromyalgia, muscular low back pain, and muscular neck pain and can be a fore-runner to heart disease and cancer.
Ashwagandha has been shown to decrease markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker that is linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
Ashwagandha helps body builders (or anyone who does weight training) to gain more muscle mass and lose body fat more quickly than going it alone.
Many body builders turn to synthetic steroids to quickly lose fat and gain muscle, but that pathway leads to negative health consequences.This all-natural herb will improve body composition and increase muscle strength for the competitive body builder or someone just wanting to increase strength and lose a little weight without the negative consequences to health.
Males experience a drop in testosterone as they age. Other factors, such as disease and medications, can also cause a reduction in this important male hormone.
This hormone plays a vital role in men’s health and impacts everything from mood and behavior to sex drive and fertility.
A recent study has revealed that men who supplemented with ashwagandha had an increase in testosterone and an increased sperm count.
The study men in the study group also experienced increased antioxidant levels in their blood.
Safe and Effective
Ashwagandha is safe for most people to take. The exceptions are pregnant or nursing mothers and those who have autoimmune diseases.
Look for root extract or powder in 450–500 mg capsules and typical dosages range from 125–1,250 mg daily, with half taken in the morning and the other half taken in the evening.
In studies where different dosages were taken, the higher dosage usually produced the most dramatic improvements.