In Ayurveda, a traditional alternative medicine based on Indian natural healing concepts, Ashwagandha is one of the essential herbs. Ashwagandha has decreased stress, increased energy, and improved concentration for thousands of years. "Ashwagandha" is Sanskrit for "horse smell," referring to the herb's aroma and capacity to boost strength. Withania somnifera is its botanical name, although it is also known by various names like "Indian ginseng" and "winter cherry".
The ashwagandha plant is a tiny shrub native to India and Southeast Asia with yellow flowers. Extracting or powder from the plant's root or leaves treats various conditions, including anxiety and fertility issues.
Here are some benefits of Ashwagandha found in research.
Reduces Stress And Anxiety
Ashwagandha is primarily known for its stress-relieving properties. It is an adaptogen, a chemical that helps the body deal with stress.
- Stress mediators that Ashwagandha appears to assist in control include heat shock proteins (Hsp70), cortisol, and stress-activated c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase (JNK-1).
- It also lowers the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which controls the stress response in your body.
- Several studies have found Ashwagandha supplements to help reduce stress and anxiety.
- According to short research with 58 individuals, those who took 250 or 600 mg of ashwagandha extract for eight weeks had much lower subjective stress and levels of the stress hormone cortisol than those who took a placebo.
- Furthermore, compared to the placebo group, the ashwagandha supplement users had much higher sleep quality.
- A 60-person study indicated that those who took 240 mg of ashwagandha extract per day for 60 days had significantly lower anxiety levels than those who received a placebo.
- As a result, a preliminary study reveals that Ashwagandha may be helpful as a stress and anxiety supplement.
- However, according to a recent assessment of studies, there is not enough data to reach a consensus on the best dosage and type of Ashwagandha for treating stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders like anxiety.
Enhances Athletic Performance
Ashwagandha has been found in studies to improve athletic performance and may be a good supplement for athletes.
- One review included twelve trials, including men and women taking ashwagandha doses ranging from 120 to 1,250 mg per day. The findings suggest that the plant can boost physical abilities like strength and oxygen consumption during exercise.
- Ashwagandha significantly increased maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 max) in healthy adults and athletes, according to a review of five research.
- The maximum amount of oxygen a person may take during strenuous exercise is known as VO2 max.
- Athletes and nonathletes alike benefit from having a high VO2 max. A low VO2 max is linked to a higher risk of death, while a higher VO2 max is connected to a decreased risk of heart disease.
- In addition, Ashwagandha may help with muscle strength growth.
- Compared to a placebo group, male participants who took 600 mg of Ashwagandha daily and did resistance training for eight weeks had considerably more significant muscle strength and size gains.
Reduces Some Mental Health Symptoms
Evidence suggests that Ashwagandha may help alleviate symptoms of various mental health disorders, such as depression, in some populations.
- In one investigation, researchers looked at the effects of Ashwagandha on 66 people with schizophrenia who were depressed and nervous.
- They found that those who took 1,000 mg of ashwagandha extract daily for 12 weeks had lower levels of depression and anxiety than those who took a placebo.
- Furthermore, another study suggests that ingesting Ashwagandha may help persons with schizophrenia improve their overall symptoms and perceived stress.
- Limited research from 2013 reveals that Ashwagandha may assist persons with bipolar disorder improve their cognitive impairment. More research, however, is required.
- In addition, a 2012 study found that stressed people who took 600 mg of ashwagandha extract per day for 60 days experienced a 77% reduction in depressive symptoms, compared to a 5% drop in the placebo group (13Trusted Source).
- However, because only one of the study's participants had a history of depression, the results' applicability is debatable.
- Although some studies suggest that Ashwagandha may have antidepressant qualities in some people, you should not use it instead of antidepressant medications.
- If you are experiencing depressive symptoms, speak with a healthcare professional to get any assistance or treatment you may require.
Helps Boost Testosterone And Increase Male Fertility
In some trials, ashwagandha supplements have been proven to improve male fertility and testosterone levels.
- In one study, 43 overweight men aged 40 to 70 with minor weariness were administered ashwagandha extract or placebo tablets daily for eight weeks.
- The ashwagandha supplement caused an 18% increase in DHEA-S, a sex hormone that produces testosterone. In addition, those who took the herb had a 14.7 per cent higher testosterone increase than those who took the placebo.
- In addition, ashwagandha treatment significantly improved sperm concentration, semen volume, and sperm motility in men with low sperm count.
- Men with average sperm counts also enhanced sperm concentration and motility.
- However, the researchers found insufficient evidence to support Ashwagandha's potential benefits for male fertility and that more high-quality trials are needed.
Reduces Blood Sugar Level
Ashwagandha may benefit persons with diabetes or high blood sugar levels, according to limited research.
- According to a review of 24 studies, including five clinical studies in people with diabetes, Ashwagandha treatment dramatically reduced blood sugar, haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), insulin, blood lipids, and oxidative stress indicators.
- Specific components in Ashwagandha, such as withaferin A (WA), are thought to have potent anti-diabetic properties and may help encourage your cells to absorb glucose from your bloodstream.
- Currently, research is limited, and more well-designed trials are required.
Effective Against Cancer
As is well known, Ashwagandha has therapeutic benefits. However, research suggests that it may be able to stop cancer cells from growing.
- According to numerous animal studies, Ashwagandha includes a component called withaferin, which aids in the induction of apoptosis, which is conditioned to kill cancer cells.
- The chemical compound causes cancer cells to produce reactive oxygen species (ROS), which prevents them from functioning. Then it allows apoptosis to take over and eliminate the cancer cells causing the problem.
Ashwagandha includes chemicals that may help reduce inflammation in the body, including WA.
- Signal molecules such as nuclear factor kappa B (NF-B) and nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NF-ERF2) appear to be targets of WA in the body (Nrf2).
- In animal experiments, WA has also been proven to help lower inflammatory protein levels, including interleukin-10 (IL-10).
- In humans, there is some evidence that Ashwagandha can help lower inflammatory indicators.
- Adults suffering from stress were given ashwagandha extract for 60 days in a 2008 study. Compared to individuals who took a placebo, they exhibited much lower levels of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker.
- In a separate trial, participants with COVID-19 were given an Ayurvedic medication including 0.5 grammes of Ashwagandha and other herbs twice daily for seven days. Compared to a placebo, this reduced inflammatory markers CRP, IL-6, and TNF levels.
- The following ingredients were also present in the therapy formula:
- Tulsi ghanvati, 0.5 gram (Ocimum sanctum)
- Giloy ghanvati, 1 gram (Tinospora cordifolia)
- Swasari ras, 2 gram (a traditional herbo-mineral formulation)
- Even though these results are intriguing, there is currently little research on Ashwagandha's potential anti-inflammatory properties.
Improves Memory And Brain Function
The herb ashwagandha has enhanced cognitive performance.
- According to a study of five clinical studies, there were early indications that Ashwagandha could improve cognitive functioning in special populations, such as older people with mild cognitive impairment and those with schizophrenia.
- It may help with the following cognitive functions:
- Performance on cognitive tasks
- Reaction time
- Executive functioning
- In a study of 50 adults, ingesting 600 mg of ashwagandha extract daily for eight weeks resulted in substantial improvements in the following metrics when compared to a placebo:
- Information-processing speed
- Immediate and general memory
- According to the researchers, chemicals in Ashwagandha, such as WA, have antioxidant effects in the brain, which may benefit cognitive function.
- More research is needed, though, before specialists can draw firm conclusions.
Many people take Ashwagandha to help them sleep better, and there is some evidence that it can help with sleep problems.
- A study of 50 persons aged 65 to 80 found that ingesting 600 mg of ashwagandha root daily for 12 weeks enhanced sleep quality and mental alertness compared to placebo treatment.
- In addition, Ashwagandha had a small but substantial favourable effect on overall sleep quality, according to an analysis of five high-quality research.
- People who took Ashwagandha reported feeling less anxious and more awake when they awoke.
- According to the study, the results were more evident in persons with insomnia and those who took more than 600 mg daily for eight weeks or longer.
Comparatively Safe And Readily Available
For the most part, Ashwagandha is a safe supplement, while its long-term consequences are unknown.
- According to a review of 69 studies, ashwagandha root appears to be both safe and beneficial in treating stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness.
- In a research of 80 healthy men and women, consuming 600 mg of Ashwagandha daily for eight weeks was safe and had no negative health consequences.
- Sure folks, however, should not take it. Pregnant women, for example, should avoid it since large doses can cause pregnancy loss.
- Also, avoid Ashwagandha if you have hormone-sensitive prostate cancer or are on specific drugs like benzodiazepines, anticonvulsants, or barbiturates.
- Upper gastrointestinal discomfort, sleepiness, and diarrhoea have all been observed in patients who have used ashwagandha pills.
- Additionally, because Ashwagandha might impact the thyroid, anyone with thyroid disorders should consult a doctor before taking it.
- The recommended dosage for Ashwagandha varies. Doses of 250–1,250 mg daily, for example, have been demonstrated to be beneficial for various ailments. If you have questions about how much Ashwagandha to take, go to your doctor.
- According to research, Ashwagandha's benefits are not immediate, so be aware that you may need to take it for several months before seeing any changes.
- You can take Ashwagandha in various ways, including single or multiple daily doses. Eating it on an empty stomach or with food is okay.
- It is produced by several supplement manufacturers and sold by several retailers, including health food stores and vitamin stores.
How to Use Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha use varies from person to person and depends on the conditions being treated. There is no standard dosage, and different studies have utilised varying dosage quantities in the past. It is available in capsule, powder, and liquid extract forms. The dosage of ashwagandha capsules is usually between 250 and 1,500 mg. However, before taking any amount of medication, it is essential to check your doctor. A medical professional can provide you with the most appropriate advice.
Five Interesting Facts About Ashwagandha
- Ashwagandha is a perennial shrub in India, the Middle East, and Africa. Every part of the shrub is advantageous in some way.
- Ashwagandha is formed from the Sanskrit words "Ashwa" (horse) and "Gandha" (herb) (odour). According to Ayurvedic Scholar Charaka, "one acquires longevity, regains youth, obtains a sharp mind and knowledge, and escapes from diseases, obtains a shiny complexion, and strength of a horse" (100 BC).
- In traditional Indian classification, Ashwagandha is categorised as a Rasayana, which means it can help you live longer.
- In modern medicine, Ashwagandha is categorised as an adaptogen, which means it helps the body adapt to stress. The herb is well-known for its revitalising and therapeutic effects.
- According to Ayurveda, the herb is also classified as Bhalya, enhancing strength, and Vajikara, supporting healthy sexual function.
Ashwagandha As A Medicine
Let us begin with the most well-known Ashwagandha application: churna. Did you know that this popular Ashwagandha churna (which may also be made into a paste by mixing it with water, ghee, or honey) is made from the shrub's roots?
- This powder has an unlimited range of advantages. The powder is most commonly used to treat illnesses including leucoderma, constipation, sleeplessness, rheumatism, psychological breakdown, and goitre. A paste made from the powder is applied to the joints to relieve inflammation and pain.
- Even though there are many distinct types of Ashwagandha, the Nagori Ashwagandha is the best. You should take only fresh ashwagandha powder for optimal effects.
- The shrub's other portions are likewise incredibly beneficial.
- Herbal tea made from Ashwagandha leaves an energy booster that also helps to reduce fever and uncomfortable swellings. For example, despite its bitter taste, Ashwagandha leaves are high in iron and can be used to make herbal tea. They aid in treating anaemia and blood loss caused by heavy periods.
- Aphrodisiac, astringent, depurative, diuretic, and aphrodisiac are all properties of the flowers. The seeds are anthelmintic (help to kill parasitic worms) and can be used to remove white spots from the cornea when coupled with astringent and rock salt. Hysteria, anxiety, memory loss, syncope, and other conditions are treated with Ashwagandharishta (an Ashwagandha health tonic) made from its seeds.
Is not it fascinating how a single bush can be so beneficial?
The Secret Behind Ashwagnadha's Benefits
Ashwagandha's unique therapeutic benefits are due to its essential chemical structures. Phytochemicals are a class of unique substances found in all plants. They accomplish specific activities because plants cannot move. Some phytochemicals respond to invading antibodies, and some are present to dissuade insects from devouring them.
Although Ashwagandha is generally safe to consume, it should be avoided by pregnant or breastfeeding women, as well as persons with conditions including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 diabetes. Thyroid, blood sugar, and blood pressure drugs may interact with Ashwagandha. Before supplementing with the medicinal plant, people using these medications should check with their doctor.
Check the origins of your herbs, especially if you are purchasing supplement capsules. Begin by seeking advice from employees at natural foods or supplement stores. If they suggest any brand will work, do your research on the certifications, testing procedures, and product standards of each company. Heavy metals such as cadmium, arsenic, mercury, and lead, among others, should be checked for in their products. The liver, kidneys, central nervous system, immunological system, and reproductive system can all be harmed by exposure to these metals.
Side Effects of Ashwagandha
In small to medium doses, Ashwagandha is regarded to be well tolerated. However, there is an insufficient long-term study to investigate possible adverse effects.
- Pregnant women should not take Ashwagandha because it can cause premature labour.
- Although ashwagandha supplements are generally well-tolerated in conventional dosages for a short time, mild to moderate side effects such as headache, drowsiness, and stomach discomfort have been recorded. Allergic reactions and fast heartbeat have been recorded on rare occasions.
- However, Ashwagandha can lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels and increase thyroid hormone levels.
When to Take Ashwagandha?
For thousands of years, Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) has been utilised in traditional medicine as a plant-based adaptogen. Adaptogens are plants that help your body's physiological response to stress. They have been related to reduced stress and better sleep.
Ashwagandha's health-promoting characteristics have gained popularity as more people turn to natural therapies. However, because Ashwagandha can cause stomach distress in some individuals, making it the right way can help you get the most benefits with the least amount of adverse effects.
You can take Ashwagandha at any time of day or night. Depending on your goals and tolerance, you can take it in the morning or evening.
Morning: Unlike many other supplements and treatments, the advantages of Ashwagandha take time to manifest. You may not see any effects for a few days to weeks.
- In one study involving 60 persons who took 300 mg of Ashwagandha daily, it took them upwards of 10 weeks to see the effect of the herb on their sleep quality compared to those in the control group.
- As a result, when to take Ashwagandha is primarily a matter of personal preference.
- If you are using Ashwagandha for general health, combine it with any other vitamins or supplements you take first thing in the morning.
Night: If you want a way to relax before bed, try mixing ashwagandha powder with moon milk.
- If you have stomach discomfort when taking Ashwagandha, taking it at night rather than in the morning may be a better alternative, especially if you prefer to take it on an empty stomach.
- Choosing a time when you will be most consistent with it and when it seems most natural is critical.
Ashwagandha is a well-known adaptogen with a long list of health advantages. Ashwagandha is commonly taken as a capsule or powder that You can take at any time of day.
You might wish to include it in your nighttime routine to help you sleep better. Alternatively, you may find that taking it first thing in the morning is more convenient. You can take Ashwagandha whenever it is convenient because it takes time to work. If you have stomach discomfort, however, you may choose to take it with food or at night.
Overall, the optimum time to take Ashwagandha is when you will take it the most consistently.
Risks Involved with Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is generally considered safe for most people.
- High doses — usually those beyond the package's recommended dose — might cause stomach distress, diarrhoea, and vomiting in some people.
- As a result, it is critical to follow the directions on the label and consult with your doctor before changing doses.
- In a few cases, liver problems have been reported; however, this could be due to other poisons found in unregulated supplements. Make sure you get Ashwagandha from a trusted supplement store.
- Finally, if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking immunosuppressants, sedatives, antidepressants, or other drugs, you should talk to your doctor before taking Ashwagandha.
It can be worthwhile to include Ashwghanda in your supplement regimen. However, it is recommended to double-check for any potential conflicts with other vitamins or drugs you are taking. If you are thinking of taking Ashwagandha, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor first. However, many are unaware of holistic or natural medicines and cures, so completing your due diligence and studying before taking Ashwagandha may be more beneficial.
It may help reduce anxiety and tension, enhance restful sleep, and even improve cognitive function in some people, according to the study. Most people consider Ashwagandha to be relatively safe. However, it is crucial to consult a healthcare expert before incorporating Ashwagandha into your daily regimen.