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10 health Benefits of Ashwagandha । What is Ashwagandha

Amazing Benefits of Ashwagandha

For many centuries, Ayurvedic herbal medicines have been used by people for treating different ailments like stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression, arthritis, digestive conditions etc. Due to the presence of a large number of antioxidants, amino acids and alkaloids, Ashwagandha is regarded as the King of Ayurvedic herbs. 

10 health Benefits of Ashwagandha

What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha or Withania somnifera is a revered herb used in Ayurveda for many centuries. It is also called as the Indian Ginseng and Indian Winter Cherry. When translated, Ashwagandha (Sanskrit: Ashwa -horse, gandha -smell) means the smell of a horse. Hence, it is said that regular consumption of this herb will give you a horse-like vitality and strength. 

This plant grows in the form of a small shrub and is native to India, the Middle East and North Africa. It is considered as a rasayana (i.e., rejuvenator) as it is able to improve the physical and mental health of the people, restore the balance of the body and increase their longevity and well-being.

This herb is an effective nervine tonic and is primarily consumed for decreasing the anxiety and stress levels in the individuals. It works in a subtle manner on the different systems of the body and displays a wide variety of benefits which have been explored below.

The roots and the fruits of the plant are the most beneficial. The roots are generally ground into a powder which is consumed with water, honey or ghee.

Here are some benefits of Ashwagandha which have been proven by the researchers. 

Benefits of Ashwagandha

Acts as an adaptogen

Adaptogen is any molecule that caters to the needs of your body and balances the levels of different factors like immunity, hormones or stress in your body. Hence, it can increase or decrease the level of any factor in the body and balance it out. They act as a balancer which either stimulates or calms your system based on your need at the time. 

This property of Ashwagandha makes it one of the Top 3 herbs in Ayurveda as it rejuvenates the body and increases longevity. 

The major chemical component present in Ashwagandha are withanolides which are mainly responsible for the adaptogenic or anti-stress activity of Ashwagandha.

Similar to the Chinese Ginseng, Ashwagandha improves the overall energy and chi levels in your body, increases your stamina and your thinking ability. 

Decreases Anxiety and Stress levels

Our hectic lifestyle activates the adrenal glands in the body which increases the cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the body. Stress has become an important component of our daily lives and can act as a trigger for many physical, neurological and mental diseases. 

According to Ayurveda, Ashwagandha balances the cortisol levels in the body, which in turn, eliminates the harmful effects of stress and decreases anxiety. It is also a natural depressant and works wonders on improving your mood.

Studies have shown that when albino mice were fed the root extracts of Ashwagandha, they showed a significant decrease in the stressor molecules compared to the control mice. 

The results of a randomised clinical trial showed that daily consumption of Ashwagandha extract for 2 months significantly decreased the serum cortisol and CRP levels in the participants.

In another study, the researchers enrolled 64 people suffering from chronic stress conditions into their randomised trial. The groups that were fed the Ashwagandha supplements showed a significant 70% decrease in their anxiety and insomnia levels compared to the control group. 

Improves the Thyroid Functioning 

The adrenal gland is linked to the thyroid gland in our body. Hence, an increase in cortisol production indirectly affects the functioning of the thyroid gland. Ashwagandha has proven to be effective in people suffering from hypothyroidism.

A 8-week randomised trial was carried out where 50 people suffering from hypothyroidism were enrolled. The people in the treatment group were fed 600 gm of Ashwagandha root extracts. 

They showed a significant increase in their T3 and T4 levels compared to the control group. Furthermore, the TSH (Thyroid-stimulating hormone) levels of these patients also showed a 17.5% decrease.

Improves the Cognitive functioning of the brain

Ashwagandha belongs to the medha group of rasayanas (i.e., those that improve the mental and intellectual capacity). Ashwagandha improves the cognitive functioning of the brain. It is especially effective in increasing the memory and concentration levels in children, those who have suffered a memory loss due to a head injury or illness and the older people.

According to one study, when some participants consumed 250 gm of Ashwagandha, twice a day, showed a marked improvement in their reaction times and overall psychomotor performance.

Boosts testosterone levels in males

Ashwagandha extracts are known to boost testosterone levels and improve the reproductive health of individuals. 

One study investigated the effect of Ashwagandha extracts on 75 infertile males. The results indicated that ashwagandha extracts improved the sperm motility and count in these patients. 

These patients also showed a significant increase in their testosterone levels, in addition to a higher concentration of antioxidants. 

Increases the muscle mass

Studies indicated that ashwagandha improved the muscle mass and strength in the male volunteers. 

In this study, 18 healthy male volunteers were given a gradually increasing dosage of ashwagandha extract capsules (ranging between 750 mg/day to 1250 mg/day). They showed a significant in their muscle mass and higher muscular strength. 

The volunteers also showed a decrease in their total- and LDL- cholesterol levels and an improvement in their sleep quality. 

Improves the hormonal balance in women

During menopause, women have to undergo a hormonal imbalance, hot flashes, depression, insomnia and mood swings.

Ashwagandha is the best treatment for curing all these issues.

Though the root is the most common part that is used, even the leaves and fruits of the herb are beneficial. The leaves are bitter and can be used to make Ashwagandha tea. The leaves are rich in iron and are especially beneficial in relieving conditions like anaemia or blood loss during your periods.

10 health Benefits of Ashwagandha

It is an effective adaptogen and works on the endocrine system of the body. Thus, it normalises the hormone levels in the body and alleviates all the discomfort associated with menopause. 

Hence, you must start consuming Ashwagandha on a regular basis if you are nearing your menopause.

Improves Heart Health:

Ashwagandha displays many heart benefits and decreases chest pain, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and similar other heart-related issues. 

Some animal studies also showed that this herbal extract could decrease blood fat levels.

Anti-Cancer properties 

The alkaloids present in Ashwagandha display many anti-inflammatory properties, which improve the cell cycle regulation, restrict metastasis and decrease angiogenesis (i.e., development of blood vessels surrounding a tumour). 

Withaferin A, an alkaloid in Ashwagandha, has shown significant apoptotic activity against the tumour cells. 

Though these studies were carried out against animal models or in vivo, they do provide hope for the future. 

Healthy Skin-

Ashwagandha contains many anti-oxidising molecules, which eliminate the free oxidising radicals present in our body, which are generally responsible for the formation of wrinkles on the skin.

Furthermore, ashwagandha is a hormone balancer, and normalises the levels of oestrogen and collagen, thus, giving your skin a healthy glow.

The anti-inflammatory molecules in the herb stave off infections and reduce the keratin build-up on the skin.

Furthermore, it decreases the cortisol levels in the blood, which is responsible for increasing the stress levels in the body that forms wrinkles and dry skin. 

You can effectively use Ashwagandha extract as a toner to keep your skin healthy and glowing.

Mix the powder from 4-5 ashwagandha capsules with rose water. Store this in an airtight bottle and spritz your face with this toner for improving your skin tone.

Availability, Dosage and Precautions while taking Ashwagandha

Generally, Ashwagandha is available in the markets in the form of a churna, capsules, and extract. The dosage is based on the condition that you want to treat and can vary between 0.45 g to 2 g.

It should be remembered that though Ashwagandha does show many promising results, it should not be used for replacing any major medical treatment. Please consult your doctor before you include this herb in your treatment strategy. 

Ashwagandha is relatively safe for consumption by a majority of people but pregnant and lactating women must avoid taking Ashwagandha extracts. It can cause abortions if taken by pregnant women.

Also, people suffering from autoimmune conditions, like Type 1 diabetes, Lupus, Hashimoto’s Disease etc. should avoid Ashwagandha, unless it has been prescribed by their physician.

Bottom Line

Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb which shows many benefits.
Including ashwagandha supplements can be an effective technique to improve your overall health.

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