Complete Guide to Benefits of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha, also called Withania Somnifera, is a plant with a long history of use in Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is widely used during the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and stress.
It has long been used as an adaptogen and stress-reducing agent and is also believed to have immune-supporting properties. In recent years, there has been growing interest in Ashwagandha among people looking to improve their mood and emotional well-being.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is one of the most famous Ayurvedic herbs from the Indian medicinal herb family. The herb has been used for thousands of years and has a long history in Ayurvedic medicine, where it is referred to as “Indian Ginseng” due to its many benefits.
The name Ashwagandha is derived from the Sanskrit words “ashwa”, which means “horse”, and “gandha”, which means “smell”, and the name was given because when the herb is crushed, it smells like a horse’s hoof. The leaves of the plant are also edible and are sometimes used in salads.
Characteristics of the Ashwagandha Plant
The plant grows in tropical regions and has green leaves that turn yellow when they flower. It is a flowering plant that grows to a height of about two meters. The roots, leaves, and seeds of this plant are used for medicinal purposes, and the leaves are also sometimes consumed as a vegetable.
The Ashwagandha plant is in the same botanical family as the South African Ginseng plant. It is a shrub or small tree that belongs to the nightshade(Solanaceae) family. Traditionally, the herb is used as both a tonic and an adaptogen. While western herbalists have focused on tonic properties, Ayurvedic practitioners have explored the herb’s adaptogenic properties.
Ashwagandha is closely related to other medicinal plants and herbs, including winter cherry (Solanum americanum), tomato (S. lycopersicum), and eggplant (S. melongena).
Ashwagandha is a wonderful herb for overall health and well-being. It is deeply supportive of many tissues and systems within the body, including the immune system, reproductive system, a healthy thyroid, and more. It is well known for its ability to help your body respond to stress and adapt to discomforting situations.
Here we explore the benefits of Ashwagandha in more detail.
- Boosts Immune health: Ashwagandha benefits and supports immune health and is often used in Ayurvedic medicine to support the immune system. Nourishing the immune system is great for people who experience chronic infections and ailments.
- Supports Normal Thyroid Function: It may support healthy thyroid function, which makes it very useful for people with an underactive thyroid gland, or hypothyroidism, as well as people who are at risk of developing low thyroid function.
- Helps Balance Blood Sugar: Diabetes can be controlled with proper management. Ashwagandha is also known to support healthy blood sugar levels, which makes it a great herb for people with diabetes.
- Helps Manage Stress and Increase Alertness: Stress and increased cortisol levels can cause fatigue and result in difficulty sleeping. Ashwagandha provides an energizing yet soothing effect on the body, promoting a healthy nervous system.
Benefits of Ashwagandha for Immunity
One of the main benefits of Ashwagandha is that it is an immunostimulant. This means that it can help to support and strengthen the immune system. It is also known to have a beneficial effect on the cellular health of immune cells.
Additionally, its antioxidant properties make it a great option for fighting oxidative stress, which can be harmful to the immune system.
Ashwagandha benefits Th1 and Th2 immunity, making it a great option for people of all ages. Moreover, it is also known to help the body against different types of pathogens, including bacteria and viruses. It can be a wonderful herb to consume in the winter and autumn when people are more likely to catch colds and other infections.
Using Ashwagandha for anxiety and stress
As we age, our bodies naturally become more sensitive to stress. Stress is a common cause of anxiety, depression, and insomnia in all age groups. Stress can also have a negative impact on the brain, including impaired cognitive function and decreased brain volume. While stress management techniques can help to reduce the impact of stress on our mental health, they aren't always enough.
An effective way to combat stress is through the use of natural remedies like Ashwagandha for anxiety. It has been used throughout history as an adaptogen, helping the body to better handle stressful situations. By supporting healthy brain function, it may help to reduce feelings of anxiety and improve the overall quality of life.
Ashwagandha for weight loss and management
Ayurveda also recommends the use of Ashwagandha for controlling weight and improving glucose tolerance. It’s also used as a weight loss aid because it can help regulate appetite and decrease cravings for high-carb foods.
Having a balancing effect on the body’s endocrine system, it may improve insulin sensitivity, which could help reduce cravings for unhealthy foods and increase the feeling of fullness. Ashwagandha may also help with improving cholesterol levels and blood sugar control. However, more research is needed to confirm these effects.
Benefits of Ashwagandha for men and women
Ashwagandha supplements have been used to benefit male fertility and increase testosterone levels. Studies have shown that using the herb was associated with an 18% greater increase in DHEA-S, a sex hormone involved in testosterone production. Participants who took the herb also had a 14.7% greater increase in testosterone than those who took the placebo.
Additionally, different studies concluded that Ashwagandha treatment causes a significant increase in sperm concentration, semen volume, and sperm motility in men with low sperm counts.
Women often face issues like irregular periods, periods cramps, or other problems with menstruation. Often, these problems are a result of increased stress or hormonal imbalance. With its balancing effects, Ashwagandha can potentially help with these issues and promote overall health and wellness in women. Studies also indicate that women experiencing sexual dysfunction may benefit from its intake.
Ashwagandha as an adaptogen
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen. Adaptogens help the body to better cope with stress and restore homeostasis by improving the way it responds to both internal and external stresses. They exert their effects by balancing the body’s stress response in a number of ways.
First, they may reduce the effects of stress on the body by reducing cortisol levels. Second, they may help the body better respond to stress by increasing the production of naturally occurring chemicals known as neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. And third, they may help the body recover more quickly from stressful events by promoting growth and repair.
In addition to its calming effects on the nervous system, it has also been shown to promote mental clarity, improve memory and enhance mood. It is therefore very popular among people looking for an adaptogenic nootropic supplement for cognitive enhancement, stress reduction, or anxiety relief.
Traditional use of Ashwagandha root in Ayurveda
Ashwagandha is an herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Ayurveda provides the following properties for it:
Rasa (taste): Bitter and Pungent
Vipaka (post-digestion taste): Pungent
Virya (action): Hot/Warming
Ayurveda uses the roots and leaves of the Withania Somnifera plant. You can buy it in powder form as well as vegan capsules. It has been traditionally used as a stress-relieving herb and as an adaptogen to help the body deal with daily stresses (both physical and mental).
Ashwagandha is considered to have positive and balancing effects on all three doshas (tridosha). It has a particularly balancing impact on Kapha and Vata doshas. However, because of its warming Virya, it can aggravate the Pitta if taken in excess.
Modern Scientific Research Papers on Ashwagandha
Many studies have been done on Ashwagandha and its effects on the body.
- Ashwagandha root aqueous extract proved to be beneficial in reducing stress and anxiety. - “Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults” - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6979308/
- A study suggested that Ashwagandha has stress-relieving effects that may occur via its moderating effect on the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. - “An investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological…” - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6750292/
- Ashwagandha supplement might improve the VO2max in athletes and non-athlete people. - “Effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) on VO2max: A Systematic Review” - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7230697/
- Ashwagandha appears to improve auditory-verbal working memory (digit span backward), a measure of reaction time, and a measure of social cognition in bipolar disorder. - “Randomized placebo-controlled adjunctive study of an extract of Withania Somnifera…” - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24330893/
- Ashwagandha’s role in managing Diabetes Mellitus. - “Withania Somnifera (Indian ginseng) in diabetes mellitus…” - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31975514/
How to Take Ashwagandha as a Supplement
Taking Ashwagandha as a supplement can be helpful to promote overall wellness in the body. For the body to completely acclimatize to any herbal supplement, it can take upto 6 weeks. It is important to continue taking the supplement for this duration to fully experience the benefits.
Once you have achieved the desired results, you may reduce the dosage and continue taking it as long as you feel comfortable. People use it for months or years, but working with an Ayurvedic practitioner will be the best way to find the right dosage plan for you. It can be taken in powder form or as vegan capsules.
Traditionally, this herb has been taken in powdered form orally. You can take 1-2 teaspoons of Hesh’s Ashwagandha powder (available in the UK) twice daily after meals, with milk or warm water at bedtime. You can also add it to smoothies and other healthy drinks.
Ashwagandha Vegan Capsules
If you prefer to take the supplement in capsule form instead, you can choose our Ashwagandha Extract Vegan Capsules available in the UK. You can take two capsules once a day after a meal with milk or water.
Is it safe to take Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha has been used by Ayurveda as an herbal remedy for thousands of years and is generally safe for intake. Nevertheless, when taking it as a supplement, you should be on the lookout for any side effects. The most common side effects are drowsiness, stomach upset, diarrhoea, and vomiting.
Ashwagandha can potentially interact or interfere with other drugs, increasing the risk of side effects. If you are on any medications or drugs, it is necessary to consult your physician before taking it. It is not recommended for children who are under 12 years of age, and women who are lactating or expecting mothers.