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Ashwaganda Uses and Health Benefits

Ashwaganda is a medicinal herb under the class of adaptogen, this implies that it can be used for body stress management.

Aside using it for body stress management, it shelters numerous other body and brain benefits; it helps lower cortisol levels, blood sugar levels, and also helps fight against symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Below are the numerous benefits of ashwagandha in reference to science.


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An old time medicinal herb

In Ayurveda, Ashwaganda is popularly known as an important herb. It is linked with the Indian principles of natural healing and as such, it is used as an alternative medicine.

It has been used as a stress reliever for over 3,000 years, enhance energy levels and concentration. It is also known for its unique smell and has the potential to increase strength (1).

It is known to many by several different names, including winter cherry and Indian ginseng

Ashwaganda plant is native to North Africa and India, and it exist as a small shrub that has yellow flowers. The powder and other extracts gotten from the root and leaves of this plant are used to treat a lot of health conditions.

The ashwaganda plant has a high concentration of withanolides which is known to fight against tumor growth and inflammation (1).

 

It Helps Reduce Blood Sugar Levels

Unraveled in many studies, ashwaganda helps reduce blood sugar levels.

The result from a test-tube study revealed that the ashwaganda plant helps enhance insulin sensitivity and secretion in muscle cells (2).

Unraveled in other human studies, it helps regulate blood sugar levels in diabetic patients and also healthy people in general. (34, 5, 6).

A study carried out among schizophrenia patients revealed that individuals who got treated with ashwagandha experienced an average reduction in blood sugar levels, compared to other individuals who got treated receiving placebo (5). The blood sugar level of the patients who got treated with ashwagandha reduced to a level of 13.5 mg/dl, and that of the patients who received a placebo reduced to 4.5 mg/dl.

In addition, in a study carried out among patients with type 2 diabetes revealed that using ashwagandha for treatment within the period of 30 days, helped reduced their fasting blood sugar levels. The result from this study tends to be questionable as the study omitted a control group (6).

 

Possible Anticancer Properties

Unraveled in a test-tube and animal study, a compound found in the ashwagandha plant called withaferin helps enhance apoptosis, which has to do with the death of cancer cells (7).

In several ways, it also delays or prevent the growth of newly discovered cancer cells.

Withaferin is believed to have the ability of enhancing the formation of Reacting Oxygen Species found inside cancer cells, which helps disrupt its function. It may also help weaken the cancer cells against apoptosis (8).

Animal studies reveals the possibility of treating several other types of cancer with the ashwagandha plant, the likes of ovarian cancer, lung cancer, brain cancer, colon cancer and breast cancer (9, 10, 11, 12, 13).

However, there exist no evidence suggesting that the ashwagandha plant has the same effect in humans, an on-going research looks promising.


It Has The Ability to Reduce Cortisol Levels

We all know cortisol to be a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands as a response to stress and extremely reduced blood sugar levels.

This is not 100% beneficial as cortisol levels in some cases can become significantly increased, as a result, can then lead to increased high blood sugar levels and fat storage in the abdomen.

However, different studies indicate that ashwagandha plant has the potential of reducing cortisol levels in the body (3, 14, 15).

In a study carried out among severely stressed grown-ups, those individuals who took ashwagandha as a means of supplementing, experienced significant decline in cortisol levels when compared with other individuals in a control group. Individuals who went for a higher dose, on average, had a 30% decline in cortisol levels (3).

 
Ashwagandha Plant May Help Relieve Stress and Anxiety

The ashwagandha plant’s ability to reduce stress is one of the many reason for it being in the spotlight.

In the brains of rats, researchers disclosed that the plant regulates a chemical which signals the nervous system to block the stress pathway (16).

Several other studies revealed that the plant has the ability minimize symptoms in individuals with anxiety disorder and stress 14, 17, 18).

A 60-day study involving individuals with chronic stress revealed that, those who embraced ashwagandha as a means of treatment experienced a 69% reduction in insomnia and anxiety, compared to others who showed 11% in the placebo group (14).

Unraveled in a 6-week study, 88% of individuals who supplemented with ashwagandha experienced a reduction in anxiety when compared with 50% of other individuals who had undergone a placebo.


Possible Decline in Symptoms of Depression

Presently, a thorough study hasn’t been conducted yet, but a few studies reveals that the ashwagandha plant may be linked with alleviating depression (14, 18).

A 60-day study (controlled) in 64 over worked grown-ups revealed that those individuals who consumed highly-concentrated ashwagandha extract (600mg) a day experienced 79% decline in severe depression, same time the placebo group experienced a 10% increase.

The authenticity and relevance of this result remains unclear as only one participant had a confirmed history of depression.

 

It Has The Potential to Enhance Fertility and Boost Testosterone

Supplements made from ashwagandha plant may help enhance testosterone levels and overall reproductive health (15, 19, 20, 21).

A study carried out among 75 men who were infertile revealed that, those individuals who used ashwagandha for treatment experienced an increase in sperm count and motility. In addition, this method of treatment resulted to a great increase in testosterone level (21).

Researchers who had the responsibility of carrying out this research revealed that, those individuals who consumed the ashwagandha supplement experienced an increase in antioxidant levels in the body.

Another research carried out among men who showed symptoms of stress revealed that, receiving ashwagandha for treatment led to an increase in antioxidant levels alongside preferred sperm quality. 14% of the participant’s sexual partners became pregnant just after 3 months of receiving treatment (15).

 

Possible Increase in Strength and Muscle Mass

Studies have revealed ashwagandha being linked with increased body composition and overall strength. (4, 20, 22).

In a research carried out to reveal a safe and required dosage of the ashwagandha plant, healthy individuals (male), gained muscle mass and strength 30 days after 750-1,250 mg of pulverized ashwagandha root each day (4).

Unraveled in another study, individuals gained significant muscle mass and strength after taking ashwagandha. Also their percentage in body fat reduction doubled, compared with other individuals in a placebo group. (20).

 

May Help Decrease Inflammation

A lot of animal studies revealed that the ashwagandha plant helps reduce inflammation. (23, 24, 25).

Also studies in humans reveals that the ashwagandha plant helps enhance the activities of killer cells (natural), these killer cells are known as immune cells which helps the human body fight off infections in the course of staying healthy. (26, 27).

The plant is also known for decreasing inflammation markers, the like of CRP (C-reactive protein), which is tied to increase risk of heart diseases.

Unraveled in a control study, a group of individuals who took ashwagandha extract of about 250mg daily experienced reduction in CRP by 36%. This is on average when being compared with other individuals in the placebo group who experienced a reduction in CRP by 6%. (3).


May Cause Possible Reduction in Cholesterol and Triglycerides

Ashwagandha plant is linked with improving the heart health, this is as a result of its ability to decrease triglyceride and cholesterol levels in the body.

Studies carried out in animals revealed that it effectively decreases the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.

A study carried out in rats revealed that cholesterol and triglycerides levels were reduced by 53% and almost 45% as an effect of the ashwagandha extract. (28).

A controlled human study revealed a lesser dramatic results, positive improvements in this markers were reported. (3, 4, 5, 6).

A 60-day study carried out among chronically stressed adults revealed that, a group of individuals who consumed high dosage of standardized ashwagandha extract showed a decrease in LDL cholesterol by 17% and a decrease in triglycerides by 11%. (3).

 

Possible Increase in Brain Function, Memory Inclusive

An animal study revealed that the ashwagandha plant may help resolve problems related to brain function and memory, these problems may be as a result of a disease or an injury. (29, 30, 31, 32).

Studies have revealed that ashwagandha extracts enhances antioxidant activities which in turn helps protect the nerve cells from other harmful radicals.

A study showed that rats with epilepsy that got treated with ashwagandha extracts experienced an almost complete reversal of spatial memory impairment, this was as a result of reduced oxidative stress. (32).

Traditionally, ashwagandha plant is used for boosting memory in Ayurvedic medicine. Although human research carried out in this area is minimal.

In a controlled study, a group of healthy men who consumed 500mg of standardized ashwagandha extract every day showed improvements in their responds to time and task performance, compared to other individuals in a placebo group. (33).

An 8-study carried out among 50 adults revealed that consuming ashwagandha root extract of 300mg two times a day for several days showed significant improvements in task performance a, general memory and attention. (34).


It Is Accessible and Safe for Most People

While its long-term effects remain unknown, the ashwagandha plant is safe for most people.

Though safe for most people, breastfeeding women and pregnant women are exempted from taking it.

Individuals who have autoimmune diseases should avoid consuming ashwagandha extracts or seek the advice of a health care provider before taking it. People with health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, hashimoto’s thyroiditis and lupus should also avoid or seek the advice of health care provider before consumption.

Individuals on medication for thyroid disease should seek caution before or when consuming ashwagandha as increase in thyroid hormone levels in some individuals is possible.

Decrease in blood pressure and blood sugar levels may occur, adjustment in medication dosages may be necessary.

The type of supplement actually determines the dosage of ashwagandha meant for consumption. Leaf powder or crude ashwagandha are less effective when compared with ashwagandha extracts. It is advisable to adhere to instructions on labels.

A moderate or standardized ashwagandha root extract is mostly consumed in 450 to 500mg capsules either once or twice, every day.

Lots of supplement manufacturers deal on ashwagandha extracts, making it easier for people to acquire through different retailers, health vitamin shops and food stores.

Online is where you can also find a great selection of high-quality supplements.

 

Conclusion

Ashwagandha has been in existence since ancient times and is well known as a medicinal herb.

It has the ability to effectively reduce anxiety and stress, enhance testosterone and fertility in men, enhance brain function, and also help fight depression.

Relying on ashwagandha as a means on supplementing may be an easy ticket to a quality and healthy lifestyle.

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