Ashwagandha is a popular adaptogenic herb, commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine. Thanks to its incredible health benefits, ashwagandha has become a common staple in supplements. From its stress relieving properties to increasing stamina, discover 10 sensational health benefits of ashwagandha and why you should incorporate this herb into your daily routine.
Ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years and is often known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry. Hailing from the Solanaceae family, its botanical name is Withania somnifera, often referred to as ‘sleep inducing’ in Latin. The medicinal properties of ashwagandha are found in its root and leaves, thanks to the presence of withanolides (steroidal lactones). Ashwagandha has long been used in India as a home remedy to aid both physical and mental health. However, recently, scientists have suggested that most ashwagandha benefits hail from its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.1
Ashwagandha delivers an array of sensational health benefits to its users. If you’re considering supplementing your diet with this herb, here are 10 ashwagandha benefits to expect.
The presence of flavonoids within ashwagandha delivers anti-diabetic effects. Research has demonstrated that flavonoids boast hypoglycaemic activity with an animal study revealing that ashwagandha root and leaf extract aided balanced blood sugar levels in diabetic rats.2
Additionally, a second study showed that when ashwagandha was given to rats being fed fructose, it inhibited insulin resistance and inflammation.3
Clinical research indicates potential anti-tumour effects of ashwagandha, especially in relation to the prevention of cancer cell growth. In particular, lung, breast and stomach cancers may be inhibited. Research suggests that the antioxidant and immune enhancing properties of ashwagandha may prevent the growth of cancer cells.4
Additional research suggests that ashwagandha may reduce the side effects of anti-cancer agents as it aids the lifespan of cancer patients, particularly those that may be at risk of lower levels of immunity.5
Ashwagandha anxiety and stress benefits are well-known due to its popularity as a herbal anxiety remedy. In a clinical study, its effects were shown to be similar to those of lorazepam, a commonly prescribed pharmaceutical drug. In a 12 week study of 75 subjects, researchers found that subjects given 300 milligrams of Ashwagandha twice daily alongside relaxation techniques, dietary counseling and a multivitamin, displayed a 55 percent decrease in anxiety levels in comparison to a 30.5 percent decrease in those that were given placebo pills, relaxation techniques and psychotherapy.6 Researchers also noted no severe side effects in comparison to the effects of taking prescribed medication for anxiety, such as insomnia and increased appetite.
By increasing resistance to stress and anxiety, ashwagandha is able to enhance your overall mood and reduce symptoms of depression. An animal study conducted in 2000 revealed that ashwagandha displayed antidepressant effects similar to the pharmaceutical drug Imipramine. In conclusion, researchers suggested that ashwagandha could be used to stabilize mood in clinical conditions of depression.7
Ashwagandha has been shown to increase testosterone levels in men.8Ashwagandha has been commonly used to enhance male fertility and sexual dysfunction. A clinical study of healthy women revealed that 300 milligrams of ashwagandha taken twice daily for eight weeks resulted in improved sexual functioning.9
Ashwagandha helps to boost muscle mass and strength. A study in 2015 of 57 males, aged between 18 and 50, found that those who supplemented their diet with 300 milligrams of Ashwagandha twice daily demonstrated greater increases in arm and chest muscle size, as well as a greater decrease in body fat and exercise-induced muscle damage.10
Ashwagandha is capable of treating inflammatory diseases by helping to reduce inflammation. Several studies have demonstrated that this herb possesses the ability to decrease markers of inflammation, including C-reactive protein. One study revealed that participants who took 250 milligrams of ashwagandha daily showed a 36% decrease in C-reactive protein, a marker linked to heart disease.11
Ashwagandha has been shown to improve general memory in those with mild cognitive impairment. In a study of 50 adults consuming 300 milligrams of ashwagandha over an eight-week period, the herb boosted memory and additional cognitive skills.12
As ashwagandha reduces stress hormones and is able to reduce inflammation, it can enhance your immune system. This is a result of an increase in immunoglobin production. Additionally, it’s able to suppress pro-inflammatory cytokines to enhance an anti-inflammatory environment.
Adaptogenic herbs can aid both under-active and over-active thyroids. It has been shown to help those suffering from Hashimoto’s disease and Grave’s disease. A study in 2017 revealed that ashwagandha thyroid benefits occurred after daily consumption of the herb. 50 subjects, diagnosed with thyroid disorder but showing no visible symptoms took 600 milligrams of ashwagandha daily over a period of eight weeks. The results showed increased levels of serum thyroid stimulating hormone and thyroxine which may aid normal thyroid levels in those with hypothyroidism.13
A separate study also showed that ashwagandha increased thyroxine levels over an eight-week period.14
Ashwagandha delivers a multitude of incredible benefits for your health. This ancient medicinal herb is packed with flavonoids and antioxidants to improve your immune system, enhance cognitive functioning, improve muscle strength, and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Consuming ashwagandha daily will provide optimal benefits whether you wish to fight off infections or improve your overall health and wellness.
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We've seen Adaptogens being used in traditional medicine for centuries now, which makes them well suited to add to your supplement and diet regime. It might also be the next big thing in fighting stress responses as well as sleeping disorders.
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