Withania somnifera, better known as ashwagandha or “hindu ginseng”, has been essential for Ayurvedic medicine for over 3000 years. The herb has a wide range of action that stimulates physical and mental health, body rejuvenation and longevity. It is know that this herb inhibits anxiety and improves energy. In some cases, this herb may also stimulate fertility.
Ashwagandha has become one of the most popular Ayurvedic herbs used in the West. With all the benefits this herb offers, it’s no wonder! Ashwagandha has been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years as a rasayana (rejuvenating) and as adaptogenic boils, meaning that its use helps the body to resist physiological and psychological stress.
The name ashwagandha is translated as “breath of a horse”. It refers to both its unique smell and the virility of a horse. This is an inference to the traditional use of ashwagandha as a support of the male reproductive system.
How to take or consume Ashwagandha?
You can find Ashwagandha in different forms. For example, you can find it in tincture form, a type of supplement based on a liquid extract. To take this supplement you need to pu it under the tongue or dissolved in water or juices.
Also, you can consume as herb powder, whether the leaves or root or powder extracts, you can eat it in foods, shakes, etc. Then there are the capsules, which is the equivalent to the powder extracts which are packaged in capsules for convenience.
Then there is the whole herb, which is mainly used to make tea or your own supplements. There are also extracts of the active compounds and standardized mixtures of the herb plus the extract.
Benefits of Ashwagandha
#1- It can reduce blood sugar levels
Several studies on Ashwagandha have shown that its consumption can have effects on the reduction of blood sugar levels. For example, a test tube study found that Ashwagandha increases insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity in muscle cells.
Several human studies have also confirmed its effectiveness in reducing blood sugar levels. This include both healthy people and people with diabetes or similar conditions. For example, in a study in people with schizophrenia, those treated with Ashwagandha for 4 weeks had a mean reduction in fasting plasma glucose levels of 13.5 milligrams per deciliter, compared to a reduction of 4.5 milligrams per deciliter in those who received a placebo.
#2- It can help prevent and cure cancer
Several studies, have found that Ashwagandha promotes apoptosis or “programmed cell death” of cancer cells, keeping alive the processes of cell renewal. Also, Ashwagandha prevents the growth of new cancer cells. So, this is through various forms, for example generating reactive oxygen species, which are toxic to cancer cells but not to normal cells.
Ashwagandha research in animals suggests that it may be beneficial for the treatment of several types of cancer, including breast, lung, colon, brain and ovarian cancer.
#3- Reduces cortisol levels
When your levels become too high, your blood sugar levels may go off. This is decisive in the accumulation of extra mass in the abdomen. Studies have shown that Ashwagandha can help reduce cortisol levels, leading to more balanced points.
In a controlled study of adults suffering from chronic stress, the group that supplemented their diet with Ashwagandha had a significantly greater reduction in cortisol than the control group. In this sense, the group that received the highest dose had a reduction of 30%, on average.
#4- Can reduce levels of stress and anxiety
Perhaps because of its traditional use as a tea, Withania somnífera is mostly know for its ability to reduce stress. In a 60-day study of 64 people with chronic stress, those in the Ashwagandha group reported an average 69% reduction in anxiety and insomnia, compared with 11% in the placebo group. In another similar study lasting 6 weeks, 88% of people taking Ashwagandha reported a reduction in anxiety compared with 50% taking a placebo.
#5- May reduce symptoms of depression
Although one cannot speak of blunt studies in this regard, some studies suggest that Ashwagandha can help alleviate depression in humans. In a 60-day controlled study of adults with stress, those taking 600 mg of the herb per day reported a 79% reduction in symptoms of severe depression. At the same time, the placebo group reported a 10% increase in stress.
#6- Can promote increased testosterone and fertility in men
Ashwagandha supplements can have powerful and almost miraculous effects on male hormone levels and reproductive health. In a study of 75 men declared infertile, one group was given Ashwagandha and the other placebo. The group treated with this herb had an increase in sperm count and motility. In addition, treatment increased testosterone levels and sperm quality of volunteers.
#7- Increases muscle mass and strength
Another study has shown that this herb can improve body and muscle composition and increase strength. One purpose of the study was to determine how much Ashwagandha is safe and efficient. Healthy volunteers who took 750-1250 mg per day ended up gaining muscle mass and having a significant fat loss after 30 days of consuming it.
In another study, the Ashwagandha group showed significantly greater gains in strength and muscle size of their anatomy. This group also had more than twice the reduction in body fat percentage compared to the group that consumed placebo.
#8- Reduce inflammation
Several studies in animals have shown that Ashwagandha helps to decrease inflammation. Human studies, on the other hand, have found that this plant increases the activity of natural killer cells, which are immune cells that fight infections and help keep us healthy.
This herb has also been show to decrease markers of inflammation-generating elements, such as C-reactive protein (CRP). This marker is linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
#9- Helps lower cholesterol and triglycerides
Withania somnifer can help improve heart health by lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels. In a 60-day study of chronically stressed adults, the group taking the highest dosage of ashwagandha experienced a 17% decrease in LDL cholesterol and an 11% decrease in triglycerides, on average.
#10- Improve brain functions such as memory
This herb is use to improve memory in Ayurvedic practice, in a controlled study, researchers gave healthy men 500 mg of herb daily, who reported significant improvements in their performance and task performance, as compared to men who received a placebo.
As you can see, this herb has thousands of benefits. What are you waiting for to try it out?
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