Ashwagandha, one of the most potent herbs in Ayurvedic healing, has been garnering attention for its ability to treat various medical conditions. Even though this herb has been around for several years, only recently it has been receiving much-needed exposure among people who want take advantage ofits restorative and rejuvenating properties.
Ashwagandha is a plump shrub with yellow flowers and oval leaves with chemicals that calm the brain, reduce inflammation, decrease blood pressure, and improve the immune system. It is red and the size of a raisin and is native to the dry regions of India, the Middle East, and northern Africa, but is also grown in milder climates in the United States.
One of its most common applications include treating the inability of children to thrive, weakness and debility in seniors, strengthen immune system, constipation, rheumatism, nervous conditions, hormone imbalance, parasites, inflammation, etc. However, its primary application is to decrease anxiety and stress, which is does by decreasing cortisol levels and imitating the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA.
After hearing some of its uses, do you want to use ashwagandha? To find out if you should take this herb to treat a certain medical condition, see if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Decreased libido
- Poor memory
- Trouble sleeping
- Frequent illness
- Low endurance, mentally or physically
- Joint pain
- Neurological condition
You can use ashwagandha to alleviate one or more of these symptoms. Unlike before, you can take supplements made from its roots as well as leaves, fruit, and seeds.
In eastern countries such as India, they take ashwagandha in the form of a fine powder combined with ghee or honey. In western countries, ashwagandha has been turned into a supplement, thus making it easier for people to consume it.
The optimal dosage of this herb is 6,000 mg where you need to take it three times each day whereas 300 to 500mg remains the most prescribed dosage that people take, as it is effective in treating most types of medical conditions. You should take this herb with food and if you are taking it one time each day, have it breakfast.
Know that the dosage you will end up taking largely depends on many factors. The factors include your age, health, and current medical conditions. If you plan to take this herb, it’s important that you read the product labels to learn the dosage requirements prior to taking it.
You can also consult your physician, pharmacist, or a healthcare professional before you take it. You should never take any herb for a medical condition it does not treat, but only for the ones it clearly mentions it can effectively treat. If you take any other medication to treat the same condition you are using ashwagandha to treat, discuss with your medical practitioner first.
- Helps dealing with oxidative stress.
- Helps reducing anxiety and stress symptoms.
- Helps in focusing and concentrating.
Here are 12 impressive health benefits of taking ashwagandha you will receive:
1. Reduce Blood Sugar Levels
Ashwagandha can lower blood sugar levels in people with or without diabetes. It can make the cells less resistant to insulin or more sensitive, thus improving glucose tolerance and insulin insensitivity. Since diabetes prevents your body from creating sufficient insulin, this herb can increase insulin production and if taken in the early stages of the diagnosis, it can protect pancreatic cells. It also plays a role in protecting the fatty liver, eliminating free radicals, and supplementing antioxidants in the body.
2. Anti-Cancer Properties
Owing to its abilities to slow down the growth of cancer cells, the herb is also ideal for those undergoing chemotherapy. It strengthens their immune system and creates more white blood cells in the body.
3. Reduce Cortisol Levels
Chronic diseases affect several people around the world and without treatment; they can lead to depression, anxiety, impaired immunity, gastrointestinal ulcers, and heart complications. Ashwagandha is an ideal, natural stress management supplement. Classified as an adaptogen, it helps the body deal with daily stress.
When taken, the herb reduces the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Extreme levels of cortisol in the body negativity effects blood sugar levels, body composition, hormone balance, cognitive health, blood lipids, sleep, immunity, and digestion.
4. Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Ashwagandha is also used in various tonics as it improves mood and promotes strength. When this herb enters the body, it adds to its vital reserves. It helps your body cope with stress and strengthens various systems in your body such as the adrenals and nervous system.
5. Reduce Symptoms of Depression
Depression is a grave condition that causes sadness, loss of interest in things you once enjoyed, insomnia, lethargy, and feelings of suicide and death. By taking this herb, you can effectively reduce the symptoms of depression and cut down recurring episodes of sadness.
6. Boost Testosterone and Increase Fertility in Men
Men suffering from erectile dysfunction have low testosterone levels, which affects their ability to perform in bed and help their partner conceive a child. This herb not only improves fertility in men, but it also improves the quality of semen in infertile men.
7. Increase Muscle Mass and Strength
This herb can increase muscle mass and strength and speed up recovery after a workout. For instance, people part of a Resistance Training Program can take ashwagandha supplements to aid in muscle growth and strength.
8. Reduce Inflammation
Ashwagandha reduces chronic inflammation in the body. It can reduce joint inflammation for instance and help you manage inflammatory diseases. It does this by acting as a cyclooxygenase inhibitor with the function to reduce inflammation and pain. If you are suffering from a rheumatologic condition, you can use this herb.
9. Lower Cholesterol and Triglycerides
This herb is beneficial for anyone suffering from a cardiovascular condition. Thanks to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and hypolipemicproperties, it works to strengthen the heart muscles, control cholesterol, and lower triglycerides. If cholesterol levels go unchecked and triglycerides continue to increase, it can increase a person’s risk to develop type 2 diabetes, arterial disease, heart attack, heart disease, and stroke.
10. Improve Brain Function, Including Memory
Ashwagandha can improve brain function and enhance memory. Children who are unable to retain information in their brain and seniors experiencing memory loss can take this herb to improve their memory. Overtime, people will notice an improvement in their long-term visual memory.
11. Treats insomnia
Ashwagandha is also a mild sedative and it effectively improves quality and duration of sleep. Since stress and anxiety often leads to sleepless night, this herb will treat insomnia by first treating the underlying causes behind it.
12. Helps in weight loss
This herb eliminates free radical from the body, which in return, reduces lipid peroxidation. Reduced lipid peroxidation leads to enhanced fat metabolism, increased immunity, stabilized blood sugar levels, reduced stress, anxiety, and depression, decreased stress hormones, lower cholesterol levels, strengthened adrenal functions, and other various factors that influence weight.
Most importantly, it reduces cortisol, which is partly responsible for weight gain. With cortisol levels reduced, the herb will promote fat loss and reduce the risk of becoming overweight or obese.
You shouldn’t take large doses of this herb, as it can cause diarrhea and abdominal discomfort. You should not use this herb while pregnant due to its spasmolytic reactions on the uterus.
Breastfeeding mothers should also not take ashwagandha even though research on this is little, it is better to stay on the safe and avoid taking it until you have weaned your baby off breastmilk.
If you are taking medication for a medical condition such as hypertension, insomnia, depression, or diabetes, you should ask your medical practitioner on whether you should take it or not, as it can cause a reaction between the herb and medicine.
Medications that cause an unwanted reaction when combined with ashwagandha pills include:
- Blood thinners
- Sleep aids
- Drugs that supress immune system
- Supplements that cause drowsiness such as kava, valerian, St. John’s wort, and more
You should consult with your medical practitioner about taking ashwagandha if you suffer from multiple sclerosis, lupus, cancer, diabetes, thyroid problems, or bleeding disorder. You should also stop taking ashwagandha two weeks prior to surgery and if you need to go in for a thyroid test, stop taking ashwagandha a few weeks before, as it might interfere with the test.
Ashwagandha is a safe and healthy supplement to use, but women who pregnant and breastfeeding. Ashwagandha is a mild brain depressant and people should avoid drinking alcohol and taking anti-anxiety medications or sedatives while taking it.
Since it is a natural supplement, it is safe to use, as stated previously, you should always consult with your medical practitioner on whether you should take ashwagandha supplements to treat a certain condition and whether it is okay combine these pills with the medication you are already taking for the condition.
You should take ashwagandha supplements in small to medium doses, not more, as exceeding the dose can lead to unwanted side effects.
Here is a list of side effects related to taking ashwagandha:
- Allergies (rashes, inflammation, chest pain, itchiness, and difficulty in breathing.
- Bleeding, which is why people diagnosed with a bleeding disorder or anyone undergoing surgery should not take it.
- Drastically reduce blood sugar levels and blood pressure levels.
- Cause gastrointestinal issues, which is why people with stomach ulcers should not take it.
- Lead to constipation, diarrhea, or upset stomach
- Experience drowsiness and you should not take it with medications such as zolpidem, lorazepam, and alprazolam.
- Develop dry mouth.
- Lead to liver damage if you take more than the recommended dosage.
- May cause fever, a symptom you can experience one or two weeks after taking it.
You should only use the ashwagandha root extract in its supplement form, as it is non-toxic. You should always take the supplement with meals or in the morning with breakfast with a tall glass of water. You should review the medications you are currently taking to ensure you can take ashwagandha at the same time, as the herb can increase the effect of other medications you are taking. In the event you experience upset stomach or diarrhea after taking ashwagandha supplements, you should take it with food, always.
You can buy ashwagandha from one of the many online stores. However, you need to ensure you buy ashwagandha supplements from a reliable and reputable online store.
Here are three reviews of users who took ashwagandha supplements:
“I suffered from low blood pressure and chronic fatigue from a young age. Getting up in the mornings was a difficult task for me. Throughout the years, I tried several products in the hopes one of them would work, but they didn’t. Then I came across ashwagandha and now, I am able to get up in the mornings. I am energized and ready to tackle the day. It is an amazing feeling!” — Samantha
“I suffered from stress and anxiety. I told my friend about by battle with them and she suggested I take ashwagandha to beat them. At first, I did not believe a natural supplement could work to alleviate stress and anxiety, but it did. In less than two weeks, I felt like a new person, one that was free of stress and anxiety.” — Thomas
“I wanted to my depression to go away. Even though I was taking medications for it, I didn’t want to be dependent on them forever. I wanted to look for a natural remedy to beat my depression and then I read about ashwagandha somewhere so I decided to give it a try. Ashwagandha has worked to re-energize me and change my mood, making me happier than before. I am also able to sleep again at night, which is a plus.” — Claire
- An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda
- An Alternative Treatment for Anxiety: A Systematic Review of Human Trial Results Reported for the Ayurvedic Herb Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
- A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults
- Triethylene glycol, an active component of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) leaves, is responsible for sleep induction
- Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Improving Sexual Function in Women: A Pilot Study
- Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial
- Effects of eight-week supplementation of Ashwagandha on cardiorespiratory endurance in elite Indian cyclists