Ashwagandha is nature’s gift to mankind.
For centuries, ayurvedic medicine has used various parts (roots, leaves, berries) of this shrub to increase energy, vitality and overall health.
Ashwagandha literally means ‘horse’s smell’ in Sanskrit (Ashwa – horse and gandha means smell). But the term refers not just to the smell, but also to horse-like attributes of physical strength and endurance.
This herb is so potent and has so many benefits that ayurveda considers it to be a Rasayana therapy on its own.
Rasayana is described as an herbal or metallic preparation that promotes a youthful state of physical and mental health and expands happiness.
This humble herb enhances the function of the brain and nervous system and improves the memory. Being a powerful adaptogen, it helps the body to cope with daily stress.
Ashwagandha has excellent antioxidant properties that seek and destroy the free radicals—a major cause of early aging and illness.
Ashwagandha can help you see great results in reducing stress, boosting energy, improving neurological health and balancing hormones. It also improves hair growth, reduces grey hair, gets rid of fine lines and keeps your skin looking young and healthy.
There’s so much more to this Indian herb, here are it’s numerous benefits….
10 Amazing Health Benefits of Ashwagandha (Indian Ginseng)
1. Stress: Calming & Balancing
Ashwagandha has remarkable stress-relieving properties.
When the body is stressed, the immune and endocrine systems can be affected, leaving a person feeling depleted. Adaptogenic herbs such as ashwagandha work to restore the balance of endocrine hormones, calm and strengthen the nerves and help the body handle stress better. Plus, it also helps to boost your immune system.
In traditional Indian medicine, ashwagandha is widely used to treat anxiety, depression, nervous exhaustion, adrenaline fatigue, and chronic fatigue syndrome. And there are no adverse reactions by taking it compared to anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications which can have terrible side effects.
2. Sleep: Promotes Restful Sleep
Due to ashwagandha’s anti-anxiety and nerve calming effects, it promotes sound, restful sleep. It also helps to stop the mental chatter that goes round and round in your head.
There are hundreds of testimonials from people taking ashwagandha and the most commonly reported benefits are: better sleep, better ability to concentrate, more energy, a more stable mood, and a feeling of overall well-being.
3. Adrenal Fatigue: Calms Adrenal Glands
Ashwagandha is excellent for calming overactive adrenal gland. It reduces cortisol and nourishes the adrenals and aids healing.
In addition, ashwagandha is immuno-stimulant and rejuvenative. A healthy immune system protects us from infections, allergies and auto-immune conditions.
4. Hair: Reduces hair fall and Prevents Greying
Ashwagandha is a superb tonic for your hair. Its antioxidant and hormone balancing effects reduce hair fall and promote healthy and shiny hair.
When used in hair oils or herbal shampoos, ashwagandha works to increase scalp circulation and improve hair growth, and it also helps with dandruff and greasy hair.
Ashwagandha is also said to preserve our natural hair colour. The powerful antioxidants in ashwagandha fight the free radicals that are usually responsible for hair greying. In addition, it stimulates the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for hair colour.
Ashwagandha Hair Pack: Take equal quantities of ashwagandha, brahmi and amla powder. Add some warm water/milk to make a semi-thick paste. Massage this mixture into your scalp, and leave it on for 30 minutes. Then rinse off.
5. Diabetes: Stabilizes Blood Sugar
If you are looking for a natural herb to control diabetes, ashwagandha may be the answer. In traditional Indian medicine, ashwagandha has been used alone or in combination with other plants to stabilise blood sugar levels.
Results of a clinical study published in 2009 demonstrated that oral intake of a combination of ashwagandha and shilajit (an Ayurvedic herb) significantly reduced fasting blood sugar in diabetic patients.
6. Arthritis: Reduces Swelling and Pain
Ashwagandha is an effective natural treatment for arthritis.
It’s naturally occurring steroid compounds have been shown to reduce pain as effectively as aspirin and phenylbutazone when given in the same amount, but without the side effects that those drugs cause. Plus, they also aid in reducing swelling and redness in the arthritic joints.
7. Muscle Strength: Increases Muscle Mass and Strength
Ashwagandha is often given to weak, emaciated person to help him/her build up muscle mass, strength, and stamina.
Since it is anabolic*, this herb provides an excellent, safe alternative to steroids for increasing muscle mass.
*Anabolism is the phase of metabolism in which complex molecules, such as the proteins that make up body tissue, are formed from simpler one.
8. Skin: Anti-Aging and Promotes Wound Healing
Ashwagandha can help keep skin looking youthful and radiant. It works by increasing estrogen levels, which in turn stimulates collagen production and increase natural skin oils and hyaluronic acid.
Besides, ashwagandha leaves and roots have anti-inflammatory benefits. A paste made from leaf or root of ashwagandha is used to treat painful swelling, abscesses, cellulitis, and leucoderma. It also helps to relieve inflammation and bring about quick wound healing.
9. Alzheimer & Memory problems: Boosts Memory and Cognitive Performance
Ashwagandha is used widely in Indian medicine as a nerve tonic and memory enhancer.
In Alzheimer’s, acetylcholine (ACh) levels start to fall. ACh is a chemical messenger in the brain which allows the brain cells to communicate with each other. If ACh levels are low, the brain acquires it by destroying its own cells. Ashwagandha decreases the likelihood that the brain will destroy its own cells.
Besides, ashwagandha has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help protect brain cells from the degenerative effects of free radicals and inflammatory proteins. People with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) have decreased blood levels of antioxidants and increased numbers of free radicals.
A study published in Phytotherapy Research explains these benefits:
“Several studies have revealed that natural antioxidants, such as vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene, may help in scavenging free radicals generated during the initiation and progression of this [Alzheimer’s] disease. Therefore, there has been considerable interest in plant phytochemicals with the antioxidant property as potential agents to prevent the progression of the AD. We found ashwagandha afforded lipid peroxidation inhibitory effects more potent than commercial antioxidants.”
10. Hypothyroidism: Stimulates Underactive Thyroid.
Ayurvedic practitioners often prescribe ashwagandha to stimulate the sluggish thyroid gland.
How to Use Ashwagandha
The most potent ashwagandha supplements are made from the root, although leaves too are used in the commercial preparations.
You can either take ashwagandha powder or its extract in capsule form.
Ashwagandha powder: Typical recommended dose for powder is between 1 to 5 grams (1 tsp is 5 gram) per day once or twice a day. Start at a low dose, say 1/4 tsp and then build up gradually. You can have it with warm milk, ghee (clarified butter), or honey. You can also add it to your soups, smoothies, etc. I mix ashwagandha powder with ghee and take it just after breakfast.
Ashwagandha capsule: Because of its bitter taste, the capsule is usually preferred by many people. General recommended dose is between 500 to 1000mg. once or twice a day.
How long can you take it: Like all other supplements it is advised that you give a gap in between and not take it continually. So take it for 3 to 4 months every day then give a gap of one month. This gives your body time to readjust itself.
Along with ashwagandha, follow a diet high in fresh vegetables, fruits, healthy fats (nuts & seeds), lentils and beans, organic eggs and meat. Remove sugars, refined flour, and packaged foods and drinks from your diet. These food changes along with ashwagandha can help you see great results in reducing stress, boosting energy, improving neurological health, balancing hormones, and looking youthful.
I will recommend this brand of Ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha Side Effects and Contraindications
- Ashwagandha should not be used during pregnancy.
- Because of its innate hot nature, people with Pitta dominance feel increased hotness after taking ashwagandha powder or capsule. To reduce this effect, take it along with food or with milk or ghee. Also, it will help if you take it during the daytime.
- Ashwagandha belongs to nightshade family (tomato, potato, pepper), so if you are allergic or intolerant to these foods, then ashwagandha may not suit you.
- If you have a medical condition or take medications, please consult with your doctor/Ayurvedic practitioner/Nutritionist before using this product.
Do you use ashwagandha? What has been your experience?
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Jayaprakasam B, Padmanabhan K, Nair MG. Withanamides in Withania somnifera fruit protect PC-12 cells from beta-amyloid responsible for Alzheimer’s disease. Phytotherapy Research. 2010, 24(6):859-63