Ashwagandha Ayurvedic Health Benefits
Ashwagandha, scientifically known as Withania somnifera Dunal and frequently referred to as Indian Winter Cherry, is a member of the Solanaceae family. The name Ashwagandha is derived from Sanskrit words “Ashwa” which means “horse” and “Gandha” which means “odor”. Ashwagandha was included in the writings of Charaka, Sushruta and many other Ayurvedic scholars throughout the centuries in various literacy texts called the Samhitas. The Ayurvedic Scholar Charaka had quoted - ‘One obtains longevity, regains youth, gets a sharp memory and intellect and freedom from diseases, gets a lustrous complexion, and strength of a horse.’
Ashwagandha contains many useful phytochemical constituents, including steroidal lactones such as withanolides, alkaloids, flavonoids, fatty acids, choline, and amino acids. These key phytochemical constituents of Ashwagandha enrich it with its unique medicinal properties and make it extremely beneficial to the consumer and progressively affect various systems in our body.
Every single part of the shrub is immensely useful in some way or the other. The bitter leaves of Ashwagandha are known to reduce fever and swelling. The flowers work as an astringent, detoxifier, diuretic, and aphrodisiac.
The seeds have anthelmintic properties and are used for treating and preventing infectious diseases and parasitic invasions. The fruits may be used as a topical treatment for tumors and tubercular glands, carbuncles, and skin ulcers.
The roots of Ashwagandha are the most crucial part of the plant and are widely used in various formulations. The roots have potent aphrodisiac, diuretic, anti-helminthic, anti-oxidant, anti-depressant, anti-diabetic properties and have been used to maintain youthful vigor, stamina, strength, and health in individuals.
Health Benefits Of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha epitomizes the very essence of a preventative and healing approach to health in Ayurveda. Ashwagandha is referred to as the Prince of Herbs in Ayurveda.
Now let’s see the benefits of Ashwagandha one by one.
- Stress and Anxiety
Ashwagandha is best known for its stress-lowering effects. The medicinal herb appears to help lower levels of cortisol, a hormone produced by your adrenal glands in response to stress. Chronic stress-related conditions such as hyperglycemia, glucose intolerance, sexual dysfunction, immunosuppression, and mental depression were also found to be mediated through the use of Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha can not only reduce symptoms in people with stress and anxiety disorders but also improve general well-being.
- Body Weight Management
Ashwagandha is full of antioxidants that are essential for weight loss and overall well-being. These antioxidants speed up the metabolism, decrease inflammation and thus help in burning the stored fat in our body. Constant stress is often associated with a wide number of diseases and conditions, including obesity. Continuous use of the herb resulted in improved scores on the expected stress scale, positively affected serum cortisol, body mass index (BMI), and body weight.
- Memory and Cognition
Ashwagandha has long been used in the traditional Ayurvedic system of medicine to enhance memory and improve cognition. As per Ayurveda Ashwagandha helps to promote cognition in children with memory deficiencies, and for memory loss in aging adults. Ashwagandha is known to intensify brain function, response times, memory, concentration capacity, and task performance capability. Ayurvedic practitioners recommend it as a brain booster and a remedy for forgetfulness.
- Muscle Strength
Ashwagandha helps to enhance muscle mass, muscle strength and also decrease body fat in association with resistance training. Ashwagandha also helps soothe and heal the body’s damage and promotes muscle recovery during exercise. It is an amphoteric herb that regulates vital physiological processes and also increases the levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), by reducing the enzyme that breaks down ATP. Ashwagandha increases energy production in the muscles by increasing mitochondrial function. .
- Cardiorespiratory Endurance
Studies recommend that Ashwagandha roots can boost energy and have a significant impact on athletic performance by improving cardiovascular endurance and strength in healthy men and women. Another research shows that Ashwagandha root extract over 12 weeks, enhanced stamina, the volume of oxygen (VO2 max), and self-reported physical health. Another study examined the effects of Ashwagandha extract on VO2 max in male hockey players for 8 weeks. The experimental group receiving Ashwagandha demonstrated a significant improvement in VO2 max and hemoglobin levels, thus proving that ashwagandha improves energy supply to muscles during exercise. .
- Male sexual wellness
In Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha is used to treat sexual dysfunction and infertility in men. Maintaining healthy levels of testosterone is essential to men’s health. So Ayurveda emphasizes the ability of Ashwagandha to stimulate and regulate testosterone production in the body. .
- Ashwagandha contributes in two ways to restoring a healthy sex life. Firstly, it helps to produce testosterone, and then it raises the luteinizing hormone and testosterone serum concentrations and revitalizes men’s natural sex hormone equilibrium. Secondly, as ashwagandha is known to reduce stress by hindering the growth of cortisol, it also helps in the delay of natural testosterone reduction. Modern science also supports Ashwagandha for its ability to boost testosterone concentrations in males and has a beneficial effect on their reproductive health.
- Female Sexual Health
Ashwagandha plays a crucial role in reducing stress and is therefore strongly linked to improving reproductive health for women. Ashwagandha improves hormones, facilitates your reaction to psychological and physical stress, and optimizes your reproductive system. Ashwagandha has a positive effect on libido, menstrual health and can also help in infertility. .
- In a study conducted to evaluate the sexual function in women including happiness, excitement, lubrication, and orgasm, the supplementation of Ashwagandha root extract demonstrated a considerable improvement in the sexual function of females. .
- Thyroid health
Stress is the major root cause of thyroid dysfunction. Ashwagandha has unique flexibility and helps the body cope with stress and modulates the hormone balances. 8-week research of 50 individuals with hypothyroidism concluded that consumption of 300 mg of ashwagandha root extract twice daily resulted in significant changes in thyroid concentrations relative to getting the placebo.
Ashwagandha can cure insomnia. Ashwagandha is known to possess sleep-inducing properties that are beneficial to those suffering from sleeplessness. Try a warm cup of ashwagandha powder mixed with milk before you sleep to help to relax and sleep better. Ashwagandha root extract has the power to increase the quality of sleep, mental alertness, and improved quality of life.
- Anti-aging and longevity
Ashwagandha roots are classified as Rasayanas that promote health and longevity by increasing disease resistance, stopping the aging process, revitalizing the body under weakened circumstances, and thus creating a feeling of well-being. Ashwagandha is the best option for smooth, flexible, and perfect, glowing skin. The herb is packed with the goodness of antioxidants and fights with the damaging free radicals produced through harmful UV rays from the sun. You can get rid of dark spots, wrinkles, aging, etc.
Ashwagandha is one of the potent herbs that can aid in boosting immunity. It improves the body’s protection against disease by improving cell-mediated immunity. Ashwagandha is one of the 15 ingredients of the famous Lakshadi Thailam that is popular for fighting infections, healing fever, and boosting immunity.
Another traditional use of Ashwagandha is in the treatment of various musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis and rheumatism. Arthritis is a chronic problem and can negatively affect the quality of life of an individual. A study conducted in combination with Sidh Makardhwaj (Ayurvedic treatment for arthritis), showed that the use of Ashwagandha powder cured the swollen and painful joints in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Inflammation is the body’s normal response to conditions such as infection, toxins, and trauma. Under normal conditions, the body will produce an anti-inflammatory response to restore balance. In cases of chronic pain, though, the body is not able to regulate the inflammatory response. The result is chronic imbalance and chronic pain. Ashwagandha is one such herb that has proven to be effective in reducing inflammation. Ashwagandha herbal tea prepared from leaves helps relieve inflammation.
- Blood Sugar
In the case of diabetes control, Ashwagandha works by regulating the body’s production of insulin. It stimulates the secretion of insulin in the bloodstream by improving the breakdown of sugars in the blood. This assures that relatively less harmful sugars are being stored in your body. Thus, the blood sugar levels remain low when you consume Ashwagandha extracts over a significant period. Ashwagandha can also affect the overall metabolism of the body for enabling better removal of waste and all-around health. It has proven to be especially effective for people suffering from Type 2 diabetes.
One of the benefits of Ashwagandha owes its anti-cancer property and can be powerful in inducing apoptosis of cancer cells and also prevents the spread of these cancer cells. Another latent benefit of Ashwagandha is improving the white blood cell count of individuals with cancer. Ashwagandha’s immunomodulatory properties and the safety of the herb can facilitate the use of Ashwagandha in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Ashwagandha could be a treatment of various types of cancers, including lung, breast, colon, brain, and ovarian cancer.
Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb with a lot of health benefits. Ashwagandha helps to fight against cancer, diabetes, inflammation, and arthritis. Ashwagandha is one of the potent herbs that can aid in boosting immunity, sleep, thyroid health, Memory and Cognition, muscle strength, etc. It is also essential for weight loss and overall well-being. Ashwagandha roots can boost energy and have a significant impact on athletic performance by improving cardiovascular endurance and strength in healthy men and women.
The above-mentioned information is collected from various Ayurvedic books and it is better to consult an Ayurvedic practitioner before starting the herb Ashwagandha for treating and managing various diseases.
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