What is Ashwagandha?
Withania somnifera, commonly known as Ashwagandha, is a perennial shrub that thrives in the Middle East, India, and certain regions of Africa. This plant has been used for centuries in traditional medicine for its various health benefits, which encompass both physical and mental well-being.
As an Ayurvedic remedy, Ashwagandha is known for its anti-arthritic properties and its ability to aid the body in stress management. Due to these properties, it is categorized as an adaptogen. To further illustrate its efficacy, below are additional benefits that may encourage you to incorporate this herb into your diet.
What are the benefits?
lowers cortisol levels
Ashwagandha supplements are known to reduce cortisol levels in people with chronically high levels of this stress hormone. Our bodies produce it in response to a stressful event and when blood sugar levels drop.
An increase in the production of hormones leads to problems like the accumulation of fat in the abdomen as well as high levels of stress. Ashwagandha has been proven to reduce high levels of cortisol.
According to one study, chronically stressed adults who received the highest dose of the herb experienced a 30% reduction in their cortisol levels.
Lowers blood sugar level
Ashwagandha is extremely beneficial for diabetics as it lowers blood sugar levels, enhances the absorption of insulin, and increases the sensitivity of muscle cells to insulin.
Could potentially improve brain function.
According to some animal studies, ashwagandha helps reduce problems associated with brain function and memory loss due to disease or injury. It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to boost memory, and it is known to boost antioxidant activity in brain cells to fight free radical damage.
Can lower high levels of cholesterol.
In a 60-day study on chronically stressed adults, those who received the highest dose of ashwagandha experienced a 17% reduction in bad cholesterol, also known as LDL.
Several studies reported impressive reductions in the cholesterol levels of participants who were given this herb. Hence, it can be safely assumed that it helps in promoting a healthy heart.
This could potentially strengthen muscles.
Research has found that ashwagandha can improve muscle strength and increase weight. It is known to improve overall body composition and help reduce body fat percentage.
In one study, men who consumed ashwagandha showed a significant increase in muscle strength, size, and mass compared to those who did not consume it. Their body fat percentage also decreased at twice the rate.
May have anticancer properties.
Ashwagandha contains a compound that helps kill cancer cells. It is effective against various types of cancer including lung, brain, colon, and ovarian cancer. Not only does it help kill old cancer cells, but it also prevents the growth of new ones.
Has the ability to reduce the symptoms of depression.
Some studies suggest that ashwagandha may be effective against symptoms of depression. This may be due to the anti-stress properties of the herb. In one study, adults who consumed 600 grams of a highly concentrated extract of the herb reported a 79% reduction in depression.
Helps in reducing anxiety and stress.
A study on rats blocked the stress pathways in their brains through the regulation of chemicals in the nervous system. Similarly, studies with humans also reported a reduction in symptoms of stress and anxiety disorders for those suffering from these mental illnesses.
Improves fertility in men and increases testosterone levels.
This herb is beneficial for reproductive health and can increase testosterone levels in the body. Research has shown that apart from increasing antioxidants in the body, it also improves the quality of sperm.
In a study conducted with 75 infertile men, the use of the herb increased sperm count as well as motility.
May reduce inflammation.
Several studies have shown that ashwagandha reduces inflammation by reducing inflammatory compounds such as C-reactive protein (CRP). This sign is also associated with heart disease.
In addition, this herb is also known to promote the activity of killer cells, thereby strengthening the immune system by fighting and killing infection-causing bacteria inside the body.
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In A Nutshell
In conclusion, Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb that has been proven to be highly beneficial and effective for a variety of health problems. While it has been traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine, modern science has also confirmed its numerous health benefits.
It is generally considered safe for all individuals, including children. However, it is important to consult with a doctor before using it as a treatment for any medical condition.