If you have heard about adaptogens, then you must have heard about Ashwagandha. One of the most famous Ayurvedic herbs, ashwagandha, is famous as an adaptogen and is believed to have many benefits. (Adaptogens are non-toxic plants that are believed to help the body to resist stressors of all kinds, whether physical, chemical or biological).
Since Ashwagandha is well known and talked about a lot, it’s high time for us to know what actually Ashwanadha is. Is it just a product that is living on its hype or is it actually worth the buzz, we will analyse it all in this article.
So if you want to know about Ashwagandha, stay here!
What is Ashwagandha?
Withania somnifera, known commonly as ashwagandha, Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry, or winter cherry, is one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda, a form of alternative medicine based on Indian principles of natural healing.
Ashwagandha is Sanskrit for the smell of the horse, which refers to both its unique smell and ability to increase strength.
The ashwagandha plant is a small shrub with yellow flowers that’s native to India and North Africa. Extracts or powder from the plant’s root or leaves is used to treat a variety of conditions. Since it is traditionally used as an adaptogen, it is also used for many conditions related to stress. It can be taken in various forms, including as a capsule, powder, tea, or even tincture.
Many of its health benefits are attributed to its high concentration of withanolides, which have been shown to fight inflammation and tumour growth
There is little evidence for its use as an “adaptogen.” More research is necessary; to date, promising studies into the health benefits of ashwagandha have mainly been in animals.
Benefits Of Ashwagandha
1. Reduce Blood Sugar Levels
Ashwagandha has been shown to lower blood sugar levels. Also, several human studies have suggested that it can reduce blood sugar levels in both healthy people and those with diabetes.
2. Helps Reduce Stress
Taking ashwagandha orally helps reduce stress in some people. It might also help reduce stress-related weight gain. Cortisol is known as a stress hormone given that your adrenal glands release it in response to stress, as well as when your blood sugar levels get too low.
Unfortunately, in some cases, cortisol levels may become chronically elevated, which can lead to high blood sugar levels and increased fat storage in the abdomen. It also reduces the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a system in your body that regulates the stress response.
Studies have shown that ashwagandha may help reduce cortisol levels.
3. Helps Improve Mental Health
There are some studies that show that ashwagandha works well for people who suffer from anxiety or depression.
Some studies also hint that it can help improve the symptoms of schizophrenia.
4. Might Have Anticancer Properties
Animal studies have found that withaferin — a compound in ashwagandha — helps induce apoptosis, which is the programmed death of cancer cells. It also impedes the growth of new cancer cells in several ways.
5. May Reduce Inflammation
Ashwagandha contains compounds, including WA, that may help reduce inflammation in the body. It is have found that WA targets inflammatory pathways in the body, including signal molecules, called nuclear factor kappa B and nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2.
Several animal studies have shown that ashwagandha helps decrease inflammation. It may act as a pain reliever, preventing pain signals from travelling along the central nervous system. It may also have some anti-inflammatory properties.
For this reason, some research has shown it to be effective in treating forms of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis.
Who Should Avoid Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is a relatively safe supplement for most people, although its long-term effects are unknown.
However, certain individuals should not take it all, including pregnant and breastfeeding women.
People with autoimmune diseases should also avoid it unless it is prescribed by a doctor. People with conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes.
Additionally, those on medication for thyroid disease should be careful when taking ashwagandha, as it may increase thyroid hormone levels in some people.
It may also decrease blood sugar and blood pressure levels, so medication dosages may need to be adjusted if you take it. Expert opinion is a must if you consider taking it.
Dosage Of Ashwagandha
The recommended dosage of ashwagandha depends on the type of supplement. Extracts are more effective than crude root or leaf powder. Remember to follow instructions on labels.
Standardized root extract is commonly taken in 450–500-mg capsules once or twice daily.
It’s offered by several supplement manufacturers and available from various retailers, including health food stores and vitamin shops.
Before taking any supplement the advice of the doctor is a must.
How To Use Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha Powder (Churna)
Ashwagandha powder is the base for any other way of taking it. Its roots which have maximum medicinal benefits, are dried, cut, and sifted for tea or powdered to be taken with milk.
This is the best caffeine-free drink to soothe you into a restful sleep every night. All you need to do is boil the herb’s roots in water so that the water is infused and voila, ashwagandha tea is ready for you!
Ashwagandha Tablets and Capsules
This is the most hassle-free and convenient way to take Ashwagandha. Tablets or capsules are the easiest way to get an evenly measured Ashwagandha dosage. Take 1 capsule and get all its benefits.
From arthritis to even a sore day after working out, ashwagandha oil is your go-to since it relieves muscle tension.
Side Effects Of Ashwagandha
Large doses of ashwagandha might cause stomach upset, diarrhoea, and vomiting. Rarely, do liver problems might occur.
Our Final Verdict
Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb with multiple health benefits.
It can reduce anxiety and stress, help fight depression, boost fertility and testosterone in men, and even boost brain function.
Supplementing with ashwagandha may be an easy and effective way to improve your health and quality of life. People can usually tolerate ashwagandha in small-to-medium doses. However, there have not been enough long-term studies to fully examine the possible side effects.
An expert’s opinion and a doctor’s consultation before taking any supplement is a must.