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Ashwagandha root and ground ashwagandha

Ashwagandha: What is it? And Why Do We Use It?

Ayurveda, a system of medicine native to India, is one of the oldest medical systems in the world. It is based on the belief that health and wellbeing are determined by a balance of three vital energies, known as doshas.

One of the most important herbs in Ayurveda is ashwagandha. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a Sanskrit word which means “smell of the horse”, but in English we commonly refer to it as “winter cherry” or “Indian ginseng”.

This herb is believed to restore balance to the body and mind, and has a wide range of potential health benefits.

It is also known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Below are 5 potential benefits of incorporating ashwagandha into your daily life.

What are the uses and benefits of ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is known as Indian ginseng, or winter cherry because it has a long history of use in Ayurveda and is considered to be a rejuvenative herb.

This herb has been used for treating arthritis, anxiety, insomnia, tumors, tuberculosis, leprosy, and asthma. It has also been used as a general tonic to improve energy and vitality.

Some people use ashwagandha to boost the immune system, increased libido, enhance memory function and prevent aging.

There are many benefits of ashwagandha that have been known for centuries. This list of benefits is by no means exhaustive, but it does cover some of the most well-known and researched benefits of this incredible herb.

Ashwagandha has been shown to improve cognitive function and memory

Studies have shown that ashwagandha can improve memory, attention span, and reaction time. The herb is also believed to protect the brain from age-related damage.

There are studies that show the positive effects of this herb on patients suffering from Alzheimers, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease.

Not only that, but one study found that ashwagandha was as effective as imipramine, a tricyclic antidepressant, in reducing symptoms of depression.

Ashwagandha has been shown to decrease anxiety and stress levels

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, which means it helps the body cope with stress by regulating the production of cortisol. Cortisol is known as the "stress hormone" because it is released in response to stressful situations.

Studies have shown that ashwagandha can decrease anxiety and stress levels by up to 50%.

The active ingredient in ashwagandha is withanolide, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These properties help to decrease anxiety and stress levels by reducing the body's response to stressors.

Studies are continuously being conducted around the benefits of ashwagandha, but many suggest that people who took ashwagandha for an extended period of time had a significantly lower level of the stress hormone cortisol than those who did not take the herb.

Ashwagandha has been shown to improve immune system function

Research has shown that Ashwagandha can help improve immunity by increasing the production of white blood cells and antibodies. White blood cells are responsible for attacking and killing foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria. It can also help reduce inflammation and improve the function of important immune cells like natural killer cells.
Another way in which ashwagandha can help improve immune system function is by increasing levels of interferon.

Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce inflammation throughout the body

Ashwagandha contains compounds that help to inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. It also helps to increase the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines. This means that it can help to reduce inflammation at the cellular level.

There are many ways in which inflammation can cause problems throughout the body. It is thought to be a contributing factor in conditions such as arthritis, asthma, and even heart disease. So, by reducing inflammation, ashwagandha may help to improve these conditions.

Ashwagandha has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity

There are a few different ways in which ashwagandha may help to lower blood sugar levels. One is by reducing inflammation, which can lead to insulin resistance. Ashwagandha has also been shown to increase glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) levels. GLP-1 is a hormone that helps regulate glucose metabolism.
The withanolides in ashwagandha seem to work by stimulating the release of insulin from the pancreas and by increasing the number of insulin receptors on cells. This helps to improve insulin sensitivity and lowers blood sugar levels.

If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor about whether ashwagandha may be right for you.

What is the correct dosage of ashwagandha to take?

Ashwagandha dosage varies depending on what you’re trying to treat. But because there isn’t much evidence as of yet on the full scope of what the herb can do, the dosage recommendations are incredibly varied. Healthline offers a clear guide on doses for different needs.
The doses range from 125mg to about 5g per day, and usually for just a short spout of time, a couple weeks to a month. You may want to start with a lower dose and see how that works with your body.

There are capsules that can help you take in the benefits without the taste, if you prefer. Otherwise you can use the ground root, in powder form, and combine it with water to either make a paste for a topical treatment, or if you add more water then you can drink it.

Does ashwagandha have any side effects?

The most common side effects reported from using Ashwagandha are nausea, stomach upset, diarrhea and headaches with some reports of occasional dizziness or insomnia, if consumed in large doses. Again, aim to start with a smaller dose and work your way up.

Ashwagandha can interact with certain antibiotics. If you are taking any antibiotics, consult your doctor before using ashwagandha. And if you are diabetic and taking insulin, it is definitely recommended that you consult your doctor before consuming ashwagandha due to the fact that it lowers blood sugar and it may cause levels to drop below what is normal.

Due to the lack of information we have around the effects of this herb, it is advisable to stay away from it if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Before trying any new products it is important to spot test for allergies, and if you are taking any other medication then it is strongly advised that you consult your local heathcare provider.


Written by Caryn Mackenzie on behalf of Turmeric Zone

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