12 Ashwagandha Health Benefits Backed By Science

Withania somnifera

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In this article, we will examine 12 Ashwagandha health benefits that are backed by science. as well as Ashwagandha’s side effects and precautions that you should know about.

💡 This article is evidence-based and contains scientific references. The numbers in the brackets (1, 2, 3, etc) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.

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Ashwagandha is an adaptogen herb, which means it adapts to the bodies needs.

The name of the plant is Withania somnifera, belongs to the family Solanaceae or nightshade, also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry.

The ashwagandha plant is a small shrub with yellow flowers, growing in India and North America. The leaves and roots of the plant are usually used for their medicinal properties,

It is used over 3,000 years, from ayurveda to increase energy and improve concentration.

It is a powerful tonic and is useful in restoring vitality and aid in longevity. Due to its antispasmodic effect, it has been used in the treatment of asthma. Traditionally used in the relaxation of the uterus, which can stop a “spontaneous miscarriage”.

Ashwagandha Health Benefits - Withania somnifera
This herb -Withania somnifera was photographed at Pune. Common name- Ashwagandha.

Ashwagandha benefits many-body systems such as the immune, neurological, endocrine, and reproductive systems. It also promotes physical and mental health, protects the body from diseases and harmful environmental factors, and slows down aging. Recently scientists have shown that it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Ashwagandha has the ability to strengthen the immune system when it has been weakened by diseases. It has neuroprotective, anti-anxiety, and antidepressant properties. It helps the body maintain homeostasis, even in moments of emotional or physical stress. It is very effective in reducing cortisol and balancing thyroid hormones.

Many of its health benefits are due to the high concentration of withanolides, a group of lactone steroids, which has been shown to fight inflammation and tumor growth.

12 Ashwagandha Health Benefits Backed By Science

1. Lowers blood sugar levels

Ashwagandha has antidiabetic properties because it contains phenolic compounds, including flavonoids. [1]

Research shows that flavonoids have hypoglycemic effects. A study with diabetic rodents concluded that both root extract and ashwagandha leaves extract helped achieve normal blood sugar levels. [2]

Several human studies have confirmed that it reduces blood sugar levels in both healthy and diabetic. [3] [4]

2. Fights cancer

Research suggests that ashwagandha has promising anticancer effects.

It has been shown to help induce the apoptosis or “programmed cell death” of cancer cells. It prevents the growth of new cancer cells because of its ability to strengthen the immune system and its antioxidant properties. It can also reduce tumor growth. [5]

The researchers say that the herb can reduce the side effects of anticancer agents, which reduce immunity and quality of life.

Animal studies suggest that ashwagandha is useful in the treatment of various types of cancer including breast, lung, colon, brain, and ovarian cancer. [6] [7]

3. Reduces cortisol

Ashwagandha can reduce cortisol levels in people suffering from chronic disease. [8]

Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” because the adrenal glands release it in response to stress and when blood sugar is at very low levels.

Unfortunately in some cases, cortisol levels can stay high for a long time, resulting in high blood sugar and increased storage of fat in the abdomen.

4. Reduces anxiety and anxiety

According to studies in animals and humans, ashwagandha reduces anxiety and stress.

A study published in 2009 found that ashwagandha is similar to the common drugs lorazepam and imipramine, but with no side effects. [9]

In another study involving 64 people with chronic anxiety, people taking ashwagandha reported a 69% reduction in anxiety and insomnia, compared to the other group that had 11%. [10]

5. Relieves adrenal fatigue

Research shows that ashwagandha root supports adrenal function and helps to overcome ‘adrenal fatigue. [11]

If the adrenal glands are aggravated due to intensely emotional, physical, or mental stress, “adrenal fatigue” can occur.

When the adrenal glands run out, certain hormones in the body might get disrupted, such as progesterone which causes infertility and low levels of DHEA and it is associated with longevity and a strong body.

6. Reduces depression

Some studies show that ashwagandha helps reduce severe depression.

In a 60-day controlled study, 60 anxiety-treated adults participated. Those who took 600 mg per day of ashwagandha experienced a 79% reduction in depression. In contrast, the placebo group showed an increase of 10%. [12]

7. Increases testosterone and fertility in men

Ashwagandha supplements help to increase testosterone levels, significantly improves sperm quality and fertility in the man. In Ayurveda, it is used as an aphrodisiac and helps to improve sexual dysfunction.

In a study involving 75 infertile men and receiving ashwagandha, they had an increase in sperm count and mobility. There was also a significant increase in testosterone. The researchers reported that the group that received the herb had elevated levels of antioxidants in the blood. [13]

CHECK ALSO: The natural solution that stops the “limp libido syndrome” dead in its tracks, boosts your testosterone and skyrockets your sex drive naturally.

8. Increases muscle mass and strength

Ashwagandha has the ability to reduce body fat, increase muscle mass and body strength.

A study conducted in 2015 and published in the journal National Society of Sports Nutrition found that the administration of ashwagandha is associated with a significant increase in muscle mass and strength.

The study, which lasted 8 weeks, involved 57 men, aged between 18 and 50 years with little experience in body training. The treatment group received 300 mg of ashwagandha root extract, twice daily. The control group consumed a placebo. [14]

The researchers found that the treatment group had a significantly greater increase in muscle mass when performing exercise organs. Muscle damage during exercise also significantly decreased, increased testosterone, and decreased body fat.

READ ALSO: Is This the Best Enzymes Supplement for Athletes?

9. Reduces inflammation

Some animal studies have shown that ashwagandha reduces inflammation. [15] [16]

Studies in humans have found that herb increases the activity of killer cells, which are immune cells that fight infections and help you stay healthy. [17]

It has also been shown to reduce the markers of inflammation e.g. C-reactive protein (CRP: C Reactive Protein). This index is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

In a controlled study, the group receiving 250 mg ashwagandha daily had a 36% reduction in CRP, compared to 6% in the group who received the placebo.

10. Reduces cholesterol and triglycerides

Ashwagandha improves cardiac health by reducing cholesterol and triglycerides levels.

Many animal studies have found a significant decrease in their blood fat. A study in rats found that total cholesterol decreased by up to 53% and triglycerides by almost 45%. [18]

In contrast, controlled human studies have reported lower rates of decline, but there is still a significant improvement in these indicators.

In a 60-day study, with adults in a state of chronic anxiety, the group receiving the highest dose of ashwagandha experienced a 17% reduction in LDL-cholesterol and 11% in triglycerides, on average.

READ ALSO: Why everything you’ve been told about statins and cholesterols is wrong.

11. Reduces brain cell degeneration and improves memory

Emotional, physical stress, as well as the burden on the body from harmful chemicals (drugs, insecticides, cosmetics, food additives, etc.), can damage the brain and nervous system.

Recent research has shown that ashwagandha does not simply relieve stress, as it protects the brain from cell degeneration, which can lead to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. [19]

Ashwagandha is very effective in treating the brain because it contains powerful antioxidants that destroy free radicals, which are responsible for aging.

A pilot study conducted in 2017 and published in the journal Dietary Supplements found that the herb effectively improved memory in people with mild cognitive impairment. It also improved attention, information processing speed, and mental abilities. The study included 50 adults who received 300 mg of ashwagandha root extract or placebo for 8 weeks. [20]

12. Reduces signs of vitiligo

12 Ashwagandha Health Benefits Backed By Science
source: wikipedia

Vitiligo is a dermatological condition, which causes progressive loss of melanin, resulting in the appearance of white spots on the body. Because vitiligo, as an autoimmune disease is linked to the immune system, ashwagandha helps reduce these spots. [21]

Ashwagandha Nutrition Facts

According to research published in the journal International Journal of Home Science, 1 gram of dried ashwagandha root powder contains:

  • 2.5 calories
  • 0,04 gr protein
  • 0,032 gr fiber
  • 0,05 gr carbohydrates
  • 0,03 mgr of iron
  • 0,02 mgr of calcium
  • 0,08 mgr of carotene
  • 0,06 mgr vitamin C

Ashwagandha contains many beneficial elements such as flavonoids, antioxidants, catalase, peroxide dismutase, and glutathione, known as the ‘mother of all antioxidants’.

It also contains alkaloids, amino acids (including tryptophan), neurotransmitters, sterols, tannins, lignans, and triterpenes. Because of these valuable compounds, ashwagandha has a positive effect on health.

Ashwagandha Vs Maca Vs Ginseng

Similarities

All 3 herbs are used for their medicinal properties. They contain powerful antioxidants that improve memory, brain function, mood, sexual function, balance sugar levels, reduce inflammation, and increase energy levels.

They are available in the form of extract, capsule, and powder which come from the root of herbs.

Differences

They taste different. Ashwagandha tastes bitter and smells like a horse. Maca tastes like malt, while ginseng (ginseng) is bitter and spicy.

Ginseng is used by traditional Chinese medicine, maca from ancient Peruvian medicine, and Ashwagandha from Ayurveda.

There is also a difference in the daily recommended dose. For ginseng the effective dose ranges from 200 to 900 mg, for maca root powder is 1 to 3 tablespoons and for ashwagandha 1,000 to 1,500 mg.

Ashwagandha Dosage

The most popular form of ashwagandha is root extract, but it is also available in the leaf extract. You can find it in capsule or powder form.

The content of withanolides should range from 1% to 10%. The higher the percentage, the more effective the supplement.

You should start with a quantity of 300 mg to 500 mg daily, with withanolides ranging from 5% to 10%. Slowly increase the dose, paying attention to any side effects.

Many supplements recommend a total daily dose of 1-1.5 gr. Some sources argue that the optimal dose you can take is 6 gr daily. It is preferable to find the right dosage, with the guidance of an expert.

In studies, the dosage of ashwagandha ranged from 125-1,250 mg daily. The higher dosages brought the greatest improvement.

Its smell is not pleasant. However, if you purchase it in powder form, you can mix it with your food or juice to make it taste more pleasant.

Ashwagandha must be taken with food.

Is Ashwagandha Toxic?

Ashwagandha is not toxic

Ashwagandha’s leaf extract contains higher levels of Withaferin A, which kills cancer cells and has a cytotoxic effect.

However, according to researchers who studied the effect of ashwagandha on cancer, although the consumption of withaferin A is toxic even at a low dose, the herb itself is not toxic even at a high dose.

This possibility is due to the fact that the components of the extract interact and cooperate in killing cancer cells or to neutralize the toxicity of the herb. Simply put, the whole herb can be much safer and more effective than its individual active ingredients.

Ashwagandha Side Effects – Precautions

When ashwagandha is taken at the recommended dose it is considered safe.

Some possible side effects in case of overdose are stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea. If you present any of them, stop the herb immediately.

Also some people may be allergic to the herb.

It should not be used by pregnant or lactating women, as there is evidence that it may cause miscarriage and no information is available on how it reacts during breast-feeding.

Ashwagandha may interact with certain drugs by enhancing or negating their actions.

People suffering from autonomic conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, should avoid it. These individuals usually take medication that suppresses the immune system, while the herb strengthens it.

Those on medication for thyroid disease should be careful when taking ashwagandha because it is likely to increase thyroid hormone levels.

It can also lower your blood sugar and blood pressure levels so that you need to adjust your medication.

Because the herb helps improve sleep, calming the body and mind, people who consume sedatives should not take Ashwagandha.

Finally, if you have planned to undergo surgery, which requires anesthesia, it is preferable to stop the herb at least 2 weeks in advance, as it may further slow down your central nervous system.

[Video] Ashwagandha Herbal Guide

Dr. Axe’s video on Ashwagandha.


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The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies

Dr. Nicole Apelian

You’ll find 800+ beneficial plants and remedies in “The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies”. It includes recipes of tinctures, teas, decoctions, essential oils, syrups, salves, poultices, infusions and many other natural remedies that our grandparents used for centuries. What’s also special about this book is that it has between 2 and 4 high definition, color pictures for each plant and detailed identification guidelines to make sure you’ve got the right plant.

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