Ashwagandha or Indian Ginseng is one of the most powerful healing herb described in Ayurveda.Discover amazing uses and benefits of this herb in this article.
Modern lifestyle is increasingly causing fertility issues amongst men and women. Have you been trying to conceive for a long time, but ended up disappointed?
Are you a fitness freak who wants to increase muscle size and lower the fat percentage of the body? Do you have problems with memory loss or lower stamina and sexual capacity due to aging?
Does your work life cause a lot of stress which sometimes leads to anxiety or depression?
Ashwagandha may just be the miracle herb you are looking for. You can treat the above problems and much more by consuming Ashwagandha everyday.
It has the potential to prevent cancer, fight against neurodegenerative diseases, and reduce inflammation, stress, anxiety, arthritis, and other ailments.
Read more to find out about the properties and benefits of Ashwagandha.
What Is Ashwagandha?
Botanically it is called ‘Withania Somnifera’, which in Latin means sleep inducing. It belongs to the nightshade family of plants and is cultivated in the dry regions of India like Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh.
Ashwagandha is popularly used as an ‘adaptogen’, which means that it regulates the health of your adrenal system to help the body adapt to stress.
I think one of the biggest factors why you should consider using Ashwagandha is because it is safer than other drugs. It enables your body to self-regulate its various important systems and achieve the desired effects in a natural manner.
If you are interested in finding out what gives Ashwagandha the power to cure so many problems, then you should take a look at its constituents.
What Are The Constituents Of Ashwagandha?
Somnifera or Ashwagandha has been found to contain steroidal lactones, alkaloids and a combined class of constituents known as withanolides in scientific parlance.
Withanolides constituents include withaferin A, withanolide A and B, withanone, withanoside IV and V and 12-deoxy withastramonolide.
Ashwagandha also contains complex trihydroxy-oxo with-trienolide compounds.
The above information can get very technical, so let’s just say that together these compounds cause changes at the genetic level in your body to produce multifarious medicinal effects.
Various studies and researches have time and again demonstrated that Ashwagandha is a miracle herb which can be used as a panacea or cure-all.
As of now, Ayurveda and various clinical trials in medical science suggest that it has following health benefits.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha Benefits For Men
Studies have shown that testosterone decreases as men age. You may have come across many supplements in the market that supports testosterone production.
But most of them will cause side effects like a feeling of anxiety or increased production of estrogen, which leads to a condition called gynocomastia i.e. man boobs.
Ashwagandha naturally and organically increases the testosterone level in men, if they consume approximately 3-6grams in their diet daily.
You may take one teaspoon of Ashwagandha powder and mix it with warm milk for your consumption. But you must start with a low dose first, such as 1gram in a day, and then gradually increase it over a week.
Increases Sperm Count
Failure or dissatisfaction in sex life can cause frustration and depression and affect your mental and physical well-being. So it can be important for you to have a healthy sex life to ensure an overall well being.
If you or your partner is dissatisfied with your sexual performance, Ashwagandha can help you by increasing libido and volume and motility of sperms.
Seeds of Ashwagandha can be used for preparing medicine to treat erectile dysfunction, psychosexual condition and increase sperm count.
Take Ashwagandha oil and massage your lower abdomen with it daily. This will increase blood circulation and eliminate all your problems.
Increases Muscle Size
If you are a fitness freak and like to work out, you may have received advice from your gym trainer or friends to try proteins and supplements available in the market.
Yes, these supplements have great results. But what you don’t know is that their ingredients carry the risk of causing undue stress to your body.
For instance, when you start overloading your body with new kinds of chemicals and amino acids, it may cause stress to your liver.
I would strongly recommend that instead of using supplements you make Ashwagandha a part of your regular diet. It increases your lean body mass and reduces the average fat percentage of the body.
The result will be an increase in the muscle size. Take approximately 250 milligrams to 1 gram Ashwagandha and put it in warm or cold milk. Mix it with either ghee or honey and consume it daily.
Ashwagandha causes a significant increase in the strength of your lower back and quadriceps and a marginal increase in the strength of your hands.
You can either consume it orally in the form of powder, or you can purchase Ashwagandha oil from the market and massage your body daily with it.
This will give strength and warmth to muscles of your body.
Improves Sexual Performance
If you start taking ½ teaspoon of Ashwagandha in warm milk after lunch and dinner daily, it will improve your strength, sperm count, and level of testosterone.
Together it will have the result of improving your sexual performance.
Reduces Muscle Damage
When you undertake a rigorous workout in the gym, it results in damage to your muscle fibers. This must be healed by your body quickly.
Ashwagandha helps in reducing damage to your muscles and increases the pace of healing. Take Ashwagandha as suggested above, with warm milk daily.
Benefits for Women
You can now reduce menopausal symptoms by consuming Ashwagandha.
A sample of 51 women going through menopause was chosen for a study on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). CAM uses alternate methods like Ayurveda, acupuncture, etc. to cure different conditions the patients suffer from.
It was found that using Ashwagandha as a supplement led to significant amount of reductions in menopausal symptoms such as mood swings, hot flashes, and anxiety.
This was purportedly due to Ashwagandha acting on the endocrine system and encouraging hormonal balance.
If you are trying to conceive but are facing complications, then you must try Ashwagandha to remedy it.
There are a lot of factors which affect a female’s reproductive health adversely These factors are not confined to only a physiological nature such as hormonal imbalance, nutrient deficiency, and illness but may also be psychological in nature such as stress, anxiety, etc.
There have been comprehensive studies highlighting the properties of Ashwagandha as an adaptogen, supporting the body in adapting to various kinds of situations.
It promotes thyroid function which in turn helps in regulation of hormones. Consumption of Ashwagandha also leads to stress reduction.
Simply put, it can cure your fertility complications, by reducing adverse factors affecting your reproductive health.
Improves Sexual Capacity
Your sexual capacity could have been affected due to aging, stress at work, depression due to personal or professional failures or many other factors.
Ashwagandha can help you with its mild sedative qualities. It will help calm your mind, relax and lift your mood.
This, in turn, will lead to increased libido and sexual performance.
Research conducted on the usage of W. Somnifera or Ashwagandha suggests that regularly consuming it in prescribed method and amounts leads to improvement in overall stamina, vitality and sexual health due to increased blood flow and reduction in body tension.
In South Asia, it is commonly used in the form of tonic to enhance sexual desire and libido.
Women consuming Ashwagandha have also reported an increase in desire and achieving more satisfaction in the act of intercourse.
Fights Mood Imbalance
I understand how women are infamous for their mood swings and tantrums. But we overlook the fact that it is maybe due to hormonal disorders, and may just be a symptom of some disease.
Studies show that Ashwagandha is a calm-inducing herb. It has a high potential for fighting mood related disorders.
Women suffering from frequent changes in mood may find the herb beneficial as it induces calmness and relaxes the mind.
If you are suffering from loss of memory due to a head injury or old age or prolonged illness, then consuming Ashwagandha can be very effective and beneficial.
Ashwagandha belongs to the family of ‘Medhyarasayana’ in Ayurveda. It can promote memory and intellect.
Revitalizes energy levels
While it is maybe natural to feel lower energy levels as you age, but lower energy levels, while you are still young and strong, could be due to some disorders.
Ashwagandha acts as an adaptogen to help the body cope with stress-related disorders and increases vitality.
It also restores vigor and strength in people lacking energy. It boosts the immune system to promote the proper functioning of the body.
There are many anecdotes of women consuming Ashwagandha regularly and it helping them increase their vitality and stamina.
Evidence of Ashwagandha’s benefits is not limited to hear-say but also includes scientific research and studies.
Recent studies including studies on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) have reported significant findings.
You can either take one teaspoon of Ashwagandha with one glass of milk daily or take it in the form of tea twice a day, everyday.
Benefits For Skin
Reduces Aging Signs:
Consuming Ashwagandha will help free radicals in the body to fight common aging signs such as dark spots, blemishes, wrinkles and fine lines.
It is well known that anti-oxidants help in reduction of aging signs and that a person’s diet must contain food rich in anti-oxidants. Lesser known is the fact that herbs such as Ashwagandha contain high amounts of antioxidants.
In Ayurveda, Ashwagandha has been used in recipes of healing poultices to heal wounds.
Such a poultice can be easily made at home by following simple instructions. Take leaves and dried roots of Ashwagandha and grind together using water to make a smooth paste.
This can be prepared freshly when needed and applied on the wounds to allow quick healing.
In the Middle-East, the dry leaves of W. Somnifera (locally known as Therefore,) are ground to a powder to make a paste. It is then used topically for healing burns and wounds.
Treats Dry Skin:
Keratosis is a condition afflicting the skin that leaves it rough and dry. Consuming one teaspoon Ashwagandha with water twice daily will help in curing this condition and will leave your skin smooth and healthy.
Cortisol is a hormone which inhibits the production of specific proteins which are responsible for healthy skin. Research has shown that Ashwagandha reduces the levels of Cortisol significantly, in effect leading to healthy skin.
Ashwagandha contains steroidal lactones that increase production of estrogen hormone in the body. DHEA together with estrogen increases collagen production which is ultimately responsible for a youthful and healthy skin.
Helps with Skin Toning:
A toner for skin can easily be prepared using Ashwagandha.
Two teaspoons of powdered Ashwagandha root mixed with a teaspoon of dried ginger powder and a teaspoon of ground lemon peel should be boiled 200ml of water.
This natural recipe can be used as a toner to clog pores after cleansing to prevent dirt from entering the skin and keep skin radiant.
Fights Skin Inflammation:
Ashwagandha has been used in traditional medicine and Ayurveda since time immemorial for its well-known anti-inflammatory properties.
Ashwagandha is known to contain Withanolides, specifically Witheferin A which inhibits the growth of S. aureus, a bacteria which causes skin inflammation.
Ashwagandha can be used in topical poultices and ointment to relieve acne or can be consumed orally in medicinal preparations to fight inflammation.
Benefits for Hair
Various common factors influence hair-fall in both men and women. Stress is a prominent cause of hair fall. Other factors which cause one include high cortisol levels and hormonal imbalance.
Consumption of Ashwagandha significantly reduces hair fall by reducing stress and maintaining hormonal balance in the body.
Promotes Healthy Hair:
Ashwagandha is known to purify the body and its organs by flushing out toxins. This indirectly helps to promote healthy hair.
Studied related to melanin pigment, primarily responsible for skin and hair color, have shown that Ashwagandha prevents loss of melanin and thereby fights off premature graying.
Tyrosine, an amino acid is an active component in Ashwagandha which stimulates melanin production in the body. The anti-oxidants present in Ashwagandha have proven to play a significant role in the effective prevention of corrosion of hair tissues and prevent graying.
Helps in Stimulating and Activate Hair Follicles:
Ashwagandha is used as an active ingredient in natural herbal hair care products such as shampoos and conditioners. This is primarily due its ability to help stimulate hair follicles and improve the health of hair.
Ashwagandha also improves the circulation of blood in the scalp and leads to the accelerated growth of hair due to activation of hair follicles.
Fights and Prevents Hair Loss:
Another known use of Ashwagandha is in treating androgenic alopecia or balding. It regulates metabolic syndrome, a health condition causing balding, thereby fighting hair loss.
Anti-oxidants contained in Ashwagandha fight free radicals which damage cells in our bodies. Consumption of Ashwagandha on a regular basis makes the hair more flexible and reliable, therefore reducing breakage.
The skin rejuvenating capacity of Ashwagandha is useful in treating conditions which affect the scalp like dandruff, eczema and scalp psoriasis.
Benefits for Central Nervous System (CNS)
It is important to ensure the health of your nervous system. CNS comprises the brain and spinal cord, which are protected by skull and vertebrae respectively.
Together the central and peripheral nervous system of your body control and command all your actions in life.
Stress, anxiety and depression can compromise the nervous system and reduce the efficiency of the functioning of a body; hence, it is important to keep your nervous system healthy.
- Treats Neurodegenerative Diseases
Ashwagandha has the potential to fight against neurodegenerative diseases and extend the expected life span of the patient.
Patients with neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s suffer from cognitive impairment due to synaptic loss and neuritic atrophy.
Ashwagandha is found to have a potential to stop, slow down, reverse or remove the synaptic loss and neuritic atrophy. Hence, it can be used to treat neurodegenerative diseases at any stage, sometimes even before diagnosis.
Regenerates Axons and Dendrites
Axons and dendrites are components of a nerve cell.
Many studies have conclusively stated that Ashwagandha encourages regeneration of dendrites and axons, as well as reconstructs the synapses.
So if you have incurred any brain injuries, then Ashwagandha can help in the process of healing by encouraging regeneration of axons and dendrites.
Or else if you are sick with any of the neurodegenerative diseases like the Alzheimer’s, then extract of Ashwagandha can treat it by helping in the reconstruction of networks of the nervous system.
Ashwagandha induces sound sleep, relieves your body off stress and helps in rejuvenation of the nervous system. This enables Ashwagandha to treat insomnia.
Other Health Benefits
If you have pain and inflammation in one or more of your joints, then it is very likely that you have the problem of arthritis.
When Ashwagandha is taken in combination with Zinc, Boswellia and Turmeric, it can treat pain and stiffness caused by arthritis.
AIMS had also endorsed the potential of Ashwagandha to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
If upon consulting a doctor you are diagnosed with arthritis, start taking Ashwagandha with warm milk daily.
Enhances Resilience to Stress
If you have the tendency to stress too much on comparatively trivial issues, then do not take it lightly. Stress over a period can become a breeding ground for many diseases.
Ashwagandha has properties of an adaptogen which adapt the body to relieve it from stress and behaves like a mild sedative.
Production of oxidative stress is increased due to chronic nervous tension, but the anti oxidants in Ashwagandha abolish oxidative stress.
Ashwagandha is often used as an ingredient in antidepressant drugs and tranquilizers. You may take one teaspoon of Ashwagandha with one glass of warm milk everyday to reduce susceptibility to stress and related disorders.
Asha Hospital in Hyderabad conducted clinical trials on patients with chronic stress. The trials concluded that administering Ashwagandha for two months reduced stress by 44% and anxiety and depression by 72%.
Boosts the Immune Function
You are exposed to dust, environmental toxins and a plethora of infections and diseases in everyday life.
The only thing that stands between you and these diseases is your immune system, which fights against viruses and bacteria and keeps you from getting sick.
Hence, it is important to ensure that the immune system is strong and healthy.
Ashwagandha is known to stimulate the immune system of a body. Many types of research have shown that it increases the production of the white blood cells in the body to prevent diseases and illness.
Stimulates Thyroid Gland
Modern lifestyle is increasingly causing stress and depression issues amongst youngsters and adults alike. It leads to an imbalance of hormones in body and often results in people getting diagnosed with thyroid related problems at a very young age.
If you are a patient of hypothyroidism, consuming Ashwagandha everyday can treat you. Research studies suggest that extracts of roots of Ashwagandha stimulate thyroid gland to increase the secretion of thyroid hormones.
Reduces Anxiety and Depression
Some of you may find yourself vulnerable to anxiety and depression in ordinary circumstances. If this happens frequently, do not ignore it like you ignore common cold.
Anxiety and depression can result in serious disorders and must be uprooted.
Ashwagandha behaves like an anti-depressant and a tranquilizer and alleviates stress and anxiety.
Clinical trials have found it to be as effective as anti-anxiety drug lorazepam.
However the drugs ordinarily have adverse side effects, and Ashwagandha naturally treats you of stress and anxiety without the risk of any side effect.
Ashwagandha has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties due to the presence of steroidal lactones, alkaloids and saponins.
It reduces the inflammation and pain and behaves like a cyclooxygenase inhibitor.
Prepare a powder of the roots or purchase it from the market, then mix its water to form a paste. Now apply this to the areas of inflammation at joints and leave it for 20 minutes.
Or you can simply apply Ashwagandha oil on affected areas to bring relief.
It will reduce the inflammation.
Can Stabilize Level of Blood Sugar
Ashwagandha has the property of reducing blood sugar level and bringing it to the hnormal level. It helps in effectively treating Type 2 diabetes
Potential to Treat Cancer
Research studies have shown that extract of the roots of Ashwagandha inhibits the ability of cancer cells to reproduce.
Therefore if you have been diagnosed with cancer, make Ashwagandha a part of your regular diet.
Start consuming 1 teaspoon of Ashwagandha in warm milk everyday before going to bed. This will help you in fighting cancer.
Due to antigenic properties of Ashwagandha, cancer is prevented from forming new blood vessels. This disrupts the growth of cancer.
Research by Tokyo University of Technology has concluded that Ashwagandha has the potential to prevent skin cancer by slowing down the phosphorylation of melanocyte stem cell.
Good for cardiovascular health
Are you a heart patient? Do you have the history of cardiovascular disorders in the family?
If yes, then I would advise you to take precautions to reduce the risk of developing a heart problem.
Ashwagandha is known to have cardio protective properties like controlling the level of cholesterol in your body and strengthening the muscles of the heart.
It can help you in reducing several risk factors which may lead to heart malfunction.
Ashwagandha improves overall blood circulation in the body, controls cholesterol, regulates blood sugar and prevents blood clotting in the heart, thereby boosting cardiac health.
So take ½ teaspoon of Ashwagandha powder with warm milk after lunch and dinner and keep your heart healthy.
Although Ashwagandha is found to be non-toxic, it may cause side effects if it is not taken in the prescribed manner and appropriate dosage. Also, if you are already under treatment of a doctor for some disease, you should consult with him before you start consuming Ashwagandha.
Probable Risks of Using Ashwagandha
- Pregnant Women: Due to abortifacient properties of Ashwagandha, pregnant women should avoid its consumption.
- The risk of Medical Interactions: If you are already under treatment for a serious ailment then you must take advice from a doctor regarding consumption of Ashwagandha beforehand. There are chances that your regular medication might react with Ashwagandha.
- Other: Ashwagandha should not be consumed in more than prescribed amounts otherwise it may cause diarrhea, nausea or an upset stomach.
Modern science is constantly evolving and exploring alternative methods of treatment.
Most of the medicinal properties of Ashwagandha have found acknowledgment in Ayurveda alone, and the remaining few have been concluded upon conducting trials on rats and other animals.
But the number of controlled clinical trials on humans to test the properties of Ashwagandha is rapidly rising. The market and Western scientists are intrigued with the properties and potential of Ashwagandha.
In no time, the properties of Ashwagandha to cure various diseases will be backed by medical science as well. Until then make this herb a part of your diet, and stay healthy.