Ashwagandha is a medicinal herb full of health benefits. In Ayurveda, it is considered one of the most powerful herbs due to its restorative properties.
Botanically called Withania somnifera, it is also known as Winter Cherry and Indian Ginseng. Ashwagandha naturally grows in arid climate which is typical to India, Middle East, and Africa. The name Ashwagandha is derived from Sanskrit and means the smell of a horse, owing to the strong odor that the plant has. Extracts from the roots and leaves are used as the herb. It is known to boost immunity and provide rejuvenation against a number of health problems.
Here’re the six benefits of Ashwagandha as an ayurvedic herb:
1. It is a natural adaptogen that relieves stress and anxiety
Ashwagandha helps the body processes normalize and adapt to the stress level effectively. The herb has been a part of the Ayurveda medicine for over 3,000 years. Studies have shown that a medical prescription of the herb helps regulate the chemical signals and prohibits stress to take course through the nervous system(1). Clinical trials too have showed that Ashwagandha is helpful in reducing the symptoms in people suffering from chronic stress or anxiety disorders(2), (3), (4). The trials concluded that only 11% of the people registered an improvement in the placebo group, while 69% people in the group that took Ashwagandha showed alleviation in their stress levels. The herb also reduced the cortisol levels effectively.
2. It reduces blood sugar levels
Ashwagandha is beneficial in diabetes too. It is known to bring down the glucose level. A test-tube research observed that the herb tends to increase insulin sensitivity in muscle cells which results in better insulin secretion(5). Other studies concluded that the herb can reduce the blood sugar levels in both the diabetic and non-diabetic people as well as in patients suffering from schizophrenia (6), (7), (8). In some smaller studies, the result with Ashwagandha was as good as that of the oral medication of diabetes.
3. It helps in depression too
The health advantages of Ashwagandha as a medicinal herb are well known in Ayurveda. This herb is effective against illnesses like chronic depression too. A study done a few years back showed a 79% decrease in severe depression in patients who took ashwagandha as per the prescription(9). In the same study, the people in the placebo group with no Ashwagandha medication reported a 10% increase in depression levels.
4. It can help fight cancer
Studies on animals as well as test tube research have concluded that Ashwagandha can uniquely help fight cancer. It not only slows down the growth of new cancer cells, but also effectuates apoptosis( programmed death) in cancer cells(10). The herb helps in formation of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) which are hostile to the cancer cells but do not harm the healthy cells and at the same time decreases the ability of the cancer cells to resist(11). The further research and human trials would possibly reveal the miraculous working mechanism of Ashwagandha, the great benefits of which have always been known to Ayurveda since the beginning.
5. It can lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels
Ashwagandha is good for the heart too as it is known to bring down the cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body. Studies done on animals (rats) reported a blood fat reduction of 53% which is remarkable in itself(12). Human studies too have yielded significant results(13).
6. It improves memory and brain functions
Various studies have shown that Ashwagandha is beneficial in improving the brain functions and memory too. It can help the neural system recover from brain-related injury or illnesses and increases antioxidant activity as well. From neurocognitive disorders to insomnia to epilepsy and memory issues, the herb has immense healing properties against all such problems too(14), (15), (16), (17).
Ashwagandha is a herb full of medicinal value. It’s use and intake, however, should always be under the guidance of an expert Ayurveda practitioner. It is would be the best way to address you health woes without making it worse by not knowing the appropriate dosage and combination, as well as some other aspects of taking this herb in the right manner.
Ayurveda is an ancient and holistic science of health and medicine. The ayurvedic herbs and therapies have the potential to revive the healthcare in significant ways. Modern medicine is increasingly becoming helpless against the epidemic rise of many non-communicable diseases. It is time to adopt Ayurveda as your immediate choice of treatment for an integral health resolution. Stay well with this centuries-old medicinal science.
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