Posted on Jul 23, 2019, 3 p.m.
Ashwagandha is commonly used in Ayurveda, it is an adaptogenic herb that carries numerous health benefits including stress relief, boosting energy, and enhancing concentration. Ashwagandha has a slightly bitter and astringent flavor, and may be more palatable as a pill or powder to add to energy bites, teas, or smoothies.
This herb is also known as winter cherry or Indian ginseng, and it contains a high level of withanolides which can help to prevent inflammation and tumor growth and is believed to be responsible for many of the herb’s benefits.
Supplements are thought to help increase sperm count and increase testosterone and antioxidant levels. A study published in the journal Evidenced-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found the herb to help increase antioxidant levels in male participants and to improve sperm quality; 3 months after treatment 14% of the participant’s partners were pregnant.
Test tube and animal studies show that ashwagandha helps to induce apoptosis and prevent the growth of new cancer cells by making the cancer cells less resistant to apoptosis, and generating reactive oxygen species that are only toxic to cancer cells; studies suggest it may be useful for treating several types of cancer.
Some studies suggest that it can also help to reduce blood sugar levels, and in test tube studies it helped to boost insulin secretion and improved insulin sensitivity in muscle cells. Other studies report it helped to lower blood sugar levels in healthy participants and those with diabetes.
Taking ashwagandha is suggested to help reduce cortisol levels, especially among those who are chronically stressed. In animal studies it was found to help block stress pathways in the brains of rats by regulation chemical signaling in the nervous system. Ashwagandha was found to address the symptoms of stress and anxiety disorders in controlled studies.
Ashwagandha helps to boost cardiovascular health by lowering triglyceride and cholesterol levels; a 60 day study involving chronically stressed participants showed that those taking the highest dose of standardized ashwagandha extract had 17% decreases in LDL cholesterol and 11% decrease in triglycerides.
Ashwagandha can help to alleviate depression according to several studies; those who took 600 mg of high concentrated extract per day for 60 days in a controlled study had a 79% reduction in severe depression symptoms.
In another study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed those who took ashwagandha had greater gains in muscle size and strength, consumption of the herb more than doubled reduction of participant body fat.
Ashwagandha has been demonstrated to help minimize inflammation and to boost the activity of natural killer immune cells in humans.
Test tube and animal studies have shown consumption can help to reduce memory and brain function problems due to injury or disease. In controlled human studies, healthy male subjects taking 500 mg of standardized extracts daily had significant improvements in task performance and reaction time.
Most people tolerate ashwagandha well, however, those who are breastfeeding and pregnant should avoid it; and those with autoimmune disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes, and those taking medications for thyroid disease should use caution when taking ashwagandha.
Dosage for the herb depends on the type of supplement, extracts are more effective than a crude root or leaf powder, and follow the instructions on the product label. It is recommended to consult a doctor before taking to ensure it is best for you.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.