Health

Science-Backed Health Benefits of Ashwagandha

3. Reduces anxiety Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. The first day of… Rina - August 13, 2020
 It has a powerhouse of antioxidants
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3. Reduces anxiety

Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. The first day of school, going to a job interview, or giving a speech may cause most people to feel fearful and nervous. Ashwagandha is perhaps best known for its ability to reduce stress. It has a calming effect on anxiety symptoms when compared to the drug lorazepam (a sedative and anxiety medication). A study published in the journal Phytomedicine showed that the herb had the ability to reduce anxiety levels. In fact, the two treatments were found to offer a similar level of relief from anxiety as the above medication, suggesting ashwagandha might be as effective for reducing anxiety.

Researchers have reported that it blocked the stress pathway in the brains of rats by regulating chemical signaling in the nervous system. Also, several controlled human studies have shown that it can reduce symptoms in people with stress and anxiety disorders.  In a 60-day study in 64 people with chronic stress, those in the group that supplemented with ashwagandha reported a 69% reduction in anxiety and insomnia, on average, compared with 11% in the placebo group. In another 6-week study, 88% of people who took ashwagandha reported a reduction in anxiety, compared with 50% of those who took a placebo.

 It has a powerhouse of antioxidants
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4. Arthritis relief

Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. It can affect one joint or multiple joints. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, with different causes and treatment methods. Two of the most common types are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Ashwagandha is considered a pain reliever that acts on the nervous system to prevent pain signals from being sent. It’s also thought to have some anti-inflammatory properties. For this reason, some research has shown it to be effective in treating forms of arthritis.

One study done by the Indian Journal of Medical Research found the herb to have strong potential as a treatment option for rheumatoid arthritis. When the herb was given to a group of RA patients for a period of four weeks, more than half of them experienced pain relief. Ashwagandha is one herb that offers promise as an alternative to steroids. Although generally rheumatoid arthritis cannot be cured, the disease gradually becomes less aggressive and symptoms may even improve. However, any damage to joints and ligaments and any deformities that have occurred are permanent. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect parts of the body other than the joints.

 It has a powerhouse of antioxidants
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5. Heart health

Ashwagandha may have a variety of benefits for heart health, including the treatment of, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chest pain, and heart disease. One study published in the International Journal of Ayurveda Research found that using the herb for heart health (in combination with another Ayurvedic herb) was helpful in improving muscle strength and endurance. It miglycerides. In addition to its anti-inflammatory effects, ashwagandha may help improve heart health by reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Animal studies have found that it significantly decreases levels of these blood fats. While controlled studies in humans have reported less dramatic results, they have observed some impressive improvements in these markers.  In a 60-day study in chronically stressed adults, the group taking the highest dosage of standardized ashwagandha extract experienced a 17% decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol and an 11% decrease in triglycerides, on average.

 It has a powerhouse of antioxidants
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6. Treatment of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to waste away (degenerate) and die. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral, and social skills that disrupts a person’s ability to function independently. How can Ashwagandha fight Alzheimer’s? Researchers at Newcastle University have found that it inhibits the formation of beta-amyloid plaques.  Moreover, the study showed that rather than altering brain chemistry directly, ashwagandha boosts a protein in the liver.

This protein clears amyloid from the brain. This helps to slow or prevent loss of brain function in people with diseases like Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s.  As these diseases progress, parts of the brain and its connective paths become damaged, which leads to loss of memory and function. Research suggests that ashwagandha, when given during the early stages of the disease, may be able to offer protection.

 It has a powerhouse of antioxidants
Dried ashwagandha seeds. Shutterstock.

7. Anti-cancer Properties

A few very promising studies found that ashwagandha might be able to stop cell growth in certain cancers. Animal research showed the ability to decrease lung tumors. There are encouraging findings that suggest the herb has the potential to slow human cancers including breast, lung, kidney, and prostate.  Animal and test-tube studies have found that withaferin, a compound in ashwagandha, helps induce apoptosis, which is the programmed death of cancer cells.  It also impedes the growth of new cancer cells in several ways.

First, withaferin is believed to promote the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) inside cancer cells, disrupting their function. Second, it may cause cancer cells to become less resistant to apoptosis.  Animal studies suggest that it may help treat several types of cancer, including breast, lung, colon, brain, and ovarian cancer.  In one study, mice with ovarian tumors treated with withaferin alone or in combination with an anti-cancer drug showed a 70–80% reduction in tumor growth. The treatment also prevented the spread of cancer to other organs. Although no evidence suggests that ashwagandha exerts similar effects in humans, the current research is encouraging.

 It has a powerhouse of antioxidants
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8. Can Reduce Blood Sugar Levels

In several studies, ashwagandha has been shown to lower blood sugar levels. One test-tube study found that it increased insulin secretion and improved insulin sensitivity in muscle cells. Also, several human studies have suggested that it can reduce blood sugar levels in both healthy people and those with diabetes. What’s more, in a small study in 6 people with type 2 diabetes, supplementing with ashwagandha for 30 days lowered fasting blood sugar levels. However, the study didn’t include a control group, making the results questionable.

Additionally, in a 4-week study on people with schizophrenia, those treated with ashwagandha had an average reduction in fasting blood sugar levels of 13.5 mg/dL, compared with 4.5 mg/dL in those who received a placebo. People with long-term schizophrenia are three times more likely than the general population to have diabetes. The higher the level of glucose in the blood, the higher the risk of diabetes. People with schizophrenia had higher levels of glucose in the blood.

 It has a powerhouse of antioxidants
Cortisol and its many effects. Shutterstock.

9. Can reduce cortisol levels

Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands which sit on top of each kidney. When released into the bloodstream, cortisol can act on many different parts of the body. It can help your body respond to stress or danger. Increase your body’s metabolism of glucose. Because most bodily cells have cortisol receptors, it affects many different functions in the body. Cortisol can help control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, help reduce inflammation, and assist with memory formulation. It has a controlling effect on salt and water balance and helps control blood pressure.

Cortisol is known as a stress hormone given that your adrenal glands release it in response to stress, as well as when your blood sugar levels get too low. Unfortunately, in some cases, cortisol levels may become chronically elevated, which can lead to high blood sugar levels and increased fat storage in the abdomen. Studies have shown that ashwagandha may help reduce cortisol levels.  In one study in chronically stressed adults, those who supplemented with ashwagandha had significantly greater reductions in cortisol, compared with the control group. Those taking the highest dose experienced a 30% reduction, on average.

 It has a powerhouse of antioxidants
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10. May reduce symptoms of depression

Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Depression causes feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. Although Ashwagandha has been used for centuries to help with symptoms of depression, it hasn’t been thoroughly studied. A few clinical studies suggest ashwagandha may help alleviate depression. In one controlled 60-day study in 64 stressed adults, those who took 600 mg of high-concentration ashwagandha extract per day reported a 79% reduction in severe depression, while the placebo group reported a 10% increase.

However, only one of the participants in this study had a history of depression. For this reason, the relevance of the results is unclear. Though ashwagandha may help alleviate depression, clinical research is unclear at this point. A word of caution from an Ayurvedic practitioner “Unlike Chinese ginseng that moves Qi energy upwards, ashwagandha moves it down. Due to its calming effect, it has the opposite effect of a stimulant. If your mind tends to feel heavy or cloudy, if you tend toward mind stagnation, especially accompanied by a feeling of suppressed anger, ashwagandha is likely going to make it worse…So ashwagandha could help anxiety, but it could exacerbate depression and may even provoke depression”.

 It has a powerhouse of antioxidants
Junior muscle-man. Shutterstock.

11. May increase muscle mass and strength

Generally, greater muscle mass has positive health effects. If you have high muscle mass, you can slow down muscle loss and protect your physical ability. Skeletal muscle also improves your overall metabolism. Compared to fat, skeletal muscle burns more calories at rest. Research has shown that ashwagandha may improve body composition and increase strength.

In a study to determine a safe and effective dosage for ashwagandha, healthy men who took 750–1,250 mg of pulverized ashwagandha root per day gained muscle strength after 30 days. In another study, those who took ashwagandha had significantly greater gains in muscle strength and size. It also more than doubled their reductions in body fat percentage, compared with the placebo group.

 It has a powerhouse of antioxidants
Inflammation in the body. Shutterstock.

12. May reduce inflammation

Inflammation is a process by which the body’s white blood cells and substances they produce protect us from infection with foreign organisms, such as bacteria and viruses.  In these diseases, called autoimmune diseases, the body’s normally protective immune system causes damage to its own tissues. The five classical signs of inflammation are heat, pain, redness, swelling, and loss of function. When inflammation occurs, chemicals from the body’s white blood cells are released into the blood or affected tissues to protect your body from foreign substances. This release of chemicals increases the blood flow to the area of injury or infection and may result in redness and warmth. Some of the chemicals cause a leak of fluid into the tissues, resulting in swelling.

This protective process may stimulate nerves and cause pain. The increased number of cells and inflammatory substances within the joint cause irritation, swelling of the joint lining, and eventually, wearing down of cartilage (cushions at the end of bones). Several animal studies have shown that ashwagandha helps decrease inflammation. Studies in humans have found that it increases the activity of natural killer cells, which are immune cells that fight infection and help you stay healthy. It has also been shown to decrease markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP). This marker is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. In one controlled study, the group who took 250 mg of standardized ashwagandha extract daily had a 36% decrease in CRP, on average, compared with a 6% decrease in the placebo group.

 It has a powerhouse of antioxidants
A doctor points out the gland that sits on top of the kidney. Shutterstock.

13. Safe for kidneys?

The kidneys play key roles in body function, not only by filtering the blood and getting rid of waste products, but also by balancing the electrolyte levels in the body, controlling blood pressure, and stimulating the production of red blood cells. When your kidneys are damaged, waste products and fluid can build up in your body. That can cause swelling in your ankles, nausea, weakness, poor sleep, and shortness of breath. Without treatment, the damage can get worse and your kidneys may eventually stop working.

That’s serious, and it can be life-threatening. If tubules are damaged they can be repaired, but if the damage is severe enough, the nephron may be destroyed. The kidney can regenerate and recover, but unfortunately, the kidney cannot make new nephrons, and in that context, its regeneration is limited. The kidney is an important excretory organ. Herbal plants such as Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) may have free radical scavenging activity thereby can be used for the prevention and treatment of kidney damage.

 It has a powerhouse of antioxidants
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14. Good for the lungs?

Ashwagandha increases energy, stamina, and endurance. It has been shown to significantly impact athletic performance by improving heart and lung capacity while increasing energy levels. Another way to increase lung capacity is to improve exercise tolerance. Exercise causes your heart and breathing rates to increase, so your body has enough oxygen and strengthens your heart and lungs. The average person’s lung capacity can be improved by around 5 percent to 15 percent, even with frequent workouts.

In cases of obstructive lung diseases, such as asthma, bronchiectasis, COPD, and emphysema, the lungs are unable to expel air properly during exhalation. Restrictive lung diseases cause a decreased lung capacity or volume, so a person’s breathing rate often increases to meet their oxygen demands. Ashwagandha not only increases lung capacity, but it helps to clear inflammation which is a common problem within the lungs.

 It has a powerhouse of antioxidants
Brain health. Shutterstock.

15. Improved brain function, including memory

Ashwagandha can cross the blood-brain barrier and lower inflammation in the brain. It is classified as an adaptogen, meaning that it can help your body manage stress. Ashwagandha also provides numerous other benefits for your body and brain. For example, it can boost brain function, lower blood sugar and cortisol levels, and help fight symptoms of anxiety and depression. Test-tube and animal studies suggest that ashwagandha may mitigate memory and brain function problems caused by injury or disease. Research has shown that it promotes antioxidant activity that protects nerve cells from harmful free radicals.

Although ashwagandha has traditionally been used to boost memory in Ayurvedic medicine, only a small amount of human research has been conducted in this area. In one controlled study, healthy men who took 500 mg of standardized extract daily reported significant improvements in their reaction time and task performance, compared with men who received a placebo. Another 8-week study in 50 adults showed that taking 300 mg of ashwagandha root extract twice daily significantly improved general memory, task performance, and attention.

 It has a powerhouse of antioxidants
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16. Sleep Better

The smell of good quality ashwagandha root is very strong and grounding. Ashwagandha’s botanical name somnifera means sleep-inducing, indeed ashwagandha promotes deep and restful sleep, which is useful in cases of nervous exhaustion, anxiety, insomnia, and stress-related conditions.  An active component of the herb, triethylene glycol, has been found to induce sleep. Therefore, used over an extended period, ashwagandha could help to treat long-term sleep disorders, including insomnia. So, less stress equals better sleep, and inducing sleep can help to lower stress. The most common sleep disorder is insomnia.

Others are sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness at inappropriate times), sleeping sickness (disruption of sleep cycle due to infection), sleepwalking, and night terrors. Ashwagandha might cause drowsiness. . Taking ashwagandha along with sedative medications might cause excessive sleepiness. For more of the benefits of quality sleep see this: Study Shows Health Benefits After Months of Regular Sleeping.

 It has a powerhouse of antioxidants
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17. Promotes Weight Loss

The body has a system of hormonal checks and balances that can actually promote weight gain when you’re stressed out. Therefore, chronic stress, or poorly managed stress, can lead to elevated cortisol levels that stimulate your appetite. With the end result being weight gain or difficulty losing unwanted pounds. Weight gain is an increase in body weight. This can involve an increase in muscle mass, fat deposits, excess fluids such as water or other factors. Weight gain can also be a symptom of a serious medical condition.

Avoid any foods that make your blood sugar rise quickly, because, as your blood sugar drops again, your body releases adrenaline and cortisol to stabilize it once more. Switch to whole grain alternatives that release energy slowly. Add protein to each meal. One of the main causes of weight gain these days in the increased level of stress or high cortisol levels. One of the main causes of weight gain these days is the increased level of stress or high cortisol levels.  Ashwagandha helps in relieving stress, lowering cortisol, and lowering blood sugar, and thus promotes weight loss.

 It has a powerhouse of antioxidants
The many effects of our hormones. Shutterstock.

18. Hormone effect

The main function of endocrine glands is to secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream. Hormones are chemical substances that affect the activity of another part of the body. In essence, hormones serve as messengers, controlling and coordinating activities throughout the body. Mineral-dense ashwagandha enhances communication within the complex endocrine system. By strengthening the adrenal glands, reducing cortisol, and increasing the production of blood.
The increased blood flow and regulated hormones have a positive effect on libido and menstrual health and can also help with fertility. Ashwagandha also supports the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis that controls cortisol release from the adrenals. A healthy stress response supports the healthy function of the whole body, so the body doesn’t have to divert attention from other processes. Healthy, normal cortisol output also supports the adrenal glands, which naturally allows the body to focus on reproductive health.
 It has a powerhouse of antioxidants
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19. Good for hair growth

Any physical stressor or trauma that can disrupt hormone levels in the body can trigger telogen effluvium hair loss.  Continual stress at work or in a relationship, financial worries, parenting problems, and any other type of emotional stress can have a major impact on the entire body, including the hair follicles. For healthy, lustrous hair, add ashwagandha to your shampoo. It improves scalp circulation, strengthens the hair, and gets rid of dandruff, psoriasis, and eczema on the scalp. Add it to your shampoo or conditioner and you will notice the difference in the way your scalp feels and looks. Resulting in shinier and healthier hair.
Both chronic stress and hormonal imbalances are the main causes of hair loss in women, so adding an adaptogenic herb such as ashwagandha into the diet will promote strong, healthy hair while reducing hair loss and damage. Specifically, ashwagandha helps to manage cortisol levels. It stimulates melanin, the pigment responsible for the color of your hair, so it may even reverse greying. Eating foods rich in vitamin C like citrus, berries, and leafy green vegetables may optimize melanin production as well. Taking a vitamin C supplement also helps. The antioxidant effects are beneficial to increase hair strength and prevent breakage.
Ashwagandha... What?
Skin, before and after. Shutterstock.

20. Protects your skin

Its potent antioxidant properties help protect the skin against free radical damage and slow down the aging process by firming up your skin for a more youthful look. Skincare: Ashwagandha stimulates DHEA, which is a precursor to both testosterone and estrogen and stimulates the production of natural skin oils. Ashwagandha root has both antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, protecting the skin from infections or acne. It’s high levels of antioxidants protect your skin from free radicals, also helping to keep your complexion vibrant.
Other benefits of Ashwagandha: Increases collagen production in the body. Studies show that ashwagandha is a very effective antioxidant. Antioxidants help improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and dark spots. We recommend adding Ashwagandha CO2 Extract to any lotion, creme, serum, or oil blend for mature skin care. While ashwagandha does not contain collagen, it does contain many compounds known to stimulate the skin, thereby increasing its appearance.
Ashwagandha... What?
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21. Benefits for Women

Ashwagandha has the potential to boost women’s health. It improves fertility. It helps to stimulate the development of the mammary glands. The phytoestrogens present in helping to increase the secretion of prolactin in the body, which plays a role in increasing the breast size.  Ashwagandha offers a perfect answer to how to enlarge breast naturally. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, which means that the way it works on me will be different from how it works on you. It can boost energy, or calm, depending on your requirements. Similarly, the effects on men and their effects on women are different. It is important to remember that ultimately Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic hormone balancer- that targets the endocrine system, to get it firing on all cylinders.

This helps stabilize hormone levels based on where they should be, so while it raises testosterone in men, it can similarly raise estrogen in women too. This is the beauty of this powerful plant. Menopause, of course, affects women as their fertility cycle shifts down gears. Hormone levels can really peak and this can spark psychological as well as physical changes. If approaching the menopause you may want to consider taking Ashwagandha regularly. Ashwagandha targets the endocrine system to balance hormone secretion, and also boost circulation, and reduce stress. This helps to counter the effects of menopause, such as mood swings, hot flushes, sleep disturbance, and sexual issues.

 

Ashwagandha... What?
Testosterone, men’s health. Shutterstock.

22. Increase fertility in men

Testosterone is produced by the gonads, although small quantities are also produced by the adrenal glands in both sexes. It is an androgen, meaning that it stimulates the development of male characteristics. Ashwagandha supplements can boost testosterone and may have powerful effects on testosterone levels and reproductive health. In one study in 75 infertile men, the group treated with ashwagandha showed increased sperm count and motility. What’s more, the treatment led to a significant increase in testosterone levels.

The researchers also reported that the group who took the herb had increased antioxidant levels in their blood. In another study, men who received ashwagandha for stress experienced higher antioxidant levels and better sperm quality. After 3 months of treatment, 14% of the men’s partners had become pregnant. Ashwagandha can be beneficial for beard growth because it has been showing to increase testosterone levels when taken regularly. The more testosterone your body produces, the faster you will grow facial hair.

Ashwagandha... What?
Ashwagandha capsules. Shutterstock.

23. Can I take Ashwagandha daily?

This question is difficult to answer because we currently lack a lot of long-term information from clinical trials. Because of its possible drug-like effects on neurotransmission, it’s difficult to rule out unintended side-effects or a loss of potency in the long-term. However, what studies we do have generally suggest that the effects of Ashwagandha on stress or anxiety continually improve for at least two months after the beginning of daily supplementation.

Furthermore, the studies use Ashwagandha daily, and if a study finds an effect, the best way to get that same effect is to mimic the dose and dosing schedule in the study. It is unknown if taking breaks from Ashwagandha or taking it every other day will yield the same effects. The recommended dosage of ashwagandha depends on the type of supplement. Extracts are more effective than crude ashwagandha root or leaf powder. Remember to follow instructions on labels.

Ashwagandha... What?
The unpleasant reaction of side effects. Shutterstock.

24. What are the side effects?

There haven’t been enough long-term studies to examine possible side effects. It is safe for most people and widely available Ashwagandha is a safe supplement for most people, although its long-term effects are unknown. It may cause mild drowsiness and sedation for some people. However, certain individuals should not take it, including pregnant and breastfeeding women. Pregnant women should avoid using ashwagandha because it can cause early delivery. People with autoimmune diseases should also avoid ashwagandha unless authorized by a healthcare provider. This includes people with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and type 1 diabetes.

Additionally, those on medication for thyroid disease should be careful when taking ashwagandha, as it may increase thyroid hormone levels in some people. Stop taking ashwagandha at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery. Thyroid disorders: Ashwagandha might increase thyroid hormone levels. You should use cautiously if you have a thyroid condition or take thyroid hormone medications. Make sure you buy it from a reputable source.

Ashwagandha... What?
Ashwagandha roots and powder. Shutterstock.

25. In summary

Ashwagandha is a medicinal herb that offers several health benefits, such as the improvement of blood sugar, inflammation, mood, memory, stress, and anxiety. As well as a boost in muscle strength and fertility. It is classified as an adaptogen, meaning that it can help your body manage stress. Ashwagandha also provides numerous other benefits for your body and brain. Known as the powerhouse “Indian Ginseng” it’s many uses include: For example, the ability to boost brain function, lower blood sugar and cortisol levels, and help fight symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Ashwagandha can have a significant impact on athletic performance by improving heart and lung capacity while increasing energy levels.  Ashwagandha is full of antioxidants that are essential for weight loss and overall well-being. These antioxidants speed up your metabolism, decrease inflammation, and thus help in burning the stored fat in your body. The increased blood flow and regulated hormones have a positive effect on libido and menstrual health and can also help with fertility.  It helps to relieve stress and increase energy levels. Giving you an over feeling of better health and wellness.

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

https://www.fushi.co.uk/healthy-lifestyle-news/ashwagandha-benefits-for-women/

5 incredible benefits of Ashwagandha for women


https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/20/21/5310
https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/withania-somnifera
https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Withania+somnifera

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