Ashwagandha: An Ancient Adaptogen With Many Health Benefits

Ashwagandha, also called as Indian ginseng or winter cherry is an evergreen shrub that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine system for more than 3,000 years. Its roots and berries are used for medicinal purposes.

Being an adaptogen, Ashwagandha can help people deal with chronic stress. Adaptogen, a class of medicinal herbs, are marketed as helping the body resist all kinds of stressors – biological, physical, or chemical.

Dr. Brenda Powell, co-medical director of the Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute, says that:

“Adaptogens help your body handle stress. They’re meant to bring us back to the middle. When you take adaptogens, you’re training your body to handle the effects of stress.”

Once we feel nervous, taking adaptogens like Ashwagandha can provide a calming effect and relaxation.

There are so many adaptogens. Some of them are ginseng Rhodiola, maca, Reishi, and Asian ginseng. However, when it comes to managing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, Ashwagandha is particularly effective because it can assist the adrenal system in regulating the body’s reaction to stress. Remember that high levels of stress hormones for a long period of time can cause chronic diseases.

In a study conducted, results showed that taking 300 mg of ashwagandha extract twice a day for 60 days can help patients with chronic stress reduce their score on stress assessment scales. Aside from this, Ashwagandha also reduced their blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Based on these results, Ashwagandha may really help improve a person’s resistance to stress itself.

Other Health Benefits Of Ashwagandha

Can Reduce Blood Sugar Levels

Several studies have been confirming the herb’s ability to reducing blood sugar levels – in both healthy people and those with diabetes- through its effects on insulin secretion and sensitivity.

May Reduce Inflammation

Ashwagandha has anti-inflammatory properties that come from the alkaloids, saponins, and steroidal lactones found within it. It can help decrease markers of inflammation and increase natural killer cell activity which in turn helps the body fight infections and help us stay healthy.

Increases Fertility in Men

Ashwagandha can help improve semen quality. A 2010 scientific study found that it can increase sperm count and sperm mobility.

Stimulates the Thyroid Gland

Result of a 2011 study which was published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology showed that consumption of Ashwagandha root extract on a daily basis can help increase the secretion of thyroid hormones. This is beneficial for those with hypothyroidism.

Prevents Seizures

A study published in the Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry has found that this wonderful plant has anticonvulsant properties. In Ayurvedic medicine, its extracts have been used as a remedy for seizures and convulsions.

For general well-being, we can consume 1-2 tsp or 5-6 grams of Ashwagandha root powder. But if you would be taking this to treat a specific disease, you should consult first a medical professional such as an Ayurvedic doctor for the dosage.

To make Ashwagandha tea, we just need to boil the powder in water for 10 minutes. Don’t use more than a teaspoon in one cup of water.