With so many supplements available on the market nowadays it’s hard not to get confused. From energy boosters and vitamins A to Z to reishi mushrooms all in pill form, we’re thankfully introduced to a new level of natural healing more now than ever before. However, one of the most popular natural herbs that is worth taking some time to talk about is Ashwagandha.
What is Ashwagandha?
The botanical name of Ashwagandha is ‘Withania Somnifera’, Latin for “things that make you sleep”. As a natural herbal relaxant, it’s a nightshade and is also referred to as Indian Ginseng or Winter Cherry.
Ashwagandha is the most researched adaptogenic herb, or ‘balancer’, on the planet and has been part of Ayurvedic Medicine for at least 2500 years. Research has shown that not only can it help with sleep issues like insomnia, it has been found to be very supportive with more serious concerns like balancing the thyroid, stimulating and protecting the brain, and was also found to be a great anti-depressant and anti-inflammatory. In fact, according to research published in Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy, “Ayurvedic medicinal plants have been the single most productive source of leads for the development of drugs.” (1)
Similarly to Maca in Peru, Ashwagandha is known as a strengthening and powerful herb in India because of its effects on the immune system and the massive increase in stamina in those who take it – so if you are one who suffers with stress regularly, this herb might be your saviour! As an adaptogen, it helps the body maintain balance with hormones like Cortisol, which is not only responsible for stress, but also weight gain and oxidation.
Let’s take a look at the other many positive effects this magic herb can have on the body and mind.
Ashwagandha health benefits and uses
1. Helps with adrenal fatigue
Ashwagandha may be useful in supporting adrenal function and helping you to overcome adrenal fatigue. Adrenals are endocrine glands that are responsible for releasing hormones, specifically cortisol and adrenaline, in response to stress when we are in overdrive.
2. Fights stress and anxiety
In a 2009 study, Ashwagandha was shown to be comparable to common pharmaceutical drugs that help relieve stress, only without the side effects (2). And with stress and anxiety being the most significant day to day issues of modern day living, it’s important to consider natural solutions that won’t wreak havoc on your body and mind.
3. Boosts immunity
By managing stress, Ashwagandha can boost the immune system. This herb can enhance immune function by increasing immunoglobulin production. It’s also able to promote an anti-inflammatory environment by suppressing pro-inflammatory cytokines. By regulating the immune system when it’s compromised, Ashwagandha might be a useful tool in the treatment of various inflammatory disorders.
4. Helps balance blood sugar
Diabetes is another huge healthcare issue, with more and more people being affected by it, and Ashwagandha has been evaluated for its anti-diabetic effects, which are possible because of the presence of phenolic compounds, including flavonoids (3).
5. Increases muscle strength
People who engage in resistance training would benefit from using Ashwagandha daily as it helps muscle recovery. As an anti-inflammatory, it helps the muscles heal faster and grow faster too.
6. Helps with brain power and memory
Emotional, physical and chemical stress can all have damaging effects to the brain and nervous system. With Ashwagandha being a powerful anti-stress compound, rich in anti-oxidants, the evidence shows that this herb can help with degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Research also shows a positive impact on memory and mental capacity when taking Ashwagandha (4).
7. Increases stamina
Studies have shown that Ashwagandha can boost endurance during physical activity by sharpening brain function and reducing bodily pain. Due to its positive calming, yet energizing effects on the brain, and its ability to lower stress hormones, Ashwagandha showed improvements in concentration, motivation and stamina in conducted studies.
It’s clear that Ashwagandha is a powerful and natural health supplement, but with everything, it requires caution. It’s always best to consult a certified Herbalist or Nutritional Therapist to help you determine which supplements are right for you. Here’s to more energy in body and mind!
1. US National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3506936/
2. Science Direct: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/nursing-and-health-professions/withania-somnifera
3. US National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2695282/
4. National Institutes of Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3295277/