Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb with yellow flowers that grows in some parts of Asia and Africa. Ayurveda is a traditional way of medicine also defined as a natural way of healing founded in India. The scientific name of Ashwagandha is ‘Withania sominifera’ and is also known by many other names such as Ajagandha, Amangura, Asana, Amukkirag, etc.
The meaning of Ashwagandha is ‘smell of the horse’, which stands for increased strength as well as herb’s smell. The extract from its roots and leaves has been used by people for over a thousand years for several purposes such as reliving stress, fertility issues, and increasing strength and concentration. Being categorized under Ayurvedic medicine it has many health benefits. Some of them are:
- It helps treat Insomnia
- It is anti-inflammatory or reduces swelling
- It helps in lowering blood sugar level
- It helps in the treatment of stress and depression
- It might be beneficial for arthritis
- Cognitive processes can be enhanced
- Beneficial for male infertility
- Helpful in reducing Hypertension
Helpful in treating Insomnia
Various research has claimed that Ashwagandha might be helpful for quality sleep. A few active ingredients present in Ashwagandha such as trimethylene glycol and withanolides are responsible for sleepiness. The withanolides present in Ashwagandha have the ability to reduce and ease stress which eventually helps in relaxing tension from the body.
It can be consumed in the form of powder, tea, pill, and gummies. Taking a certain amount of Ashwagandha before going to bed can help an individual in getting a better quality of sleep. Studies have also mentioned that after taking Ashwagandha before going to bed for several weeks, individuals reported that while waking up they feel energized as well as more active.
It is anti-inflammatory or reduces swelling
It is claimed that WA compounds present in Ashwagandha help in reducing inflammation and swelling in the body. WA elements present in it lower the level of interleukin-10 (IL-10), an inflammatory protein. Further, it has also been said that the extract from its roots can be used in curing ulcers and swelling in Ayurveda.
It helps in lowering blood sugar level
Some research has claimed that Ashwagandha might help control the blood sugar level of the body. It may help diabetic people by its ability to increase insulin production and sensitivity. Ashwagandha tends to make the body’s cells less resistant to insulin resulting in the utilization of glucose by cells. From the Ayurvedic point of view, it is used in Aptarpana (de-nourishment) and Santarpana (replenishment), the two types of diabetic therapies.
It helps in the treatment of stress and depression
In the human body, stress is generated due to the secretion of the ACT hormone ( adrenocorticotropic hormone). This ACT hormone increases the levels of cortisol in the body. Consumption of Ashwagandha can reduce the increased level of cortisol and also increase people’s ability to handle stress. Ashwagandha in form of powder also helps in calming nerves and the mind, hence helping in reducing anxiety issues in an individual. In Ayurvedic medicine, its powder is used in balancing Vata, which is the cause of irritability, insomnia, and many other issues related to Vata dosha.
It might be beneficial for arthritis
In Ayurveda, it is known that an increase in Vata dosha (Sandhivata) is responsible for pain, swelling, and joint mobility in arthritis. The powder of Ashwagandha helps in balancing the Vata dosh and is beneficial. Studies have suggested that the production of prostaglandins is the cause of pain in Arthritis. The analgesic qualities and withaferin A in the extract from the roots and leaves of Ashwagandha inhibit it. The reduction in prostaglandins immediately reduces the pain and inflammation in Arthritis.
Cognitive processes can be enhanced
Consumption of Ashwagandha can enhance cognitive functioning such as executive functioning, attention, and reaction time. It is beneficial for people with mild cognitive impairment and mental disorders like schizophrenia. Certain compounds and qualities present in Ashwagandha benefit the cognitive health of individuals. Moreover, the damage in nerve cells affecting body movements, body control, and balance is called Parkinson’s disease. Due to the antioxidant qualities of Ashwagandha the damage to nerve cells and degeneration of cells can be prevented and reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
Beneficial for male infertility
The testosterone levels and male fertility can be increased from the consumption of Ashwagandha extract. It might be helpful for men with low sperm counts. It can increase the concentration of sperm, motility, and volume of sperm. The antioxidant compounds in Ashwagandha prevent the death and damage of sperm cells resulting in increased sperm count and quality. According to Ayurveda, the Vrishya quality (aphrodisiac) of Ashwagandha boosts male fertility and sperm quality.
Helpful in reducing Hypertension
Hypertension is caused by the high pressure of blood in arteries. In Ayurveda, it is known as Rakta Gata Vata and can be treated with the help of Ashwagandha. The extract from the roots of Ashwagandha herbs prevents stress and anxiety which are the root cause of high blood pressure. Stress can be controlled by balancing the secretion of the ACT hormone in the body. Ashwagandha in form of powder or medications helps in reducing stress and eventually controls high blood pressure.
The intake of Ashwagandha during pregnancy and breastfeeding can be harmful. It must be avoided during Autoimmune diseases, thyroid disorders, and post surgeries. Its consumption of alcohol, sedatives, and other drugs can be dangerous to health. There are several side effects of Ashwagandha such as Nausea, Diarrhoea, Vomiting, and upset stomach. In many cases, it can also cause liver damage. So, the intake quantity of ashwagandha should be recommended by a doctor or advised by a health professional. However, Ashwagandha is considered beneficial for various issues related to health.