What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha, also known as (Withania Somnifera), is a well-known herbal medicine native to India, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Egypt.
It has been used for more than 3000 years for its beneficial properties, which include cognitive enhancement, reduction in stress and anxiety, endurance improvement, heart health improvement, among other benefits.
In Sanskrit, Ashwagandha means “smell of a horse,” which is a reference to the scent of the fresh roots of the plant, but more importantly, a reference to the associated benefits of increased strength and stamina.
Health Benefits of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is classified as an adaptogen, which is anti-stress agents that help optimize one’s ability to manage stress.
In Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha is used to promote physical and mental health, defend the body against diseases and harmful environmental factors, and slow down the aging process.
Scientists have also discovered that it possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Here’s a list of some of its benefits.
- It Combats Stress and Anxiety
- It Increases Stamina and Endurance
- It May Help Fighting Some Cancer Cells
- It Reduces Brain Cell Degeneration and Improves Memory
- It Boosts Sexual Function and Fertility in Men
1 - It Combats Stress and Anxiety
One of the most well-known benefits of Ashwagandha is its ability to act as a natural remedy for anxiety.
With the significant increase in the percentage of Americans who experience stress, scientists have studied Ashwagandha’s properties as a stress relief.
Ninety-eight chronically stressed humans completed a 60-day double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled study with Withania Somnifera extract showing a significant reduction in stress, anxiety, inability to concentrate, forgetfulness, fatigue, and other indicators of stress compared to placebo. (1)
The main benefit of Ashwagandha is that there are no adverse reactions when taking it. On the contrary, antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications may cause drowsiness, insomnia, loss of libido, and increased appetite.
2 - It Increases Stamina and Endurance
Studies show that Ashwagandha can boost endurance during physical activity, by sharpening brain functions and reducing physical pain.
Given its positive effects on stimulating the brain, and its ability to reduce stress hormones, Ashwagandha helps improve focus, motivation, and endurance.
In an 8-week study with 50 adult athletes, the treatment group using Ashwagandha root extract showed improvements in heart and respiratory endurance along with enhancements in quality of life. (2)
3 - It May Help Fighting Some Cancer Cells
Research indicates that Ashwagandha is promising to limit the growth of tumor cells, and may work to prevent cancer cells from growing.
It has been found that the extract helps prevent the spread of cancer cells because of its immune and antioxidant capabilities, especially breast, lung, stomach, and colon cancer, which are among the most common types of cancer in the world. (3)
Also, this herb can help reduce the side effects of anti-cancer factors that can reduce immunity and quality of life.
Ashwagandha is associated with an increase in white blood cells within the body; this indicates that the immune system is better able to protect the body from diseases when using this herb.
The decrease in the number of white blood cells in the body after chemotherapy is a major concern because it puts cancer patients at much higher risk from health problems, such as infection, which is why Ashwagandha may be a complementary addition to traditional cancer treatments.
4 - It Reduces Brain Cell Degeneration and Improves Memory
Emotional, physical, and chemical stress may have harmful effects on the brain and nervous system. Recent research has shown that Ashwagandha is more than just a stress reliever.
In essence, it also protects the brain from cell degeneration, which may lead to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's. (4)
One of the main reasons Ashwagandha has excellent effectiveness in healing the brain is that it contains powerful antioxidants that combat aging.
Thanks to Withaferin A and Withanolide D, which are the major Ashwagandha withanolides, this plant effectively enhances instant memory. (5)
In people with mild cognitive impairment, the herb was also able to improve attention and speed in processing information and mental skills.
5 - It Boosts Sexual Function and Fertility in Men
Ashwagandha also helps regulate sex hormones.
In clinical studies, treatment with Ashwagandha tripled the virility for men with low sperm count, as well as improved sperm motility. (6)
What’s more, the treatment led to a significant increase in testosterone levels.
Ashwagandha promotes normal function at all tissue levels, ultimately restoring sexual function and vitality.
Ashwagandha is considered safe for most people.
However, it may interact with thyroid, blood sugar, and blood pressure medications.
Also, pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid it.
If you’re on medications, it is advised to consult your doctor before supplementing with this herb.
Ashwagandha, with its ancient roots in Ayurvedic traditional medicine, has numerous benefits, including improvements in stress levels, fighting depression, and boosting brain function.
With today’s on-the-go, hectic lifestyle, Ashwagandha provides a multi-functional and safe choice for everyone.