The Proven Health Benefits Of Ashwagandha

Published March 18, 2019
<article> <section> <p>Seems like every time you turn around, there's a new ancient secret being unveiled to the world or reborn. Promoters will tell you it will cure everything and even grow back a limb. But much of it turns out to be just the hype of another snake oil salesman. </p> <p>Then, there's that rare moment when, in the midst of doing your own research, you realize you might be onto something. Enter ashwagandha. Even though holistic medicine and herbs are all the rage right now, not all of them deserve the attention they’re getting, and many don't have the studies to back up the claims.</p> <p>Out of all the Ayurvedic herbs, ashwagandha has been one of the most extensively researched. It's not simply rumored to have health benefits, it actually does! </p> <p>In this article we’ll explore some of the proven health benefits this herb has to offer.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What is Ashwagandha (Ash-Wah-Gan-Dah)? </header> <p>Ashwagandha is a part of the nightshade family and is native to North Africa and India. In some circles, it's also known as Indian ginseng and winter cherry.<sup>2</sup> Specifically, ashwagandha root is used in Ayurvedic preparations to help with stress, memory, and even respiratory ailments for thousands of years (Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of alternative medicine that takes a holistic or ‘natural’ approach to physical and mental health).<sup>8</sup></p> <p>Many of the benefits of this herbal remedy come from this mix of useful chemicals like <i>withanolides</i> (a group of naturally occurring steroids), <i>alkaloids</i>, choline, amino acids, and a variety of others. </p> <p>As more people begin to rediscover this ancient herb, it's obvious that there are great benefits to be had from incorporating this <i>nootropic</i>, or brain boosting, powerhouse into your daily routine. Ashwagandha is one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic medicine.<sup>9</sup> This plant offers all kinds of benefits from enhancing bodily function to decreasing pain and inflammation.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="inflammation-on-back-diagram"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What Are the Benefits of Ashwagandha?</header> <p>Ashwagandha is classified as an <i>adaptogen</i>, meaning it's a natural substance that can help your body better <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">manage stress</a>. Adaptogens are unique plant substances made up of a mix of vitamins, amino acids, and a few other things. They support your adrenal system and balance your hormones.<sup>1, 9</sup></p> <p>But, this isn't the only reason that ashwagandha root is amazing. For more than 3,000 years, it's been used as a home remedy to improve many different health conditions, increase energy, improve concentration, and fight inflammation.<sup>3</sup></p> <p>The literal translation of the word ashwagandha means "smells of horse," or "strong as a horse" according to some experts.<sup>6</sup> The fresh herb root smells like a horse, and it was believed that if you were to consume ashwagandha, then you would develop the strength and vitality of a horse. Who wouldn't want that? Fortunately, you won't smell like a horse if you take this herb. You'll only reap the benefits.</p> <p>Here are just four more of the health benefits of this herb:</p> <div class="sub-head">1. Enhances Muscle Growth and Strength</div> <p>It seems strange that a supplement most touted for its ability to mitigate stress and improve brain function would be good for increasing the strength of your muscles, too. But a study published in the <i>Journal of the International Society of Sports and Nutrition</i> noted that ashwagandha supplementation was associated with an increase in strength and muscle mass.<sup>5</sup></p> <div class="sub-head">2. Reduces Cortisol Levels</div> <p>Everyone has cortisol in their bodies. The problem is when the day-to-day level of cortisol becomes chronically high. When this happens, your body can undergo adverse reactions such as increased stress, fatigue, and increased appetite, and it can even signal your body to start storing extra fat. The reason ashwagandha root is sometimes referred to as ‘Indian ginseng’ is due to its effectiveness increasing stamina and acting as a natural stress reliever by naturally reducing cortisol levels.<sup>5</sup></p> <div class="sub-head">3. Improves Memory and Brain Function</div> <p>It's well known that antioxidants help to improve bodily functions including <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">brain function</a>. Research on ashwagandha has shown that it promotes antioxidant activities that protect nerve cells from free radicals.<sup>2</sup> Ashwagandha supplements may help when it comes to memory, reaction time, and other cognitive functions.</p> <div class="sub-head">4. Eases Stress and Anxiety</div> <p>Ashwagandha was shown to significantly reduce stress and anxiety in a study on chronically stressed adults. This <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">six-week study</a> showed that 88 percent of participants who used ashwagandha supplementation reported a reduction in anxiety compared to the 50 percent taking the placebo.<sup>7</sup></p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="stressed-woman-at-desk"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Should You Add Ashwagandha to Your Daily Routine?</header> <p>Is ashwagandha safe? For most people, the answer is yes! As with adding any supplement to you diet, it may not be suitable for some people. <i>Be sure to check with your doctor, first, before trying any new supplement</i>. If you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease or if you are taking thyroid medication, consult your doctor before taking ashwagandha. </p> <p>Ashwagandha is traditionally taken in powder form with ghee (clarified butter) or honey. On the more western side of things, it's usually take in supplement form, which can be a fantastic and convenient way to add useful herbs to your daily routine. Understanding what dosage you need for your purpose is the tricky part. </p> <p>Here are three suggested options for dosages when using ashwagandha:</p> <div class="sub-head">Stress and Anxiety</div> <p>To reduce stress and anxiety, you may want shoot for 500 to 600 milligrams per day for at least one month.<sup>10</sup></p> <div class="sub-head">To Boost Memory</div> <p>For boosting memory and cognitive function, 500 to 600 milligrams per day may offer a boost to help with memory and everyday brain functions.<sup>12, 13</sup> </p> <div class="sub-head">To Enhance Muscle Growth and Strength</div> <p>For increasing muscle mass and strength, you may want to shoot for 600 milligrams per day.<sup>11</sup></p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Can Ashwagandha Help You Lose Weight?</header> <p>The short answer is yes. Cortisol is known as the ‘stress hormone.’ Your adrenal glands release it when your body undergoes physical or mental stress. As we mentioned before, if cortisol levels stay consistently too high, it can lead to unnecessary weight gain.<sup>3</sup></p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="feet-on-scale-wood-floor"> </picture> <p>Ashwagandha is no ace in the hole of course, but it has the ability to help manage stress, in turn lowering cortisol levels, which can reduce the extra fat that’s been stored due to chronically high cortisol.</p> <p>In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha is characterized as a <i>Rasayana</i>, or tonic, which means that it's an herb that helps to maintain mental and physical health.<sup>5</sup> It would seem helping with <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">healthy weight management</a> wouldn't be out of the question.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>In Summary</header> <p>It's pretty obvious that ashwagandha has plenty of health benefits. You can boost your memory, beat your stress, and increase muscle mass among so many other things. Supplementing with ashwagandha may be an easy and effective way to improve your health and quality of life, along with a balanced diet and exercise routine. To get more health and nutrition tips and information head over to our <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">nutrition page</a> for other ways to benefit your health routine!</p> <div class="sub-head">Resources</div> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">The power of adaptogens</a> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Ashwagandha: History and Importance of a Powerful Nootropic</a> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">12 Proven Health Benefits of Ashwagandha</a> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Ashwagandha Dosage: How Much Should You Take per Day?</a> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">11 Ashwagandha Benefits for the Brain, Thyroid & Even Muscles</a> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Ashwaganda Benefits and Uses</a> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">A double-blind, placebo-controlled evaluation of the anxiolytic efficacy</a> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">About Ayurveda</a> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">What Is Ashwagandha?</a> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Safety and efficacy of a full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root</a> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Terminalia arjuna (Arjuna)</a> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Effect of standardized aqueous extract of Withania somnifera</a> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal) Root</a></li> </ol> </section> </article>

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