Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) also called Winter cherry or Indian ginseng has become one of the most popular Ayurvedic herbs in the Western world. And it is no wonder, with all the benefits this beloved root has to offer. It is renowned as an adaptogenic herb, which means it is used to help the body resist physiological and psychological stress by adapting to the needs of the body.
While there are quite a few types of adaptogens to choose from depending on what you are looking for, a handful has reached more of a “celeb status” than others. And if there was one adaptogen that has reigned supreme in the wellness world, it’s Ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha is considered one of the most important herbs and the best adaptogenic. It contains constituents like cuseohygrine, anahygrine, tropine, and anaferine, glycosides, withenolide with starches and amino acid. Withanolide consists of steroidal molecules which is said to fight inflammation.
Ashwagandha stimulates the immune system, combats inflammation, increases memory, and helps maintain general health and wellness. Ashwagandha is known to increase the production of bone marrow, semen, and has anti-aging effects. Ashwagandha’s anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory agents have been revealed in several studies.
Its steroidal is much higher than that of hydrocortisone which is a common treatment in cancer cases. The plant grows in dry and sub-tropical regions and is an erect-branching low lying shrub reaching a height of about 1.50 m. It grows in dry parts of sub-tropical regions.
Following are some proven benefits of Ashwagandha.
Controls Cholesterol Levels
Ashwagandha, with its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, is good for cardiovascular problems. It strengthens the heart muscles and can also control cholesterol. A study indicated that it possesses hypolipidemic properties that help in bringing down blood cholesterol levels.
It May Improve Brain Function, Including Memory
Studies suggest that ashwagandha may reduce memory and brain function problems caused by injury or disease. It promotes antioxidant activity that protects nerve cells from harmful free radicals
Ashwagandha does not just benefit people who experience depression, it also benefits those with anxiety and stress. Ashwagandha improves our resistance towards stress and studies show that it thereby improves people’s self-assessed quality of life. As stress is a known cause of depression, as is hormonal imbalances, ashwagandha can potentially work as a natural remedy for depression.
Balances Blood Sugar Levels
Ashwagandha has been evaluated for its anti-diabetic effects, which are possible because of the presence of phenolic compounds, including flavonoids. Research shows that flavonoids possess hypoglycemic activities and a study involving rodents concluded that both ashwagandha root and leaf extracts helped to achieve normal blood sugar levels in diabetic rats.
Helps to Fight Cancer
Studies show that ashwagandha has promising anti-tumor effects, which helps to reduce tumor growth and may also work to prevent cancer cells from growing. Ashwagandha extract has been shown to help inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells specifically breast, lung, stomach and colon cancer cells, which are among some of the leading types of cancers in the world. It’s believed that ashwagandha helps to prevent the growth of cancer cells mostly due to its immune boosting and antioxidant abilities.
The brain and nervous system are relatively more susceptible to free radical damage than other tissues because they are rich in lipids and iron, both known to be important in generating reactive oxygen species. The brain also uses nearly 20 percent of the total oxygen supply. Free radical damage of nervous tissue may contribute to neuronal loss in cerebral ischemia and may be involved in normal aging and neurodegenerative diseases, e.g., epilepsy, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases.
Ashwagandha protects the brain cells from the deleterious effects of the environment. It is a promising alternative treatment for a variety of mental degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Ashwagandha supports significant regeneration of axons and dendrites of the nerve cells. Its extracts support the reconstruction of synapses, the junction where nerve cells communicate with other cells. This makes ashwagandha a potential healer for nervous degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. It also promotes the growth of both normal and damaged nerve cells.
Ashwagandha has remarkable stress-relieving properties. Pre-mature aging associated with chronic nervous tensions may lead to increased production of oxidative stress. This oxidative stress is abolished successfully by the potent antioxidants present in ashwagandha. The stress relieving properties of ashwagandha are comparable to the medicines used to treat depression and anxiety. It is also used in tranquilizers and antidepressants drugs.
While this short and stout plant have a plethora of benefits, the most widely recognized benefit of ashwagandha is its ability to boost the immune system. Several studies have revealed that it increases the production of white blood cells in the body. Thus, it helps to ward off diseases and illness. It’s the best herbal medicine to help rebuild the internal system after illness.
Research suggests that ashwagandha has the potential to inhibit cancer cells. Ashwagandha extract disrupts the cancer cells ability to reproduce a key step in fighting cancer. It also possesses anti-antigenic properties which prevents the cancer from forming new blood vessels to support its unbridled growth. It also normalizes the immune suppressing effects of chemotherapy.
Ashwagandha is a tonic, which increases sperm count and sexual potency. In the rural areas, vegetable made out of this plant is given to tuberculosis patients. It also increases the iron content in the blood.
Helps to Increase Muscle Strength
One of this plant amazing qualities is its ability to increase your muscle mass and strength. For this reason, ashwagandha can be a helpful tool for people engaging in resistance training and other forms of exercise that can be strenuous on your muscles.
Increases Fertility in Men
In addition to increasing libido, Ashwagandha also helps in improving the semen quality. A recent scientific study indicated that Ashwagandha plays an important role as an aphrodisiac as well as a way to improve semen quality by increasing the sperm count and sperm mobility. This has been the reason why, for many centuries, people have been using it as a medication to please their partner in bed.