If you’re familiar with traditional Indian Ayurveda medicine, you probably know that ashwagandha is one of the most important herbs. You might be asking yourself, should I take ashwagandha? Here are proven reasons as to why you should take ashwagandha

Also known as Indian Ginseng or Indian winter cherry, ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb native to India, the Middle East, and Africa.

Its roots and red-orange fruits have been used for Rasayana, an Ayurvedic rejuvenation therapy that maintains and promotes health. 

Ashwagandha is specifically cherished for its antidepressant, neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and thyroid modulating properties.

In today’s world, it is still helpful and has been backed up by science in promoting health and wellbeing.

You might also like, How To Balance Cortisol Levels Naturally and How To Reverse Adrenal Fatigue. 

ashwagandha on a blue background

1.  It can regulate blood sugar levels

Ashwagandha promotes insulin secretion and increases insulin sensitivity in muscle cells, making it highly beneficial for diabetes and insulin resistance.

Insulin is a hormone that transports glucose from the blood into the cells, where it’s used for energy.

In diabetes or insulin resistance, the cells are not accepting insulin, leading to an accumulation of sugar in the blood. This may worsen diabetes and cause weight gain and other metabolic complications. However, with ashwagandha, the cells, though resistant, can be more receptive to insulin.

In one study, 30 days of supplementing with ashwagandha powder decreased blood glucose levels to the same degree as oral hypoglycemic medication would, but without any side effects.

2.  It may lower cortisol level

Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands when one is stressed or has deficient glucose levels. Although some level of cortisol is needed in the body, too much of it may result in

  • Decreased metabolism
  • Decreased immune system
  • Depression
  • Hypertension
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Migraines
  • Acid reflux disease
  • Hunger

In one study, supplementing ashwagandha root extract reduced cortisol levels compared to the controlled group in adults with chronic stress.

The study also confirmed that ashwagandha root extract might reduce a person’s resistance to stress, thus preventing the associated complications.

3.  It may help in the treatment of cancer

Different studies show that ashwagandha contains compounds that may be beneficial in the fight against particular cancers, including brain, lung, colon, breast, and ovarian cancers.

Although the mode of action is not well known, compounds in ashwagandha extract may inhibit cancer cell activities in these cancers,

In test-tube studies, it has been shown that a compound in ashwagandha induces programmed death of cancer cells (apoptosis) which inhibits cancer progression.

In a similar study, ashwagandha inhibited cancer spread to other organs and resulted in a 70-80% reduction in ovarian tumor growth after treatment with withaferin, a compound in ashwagandha.

It is also considered safe to use in addition to traditional cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation. Furthermore, experts believe it may boost the low immunity associated with cancer and its treatments.

4.  It may reduce stress and anxiety

Ashwagandha is well known for its ability to combat stress and relieve anxiety.

 It’s an adaptogen, meaning it helps the body resist all types of stressors, including physical, chemical, or biological.

In one study, individuals with chronic stress supplementing with ashwagandha recorded a 69 percent reduction in symptoms, including anxiety and insomnia.

Another 8-week study showed that individuals who took 300 milligrams of ashwagandha daily experienced improved stress symptoms and fatigue. These individuals also had a humble time concentrating than those that were on therapies like talk therapy and psychotherapy.

Regular intake of ashwagandha may also help prevent stress from progressing into depression. Even so, research shows that you can cab your stress levels before they result in a full-blown depression. In the study, taking a high concentration of ashwagandha root extract resulted in a 79 percent reduction of depression symptoms, while the controlled group experienced a 10 percent increase.

5.  It may boost fertility in men

In one study, infertile men experienced high testosterone levels and increased sperm count and motility after supplementation with ashwagandha.

A different study shows that ashwagandha can also be used in the treatment of stress-related male infertility. The study found that after only 3 months of treatment, participants had a better sperm quality and 14 percent of their partners conceived.

6.  It may fight inflammation

Chronic inflammation is the genesis of most chronic conditions. Still, if ashwagandha is part of your daily routine, you may reduce inflammatory makers and boost immunity by increasing your natural killer cells, which fight infections and keep you healthy.

7.  Ashwagandha may improve brain function

It has been used traditionally to boost memory and other cognitive abilities.

It provides antioxidant benefits, which have been shown to protect the nerves against oxidative damage.

In one study, consuming 300 mg of ashwagandha root extract twice daily improved information processing speed, attention, task performance, and memory in mild cognitive impairment.

In another controlled study, researchers suggested that ashwagandha extract could be effective in treating conditions associated with cognitive impairment due to its ability to improve cognitive and psychomotor performance.

8.  It may improve thyroid functions

Adaptogen herbs improve thyroid functions primarily in a sluggish thyroid for individuals with an underactive thyroid or Hashimoto’s disease.

In a 2017 pilot study involving 50 participants with subclinical hypothyroidism (they didn’t display obvious symptoms), daily consumption of 600 mg of ashwagandha for 8 weeks improved serum thyroxine (T4) and thyroid-stimulating hormone remarkably compared to the placebo group.

Are There Any Adverse Effects?

Ashwagandha is generally considered safe when taken within the therapeutic doses of between 1000-6000mg daily for root powder and 500mg-1500 mg for an extract.

Some possible side effects include upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Ashwagandha is not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

In case you have any underlying medical conditions, consult your doctor before taking ashwagandha.

Final Thoughts

Ashwagandha is an ancient herb with numerous health benefits. It has been shown to regulate glucose levels, relieve stress by reducing cortisol and building resistance against stress, fights inflammation, boosts fertility in men, promote brain function, and improve thyroid functions.

It’s is safe to consume, but it’s contraindicated in pregnant and breastfeeding women.  It may also cause mild gastrointestinal discomfort if you are taking it for the first time.

In case of any medical problems, seek professional advice before taking ashwagandha.

 

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