Ashwagandha might sound like a foreign country, but it is actually an herb that can be beneficial for your body. The scientific name given to the herb is Withania Somnifera and it belongs to the Solanaceae family. Some know it by its common name of Indian Ginseng since it originates from India.
In India, Ashwagandha has been used for centuries. There are specific properties of the herb that are now being researched as a natural treatment for a variety of medical conditions. So far, research studies have discovered the herb contains properties that can help:
How Is Ashwagandha Used in Naturopathic Medicine?
Aside from the ones mentioned previously, Ashwagandha is composed of many medicinal compounds such as amino acids, fatty acids, choline, alkaloids, and steroidal lactones. Given these properties, along with the ability to use the entire plant for therapeutic purposes, some of the benefits one could experience include:
Brain Cell Degeneration Reduction: Research studies have suggested the improved memory and learning benefit could possibly be used to help people suffering from Alzheimer’s.An 8-week study in 50 adults showed 300 mg of Ashwagandha root extract twice daily significantly improved general memory, task performance and attention , making it a promising option for dementia and cognitive decline.
Reduces Depression without Feeling Drowsy: When taken daily, Ashwagandha has been shown to lower cortisol levels by 28% , reduce stress by 44% , minimize anxiety by 69%, and improve depressive symptoms by 68%, which makes it better than some first-line anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs at stabilizing mood and insomnia. The best part – its generally without any side effects or withdrawal symptoms.
Improved Thyroid Function and Weight Management: Studies have also been conducted on Ashwagandha and the effects on the thyroid gland. Using the herb on a regular basis has been shown to help support the conversion of thyroid hormones into their active form, helping certain people where they have had either under-active or over-active thyroid glands .
Strengthens the Immune System: People that have cancer and are seeking treatment have used Ashwagandha to help boost their immune system response, which is normally lowered from chemotherapy. The herb has also shown to help reduce fatigue and discomfort associated with chemotherapy. Always consult your medical doctor and naturopath before using Ashwagandha if you are undergoing any of these treatments.
Enhances Sexual Stimulation for Men and Women: For both men and women, who are experiencing a reduced sex drive, the herb has been used to increase sexual response. In addition, it has helped men with low sperm counts increase levels to help with conception. Furthermore, research has noticed some men have better testosterone production, which can be beneficial for those that have low testosterone levels.
Helps Stabilize Blood Sugar Levels: Test tube studies have shown the herb to increase insulin secretion and improve insulin sensitivity in muscle cells . Also, several human trials show improved blood sugar regulation in patients with diabetes [6,7]. One trial showed hypoglycemia benefits at 30 days use equivalent to some medications without adverse effects .
Reduces “Bad” Cholesterol: The herb has been used for a variety of purposes and conditions. For instance, using the herb has shown to reduce “bad” (LDL – low density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels .
DISCLAIMER: Prior to using Ashwagandha, it is highly recommended to consult with a naturopathic doctor first. If you have diabetes, are pregnant, intend to become pregnant, or are nursing, have low or high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, autoimmune diseases, or recently had or are getting ready to have surgery, only take Ashwagandha under the supervision of a naturopath or healthcare doctor. Allergies to Ashwagandha may develop for those with nightshade vegetable allergies.
For additional information about Ashwagandha and other naturopathic medicinal treatments and services, please feel free to contact Dr. Courtney Holmberg, ND at 647-351-7282 to schedule an appointment today!