If the herb known as Ashwagandha is foreign to you, you've come to the right place. This herb has actually been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine and is well-documented for its traditional uses and beneficial effects on sleep, energy, stress and cognition. The botanical 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 in 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:
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
The herb is classified as an adaptogenic herb. This simply means it has the ability to help stabilize various physiological conditions and help the body establish better homeostasis. In addition, it helps normalize the “flight or fight” response we experience during extremely stressful situations.
The many holistic effects of ashwagandha demonstrate the power of herbal medicine, which has been largely integrated into naturopathic treatments for decades. Let's explore the many wonderful benefits of ashwagandha.
How Is Ashwagandha Used in Naturopathic Medicine?
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 that improved memory and learning benefits 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.
However, Ashwagandha has cognitive benefits extending beyond preventing brain cell degeneration. Alongside this powerful effect, the root of the herb has been shown to increase focus, attention span, and short-term memory, suggesting this root could also be used to help you perform better at work or in school. Attention deficit disorder patients could consider supplementing medications with ashwagandha extract or transitioning to natural medicine altogether.
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 – it's generally without any side effects or withdrawal symptoms. Improved Thyroid Function and Weight Management: Studies have also been conducted on Ashwagandha and its 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 who 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 usually lowered from chemotherapy. The herb has also been shown to help reduce fatigue and discomfort, while simultaneously helping protect against some of the negative side effects associated with radiation. and 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 of use equivalent to some medications without adverse effects . Benefits Heart Health
We already know that ashwagandha has powerful effects on reducing stress and anxiety. But its impact on health proves far greater than just making you feel more peaceful.
Studies have proven that the evergreen root from the nightshade family can lower blood pressure and significantly improve outcomes for patients with hypertension. Supplementing your medications with this root may help maximize positive outcomes.
The herb has also shown promising results on lipid profiles. For instance, using the herb has been shown to reduce “bad” (LDL – low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels .
Furthermore, healthy people without a personal history of heart disease can benefit from it too. The root helps prevent heart disease and improves general cardiac function, making it a great option for those with no current signs of heart disease but a high-risk family history.
With its ability to lower blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and sugar levels, ashwagandha can positively affect heart health. For those struggling with heart disease, ashwagandha should be a top therapy to consider.
Increase Energy Levels
Fitness fanatics are always looking for supplements to aid their workouts. Even for more sedentary people, ashwagandha naturally boosts energy levels and helps with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Try substituting pre-workout supplementals with ashwagandha extract, or use it to prepare you for work. Everyone can benefit from feeling more energized and active.
Reduces Inflammation and Eases Pain
Many people suffer from pain from arthritis and other chronic joint conditions. These frustrating ailments usually have few solutions and become a daily struggle for many. However, naturopathic medicines can address some of these symptoms.
Ashwagandha can reduce inflammation and ease joint pain. Use it to ease the impacts of your arthritis or to aid soreness and muscle pain from the gym.
Detoxifies the Body
Everyone wants to find the next detox craze to put their body in a cleaning state. Instead of drinking lemon juice for days, try adding ashwagandha supplements to your body.
Studies show that ashwagandha increases detoxifying enzymes that help clean out organs and reset functionality. This benefit can become particularly powerful for recovering alcoholics with liver damage. Furthermore, the root can protect against heavy metal toxicity, a widespread threat from processed foods and other products.
Regulates Menstrual Cycles
Irregular menstrual cycles, cramps, and heavy flows can cause discomfort at work, school, or daily life. Thus, many women want to keep their menstrual cycles under control.
While birth control offers many positive benefits for women, ashwagandha is a natural approach that can positively impact menstrual regulation. The root can reduce menstrual cramps' pain, duration, and discomfort. Furthermore, it can help prevent uterine cancer.
Aids Cancer Patients
Studies show that ashwagandha might help combat cancer cells' growth and multiplication. In one study, the natural supplement inhibited cancer cell growth in breast cancer patients.
The goal of cancer therapy is to reduce cancer cell growth while simultaneously eliminating existing cancer cells. With its corollary effects of improving chemotherapy and radiation treatment experiences, cancer patients may benefit significantly from this natural substance.
The impacts of ashwagandha on working memory continually reveal themselves study after study. In one study that used the KSM-66 variety of the root, participants experienced significant memory and cognitive improvements on the Wechsl memory scale.
Whether you’re a forgetful person or at risk for dementia or Alzheimer’s, adding ashwagandha to your daily supplements may offer significant benefits.
Increase Testosterone Levels for Men
Ashwagandha increases testosterone levels for men of many ages. Health experts link increased testosterone to improvements in muscle growth, bone density, heart health, and sexual vitality. Especially for elderly patients with decreasing testosterone levels, adding ashwagandha could have extremely positive impacts.
Improves Sleep Quality and Relaxation
Sleep remains one of the most important things for our health. However, many people struggle to get to sleep or stay asleep. These people usually deal with more daytime fatigue, concentration issues, and other problems.
Ashwagandha can help improve the onset and efficacy of sleep. Significant improvements to this part of your health can have comprehensive benefits.
Eases Symptoms of Perimenopause
The onset of menopause impacts every woman differently. However, across the board, it usually causes emotional and energy changes that distress many females entering this phase.
Ashwagandha can help reduce the irritation and tension of the perimenopause phase. With its comprehensive benefits for mood, sleep, relaxation, and inflammation, women taking this supplement might have an easier experience during menopause.
Maximizes Your 'Healthspan'
We often talk about lifespan in terms of how long people live, but I would argue what is more relevant is the quality of life and level of health you're able to maintain throughout that lifespan. You'll often hear this term referred to as your 'healthspan'. With its many positive impacts, taking ashwagandha may contribute to a maximized healthspan. People who integrate this supplement into their diet receive positive holistic benefits and can live to their fullest potential.
Older people struggle with declining health from various hormonal shifts and other issues. Taking a supplement to combat these changes can significantly improve one’s later years. Ashwagandha provides excellent aid for elderly health outcomes.
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, 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!