What Is Ashwagandha?Ashwagandha is an herb used in naturopathic medicine as an adaptogen because it helps your body to manage stress and other conditions. The roots and berries of the ashwagandha shrub, which commonly grows in India, Africa, and the Middle East, are used to make a powder for supplements. The plant gets its name from the Sanskrit for “smell of the horse” due to its unique smell and its strengthening properties. Ashwagandha is also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry, but should not be confused with American ginseng.
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Health Benefits Of AshwagandhaThe chemical composition of ashwagandha helps the body to reduce stress, reduce swelling and lower blood pressure. In addition, the supplement has many health benefits due to its anti inflammatory properties, and a high concentration of with anolides, which have been shown to fight tumour growth. Let’s have a closer look at the various health benefits ashwagandha provides.
1. May Help Manage StressPerhaps the best known benefit provided by ashwagandha is its ability to reduce stress and anxiety. Studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of Ashwagandha root extract on individuals who suffer from chronic stress, showing an improvement in quality of life. Similar outcomes have been seen in individuals who suffer from anxiety disorders or insomnia.
2. May Help Lower CholesterolAshwagandha has also been shown to be beneficial to heart health through a reduction in cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This study, performed to test the safety and health benefits of ashwagandha, demonstrated a reduction in cholesterol in participants after a 30 day trial.
3. May Help Lower Blood SugarType 2 diabetes is one of the most common autoimmune disorders in North America, and can develop when the body becomes insulin resistant. A study on the protective effects of ashwagandha on insulin resistant rats showed a reduction in blood sugar levels after eight weeks. Trials have also seen lowered insulin resistance after taking ashwagandha in both those with diabetes and those without.
4. May Help Increase Muscle StrengthOne of the main benefits presented by Ashwagandha is an increase in strength and body mass. This eight week study shows an improvement in performance and muscle strength in men engaged in resistance training, and suggested that ashwagandha is useful when taken in conjunction with a training program. The supplement has also been seen to reduce body fat and improve body composition. In addition, the extract is useful as part of a treatment plan when recovering from muscle injury.
5. May Help Boost Testosterone LevelsTestosterone is a hormone produced in the body and is of particular importance as the main sex hormone in males, promoting muscle growth and supporting libido. As we age, the hormones in our bodies shift and may fall out of balance. A healthy body relies on regular hormone production for many things, and insufficient levels of testosterone can lead to frailty and bone loss regardless of gender. Ashwagandha has been shown to improve testosterone levels in aging males, resulting in improved fertility and reduced fatigue.
6. Other Health BenefitsThere are numerous further benefits to ashwagandha, including:
- lower blood pressure
- anti-cancer properties such as reduction of tumour cells
- improved memory and brain function
- reduction of inflammation and support for the immune system
- reduction in cortisol levels
- lower cases of depression
Are There Any Risks With Taking Ashwagandha?Certain groups of people should not take ashwagandha supplements, so let’s now examine the risks associated with the herb. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding it’s a good idea to avoid taking ashwagandha. As well, it can cause issues if you have an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, eczema, or an autoimmune thyroid disorder like Graves’ disease. So speak to your naturopathic doctor before you begin ashwagandha. While ashwagandha is safe for most people, with these few exceptions, long term effects are not yet known. Recommended dosage depends on the concentration of ashwagandha in the supplement used, and it should not be taken for more than three months at a time.
Book An Appointment With Annex NaturopathicAre you dealing with any of the above conditions? Have you read about ashwagandha, and are wondering if it’s right for you? [annex_simple_dark_cta heading=”Improve your health naturally, with the help of experienced naturopathic doctors”