What should you know about Ashwagandha (अश्वगंधा)

Ashwagandha, winter cherry, Asgand, Indian ginseng, Dunal

Local name: Ashwagandha, winter cherry, Asgand, Indian ginseng, Dunal

Botanical NameWithania somnifera

FamilySolanaceae

Type:

This species is a short, tender shrub growing 35–75 cm (14–30 in) tall. Tomentose branches extend radially from a central stem. Leaves are dull green, elliptic, usually up to 10–12 cm (3.9–4.7 in) long. The flowers are small, green and bell-shaped. The ripe fruit is orange-red.

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Ashwagandha should not be confused with: Withania coagulans

Habitat:

Withania somnifera, known commonly as ashwagandha or winter cherry, is an evergreen shrub in the Solanaceae or nightshade family that grows in India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. Several other species in the genus Withania are morphologically similar.

Who Cannot take Ashwagandha:

Ashwagandha is possibly safe when used for up to 3 months. The long-term safety of ashwagandha is not known. Large doses of ashwagandha might cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and vomiting. Rarely, liver problems might occur.

Ref:https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-953/ashwagandha

Various Benefits of Ashwagandha: 

May help reduce stress and anxiety

Ashwagandha is perhaps best known for its ability to reduce stress. It’s classified as an adaptogen, a substance that helps the body cope with stress. Ashwagandha appears to help control mediators of stress, including heat shock proteins (Hsp70), cortisol, and stress-activated c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase (JNK-1) (Trusted Source).It also reduces the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a system in your body that regulates the stress response (Trusted Source).Several studies have shown that ashwagandha supplements may help relieve stress and anxiety.

Ref: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ashwagandha#1.-May-help-reduce-stress-and-anxiety

Insomnia

Taking ashwagandha by mouth seems to improve overall sleep and sleep quality in some people.

May help boost testosterone and increase fertility in men

Ashwagandha supplements have been shown in some studies to benefit male fertility and increase testosterone levels. The ashwagandha treatment was associated with an 18% greater increase in DHEA-S, a sex hormone involved in testosterone production. Participants who tookMay help boost testosterone and increase fertility in men. Ashwagandha supplements have been  shown in some studies to benefit male fertility and increase testosterone levels. The ashwagandha treatment was associated with an 18% greater increase in DHEA-S, a sexhormone involved in testosterone   production. Participants who took the herb also had a 14.7% greater increase in  testosterone than those who took the placebo (Trusted Source

Ref: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ashwagandha#4.-May-help-boost-testosterone-and-increase- fertility-in-men

May reduce blood sugar levels

Limited evidence suggests that ashwagandha may have some benefits for people with diabetes or high blood sugar levels. A review of 24 studies, including 5 clinical studies in people with diabetes, found that treatment with ashwagandha significantly reduced blood sugar, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), insulin, blood lipids, and oxidative stress markers  (Trusted Source). It’s believed that certain compounds within ashwagandha, including one called withaferin A (WA), have powerful antidiabetic activity and may help stimulate your cells to take in glucose from your bloodstream (Trusted Source).

However, research is limited at this time, and more well-designed studies are needed.

Ref: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ashwagandha#5.-May-reduce-blood-sugar-levels

May reduce inflammation

Ashwagandha contains compounds, including WA, that may help reduce inflammation in the body (Trusted Source). Researchers have found that WA targets inflammatory  pathways in the body, including signal molecules called nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) and nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2). Animal studies have shown that WA may also help reduce levels of inflammatory proteins such as interleukin-10 (IL-10) (Trusted Source). There’s some evidence that ashwagandha may help reduce inflammatory markers in humans too.

Ref: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ashwagandha#6.-May-reduce-inflammation

May improve brain function, including memory

Taking ashwagandha may benefit cognitive function.
One review that included five clinical studies noted there was early evidence that ashwagandha could improve cognitive functioning in certain populations, including older adults with mild cognitive impairment and people with schizophrenia.
Cognitive functions it may benefit included (Trusted Source)

  • executive functioning
  • attention
  • reaction time
  • performance on cognitive tasks

Ref: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ashwagandha#7.-May-improve-brain-function,-including-memory

How to use:

  1. In powder form
  2. In Tablet form (root Powder)
  3. In Capsule form (root Powder)

Side Effects of ashwagandha: 

Commonly reported side effects of ashwagandha include:

1. Thyroid disorders: Ashwagandha might increase thyroid hormone levels. Ashwagandha should be used cautiously or avoided if you have a thyroid condition or take thyroid hormone medications.

2. Increased stomach motility (food moving from mouth to the throat).

3. Stomach upset

However, if you experience any adverse reactions to Ashwagandha, immediately contact a doctor or your Ayurvedic physician who has prescribed it to you. They will be able to guide you appropriately for your symptoms.

Ref: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-953/ashwagandha

Precautions to Take with Ashwagandha:

1. Avoid in case of breastfeeding and pregnancy

2. Children and Elderly: One must also be cautious while giving it to children and older people because their weak immunity might develop reactions in the body.

People need to be aware that ashwagandha should not be used to self-medicate before consulting a doctor.

Ref: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-953/ashwagandha

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