ashwagandha benefits

Benefits and Uses of Withania Somnifera (Ashwagandha)

            We don’t often acknowledge the potential benefits and promising results that herbal and all-natural ingredients have on our health. Some of us don’t even have any awareness of it. But there are natural and earth-grown plants much like the Ashwagandha, that have been used for thousands of years to treat and prevent serious illnesses long before over the counter medicine.

            This plant is an age old remedy and has solidified itself in Indian medicine. More specifically, it’s a staple pieces in Ayurveda which is a type of field in Indian medicine that focuses on natural healing and medicine. The numerous health benefits it offers is the sole reason behind it’s popularity. If you’re interested or have ever thought of using Withania Somnifera(Ashwagandha) then keep on reading.

Origins of Ashwagandha

            For centuries people residing in India, Middle East and parts of Africa relied on Ashwagandha for all the health benefits it provided. On the outskirts, it appears as a simple plant. However the medicinal properties and nutrients it carries within its cells make it much more than just that. Every part of the plant, from the root to the leaves provide an array of health benefits. Here are a few:

  1. Reduces Stress and Anxiety
  2. Prevents Certain Cancers
  3. Neuroprotective
  4. Arthritis Relieving
  5. Improves Heart Health

Besides the anecdotal evidence from centuries of use, researchers for years have developed studies that support the health benefits that people claim Ashwagandha provides. While more studies on humans should be performed to provide a stronger basis for its benefits, the current research available is a great starting point.  

Deep Dive Into the Withania Somnifera Health Benefits – Supported By Research

  • Stress and Anxiety Relief

Life throws many hurdles. Education, work life, personal life – each avenue in our lives induces stress on some scale whether it’s warranted or not. Sometimes, severe cases of stress can lead to anxiety. This then produces an array of health side effects such as high blood pressure, depression, and overall decreased life satisfaction.

Luckily the Ashwagandha plant helps alleviate stress. While Ashwagandha provides many health benefits, there is more research that supports the claim that this plant helps reduce stress and anxiety. According to a previous study, researchers found that the compounds released from Ashwagandha had a similar effect as lorazepam, a widely used drug to reduce anxiety. The plant acts to reduce cortisol levels, a hormone the body naturally releases when stressed. Since the plant works to reduce stress, it also has an indirect effect of reducing blood sugar levels as well.

The research available speaks for itself. In a study performed in 2012, researchers observed a 69% decline in stress levels among those who took the Ashwagandha supplements in comparison to participants who consumed a placebo. In another study, it was noted that 240 mg of Ashwagandha was enough to reduce stress levels as well.

  • Inhibit Cancer Growth

While most of the research under this category have only been tested on animals, it presents a promising lead for more research on humans in the future. In the current studies with animals, researchers found that the Ashwagandha plant contains a compound known as withaferin. This compound encourages apoptosis, a natural cell process that causes a cell to die. Additionally this compound inhibits cancer cells from growing. This then works directly on cancer cells, allowing cancer cells to either die off or inhibiting its ability to multiply.

In research performed on mice, researchers discovered that by consuming Ashwagandha plant along with an anti-cancer drug, their tumours decreased by 70-80%. Other studies performed have also highlighted how Ashwagandha helps treat cancer. If it sounds fascinating it’s because it is. For cancer patients who have a poor response to chemotherapy and other cancer treatments, the Ashwagandha plant is a great alternative to help fight against cancer.

  • Neuroprotection

People used Ashwagandha for centuries to improve cognitive function, memory, and overall brain health. What was just anecdotal evidence from regular users became the basis for a few scientific studies to understand the correlation between the plant and increased brain function. Additionally, many believe that it improves the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease as well.

Current research can shed some light on this. Generally diseases like Alzheimer’s happen because the connection between neurons (the cells in your brain) is lost. As such, the cells can’t communicate with one another and overtime it inhibits the person’s ability to move and remember things. One study has shown that the plant slows down and even reverses the lost of neuron connection within rats that have epilepsy. There’s also research specifically targeted for Alzheimer’s disease as well. Some have found that the root extract of Ashwagandha contains GABA-mimetic activity that can prevent and stop brain deterioration.

  • Prevents Arthritis

Ashwagandha is known to contain anti-inflammatory qualities. Particularly it reduces pain and joint-swelling related to arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a long term and progressive form of arthritis can lead to swelling and pain various regions.

These results have been well-documented over the years. In a study performed in 1990 on rats, 1000 mg worth of Ashwagandha heavily reduced pain and swelling in the test subjects. More recently, 125 people with joint pain from a study claimed that the consumption of the plant supplement helped treat their pain. This is an amazing discovery for those who suffer from arthritis aches. 

  • Heart Health

There has been some research into the benefits of consuming Ashwagandha for heart health. The secret lies in its ability to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Too much cholesterol and triglycerides in the heart can lead to strokes, heart failure and poor heart health.

In a study performed on humans, it was found that Ashwagandha decreased cholesterol levels by 17% and by 11% in triglycerides. While it was a smaller study, this just emphasizes a greater need for more research in this area.

Is it Safe to Use?

Withania Somnifera(Ashwagandha) is absolutely safe to use. However like most things in the world, taking too much of anything can cause negative side effects. It’s best to discuss with your doctor the recommended dose depending on your condition. Additionally, it’s recommended that pregnant women and those breast-feeding to avoid using Ashwagandha.

Like with any medication, make sure to thoroughly read through the labels and instructions as an extra checkpoint to ensure safe usage.

Where Can I Find It?

Since Ashwagandha has an age old reputation in the health community, you can find this plant supplement in almost every health store. Whether you’re looking for the root extract, the leaves or the fruit, there’s tons of shops that carry this. Additionally, you can also find a credible supplier online as well.

Each supplement capsule has anywhere from 200-1,000 mg of Ashwagandha. As such, select whichever one that best matches with your health needs.  

Final Verdict

For centuries Ashwagandha has been used to treat and prevent many illnesses and diseases. Fast forward to present now, the existing research supports what people from around the world have been claiming for thousands of years – the Ashwagandha is an all-in-one natural healing remedy. While more research is needed, the existing proof is still substantial. As such, if you’re looking for a natural and effective treatment, the Ashwagandha is your best option.