Ashwagandha As an adaptogen & its Medicinal Properties and uses
Adaptogens – The Herbal Pharmaceuticals:
- Adaptogens are non-toxic plants that are marketed as helping the body resist stressors of all kinds, whether physical, chemical, or biological.
- These herbs and roots have been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions, but they’re having a renaissance today.
- Some, like holy basil, can be eaten as part of a meal, and some are consumed as supplements or brewed into teas.
- Each one claims to do something a little different, but on the whole, “adaptogens help your body handle stress.
- ”These herbs aid our bodies in reacting to or recovering from both short- and long-term physical or mental stress.
- Some also boost immunity and overall well-being.
Research shows adaptogens can
- combat fatigue,
- enhance mental performance,
- ease depression and anxiety, and
- help you thrive rather than just muddle through.
Ashwagandha – The most commonly used Adaptogen:
- Ashwagandha is an exceptional Indian botanic that has been used in the traditional Ayurvedic system of medicine as a ‘rejuvenating’ tonic for over 5000 years.
- Sometimes called Indian ginseng, it is likely one of the most talked-about and most commonly used adaptogens.
- In Sanskrit, the name Ashwagandha means “vitality of the horse,” which refers to this plant’s ability to restore physical and mental strength and vitality.
- It is also known as ‘Withania Somnifera’ and becoming increasingly popular in the west and is most well known for its ability to reduce stress and promote a calmer and happier sense of being.
- A growing body of evidence is being collated around this powerful herb with an impressive variety of health benefits.
- Indeed it is purported to support many symptoms but it’s most impressive is its ability to support resilience to stress, both physiological and psychological.
As An Aphrodisiac:This herb is also considered an aphrodisiac, helping to improve the health of the reproductive tissues and to awaken and enhance sexual energy.
- Ashwagandha can be used daily by men and women who are having difficulty conceiving.
- In India, ashwagandha root is often used by pregnant women to give them strength and to stabilize their growing baby. Large amounts are contraindicated in pregnancy, so not more than 1/2 to1 tsp. of the powder should be taken daily.
- Ashwagandha is an important restorative herb for postpartum support. It stimulates milk production, eases stress, and rebuilds physical strength and vitality.
- Ashwagandha may reduce the complications of menopause. In a trial of 51 menopausal women, ashwagandha reduced symptoms such as hot flashes, mood fluctuations, sleep issues, irritability, and anxiety.
- Ashwagandha proved to reduce oxidative stress, increased testosterone, and lowered FSH. These hormonal changes encourage the production of new sperm cells. It also improved sperm count and mobility.
- Ashwagandha has the potential to improve reproductive health in both women and men by normalizing hormone levels, semen quality, and sexual function.
Nourishing And Revitalizing Actions:
- It increases energy, stamina, and endurance.
- Ashwagandha has been shown to significantly impact athletic performance by improving heart and lung capacity while increasing energy levels.
- Not only is this useful for exercise, but also helpful for people who struggle with their energy levels or those with fatigue-related conditions.
Stabilizes blood sugar:
- Ashwagandha has been shown to stabilize blood sugar levels, reducing blood sugar when it’s too high or increasing it if too low.
- This is an example of the herb’s adaptogenic effect.
- Considering the evidence of the impact on blood sugar levels in diseases such as depression and dementia, this herb can have a profound impact on health.
It Might Help To Boost Memory:
- Remember those withanoside compounds-The active ingredients in Ashwagandha, have shown protective effects against B-amyloid-induced plaques in Alzheimer’s Disease.
- This is thought to be due to the natural antioxidants found in ashwagandha that scavenge free radicals to prevent cell damage.
- Studies also show promising results of ashwagandha’s protective effects against Parkinson’s Disease. It Combats neurodegenerative diseases.
Tightness In Your Throat And Tension In Your Temples?We all get stressed sometimes, but a chronic feeling of tightness in your throat and tension in your temples might be something ashwagandha can help soothe. Researchers have found its active withanoside compounds can change how your body responds to stress by minimizing the release of cortisol – Chill For Real. Ashwagandha is traditionally used as a tonic to calm the nerves.
Weight Loss & Muscle Growth:It helps in,
- Reducing body fat,
- Increase muscle strength,
- Boost testosterone.
Sleep loss is unhealthy:
- Sleep loss is unhealthy and leads to increased levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and cell death in the brain.
- Ashwagandha may help people fall asleep and improve sleep quality. It may also reduce the consequences of sleep deprivation. a
- The root or whole plant extract has been used as a sleep agent in Ayurveda. However, as usual, more studies are required.
- Interestingly, Ashwagandha prevented the negative effects of sleep deprivation in rodents, likely through antioxidant mechanisms
Some Of The Scientific Evidences On The Benefits Of Ashwagandha:
- Ashwagandha may stimulate the immune system to fight infections and cancer. (9)(11).
- A popular Ayurvedic herb, ashwagandha is often used in formulations prescribed for stress, strain, fatigue, pain, skin diseases, diabetes, gastrointestinal disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and epilepsy. (1).
- Ashwagandha root extract reduced food cravings, eating, and body weight in a study of 52 people .
- It is also employed as a general tonic to improve energy levels, health, and longevity and topically as an analgesic.
- Active constituents include alkaloids, steroidal lactones, saponins, and withanolides. Small clinical studies suggest that ashwagandha may promote growth, hemoglobin level, and red blood cell count in children(2) as well as sexual performance and male infertility in adults.(12)
- Findings also indicate that it may help relieve anxiety and stress. and improve both non-restorative sleep in healthy adults and sleep quality in patients with insomnia.(4, 5, 6 ,7)
- In patients with schizophrenia, adjunctive treatment with ashwagandha improved symptoms and stress. (8)
- Ashwagandha was also reported to have beneficial effects on cognitive function in patients with bipolar disorder.(10)
- An herbo-mineral formula containing ashwagandha was shown to benefit osteoarthritis and a standardized extract produced analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and chondro-protective effects in patients with knee joint pain (13).
However, more studies will be required to confirm its benefits.
Read more health benefits of Ashwagandha.
Ongoing stress, both personal, and environmental, is wearing to the body, mind and spirit.
Tonic herbs such as ashwagandha offer many health benefits and support during stressful times.
These Nourishing and revitalizing tonic herbs, alongside healthy diet and lifestyle choices, offer a simple and essential way to prevent illnesses and promote physical strength, a joyful spirit and peaceful mind.
(1).Clinical evaluation of Ashokarishta, Ashwagandha Churna and Praval Pishti in the management of menopausal syndrome. Mansi B. Modi, Shilpa B. Donga and Laxmipriya Dei
(2) (13). https://www.mskcc.org/cancer care/integrative -medicine
(3)Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment With Ashwagandha Root Extract. A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Dnyanraj Choudhary, MD, Sauvik Bhattacharyya, MPharm, PhD, and Kedar Joshi, MD
(4), Aqueous Leaf Extract of Withania somnifera as a Potential Neuroprotective Agent in Sleep-deprived Rats: a Mechanistic Study. Shaffi Manchanda, Rachana Mishra, Rumani Singh, Taranjeet Kaur, Gurcharan Kaur
(5)Protective effect of Withania somnifera Dunal on the behavioral and biochemical alterations in sleep-disturbed mice (Grid over water suspended method). Anil Kumar, Harikesh Kalonia
( 6) Withania somnifera as a potential anxiolytic and immunomodulatory agent in acute sleep deprived female Wistar rats. Taranjeet Kaur, Harpal Singh, Rachana Mishra, Shaffi Manchanda, Muskan Gupta, Vedangana Saini, Anuradha Sharma, Gurcharan Kaur
(7) A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study to evaluate the effects of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep quality in healthy adults. Abhijit Deshpande, Nushafreen Irani Ratna Balkrishnan, Irin Rosanna Benny
(8)Effects of a standardized extract of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) on depression and anxiety symptoms in persons with schizophrenia participating in a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial .Jessica M Gannon, Jaspreet Brar, Abhishek Rai, K N Roy Chengappa
(9)Withania somnifera root extract prevents DMBA-induced squamous cell carcinoma of skin in Swiss albino mice. Jai Prakash, Suresh Kumar Gupta, Amit Kumar Dinda
(10) Randomized placebo-controlled adjunctive study of an extract of withania somnifera for cognitive dysfunction in bipolar disorder. K N Roy Chengappa, Christopher R Bowie, Patricia J Schlicht, David Fleet, Jaspreet S Brar, Ripu Jindal
(11).In vivo effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on the activation of lymphocytes. Jeremy Mikolai, Andrew Erlandsen, Andrew Murison, Kimberly A Brown, William L Gregory, Padma Raman-Caplan, Heather L Zwickey
(12)Withania somnifera improves semen quality by regulating reproductive hormone levels and oxidative stress in seminal plasma of infertile males. Mohammad Kaleem Ahmad, Abbas Ali Mahdi, Kamla Kant Shukla, Najmul Islam, Singh Rajender, Dama Madhukar, Satya Narain Shankhwar, Sohail Ahmad.
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