Ashwagandha is a plant with medicinal properties. It has been used for hundreds of years in ayurvedic formulations and has several medicinal properties. It is most commonly found in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and some parts of Africa. The word “Ashwagandha” comes from the Sanskrit words “ashwa” which means horse and “gandha” which means smell, which translates to horse’s smell. It can be attributed to the herb’s characteristic of smelling like a horse when it is ground.
Often confused with winter cherry, ashwagandha is also known as Indian ginseng. It is a short, stout shrub that bears orange berries that look like cherries. Due to its many therapeutic properties, it is characterized as an adaptogen. In this article, we will look at the benefits of Ashwagandha and the uses of this medicinal herb in greater detail.
Most Important Health Benefits (And Uses) of Ashwagandha
Due to its medicinal properties, ashwagandha has several benefits for the body and the brain. It consists of medicinal chemicals that help improve several bodily functions and create a balance. Let us look at some of the benefits.
1. Ashwagandha Reduces stress and anxiety
When a person is stressed, the body releases the stress hormone called Cortisol which affects their mental and physiological state of being. Since Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, it helps reduce emotional, physical, and chemical stress on the body. In several studies, it has been shown to reduce the levels of the stress hormone Cortisol and improve the overall quality of life, including the quality of sleep. It has also shown positive results on people suffering from anxiety disorders.
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2. Aswagandha Strengthens the Immune system
Ashwagandha has several anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. We also know that stress reduces the body’s ability to fight against viruses, thereby weakening the immune system. Since Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, it reduces the stress hormones, which in turn, strengthens the body’s immune response. Ashwagandha also improves cells’ defense against infections by increasing their ability to fight against infections.
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3. Ashwagandha Improves Cardiovascular health
Ashwagandha has been shown to be effective in improving heart health by reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It has also been proven to be of help in treating heart ailments, coronary artery diseases, heart failure, hypercholesterolemia, anginal pain. It can also be considered a useful drug for coronary artery disease, hypertension, and ischemic cardiomyopathy.
4. Ashwagandha Eases Pain Due to Arthritis
This medicinal herb has been used to treat different types of arthritis like Rheumatoid arthritis as it helps reduce pain by slowing down the signals that travel along the central nervous system. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, Ashwagandha also help reduce swelling and reduces the inflammation caused to joints. Studies have shown Ashwagandha to significantly improve the condition of arthritis patients after being administered for seven weeks.
5. Improves libido
Since ancient times, Ashwagandha has been consumed by men to improve their sex drive and performance. Studies have shown that it acts as an aphrodisiac and improves libido in men. It has also been shown to increase testosterone levels in men, which directly influences the way men perform in bed.
6. Increases Sperm Count
It improves the reproductive health and fertility in men while also increasing their libido and Testosterone levels. In several studies conducted amongst men, the sperm count was higher in those who were given a regular dose of Ashwagandha compared to those who were given placebos. It also solves problems related to sperm quality. As little as 5 grams of ashwagandha daily can significantly improve your sperm health.
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7. Improves Stamina and Performance
This medicinal herb has benefits that can help improve the overall wellbeing of a person. It not only helps calm you down but also improves performance and stamina. Studies have shown men to perform well and have better endurance when they were given moderated doses of ashwagandha over a period of eight weeks.
Some Other Benefits of Ashwagandha
8. It improves muscle mass and strength.
9. Improves cognitive function by promoting neuronal growth.
10. It can help treat different types of cancer.
How to Use Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha roots are the most beneficial parts of the plant and are used in powdered form, as capsules, and in the form of tonic. The capsules usually are of a higher dose than the powder. People often combine the powder with ghee or sweeteners to get rid of the bitter taste. Ideally, the best time to consume ashwagandha is early in the morning or before bed. Different dosages are required for different people depending on the condition you are trying to address. Whenever in doubt, consult your doctor about the recommended dose before you start consuming it.
Side Effects of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is a naturally found medical herb, and there are no significant side effects of using it. While it does not cause fatal side effects, consumption in large quantities might cause diarrhea, vomiting or nausea, stomach irritation, drowsiness, and headache.
As you can see, Ashwagandha can help you improve cognitive function, the nervous system, heart health, reproductive health, and overall wellbeing. Since it has so many positive effects on the human body, it is also called a super herb. Therefore, you will find that several wellness brands offer products containing ashwagandha that target different health conditions. However, it has to be consumed regularly for at least 100 days in the right doses. Check with your healthcare professional if you have any doubts.