Ashwagandha has a long history of use in the Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine. It’s an ancient herb that receives a lot of praise. Herbalists talk about ashwagandha the way comic book fans talk about upcoming Marvel shows and movies. If that doesn’t explain how special it is, we don’t know what analogy will.
What Is Ashwagandha?
This evergreen shrub bears orange-red fruit, but most people use the roots for medicinal purposes. Also known as winter cherry or Indian ginseng, ashwagandha can help to reduce inflammation and protect against cognitive decline. It may also help to stimulate sexual health, improve memory, nourish the nervous system, and encourage better cell-immunity. Ayurveda considers ashwagandha to be a Rasayana, which translates to something that helps maintain youth, both in a mental and physical sense.
Within the last few years, people have taken an interest in herbs like ashwagandha, in addition to other adaptogens. What is an adaptogen? It is something that improves the body’s resilience to stress. When the body encounters stress, it goes through a three-stage response: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. Adaptogens work to help the body remain in the resistance phase for a lot longer than normal by way of stimulating effects that delay exhaustion. In doing so, you can avoid a sudden crash in the middle of a stressful moment. Continue reading to learn how else ashwagandha can benefit your health.
Effects On Neurodegenerative Diseases
Health experts consider neuritic atrophy, synaptic loss, and Alzheimer’s disease to be primary causes of cognitive decline. Other neurodegenerative diseases cause atrophy to neurites, but the damage is significant in those previously mentioned conditions. Studies on ashwagandha show that it can slow, reverse, and even stop neuritic atrophy and synaptic loss. Because of this, experts believe ashwagandha is a viable herb to treat early stages of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s disease. Ashwagandha is a nervine tonic that may help improve immunity and longevity in its users.
Effects On Thyroid Disorders
Historically, Ayurvedic healers used ashwagandha to treat subclinical hypothyroidism. Many people hear this and think the evidence is merely anecdotal. In fact, the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a study in 2018 to back up that statement. The study monitored 50 patients with hypothyroidism. The pattens randomly received either a 600 milligram (mg) dose of ashwagandha or a placebo. The results indicated that the group that received ashwagandha saw improvements in thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), serum triiodothyronine (T3), and thyroxine (T4).
Effects On Stress
As we mentioned earlier, ashwagandha is an adaptogen, meaning it helps improve the body’s resilience to stress. In a 2019 study, patients randomly took either 250 mg or 600 mg doses of ashwagandha. The study concluded that both doses contributed to lower cortisol levels, with the 600 mg dose being more effective. A different 2019 study monitored a group of people who either took a daily dose of 240 mg of ashwagandha or a placebo. The subjects who took ashwagandha experienced a great reduction in cortisol, whereas the placebo group experienced nothing.
Effects On Sexual Health
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, there isn’t sufficient evidence that concludes ashwagandha’s ability to improve symptoms of sexual dysfunction. Despite that claim, there is a lot of research that proves otherwise. A 2015 study in BioMed Research International monitored 50 heterosexual women, all of whom experienced sexual dysfunction. They either could not become aroused, have an orgasm, or they had low libido. After taking 600 mg of ashwagandha daily for eight weeks, they experienced more arousal, lubrication, and orgasms when engaging with their partners. Another study found that ashwagandha may help men with erectile dysfunction. The men in the study took ashwagandha root powder for 60 days and they saw an improvement in performance.
Effects on Arthritis
The analgesic effects of ashwagandha may be beneficial for those with arthritis, especially because it helps to soothe the nervous system from pain response. By blocking pain signals from traveling along the central nervous system, the theory is that it may have anti-inflammatory properties. For this research, ashwagandha proved effective for people experiencing arthritic symptoms. According to an animal study, ashwagandha exhibited analgesic activity on rats experiencing heat analgesia from hot plate method.