Health Benefits of Ashwagandha : Side effects and Usage Instructions

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Ashwagandha is one of the highly potent therapeutic herbs that is used as a herbal tonic to obtain relief from stress, pain, inflammation and fatigue. This miraculous herb has been extensively used in ‘Ayurvedic’ (herbal) medicinal preparations. Ayurveda is an ancient traditional medicine system that has been prevalent since 6000 BC. This system makes use of plant-based preparations for the treatment of a wide range of diseases. Let’s take a deeper look at health benefits of Ashwagandha herb.

This herb is a revitalizing aphrodisiac that exhibits distinctive phytochemical composition that helps in combatting cancer and various other life-threatening diseases in a person. Read this article to know more about the remarkable health benefits of Ashwagandha in detail.

What Is Ashwagandha?                             

Ashwagandha, (scientific name: Withania somnifera) is a widely consumed Ayurvedic herb. It is abundantly found in India, Pakistan, Southeast Asia, Africa, and some regions of the Middle East.  The amazing fact of this herb is that all the parts of this herb, such as leaves, fruits, seeds, roots, and shoots, are used in making conventional medicines.

Due to remarkable neuroprotective, and anti-inflammatory attributes of Ashwagandha, it is also called as ‘Indian ginseng’.  Ashwagandha has around thirty-five different phytochemicals, saponins, alkaloids, polyphenols, steroidal lactones fatty acids, and phytosterols, in different proportions.

The meaning of Ashwagandha is “smell of the horse”. It is known for its distinctive smell and its ability to enhance strength too. It is a small-sized shrub that bears yellow flowers. Its extract has been used by mankind for more than three-thousand years for increase in energy, stress relief, as well as improvement in concentration of a person.

Health Benefits of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a valuable herb that provides a thousand of health benefits on mental, physical, and emotional levels of a person. It is a broad-spectrum medicine whose extract has the ability to get relief from almost any chronic disorder in the body. This fantastic herb comes with a series of health, medicinal, and wellness, benefits in a person.

It helps in increasing energy as well as reducing fatigue in the person. Ashwagandha is also known for its remarkable anti-aging effects, and for promoting immunity and revitalizing the body. We have prepared a comprehensive list of its advantages in detail.

1. Fights against Inflammation, and Growth of Tumor

Ashwagandha possesses high concentration of “withanolides” that exhibits powerful anti-inflammatory properties in a person. It helps in fighting growth of tumor in the body.

2. Lowers sugar levels in blood

Ashwagandha is seen to reduce blood sugar levels in the body. It has the capability to increase insulin production in the body and raise sensitivity in cells of the body.

The significant role of Ashwagandha in management of sugar levels in blood is helpful in diabetics as well as healthy people.

3. Balances Thyroid levels

Ashwagandha is popularly used as a safe herbal remedy for management of thyroid level secretion in the body. This is because of presence of alkaloids, steroids and saponins, that helps in synthesis of hormone in the body.

The herb has the ability to increase levels of thyroxine in the body. This makes it beneficial for controlling “hypothyroidism”, a state where the thyroid levels go beyond the required levels. Regular consumption of this amazing herb shows significant enhancement in thyroid profiles of a person.

4. Manages Mental Health

With passing age, you tend to lose memory that contributes to low tolerance towards stress, and development of mental disorders. This causes lack of self-esteem, weakened immunity system and under-performance.

The extract of Ashwagandha roots is found to be effective in reducing discomfort caused due to aging. This herb has shown to improve the life quality of the elderly people. It is a neurotransmitter that aids in reduction of stress and management of psychiatric conditions in a person. Patients who consumed this herb also noticed an increase in antioxidant levels in their body.

Ashwagandha plays a potent role in reduction of cortisol levels in the body. It is categorized as an “adaptogen” that helps in the effective management of stress in the body. Known as a brain tonic, this herb boosts the functioning of brain by fighting off the signs of anxiety, and depression in people. This is an essential requirement for people who live in metro cities. Ashwagandha also controls the blood pressure and balances chemicals in the nervous system that, in turn, relaxes the body.

5. Exhibits Anti-Cancer Properties

Ashwagandha has the ability to destroy cancer cells and reduces the widening of cancer-causing cells in the body. It promotes the development of ROS (reactive oxygen species) in cancer cells, and disrupts their operation.

This powerful herb is helpful in the treatment of a wide range of cancer conditions that includes lung cancer, breast cancer, brain cancer, colon cancer, and ovarian cancer. Patients who suffered from these diseases witnessed a reduction of eighty percentage growth in tumor cells. The procedure also prevents the spread of cancer in different organs of the body.

6. Reduces Blood Sugar Levels

High blood sugar is caused due to high levels of stress hormone in the body. This results in increased deposits of fat throughout the abdomen region. Ashwagandha is best known as a nerve tonic that reduces stress levels, and manages sugar levels in the blood.

7. Boost testosterone hormone levels

This vital herb is consumed as a supplement to enhance testosterone levels and overall reproductive health of men. Regular consumption of this supplement aids in increasing motility rate, libido and sperm count in people. This is an effective treatment to cure infertility, and sexual dysfunction in men.

Ashwagandha also reduces the amount of LH (luteinizing hormone), and FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) in the body. Due to anti-inflammatory, stress-lowering, and anxiolytic, this herb contributes towards promoting better sexual behavior in a person.

8. Helps Treat Diabetes

The root, and leaves of Ashwagandha is effective in the treatment of diabetes. The flavonoid content in these tissues is shown to enhance the sensitivity of insulin in diabetics. This treatment controls lipid metabolism and prevent swelling and organ damage in a person.

9. Enhance Muscle Density and Strength

Ashwagandha is an effective adaptogen that shield your body from high mental, physical, and chemical stress. Exercise is one of those stresses and this vital herb helps the body to endure it.

The root extract of this herb helps to increase focus, and muscle mass and promote quick healing from a muscle injury in the body. The analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of this traditional herb assist in core-building, and bodybuilding activities in a person.

Intake of pulverized ashwagandha root increases body strength as well as improves body composition in just a period of one month. Ashwagandha helps in gaining muscle mass and strength. By building bulkier muscles, this herb has the ability to reduce body fat too in a person.

What are the Active Ingredients present in Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is packed with powerful phytochemicals that includes alkaloids, tannins, saponins, and steroidal lactones, that forms the main component in ashwagandha. The valuable alkaloids in the root of ashwagandha includes somniferine, nicotine, choline, somniferinine, tropine, hygrine, withamine, somnine, withanmine, withanaminine, and visamine. It has a highly beneficial bioactive steroidal lactone named “withanolides” that is responsible to provide therapeutic properties in a person.

What is the right way to consume Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha can be ingested in a variety of ways that includes brewed root tea, dried root, leaf extracts, milk-based tea, and leaf paste. Supplements of this herb is commonly available in local and online stores. The easiest way to consume Ashwagandha is in the form of vegan capsules. The dosage of the herb is dependent on the type of supplement.

Extracted form of this herb is more impactful than its leaf, or raw root powder. To get the best results, and prevent side effects, it is required to diligently follow the instructions mentioned on its label.  The standardized extract of this root should be between 450mg to 500 mg capsules once or twice a day.

An oral dose of about 1000 mg per body weight of a person is capable to obtain anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving effects in the person. Different dosage is required to treat different types of ailments in the body. Consult with your doctor to arrive at the right dosage and effective method of consumption.

Does Ashwagandha reacts to drugs?

It has been seen that Ashwagandha has the ability to interact with various drugs such as:

  • Alcohol
  • Sedative pills like Benzodiazepines
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Blood pressure or blood-thinning medicines

Are there any adverse effects of consuming Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is seen to be safe for people who consume it in right amounts, and for right duration. Oral consumption, or topical application of this herb for a short period of time will not cause any harm to a person. There is no toxicity reported with its use.

When this herb is consumed in large amounts then it has the ability to cause vomiting, diarrhea, loose motions, nausea, and stomach irritation in the body. To prevent the side effects of this herb, it is important to follow the instructions as prescribed by the doctor.

However, use of Ashwagandha is not suitable for specific set of people that includes:

  1. Ashwagandha should not be consumed by pregnant and lactating women. It is not safe to be consume in pregnancy. There is a possibility that it can cause complications, and miscarriage in the pregnant women. To avoid any adverse impact of this herb on infants, and newborns, it should be avoided at all costs.
  2. Ashwagandha is beneficial in reducing elevated blood glucose levels. However, if you are taking this herb along with your diabetes medicines then this herb can interfere with it. Due to this reason, blood glucose levels can go dangerously low in the body.
  3. Ashwagandha has the ability to reduce blood pressure in the body. However, if you have low blood pressure, or taking any blood pressure reducing medicine, then you should avoid consumption of Ashwagandha. This is because it can result in drastic reduction in blood pressure levels in the body.
  4. It is advised not to consume Ashwagandha when you have stomach ulcers. This is because, in some cases, Ashwagandha can cause irritation in the GI tract of the person.
  5. Ashwagandha can even lower the working of nervous system in the body. Due to this reason, doctors generally do not advise consumption of Ashwagandha. Combination of this herb with anesthesia can raise the effect during surgery and post this procedure. It is advised to stop intake of this herb fifteen days before a scheduled surgery, and after the procedure.
  6. Ashwagandha can even lead to allergies that includes pain in chest, inflammation, skin rashes, itchiness, and other problems related to respiration. People who are allergic to this herb, should avoid this herb, and other similar herbs that belongs to the family of nightshades.
  7. Consumption of Ashwagandha can lead to too much sleepiness in a person. This happens because, the herb can increase the effect of sedative medicines and can lead to increased drowsiness in a person. Ashwagandha can react to sedative medicines like zolpidem, alprazolam, and lorazepam and can lead to extra sleepiness.
  8. If you have any autoimmune disease such as lumps, Type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroiditis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis, then you should not avoid Ashwagandha. There is a possibility that Ashwagandha can interfere with the effectiveness of the medicines consumed to treat these diseases and can aggravate the autoimmune symptoms.
  9. Ashwagandha can even result in high body temperature. It can lead to fever for a week or two post its consumption.

Conclusion

Ashwagandha is considered to be one of the major ingredients in Ayurvedic formulations. It is a potent adaptogen that is widely consumed for its ability to raise the immunity levels in the body. When consumed in safe amounts, this remarkable herb enhances cognitive and reproductive health and encourages longevity, and flexibility in a person.

As there are possibilities that it may interact with specific form of drugs, it is always advisable to talk to your doctor before you consume it. Its administered dosage will ensure an active, and healthy life ahead!

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