Welcome to the “Ashwagandha Benefits Side Effects and Applications Guide”, although there are not really any side-effects with sensible use in the average person. I will go through the benefits of ashwagandha and some ways and ideas of how to use ashwagandha to get access to its full potential of health benefits and also touch on the side-effects.
The ancient Ayurvedic herb, Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) , a small evergreen shrub, also known as the Indian Winter Cherry has been used for thousands of years for a wide range of medical issues. Ashwagandha’s roots have the odor (gandha) of a horse (Ashwa) giving it away in its name, although it is sometimes called Varhana karni due to the ‘pig ear’ shaped leaves it possesses.
Benefits of Ashwagandha
Some problems it helps with includes osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, stress, fatigue, strain, gastrointestinal issues and diabetes. It has also been tied to treatment in supporting the central nervous system, killing cancer cells and reducing feelings of anxiety. Ashwagandha healing properties can be attributed to withanolide, a chemical compound found in the root of the ashwagandha plant.
It has also shown to be beneficial to the reproductive system in both men and women and is often included in herbal supplements promoting improved sexual desire and function, increasing sperm count and motility and effectively being used to treat erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and low-libido.
Ashwagandha is widely accepted as being one of the best remedies for stress relief. It acts in a different way than most adaptogens which primarily help the body by maintaining and mobilizing the physiological response to stress. Ashwagandha adaptogens help by reducing stress related excesses of the alarmed nervous system. Ashwagandha can help the body maintain physical performance, combat and adapt to different types of stress. It has also been known to help with memory and enhanced mental function as well as calming the mind and offering a restful sleep.
Ashwagandha Benefits Research
Indian researchers in 2009 found that ashwagandha had proven to help with neural growth and locomotor function and helped improve the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The findings were published in 2009 in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. It was noted that ashwagandha could be considered for use to help treat this disorder.
Kills Cancer Cells
Researchers from India and Libya in a published study in Immunological Investigations (2010) found that ashwagandha was killing colon cancer cells in animal testing. It was concluded that ashwagandha could potentially provide help in the treatment of colon cancer.
Blood Sugar Levels
In 2010, researchers from South Korea and India conducted research with diabetic rats to determine if ashwagandha had any affect on blood glucose levels. The study, published by Plant Foods for Human Nutrition showed that ashwagandha over an 8-week trial, did lower blood glucose levels and concluded that ashwagandha may play a vital role in reduction of blood glucose levels in diabetic rats.
Researchers in India published a study in 2010 (Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics) showing what the effects of ashwagandha had on rats that had been treated with propoxur (a common insecticide). The controlled study showed that ashwagandha helped give a degree of defense with cognitive damage caused by propoxur and it may be suggested that ashwagandha has a neuro-protective affect.
Canadian researchers published a study in 2009 (PLoS ONE) to see if ashwagandha could help in the treatment of anxiety.
Two groups were made up randomly of people who have had experienced moderate to severe anxiety for more than six weeks. The first group of 40 underwent standardized psychotherapy, deep breathing training and a placebo, whilst the second group which was composed of 41 participants, had ashwagandha supplements, multi-vitamins, deep breathing training and dietary counseling. Of the 75 people (93%) that completed the study for 8 weeks or more, both groups were shown to have reduced levels of anxiety.
Looking further into the study showed that the second group (ashwagandha supplement group) , had significantly lowered anxiety than the first group. Furthermore, secondary quality of life measures were improved significantly in the second group.
Cardio – Performance
A study in 2010, published in the International Journal of Ayurveda Research found that after an 8-week study that ashwagandha was useful for neuro-muscular coordination, generalized weakness, helped improve speed and lower limb muscular strength.
Another study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complete Medicine in 2009 showed ashwagandha’s affect on the immune system. After the 4-day study researchers “suggest that ashwagandha stimulates a clinically relevant augmentation of the immune response by increasing the activation state and population of certain immune effector cells.”
Some clinical benefits ashwagandha provides could be helpful with prophylaxis and infectious disease treatment, mainly against intracellular parasites and viruses.
Useful Applications of Ashwagandha
Using ashwagandha paste on an inflamed area can help with its anti-inflammatory properties.
Massage Oil with ashwagandha in its concoction can help with epilepsy, insomnia
Using ashwagandha can help reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels
Fine ashwagandha powder mixed with a carrier oil can be used to treat many skin conditions
Taking ashwagandha can reduce allergic response
Can help protect brain cells by preventing damage of free radicals
Drinking ashwagandha tea 3 – 4 times daily can help with tiredness and exhaustion
Drinking ashwagandha tea 3 – 4 times daily can help with muscular aches and pains
Another great way to take ashwaganda is with supplements with multiple beneficial ingredients. A solid product I have come across is Nueroactiv6– Advanced Polyphenol and Brain Superfood Formula. It has contains tumeric, citocoline, coffee fruit extract, grape seed extract, active b energy complex and an organic mediterranean blend of berries, fruit and vegetables and of course ashwagandha. Click here to check it out.
There aren’t really many known side-effects with ashwagandha and is considered possibly safe when taken for up to 3 months. No long term studies to determine its safety have been conducted at this time. Ingesting large amounts of ashwagandha may cause vomiting, diarrhea and an upset stomach. Possible in rare cases that it may cause liver problems.
Like with anything new, please consult a doctor about trying new supplements. It may cause adverse reactions with other medications, or may affect the unborn child of a pregnant woman. This isn’t specific for ashwagandha, just a general warning that should be mentioned.
Thanks for reading this guide please leave any questions down below or just to tell me your thoughts.