3 Health Benefits of Ashwagandha
Life in the 21st century is full of stress in the form of emotional setbacks, environmental toxins, physical trauma & poor nutrition. This stress depletes the body of critical nutrients and causes oxidation of various cellular elements. Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that helps the body successfully adapt to stressful conditions. In this article you will discover 3 life changing health benefits of ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha is also called Indian ginseng, winter cherry, & Withania Somnifera. Although it grows naturally in North America and Africa it is most commonly associated with the Ayurvedic traditions of the east.
Ayurveda is an ancient philosophy and application of natural health common in India and the Far East. This tradition is known to use the roots of the Withania Somnifera plant to prepare Ashwagandha. This herb has been used for a myriad of health conditions throughout the centuries by Ayurvedic medicine men.
Ashwagandha Protects Your Brain:
This exotic herb has powerful antioxidant properties that protect the brain and nervous system (1, 2). Premature aging associated with chronic tension on the nervous system is related to increased oxidative stress. This stress increases lipid peroxidation while decreasing critical antioxidant enzymes catalase and glutathione peroxidase.
One amazing animal study showed how powerful ashwagandha is at reducing tension and stress on the nervous system. Animals exposed to chronic stress had 85% of their cells showing signs of chronic degeneration. When ashwagandha was administered to another group of chronically stressed animals the number of damaged cells dropped by 80% (3).
Protecting the brain and improving nervous system function is one of the major life changing health benefits of ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha Reduces Cortisol Levels:
In the largest human trial using ashwagandha the herb was shown to reduce cortisol levels up to 26%. Chronically elevated cortisol increases inflammatory and degenerative processes in the body. Additionally, the participants had a lowered fasting blood sugar level and improved lipid profile patterns (4).
This herb has been shown in studies to have as strong an anti-anxiety and anti-depressant effect as leading name brand medications. Ashwagandha has been shown to support the regeneration and reconstruction of nerve cells and synapses (5, 6).
This suggests that ashwagandha could help reverse states of brain and nervous system degeneration. This makes it a potent defense against dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders (7).
Ashwagandha is Great Cancer Prevention:
Ashwagandha has been shown to disrupt cancer cells ability to effectively reproduce. This is due to the anti-angiogenic activity that ashwagandha contains in which it prevents cancer cells from forming new blood vessels that support its growth (8).
One study showed that ashwagandha produced a marked increase in life span and a decrease in overall tumor weight in animals with cancer of the lymphatic system (9). Reducing cancer growth and improving the immune system is one of the major life changing health benefits of ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha has also been shown to decrease the formation and potentiation of certain oncogene characteristics. These include inhibiting the formation of nuclear factor Kappa Beta, & intracellular tumor necrosis factor. Additionally, this herb has been shown to increase the sensitivity of the apoptotic signaling that allows for the natural regulation of cancer cells in the body (10, 11, 12).
How to Take Ashwagandha:
Use of adaptogenic herbs such as Ashwagandha along with an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle optimize the body’s ability to adapt to stress. This herb has been used by cultures around the world for thousands of years. They have found it to improve immunity, memory, & promote overall wellness.
Ashwagandha can be found in supplement capsules, in the dried root form, or as a natural growing plant. In fact, one could grow it in their backyard during the heat of the summer. This plant loves hot sun and sandy soil. It is very good to use dried or fresh ground root.
This can be put into different types of tea, smoothies, salads or green drinks. Another easy way to ingest Ashwagandha is to buy organic teas that contain the herb. Typically, these teas are marketed for their immune, memory and relaxation benefits. Here is a great tea that is pure ashwagandha and another one here with a blend of herbs that is great for energy.
For an ashwagandha supplement, I like Organic India here and recommend 1-2 caps – 2x daily (morning and afternoon).
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Sources For This Article Include:
- Singh N, Bhalla M, de Jager P, Gilca M. An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicines. 2011;8(5 Suppl):208-213.
- Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012 Jul;34(3):255-62. PMID: 23439798
- Jain S, Shukla SD, Sharma K, Bhatnagar M. Neuroprotective effects of Withania somnifera Dunn. in hippocampal sub-regions of female albino rat. Phytother Res. 2001 Sep;15(6):544-8. PMID: 11536389
- Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine. 2012;34(3):255-262.
- Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine. 2012;34(3):255-262
- Kuboyama T, Tohda C, Komatsu K. Neuritic regeneration and synaptic reconstruction induced by withanolide A. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2005;144(7):961-971
- Kuboyama T, Tohda C, Komatsu K. Effects of Ashwagandha (roots of Withania somnifera) on neurodegenerative diseases. Biol Pharm Bull. 2014;37(6):892-7. PMID: 24882401
- Widodo N, Kaur K, Shrestha BG, Takagi Y, Ishii T, Wadhwa R, Kaul SC. Selective killing of cancer cells by leaf extract of Ashwagandha: identification of a tumor-inhibitory factor and the first molecular insights to its effect. Clin Cancer Res. 2007 Apr 1;13(7):2298-306. PMID: 17404115
- Christina AJ, Joseph DG, Packialakshmi M, Kothai R, Robert SJ, Chidambaranathan N, Ramasamy M. Anticarcinogenic activity of Withania somnifera Dunal against Dalton’s ascitic lymphoma. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Aug;93(2-3):359-61. PMID: 15234777
- Winters M. Ancient medicine, modern use: Withania somnifera and its potential role in integrative oncology. Altern Med Rev. 2006 Dec;11(4):269-77. PMID: 17176166
- Senthilnathan P, Padmavathi R, Banu SM, Sakthisekaran D. Enhancement of antitumor effect of paclitaxel in combination with immunomodulatory Withania somnifera on benzo(a)pyrene induced experimental lung cancer. Chem Biol Interact. 2006 Feb 25;159(3):180-5. PMID: 16375880
- Devi PU. Withania somnifera Dunal (Ashwagandha): potential plant source of a promising drug for cancer chemotherapy and radiosensitization. Indian J Exp Biol. 1996 Oct;34(10):927-32.PMID: 9055640